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Rays release initial pick

Nearly six years after they made him their first draft pick and gave him a $650,000 signing bonus, the Rays have released oft-injured outfield prospect Paul Wilder.

The 24-year-old's development was compromised by persistent injuries. He never advanced higher than Class A after the Rays picked him 29th overall in 1996.

"Paul's had a difficult time staying healthy," said Cam Bonifay, Rays director of player personnel. "And as we looked at our clubs, we felt that at this point we have some players that have made very good strides and need to play. We just felt like with all the injuries, and the aspects of playing time for our prospects, there were other players that probably needed to play at this point."

In 247 minor-league games, Wilder batted .204 with 28 homers and 108 RBIs. In 30 games with Bakersfield last season, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder hit .265 with two homers and 13 RBIs.

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