Townsend Down and Out

It’s only fitting that the Rays release Wade Townsend only days after Andrew McCutchen delivers on a three homer game. Back in 2005 the team was in the midst of transitioning to a new owner. Still in large for one last draft, Chuck LaMar and company decided to override the scouting department’s recommendation of McCutchen and instead select Townsend eighth overall. McCutchen went a few picks later (as did Jay Bruce and Cameron Maybin) and the rest is history.

Townsend was the second consecutive pitcher from the University of Rice taken by the Rays in the first round; joining Jeff Niemann who is currently enjoying his first season in the Rays rotation. Prior to the 2004 draft Townsend was pegged by Baseball America as the eighth best prospect in the draft, saying this about the 6’4” right-hander (The talented trio comment refers to the rotation formed by Niemann, Townsend, and former Mets/Twins prospect Phil Humber):

Townsend has the best fastball among Rice’s talented trio, but he must mature and improve his command.

Other scouting reports talked glowingly about Townsend’s hard curve and his bulldog mentality. Stating that at some point a switch to the bullpen might be best. After helping deliver a championship trophy to the University cabinets Townsend was selected eighth by the Baltimore Orioles but couldn’t come to terms with the team and instead returned to college, gaining his degree and re-entering the 2005 draft. The Rays took him despite reports of down velocity in pre-draft workouts and never saw him reach Triple-A.

Townsend endured arm injury after arm injury, including Tommy John Surgery that caused him to miss the entirety of 2006. Upon returning to action in 2007 Townsend pitched decently in A-ball and reached Double-A in 2008 as a reliever. Entering this year false reports of his retirement coincided with Townsend being assigned to the Gulf Coast League.

After three appearances, Townsend’s line sat at 2.2 IP, 1 HR, 7 BB, and 3 SO. 26-year-old pitchers struggling in the GCL are simply biding their time before finding a new profession. Ultimately a draft bust, Townsend’s name will live in draft folklore as to highlight the dangers of taking an overworked arm.

Too bad, because his college career was a thing of beauty.

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11 Responses to “Townsend Down and Out”

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  1. Jeremy says:

    Is there a bigger arm murderer than Wayne Graham? All of his pitchers seem to run into some sort of arm trouble, at least at Rice. So far I guess he’s most succesful Rice arms have been Matt Anderson and David Aardsma. Just look at his list. Skaggs, Braugh, Townsend, Humber, and even Niemann had trouble.

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    • Jeremy says:

      I also forgot Joe Savery.

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    • chuckb says:

      Cliff Gustafson took a backseat to no one but there’s little doubt that Graham is about the here and now!

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    • Dave says:

      Probably not. I remember so many games where one of the big 3 would throw 150 pitches, then come in for some relief the next day. Rice always had solid pitchers in the bullpen as well, which made his heavy use of the big 3 all the more puzzling.

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  2. Raymondo says:

    Always thought he’d make a comeback. Too bad. At the time the Devil Rays had zero pitching, which i’m sure prompted these picks

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    • dumbcommentors says:

      Raymondo keep your comments to yourself, you are the worst commenter I have ever read, of all the trollers on all the blogs in all the internet you are the d-bag who sticks out the furthest, cancel your internet and stay off Al Gores invention forever.

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  3. Gary says:

    I can only dream of how a Crawford-McCutchen-Upton outfield would look

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    • Josh S, NY says:

      Don’t worry, you can look forward to a Crawford-Upton-Jennings OF looks instead. Though with McCutchen you could have an OF under team control longer of Jennings-McCutchen-Upton… yikes. Sad about Townsend though. I’ve been big fans of his and Niemann since they attended Rice. Glad to see Niemann finally fulfilling some of his potential.

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  4. stlredsfan says:

    University of Rice?

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  5. Mariano says:

    lol .. man you guys are awesome at picking up small details like that

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  6. tgreenfield says:

    don’t forget colby rasmus would look quite good for the rays too

    /end cardinals fandom

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