Yeah, I was in the show…You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, someone else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains. (Crash Davis in “Bull Durham”)
These are the four former State players you’re most likely to see on a major league roster in 2008. They are each either currently on a 40-man spring training roster or a non-roster invitee for their organization. We’ll keep an eye on these guys and update their progress regularly this season.
Joey Devine (2003-05)
To many Braves fans’ chagrin – myself included – Devine was traded in the off-season to Oakland for the aging Mark Kotsay, who will hopefully help fill in the gap in the outfield left by the loss of Andruw Jones, who signed as a free agent with the Dodgers.
Devine had pitched only 19.2 innings over three seasons with Atlanta, but he had shown tremendous potential at both Mississippi (AA) and Richmond (AAA), having ended the 2007 season second in the Braves’ farm system in saves (20) and ERA (1.89); in fact, he was named the Mississippi (AA) Pitcher of the Year. Additionally, his 10 relief appearances with Atlanta in 2007 were by far his best in the majors: surrendering only one run in 8.1 innings of relief with an ERA of 1.08, he picked up his first (and only) major league victory against Milwaukee in September after pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the 11th inning.
Unlike many relievers, Devine has proven effective against both right- and left-handed batters, but he has pitched slightly better against right-handers, yielding only a .211 batting average, .211 slugging percentage and .360 on-base percentage.
Devine is on Oakland’s 40-man spring training roster, and as of now, it appears that he will have the opportunity to begin the season in the A’s bullpen.
Chad Orvella (2002-03)
Durham (AAA)/Tampa Bay Rays
Still making the transition from middle infielder to pitcher, Orvella has only pitched 69 innings of primarily middle relief with Tampa in three seasons, posting a career record of 4-10 with a 5.79 ERA; he made 10 appearances with Tampa Bay during May and June in 2007, but went 0-2 with an ERA of 14.63. However, he spent most of 2007 in Durham, where he pitched well in 42 relief appearances, having posted a record of 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA and a team-leading 20 saves, good enough for second in Tampa Bay’s farm system.
His biggest drawback in the majors to this point has been that he can only be used as a situational reliever. He has struggled mightily against left-handed batters, who have posted against him a .500 batting average, .579 on-base percentage and .688 slugging percentage; incidentally, however, all of his earned runs have been against right-handers.
He’ll likely begin this season in Durham as well, but with Tampa Bay’s thin bullpen after Troy Percival and Al Reyes, Orvella might at least have the opportunity to pitch as a Ray in 2008 if he starts the season well in Durham.
(Tampa Bay is now officially known as the Rays rather than the Devil Rays; complete with a brightly-shining sun as the new team logo, this was an attempt by the front office to purge the negative connotation of what a Devil Ray represents as a bottom feeder of the ocean.
Note the particular, extreme irony in this: one, in its 10 seasons, Tampa has never finished above last place and never won more than 70 games; two, a team with a brightly-shining sun as its logo is the only team that plays in a domed stadium without a retractable roof.)
Colt Morton (2001-03)
San Antonio (AA), Lake Elsinore (A)/San Diego Padres
Morton missed spring training in 2007 and spent most of the season rehabilitating a bad shoulder, but he is reportedly completely healthy for spring training this season, where he will have the chance to prove his worth as an up-and-coming raw power hitter. He started 2007 in the Arizona Rookie League but quickly worked his way up to Lake Elsinore (A), where he batted .500 in 24 at-bats before being called up to San Antonio (AA), where he batted .266 with six homeruns and 19 RBIs in 29 games.
Morton is on San Diego’s 40-man spring training roster but will begin 2008 in Portland (AAA) as the third catcher on the Padres’ roster, behind Josh Bard and Michael Barrett. By all indications, he may very well get his opportunity with San Diego this season if Barrett continues to struggle at the plate as he did after being traded by the Cubs last season, where his batting average and on-base percentage dropped off and he finished the season far below his career averages.
Joe Gaetti (2001-03)
Colorado Springs (AAA), Tulsa (AA)/Colorado Rockies
Gaetti is a non-roster invitee to the Rockies’ spring training camp this season but has never played in a major league game in five seasons. In 49 games with Tulsa (AA) and 74 games with Colorado Springs (AAA), he’s only a career .254 hitter with a .333 on-base percentage and .473 slugging percentage.
The defending NL-pennant Rockies have Matt Holliday in left field, so Gaetti’s chances to play in Colorado this season will be limited.
VTpackfan contributed to this post.