Princeton Rays Baseball News-December, 2005

December 12, 2005 - Appalachian League (ApL) - Princeton Rays News Release

Christmas is straight ahead of us-can you believe it has been this long since we last saw an Appalachian League game!! This can only mean one thing and that is the days are flying by and thoughts of the 2006 season are already on your mind. Get settled in with us here now and enjoy a lot of tips and tidbits to keep warm thoughts of baseball on your mind with the December edition of "Raywatch," the official e-mail newsletter of the Princeton Devil Rays.

THE PARADIN' P-RAYS: The Princeton Devil Rays' float was awarded first prize in the civic category in the Princeton Christmas Parade on the evening of November 28. The float was constructed to meet the parade's theme of "A Mercer County Christmas, Past or Present." The first half of the 16-foot trailer/float featured a scene from Christmas, 1967. It is pictured above with Princeton Senior High School student Kerryn Manden and the wall behind her featured posters of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, and the Beatles. The other half of the float was devoted to Christmas, 2005 and is pictured above with Princeton Senior High School student Jordan Pruett. On the wall behind Jordan you may notice the large poster of former P-Ray and current Tampa Bay Devil Ray star outfielder Rocco Baldelli and beside him the poster of the band Green Day. The team received a prize of $50.00 from the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce for the winning entry. The P-Rays then donated the prize money to the Princeton Senior High School Key Club, who had 36 students participating in the design/construction work on the float along with their advisor, Judy Foster with assistance from local P-Ray fans Larry Pruett. We would also like to recognize Tim Roberts for his assistance with the final assembly and John Puckett for the use of the trailer. As always, thank you to Roscoe, the Princeton Ray Rooster for riding with the display and to his trainer Tommy Thomason. The team, PSHS Key Club, and float construction crew would also like to thank the Princeton Devil Rays' Booster Club for their donation to cover some of the cost of construction materials.

P-RAYS CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS: There are several unique ideas you may wish to consider when shopping for a holiday gift for the P-Ray fan in your life. Gift certificates are available now for both box seats and season ticket books for the 2006 season. Along with P-Rays' shirts, caps, Hunnicutt Field aerial picture coffee mugs, and logo baseballs, also on the shelf in the team's souvenir shop are Devil Ray stocking Christmas tree ornaments and a three-player refrigerator magnetic bobblehead set that features former P-Ray players Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. Also, we still have copies available for purchase of the 32-page baseball instructional manual authored by P-Rays' manager Jamie Nelson, which is full of baseball tips and instructional drills to help the young baseball player in your family. Please contact the P-Rays front office either by e-mail at raysball@sunlitsurf.com or by telephone at (304) 487-2000 to schedule your shopping appointment. HERE IS A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER: The first eight people to visit the stadium and make a Christmas P-Rays' souvenir purchase of any type or dollar amount will receive both the November and December issues of "At the Yard" magazine at no extra charge if you mention this offer.

"NEW LOOK" TAMPA BAY COACHING STAFF: On November 21, new Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon named his 2006 coaching staff and there are several Princeton connections among the members. His bullpen coach will be Bobby Ramos, the manager of the 1999 P-Rays. Two other familiar faces to Princeton fans, third base coach Tom Foley and hitting instructor Steve Henderson, will also be on the staff. Foley and Henderson have visited Princeton many times over the past nine years in their roles respectively as Tampa Bay's farm director and minor league roving hitting instructor.

STEARNS RETURNS TO MANAGING: John Stearns, who managed the 1994 Appalachian League champion Princeton Reds and was named the league's "Manager of the Year" for that same season will return to the dugout in 2006 as manager of the Harrisburg (PA) Senators. The team is the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals and play in the Eastern League. Stearns visited Princeton this past August when the Kingsport Mets were here in his 2005 capacity as roving catching instructor for the New York Mets.

INAUGURAL 40-MAN ADDITIONS: Former P-Ray players Wes Bankston (2002) and Shawn Riggans (2001) were added to the most recent version of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' 40-man major league roster, the first time for both in their professional careers. Bankston, who starred here as an outfielder and Appy League MVP in 2002, is now a first baseman and had a combined .309 batting average at Visalia and AA Montgomery last season. Over his first four professional seasons, he has averaged 20 doubles, 21 homers, and 72 RBI's per season. Riggans, who has enjoyed a productive career so far as a catcher, has a sparkling professional career batting average to date of .293. He has been named the Tampa Bay organization's best defensive catcher three of the last four years by Baseball America magazine.

