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USA PRO BASEBALL PLAYER LIST STANDS AT 21
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RAYBORN EYEING POSSIBLE BIG LEAGUE APPEARANCE

MOBILE, Ala.- Former University of South Alabama baseball player Kenny Rayborn is closing in on becoming the 20th Jaguar to reach the playing ranks of Major League Baseball. He is among 21 Jaguars now playing professional baseball.

Rayborn, a member of the Cleveland Indians organization, began the year in Double A but moved to Triple A Buffalo soon after. A regular in the starting rotation for the Bison, Rayborn is 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 14 appearances. The right-hander from Purvis, Miss., who played at USA from 1994-97, has pitched 76.2 innings with 13 starts.

Last season, right-handed pitcher Michael Nakamura (USA, 1995-97) became the 19th Jag to reach the big leagues when he pitched 12 games with the Minnesota Twins. The Australian native is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. After seeing action in 17 games in two different spans with Toronto earlier this season, Nakamura is currently a reliever in AAA Syracuse where he sports a 1-1 record and a 4.00 earned run average.

Ten former Jags occupy the Single A ranks. Mobilian Clark Girardeau has moved to high A Lake Elsinore, the California League affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The right-hander is
2-1 with a 1.32 ERA in four starts. He began the season in Fort Wayne, Ind. Girardeau played at USA from 2001-03. Former Jag right-handed pitcher Sam Smith has returned to Single A after a brief stint in Class AA El Paso. Smith, a Jag from 2001-02, is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in three starts with the Lancaster JetHawks, affiliates of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Another former Jag pitching standout is Tony Neal, a native of Mobile who played at USA from 2001-03. Neal, a reliever with the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League, is 2-4 with a 3.49 ERA. In 26 appearances, he has four saves and just last month, he was selected to play in an all-star game held in California. Outfielder Cameron Likely, who played for USA from 2000-01, is a member of the Salem (Va.) Avalanche, class A affiliate of the Houston Astros. Likely is hitting .204 in 36 games. USA's all-time home run hitter Ryan Mulhern (2001-03) is playing with the Lake County Captains, high A affiliates of the Cleveland Indians. Mulhern is batting .256 with four home runs and 27 RBI. He has appeared in 66 games, 60 at first base. Another single A Cleveland Indian is Brett Parker. The all-time leader in games played at USA (2000-03), Parker has split time at shortstop and third base with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, members of the New York Penn League. In 18 games, the Mobile native is hitting .234.

Four members from the 2004 class are getting acclimated to pro ball. Outfielder Adam Lind, a third round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, is hitting .305 in 21 games with the Auburn Doubledays, members of the NY-Penn League. Lind has 18 starts in the outfield. Kevin Williams, a 30th round pick by Arizona, is batting just .154 in 11 games for the Missoula Osprey, affiliates of the Pioneer League. Josh Touchstone, who signed a pre-draft free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, is now with Princeton, rookie affiliate in the Appalachian League. Touchstone started the season with a brief four-game stint for the high A Charleston (S.C.) Riverdogs replacing a suspended player, but is now with Princeton, a rookie team located in West Virginia. Touchstone is one of the top players in the Appalachian League, sporting a .349 batting average with seven steals in 21 games. The former four-year Jag letterwinner has seen time at second and third base. Catcher Tim Land, who signed with Toronto just last week, walked three times in his minor league debut with Pulaski, a rookie team located in Virginia.

Four former Jags are competing in Independent ball. Nick Gretz (1999-01) and Tim Merritt (1999-01) are both members of the St. Paul Saints of the Northern League. Gretz leads the squad with nine homers and 48 RBI. The Apple Valley, Minn., native is hitting .317 in 38 games. Gretz has 16 starts at first and is sharing time with Merritt, who has played eight games since signing with the club just last month. Merritt, a native of Cantonment, Fla., is hitting .296 with St. Paul's. He was released from the Seattle Mariners organization earlier this year. Former Jag right-hander Marty Barnett is a starting pitcher with the Atlantic City Surf of the Atlantic League. Barnett, who played just one season for USA in 1995, is 2-3 with a 6.75 ERA in nine games. Mel Spivey, a Daphne native, is now pitching with the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks of the Northern League. Spivey (2001-02) is 2-6 with a 4.91 ERA. Former Jag outfielder Erik Smallwood and pitcher Eric Thomas have been released by their respective teams. Smallwood (2001-02) last played with the Pensacola Pelicans of the Central League. The Clear Springs, Ala., native hit .220 in 16 games. Thomas (2002) made just two relief appearances (8.10 ERA) with the Bangor Lumberjacks of the Northern League.

Since the early 1970s, 19 Jaguars have reached the major leagues. Current big leaguers include left fielder Luis Gonzalez (Arizona), center fielder Juan Pierre (Florida), right-handed pitcher Jon Lieber (N.Y. Yankees), infielder/outfielder Marlon Anderson (St. Louis) and utility player Mike Mordecai (Florida). For info on the major leaguers, log on to http://www.mlb.com.
For more info on the Jags' minor league members, log on to http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com or http://www.baseballamerica.com.

For a complete list of current South Alabama professionals, log on to http://www.usajaguars.com/baseball.

<a href='http://www.southalabama.edu/athletics/pressrelease/2004/07/release14bb.html' target='_blank'>LINK</a>
07-15-2004 07:51 PM
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