The Tampa Bay Rays got rid of the devil from their name this offseason. Tampa Bay also parted ways its headache-causing outfielder Elijah Dukes, who grabbed local headlines after threatening his wife and reminded some people in St. Petersburg of the actual devil.
In an attempt to help improve clubhouse chemistry, Dukes—as well as the Rays’ other talented but troubled outfielder, Delmon Young—was shipped this offseason, going to the Washington Nationals in exchange for a minor league pitcher.
The tremendously talented Dukes is hitting .263/.367/.434 with six homers in Washington, as he appears to have made progress off the field and with his plate discipline. The first-place Rays, though, have seen benefits in team chemistry from his departure. Also, the Hillsborough High School product will most likely not turn into the second coming of Josh Hamilton, who has flourished into one of the majors’ best young players after leaving the organization.
In addition to the benefits of cleansing its hands of such a public relations nightmare, the club added Glenn Gibson, the Nationals’ fourth-round pick in the 2006 First-Year draft. Gibson had a promising summer in the New York Penn League after agreeing to terms on a signing bonus, going 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts. The New York high school product has not been able to build off his solid professional debut in his new organization, however.
Gibson began the year in the South Atlantic League, pitching in the Columbus Catfish’s starting rotation. After a move to the bullpen, he could not get it going, leading to his demotion to the Hudson Valley Renegades yesterday afternoon. The 19-year-old southpaw has simply not done much of anything right so far, struggling with his command—49-to-41 K/W ratio—while posting an opponents’ batting average of .315. He ended up with a 4-8 record and 7.44 ERA in 22 appearances, including 12 relatively ineffective starts, before the demotion. In fact, three of his wins came as a reliever.
Gibson will look to work out his struggles at Husdon Valley. Travis Risser will take his place on the Columbus roster, rejoining the club for his second time this season. At 23, Risser is pitching against younger competition, but has been effective at both levels, combining to record a 1.45 ERA in 22 appearances.
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