WINTER BASEBALL: Three former Princeton players are playing baseball this winter. Tampa Bay outfielder Jonny Gomes (2001 P-Ray) is returning this winter to the Mexicali Eagles of the Mexican League, where he dominated the winter baseball scene last year. Infielder Gabby Martinez (2002 P-Ray) will play in the Puerto Rican League for Ponce while pitcher Juan Salas (1999 & 2004 P-Ray) will toe the mound for Aguilas in the Dominican Republic. Speaking of baseball on foreign soil, former 1944 Princeton Reds' relief ace Emiliano Giron had an outstanding season in the just-completed Taiwan League playing for the China Trust Whales. He logged a 9-4 record in 18 appearances while striking out 104 hitters in 108 innings of work and also finishing second in the league in earned run average with a 1.83 mark.

ANOTHER HONOR FOR GOMES: Tampa Bay rookie sensation Jonny Gomes (2001 P-Ray) was one of the three outfielders selected on the 47th annual Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team for 2005. Gomes hit .282 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs in 101 games for TB this past season. The Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team began in 1959, when Willie McCovey was the first of 14 future Hall of Famers named to the squad (others throughout the years include Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg, Tom Seaver, Ozzie Smith, and Billy Williams).

HE'S WEARING RED NOW: Brent Cordell, a left-handed hitting catcher who finished eighth in the 2001 Appalachian League batting race as a member of the P-Rays, recently signed to spend his 2006 season as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

CHANGING THEIR LOOK: Two former P-Ray players switched organizations as a result of being selected in the Major League Baseball's Rule 5 Draft held at Baseball's Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX on December 8, 2005. Former P-Ray outfielder Jason Pridie (2002), who holds several Princeton franchise hitting records as well as being named an Appalachian League All-Star in 2002, was selected with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the major league phase by the Minnesota Twins. In the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, a player is drafted from another organization for the purchase price of $50,000 and must remain on his new team's 25-man roster for the following season or must be offered back to his original team for $25,000. Selected 41st overall by the Florida Marlins in the AAA phase was pitcher Jarrod Farrell (2002 & 2005). Players in the AAA level of the Rule 5 Draft are purchased for $12,000 and do not have to be returned to their original organization. Also, catcher Pete Laforest (1998 P-Ray) was obtained by the San Diego Padres through waivers.

TELL A FRIEND: In your role as an ambassador for P-Rays' baseball, take it upon yourself to ask anyone that you see at the ballpark or anyone you know who likes baseball if they are receiving this monthly newsletter. Let's make the upcoming year of 2006 our best yet by spreading the word about what the atmosphere of P-Rays' baseball is all about. Encourage anyone who would enjoy this newsletter, but not currently receiving it, to send their name and e-mail address to us at raysball@sunlitsurf.com so we can get them fired up for the summer that gets closer to us with each passing day.

A WINTER BASEBALL IDEA: How can you keep the spirit of baseball alive during the long winter months of the off-season? If you are a regular or a semi-regular attendee of our home games at Hunnicutt Field, more than likely you sit in the same general area every game. If you have made new friends with those around you at the ballpark, yet do not see them during the off-season, why not get together for lunch or dinner every once in a while? Pick up the phone-make the right call!

CONCLUSION: Before you receive your next regular newsletter, we will be in calendar year 2006. Make your New Year's resolution now that this will be the year that you get to the ballpark more often and leave your cares behind. Many of our fans take care of many chores in the evenings that our team is on the road and combine their work with the sound of Jarrod Talbott giving us the play-by-play action of the away games over the airwaves of WAEY1490-AM. Make 2006 the year you buy either one of our discount ticket plans (box seats or season ticket books) and leave television for those blustery winter nights when sometimes you truly cannot venture outside. Keep thinking baseball, stay warm, and we will see you next month for another issue of "Raywatch," the official monthly e-mail newsletter of Princeton Devil Rays Professional Baseball.

We wish all of our fans a very Merry Christmas and happiest of holiday seasons!!!

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Appalachian League Stories from December 12, 2005


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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