The Rays are willing to utilize every possible avenue in order to find productive players for their organization. One method that has been used very little has been signing non-drafted free agents out of high school, but the Rays already have one big success story from signing such a player, Elliot Johnson. They’ll be going for more of the same as they signed former George Washington High School right-hander Yael Regalado.
Regalado, a 6’3″, 200 right-hander coming out of Manny Ramirez‘s alma mater, seemed sure to be selected in the 2012 MLB Draft after a great sophomore season in high school but missed his junior year with elbow inflammation before showing an arsenal that was a shadow of what it had been pre-injury over the course of his senior year. Regalado’s fastball hit the high-80’s in 2010 and the Rays have to hope that he can get back there and then into the low-90’s as he moves past the surgery and fills out his frame. One good thing from Regalado’s lack of fastball velocity his senior year (he was sitting mostly in the low-to-mid 80’s) was that it forced him to work hard on his secondary pitches, a low-70’s curveball and a changeup, both have which have shown promise. Regalado is going to have to get more shape on his breaking ball and work on getting more consistent arm speed and late bottoming-out action on his changeup, but both are interesting pitches. Regalado also showed good fastball command, although that means little until we see how he does at higher velocities. Every player coming out of high school carries significant risk and that is even more the case with Regalado. But he has shown promise and the Rays will get him in their organization and see what he can do.
The talks regarding a new stadium for the Rays reached an impasse after St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster refused to allow the Rays to pursue stadium options outside St. Pete and the Rays responded by refusing to look into stadium options anywhere as has been their policy. The Rays offered the city of St. Pete veto power over any final site decision but Foster and the St. Pete council rejected the Rays despite the Rays’ acknowledgement that their first call was going to be to CityScape, the developer that came out with a stadium proposal for the Carillon Business Park in St. Pete in that seemed as promising as any we’ve seen. The talks took one step forward and two steps back over the past few months, but at least there’s a timetable to resume dialogue. Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Pinellas County Commission has a January 29th date to meet with the Rays and the St. Pete council regarding a stadium discussion. Will the meeting renew optimism in the talks or just bring frustration up to a boiling point?
When the Rays signed Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, this offseason, he became the second Roberto Hernandez in team history. The first Hernandez pitched 17 big league seasons, compiling 326 saves including 101 with the Rays from 1998-2000, still the team record. Hernandez finished his career in 2007 playing on the same team as the current Hernandez. If you’re confused about what’s going on here, so were all of the elder Hernandez’s friends.
"“They’d ask me, ‘Weren’t you retired? I see your name popping up,’ ” Hernandez said. “I’m like, ‘Remember, Fausto is Roberto.’ “"
In any event, Hernandez likes the chances of the Hernandez/Carmona signing turning into a success for the Rays.
"And Hernandez believes the former Indians star can be the Rays’ next reclamation success story: “If he even gets half of what he was back then, it’d be a great pickup.”"
Outfielder Wil Myers‘ was the Rays’ biggest offseason acquisition coming over from the Kansas City Royals in the James Shields. But despite Myers’ incredible potential, he seems unlikely to start 2012 in the big leagues and Joe Maddon presented the rationale for that talking to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
"I’ve always felt that it should be easier for a young player to make the team season in progress as opposed to out of spring training,” Maddon said. “When they make the team out of spring training expectations get raised even higher, and I think if you’re really looking for a young man to apply pressure to himself it’s then, when he makes it out of camp and Opening Day comes and all the stuff is being written and it’s tough. It’s not an easy place to be, because you go from spring training when people are getting ready to the season, when they turn it up a notch.”"
Maddon also talked to Mooney about how he loves Myers’ talents but just as important is the mental aspect of the game and Myers needs to prove that he’s ready not just in terms of his ability but his self-confidence and desire to do everything he can to help the team win. The Rays can’t wait to see what Myers can do, but they’ll give him a little more time in the minor leagues to let him straighten out his game and come up to the big leagues ready to make the major impact they know he’s capable of.
To close, 8-year big league utilityman, Jacksonville native, and one-time Rays minor leaguer Ryan Freel was found dead in his home after an apparent suicide. Freel was just 36 years old and 3 years removed from his last big league game. Marc Lancaster, writing for CBS Sports, wrote a touching memoir for Freel after covering him as a beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds. Deepest condolences to Freel’s family and friends.