So far, Ryan Webb is the only former county standout playing in the minors who has made the leap to the major leagues this season.
Webb, who went 25-3 as a starter for Clearwater Central Catholic and was named the St. Petersburg Times' Pinellas County and All-Suncoast Player of the Year, joined the Padres on May 5 after they placed Sean Gallagher on the disabled list. Webb has since become a reliable option in the bullpen.
Now, another Pinellas graduate is making his case to be called up.
Todd Redmond, who pitched at Northside Christian, is one of the top prospects for the Braves Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, Ga. The workhorse of the staff, Redmond leads the team in wins (eight), innings pitched (982/3) and strikeouts (83).
His best moment came in May when he threw a no-hitter in a 4-0 win against Louisville. In that game, Redmond struck out three and allowed just two baserunners, both via walk.
"This year, I've turned it around and feel a lot more confident," Redmond said. "We're winning ball games, and I feel strong. It's been a good start."
Projected as a back-end starter in the majors, Redmond has been waiting while moving up the organizational ladder. Acquired from Pittsburgh by the Braves in a trade during the final week of the 2008 season, Redmond started out in Double-A Mississippi and set team records for wins (13), strikeouts (128) and innings pitched (1601/3).
Last year he was promoted to Gwinnett, where he struggled before rebounding at the end of the season. In September, he was one of 23 players selected by USA Baseball to play in the International Baseball Federation Baseball World Cup in Europe. Redmond threw 81/3 shutout innings to lead the United States to a 3-0 win over Puerto Rico and a spot in the World Cup championship game.
"The biggest thing this year is I've matured more as a pitcher, physically and mentally; my control is there," Redmond said. "I would love to be called up, but it's not in my hands. All I can do is continue to pitch well and do my part of the job.
"To get called up would be their part of the job."
On the verge: Former Dunedin standout Brian Dopirak, who has revived his career with the Blue Jays, was on Toronto's 40-man roster until June 16, when he was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He rebounded from a poor start and is hitting .277 with 10 home runs for Las Vegas.
Dopirak was drafted by the Cubs in the second round in 2002. After battling through injuries, he was released following the 2007 season. The Blue Jays signed him to a minor-league contract in 2008 and he has had a meteoric rise ever since.
Former county aces square off: On May 31, former county pitching stars Erik Turgeon and Ryan Weber started against each other in a game in the Class A South Atlantic League.
Turgeon, a Dunedin graduate who was selected in 25th round by the Mets in 2008, is now pitching for the organization's Class A affiliate in Port St. Lucie. Turgeon is the older brother of current Falcon shortstop Casey Turgeon.
Weber, who led Clearwater Central Catholic to the 2007 state title, was picked in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft by the Braves and is pitching for their Class A team in Danville, Ga.
Turgeon had the better result in their minor-league meeting, picking up the win to split the series.
Locals starting their careers: Three players with county ties who were selected in June's amateur draft have signed and are playing in the minors.
Former Northeast and Barry standout Nick Shaw, who was picked in the 25th round by the Brewers, is hitting .361 for their rookie league team in Arizona.
Eckerd's Chris Clinton, who starred at Seminole, was picked in the 23rd by the Orioles and is batting .250 for Bluefield in the rookie Appalachian League.
Clinton's teammate at Eckerd, Matt Abraham, a 49th-round selection by the Blue Jays, is hitting .183 for their Gulf Coast League team.