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Rays look to the future by signing Garrett Whitley

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It may take years in its arrival, but the Tampa Bay Rays may have help for their anemic offense on the way.

The Rays signed their No. 1 draft pick, high school center fielder Garrett Whitley, to a contract Wednesday afternoon.

Whitley, 18, was taken 13th in baseball’s recent draft. He will join the Gulf Coast Rays.

“Garrett has all the tools we look for in a young prospect both physically and mentally,” said Rays’ director of scouting R.J. Harrison. “He has the tools to play center field and hit in the middle of a lineup, and he has the potential to impact the game with his legs, bat and glove. On top of that, Garrett is an intelligent young man with a great mental foundation for playing the game.”

Whitley was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 7 overall prospect and No. 2 outfielder in this year’s draft, and was named the Gatorade New York Baseball Player of the Year.

The Rays have struggled with their drafts in recent seasons. Perhaps Whitley will be an exception.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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