Three Johnston County natives will be in Major League camps as preparations for the 2011 pro baseball season begins.
John Raynor of Benson is in camp with the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. Raynor, a 27-year-old outfielder, started the 2010 season on the Pirates' major league roster but was optioned back to the Marlins under Rule V draft guidelines and spent the rest of the 2010 season at Triple-A New Orleans. The South Johnston High graduate battled a groin injury that kept him out of the lineup for nearly two months.
Raynor will vie for one of the reserve outfield spots on the Marlins' roster.
Wilson's Mills resident and former Smithfield-Selma High star Jerry Sands is in camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Phoenix, Ariz. The 23-year-old corner infielder/outfielder was third in the minor leagues last season with 35 home runs and was named the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year. He also had a successful run in the Arizona Fall League after the 2011 regular season, going for an after thought of 25th round draft pick to a player clearly in the Dodgers' big league plans going forward.
Sands is considered a long shot for the Dodgers' opening day roster this season, although several scouting services have him projected to be a regular in the Dodgers' lineup by the end of the 2012 season.
Clayton's Chris Archer is in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla. Archer, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, was a combined 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA at Single-A and Double-A in the Cubs' organization last summer. He also was recognized as the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Archer was traded to the Rays earlier this year in a move that sent MLB pitcher Matt Garza to Chicago.
Archer, Clayton High graduate, is considered a long shot for the Ray's opening day roster this season as well, but projections have him in Tampa Bay full time by the end of the 2012 season.
We'll keep you updated on their progress this spring once the Spring Training games get going.