Wouldn't it be something for Independent Baseball if Ken Ray, who was in the Can-Am League as recently as last season, turned out to be the key to the Atlanta Braves winning their 15th consecutive divisional title? It could happen.
With their bullpen woes a primary concern the first third of the season, Ray could be the stabilizer. He closed out another victory Wednesday night with a two-strikeout, no-hit inning, but did not get a save since Atlanta had a 9-3 lead. He already saved two games in less than a week to move toward the regular closer's role, which we will be featuring in this week's Independent Baseball Insider column as part of a story on four Can-Am pitchers who have ascended from an Independent league one season to the majors the next.
Ray was with North Shore for part of the '05 Can-Am season. He also has Independent experience with Long Island (Atlantic League) and in the former Western League.
Bobby Cox has not committed to Ray as his closer--at least publicly--but the 31-year-old Atlanta native has won over Mark Bowman, who covers the Braves for MLB.com. "Through the first two months of the season, he's been as good as any reliever in the National League," Bowman writes. "So, obviously, my decision (to close) is Ray, who I propose should be called 'The Stinger' in reference to a sting ray."
Thursday, June 01, 2006
FORMER CAN-AM HURLER KEY TO BRAVES' SEASON
Former chief spokesman for Major League Baseball Commissioners Bowie Kuhn and Peter Ueberroth. Six years as publicity director for the Kansas City Royals, and a background in newspaper, radio and television. Started Wirz & Associates, a sports PR and consulting firm, in 1985. Has written extensively on Independent Baseball since 2003.