Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays sign LHP off Czech Junior National baseball team
Posted Jan 20, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jan 20, 2010 at 04:40 PM
The Rays announced they signed Stepan Havlicek, a 16-year-old LHP who played for the Czech Junior national Team, to a minor league free agent contract.
Havlicek is beleived to be the first European player signed by the Rays.
He was discovered by John Gilmore, the Rays European and Australian scout.
“Stepan has a loose, quick arm with good follow through,” Gilmore said in a release. “His fastball has run and his curveball depth. For a young player, he has great control and goes right after hitters.”
According to the Rays release, the 6-1, 160-pound Havlicek is a student of Sport Grammar School in the city of Brno and is a longtime member of the Czech Cadets and Junior National teams. His most recent competition was at the 2009 European Juniors Championships held in August in Bonn, Germany, where he recoreded 13 strikeouts over 11.1 scoreless innings.
He will likely attend a portion of the Rays extended spring training and play at Major League Baseball’s Australia Academy this summer.
“This is a great opportunity for me to play against talented players,” Havlicek said at his signing day press conference in Blansko. “Everything will be new for me in the States and it will definitely be a great experience.”
The signing is part of the Rays expanded international scouting efforts in Asia, Australia and Europe.