Friday, February 29, 2008

Bottom 8 - Rays at Reds

Ooh, good matchup. Rays young pitching stud Jake McGee faces Jay Bruce and Bruce comes out ahead, planting a ball in front of Fernando Perez in CF. McGee, the N0. 15 overall prospect in baseball, is popping the glove, but he's not exactly blowing people away. He allowed the hit to Bruce, then walked the next two batters.

Drew Anderson smacked one of McGee's shin, driving in a run. Double Ouch. Even if McGee is struggling a little bit, remember the name. He'll be 21 on opening day, and he could be a major factor with the Rays as early as next season. Some say he might be the team's closer someday. Maddon gives him the hook after McGee walks in a run to bring the score to 6-4. Somewhere, the good people at Baseball America weep. McGee didn't get anybody out.

One bright spot coming from McGee's collapse? James Houser makes an appearance. Yes, that James Houser of Sarasota Sailors fame. It was back in 2003, when we saw Houser face Lakewood Ranch's Lastings Milledge on the outer fields at Ed Smith in the Sarasota Classic.

In front of a dozen or so scouts and a bunch of fans, Milledge won the first battle, hitting a long home run out near Tuttle. Milledge hit a few home runs that year, but this was an awe inspiring blast that drew gasps from the fans in attendance. Scouts almost in unison pulled out their cell phones and made calls to what I imagine in my mind were very important people. Maybe they were calling they mothers or maybe they were making reservations, but we pictured them calling their GMs directly and telling them they needed to draft Milledge.

Talk about a buzz. That was something else for a high school baseball game. It's a great memory to this day. And if Milledge and Houser ever live up to their big-time potential I will tell that story many more times, in greater depth with each passing year.

By the way, if you plan to attend the Sarasota Classic this year, American Heritage comes every year, and they are more loaded than ever this season. Eric Hosmer is probably the finest power hitting prospect in high school baseball. He hit a HR against Lakewood Ranch last year. Adrian Nieto, American Heritage's catcher, is also very highly regarded and will go early in the draft.
Where was I? Oh, Houser allowed two more of McGee's runners to score, and now we have a tie. So much for that comfortable lead.

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