Raglani Proves He Belongs

It was easy to overlook Anthony Raglani for the first month or so of the Florida State League season. When a team is stocked with belters like Andy LaRoche and Matt Kemp plus others who swing the bat as well as Tony Abreu, Chin-Lung Hu and Justin Ruggiano did, the others tended to fade into the background.

That's where Raglani stayed for awhile. If those others hadn't been hitting so well, he might have been pressured to come through at the beginning but it really wasn't necessary. So when he had his problems early, they could be forgiven.

That he had difficulties was more than understandable for, after all, he'd only had six games as a pro and those in the Gulf Coast League so maybe this was a league or two too far. Even Raglani had his doubts.

"I wasn't sure I belonged for awhile," he admits now. "The thing I'm proudest of this season was that I showed that I could play at this level."

Raglani came into the organization as a fifth-round draft pick from George Washington University but was handicapped by a broken hamate bone in his right hand. He'd played in pain in college but it was determined that it was advisable to operate after he signed. Thus, the limited experience.

That he overcame those problems was one of the more satisfying stories of the summer for that he certainly did. If he didn't contribuite much with the bat at the beginning, he more than made up for it later. At the end he became one of the truly tough outs in the Vero Beach batting order -- a hitter who never yielded to the pitcher, one who knew his hitting zone and stayed within it, almost never chasing a dubious pitch or trying to do too much.

He wound up with a .289 average, more than respectable, especially considering his lack of experience and slow beginning. While he didn't hit them as often or as far as LaRoche or Kemp, he delivered the long ball as well with 19 home runs plus 20 doubles. He drove in 77 runs.

They had him hitting about everyplace in the Vero order including leadoff for awhile. "Well, I'd never done it before and it was different but it was all right," he allows.

So, when you consider the hotshot outfielders in the system, you may not include Raglani's name. Maybe you should for there are those that feel his learning curve is such that he could wind up being a big league contributor even more than some of the others who are more talked-about.

For Raglani belongs, even in the more elite company of prospects. He's a batter with intelligence and ability -- one who's now found his stride as he moves toward the top.