The Devil Rays and Josh Hamilton

The big kid out of North Carolina was hailed as The Natural. The Rays selected him first overall in the 1999 draft and paid him a $4 million signing bonus. After some early success in the minors, Josh Hamilton was hit by a rash of injuries, then fell into a black hole of drug abuse. He was reportedly in rehab eight times from 2003 to 2005. Then he got clean, and started working his way back up. This year, the Rays, who had nurtured their Natural for more than a half decade, left Hamilton off their 40-man roster, which allowed him to be drafted by other teams. He ended up with the Cincinnati Reds and came out hot this season, winning National League Rookie of the Month in April. Hamilton went on the injured list, and when he returned his numbers tapered off some, but he was still a productive ma-jor league player with a terrific upside. Even if his career ended today, the Reds will have gotten more out of him than the Rays. Why our local team put such care and feeding into a potential phenom, only to let him get snatched away for nothing in return, well, it just don’t make no sense.

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