Rays 2011 1st-rounders Debut for Stone Crabs

Two of the Rays many first-round picks from last year's draft made their minor league debuts on Thursday night at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida. Left-handed pitcher Grayson Garvin and outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who were both drafted out of SEC colleges last June, did not play in the Rays system in 2011 and last night Rays fans got their first look at the pair.

It's not often that a franchise has two 1st-round draft selections debut on the same night, for the same team, nearly a year after they were first selected, but that is exactly what happened at Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday night.

Left-handed pitcher Grayson Garvin, who was the 59th-overall pick in last year's June Draft, and outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who was selected 31st-overall, both made their minor league debuts for the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in an 8-6 victory over the Fort Myers Miracle in the season opener for both clubs.

Garvin, who made the start for Charotte, lasted only three innings and struggled with his command by walking four hitters. He also allowed three hits and two earned runs while striking out three.

Stone Crabs manager Jim Morrison thought that Garvin's debut went pretty well, all things considered.

"I thought he did fine," Morrison said in a post-game interview outside the Stone Crabs clubhouse. "Florida State League, first start of his career, good Opening Day crowd, that kind of stuff."

"The problem is - with all of us - the expectations are so high and you don't want to disappoint any of your teammates, so you can get yourself worked up into a tizzy. But that's part of this game and being a professional baseball player and coming down and competing."

Garvin, who said that he worked on a cutter during spring training, was working in the 89-91 mph range with his fastball and touched 93 on several occasions. He also had two long waits after getting warm - one when he had to wait for nearly half-an-hour for the Opening Day festivities to conclude and the other when the bottom of the first was extended due to the injury-removal of Miracle starter Scott Baker. In all, he threw 70 pitches in his three innings of work.

Morrison admitted that Garvin might have been pressing too much, yet despite that, still showed good stuff.

Mikie Mahtook signs autographs and talks to fans before Thursday's Stone Crabs 8-6 win over the Fort Myers Miracle.

"He was aiming the ball just a tad. He's got good stuff. He's got a good breaking ball, good changeup, and nice live fastball that has some life on it. You just kinda gotta get through days like these and it's a growing situation for us. I'm confident that next time he goes out, he's gonna be just fine."

Mahtook's debut was decidedly better as the LSU alum reached base in all four of his official at bats and also had a sacrifice fly. In all, hitting from the clean-up spot in the order, he totaled two hits, two walks, two RBI and also stole a base and scored a run.

"He did a good job and drove in a big run for us early in the game, it was nice to see him do that," said Morrison referring to Mahtook's first inning sacrifice fly that gave the Stone Crabs a 1-0 lead. "He stole a base for us too and it was a nice time to get a stolen base for us."

Going into Opening Day, Mahtook expressed that it had been a long rode to finally make his minor league debut.

"Instructs, the Arizona Fall League, Winter Development Program and then spring training, it seemed like it took a long time to get here," said Mahtook when interviewed by Rays Digest on Stone Crabs Media Day on Tuesday. "I'm ready to go though and feel like I'm well-prepared."

The 22-year-old outfielder certainly looked prepared on Thursday and showcased many of his tools, notably his speed when he beat out a grounder for an infield hit.

Morrison expects both players to have good seasons and as the year progresses, predicts to see some good performances from the pair.

"As these guys play and get their feet underneath them, I expect more and more exciting things out of them. They both have a lot of talent and tools."

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