Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 15, 2007

Familiar faces grace 2007 Princeton Rays

PRINCETON — From 1988 through 2002, at least one player from each of the Princeton professional baseball teams have played in the major leagues.

“We have had 42 former Princeton players go on to play Major League baseball,” Princeton general manager Jim Holland said. “Twenty-five of those 42 have made their debut since May of 2001.”

Who will get the call from the 2007 club? Who knows.

While it’s not all that much of a surprise that Rocco Baldelli, Pokey Reese and Josh Hamilton — all former first round picks — eventually reached ‘The Show’, who would have thought 89th round draft choice Travis Phelps would have done the same.

Or, that Brandon Backe would start the fourth game of the World Series for the Houston Astros in 2005 against the Chicago White Sox.

“Backe was a little-used back-up outfielder/infielder here in 2000,” Holland said. “In 2005, he was standing on the mound pitching in game four of the World Series as the starter, so you just never know.”

The roster of players that will arrive in Princeton on Sunday evening has been released. As is usually the case, it’s a mixture of returnees, recent high school and college draftees, and a few free agents.

Both Tyree Hayes and Chris Andujar, who played for the P-Rays last season, have seen their fathers reach the peak. Hayes — the son of Charlie Hayes — was actually in the dugout when the Yankees won the 1996 World Series over the Atlanta Braves, while Andujar’s father, Joaquin, was a four-time All-Star pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros.

The 18-year-old Hayes — an eighth round draft choice last season by the Devil Rays — had a solid 2006 campaign in Princeton, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.48 ERA in 40 innings. That included a complete game shutout in Johnson City. Andujar was 3-5 last season with a 5.66 ERA in 12 appearances.

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