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Rays sign 16-year-old lefty from Czech Republic

Jan 25, 2010, 12:52 PM EDT

It remains to be seen whether the Rays are interested in giving B.J. Upton a long-term contract, but Tampa Bay did sign Stepan Havlicek over the weekend.
Who is that, you ask? Well, he’s a 16-year-old left-hander who pitched for the Czech Republic’s junior national team and now he’s the first European player ever signed by the Rays. Here’s a report on Havlicek from the scout who found him, John Gilmore:

Stepan has a loose, quick arm with good follow through. His fastball has run and his curveball depth. For a young player, he has great control and goes right after hitters.

Havlicek is listed by the Rays as 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds, and he’s expected to begin his pro career this summer in the MLB-run Australia Academy. So for all you keeper-league fantasy owners out there, get him on your cheat sheets for 2015
If things go well for Havlicek he’ll become just the sixth Czech-born player in MLB history and the first since the 1960s, but believe it or not things will need to go really well for him to become the country’s best player. Elmer Valo went to high school in Pennsylvania and played most of his 20-year career for the Philadelphia A’s, but he was born in Ribnik, Czechoslovakia in 1921 and went on to collect 1,420 hits with a juicy .398 on-base percentage as a big leaguer from 1940-1961.

  1. SethSpeaks - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    Hopefully Twins minor leaguers Jan Rehacek or Matej Hejma will beat him to #6 Czech-born player!!

  2. Nick D. - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Scouts cite his underdeveloped second pitch and genetic propensity to steal the ball as weaknesses.

  3. Rays fan - Jan 25, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Oh my, the Rays have been part of three stories in one day. Granted two of them are non-stories really, but it’s a new high!

  4. DiamondDuq - Jan 25, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    This is actually an incredibly intelligent move for the Rays. For one, most high ceiling 16 year olds, at least in the US, end up throwing far too much for their respective teams because they’re the stud. By getting this kid early they at least get to groom him, protect him and by getting him early on with little demand for him they save money. This is a low risk, high reward move. Unfortunately, this may be the direction MLB is moving which could lead to the exploitation of youths around the world. Though compared to what’s going on in many Latin American countries this would be a step up.

  5. frank Vernon - Jan 25, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Its very unfortunate that we have american ballplayers in the minors who are trying to make it to the major leagues, and yet, we go after Europeans, Hispanic and Asian players, rather that our american ballplayers. What a shame!!

  6. Gelardia - Jan 25, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    What a shame we have racists like “frank Vernon” in this world.

  7. Bobby Townsend - Jan 25, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Whatever happened to Toe Nash?????

  8. YANKEES1996 - Jan 25, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Nick D., That is wrong, FUNNY, but wrong!!

  9. Good Job - Feb 27, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    Thanks for the incredibly information, I like the blog.

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