Every Tampa-area native to play for the Rays

February 4th, 2021

After his unbelievable walk-off moment in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series, outfielder explained why his part in the improbable victory was even more extraordinary than it already seemed.

"To know the backstory is to know the story," Phillips said then. "When these guys were in the World Series, I was in eighth grade watching them. And now to be a part of it, helping these guys win a World Series game, it's special. … I feel blessed, especially in St. Pete! My hometown! Like, crazy!”

Phillips’ place as an unlikely hero is perhaps matched by only Dan Johnson in the Rays’ history. But how many other kids from the Tampa Bay area wound up putting on a Tampa Bay uniform the way he did? Let’s take a look.

For the purposes of this list, we’re counting the Tampa Bay area as anything within the greater local media market, which includes the following Florida counties: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk.

This list only includes current/former Major Leaguers born in those counties who have played for the Rays. That means we’re not including Wade Boggs -- who was born in Omaha, Neb. -- even though he attended Tampa’s Plant High School and played for Tampa Bay, for example.

OF Brett Phillips, 2020-present
Born: Seminole

Phillips, a Seminole High School product, is obviously proud of his local ties. He grew up a Rays fan and recently donned a Tom Brady jersey as he challenged Royals catcher Salvador Perez to a bet based on the outcome of the Kansas City Chiefs-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl matchup in, fittingly, Tampa.

C , 2005; manager, 2015-present
Born: Tampa

Cash attended Gaither High School before heading off to Florida State University. He caught 13 games for his hometown team in 2005 before returning as the Rays’ manager a decade later.

OF , 2000; coach, 2018-present
Born: Tampa

Drafted by the White Sox out of Brandon High School and by the Cubs out of the University of Tampa, Timmons played 12 games for the Devil Rays in 2000 and eventually rejoined the organization as a coach. After the 2017 season, Cash named Timmons the big league club’s first-base coach.

INF , 2018-19
Born: Tampa

The Rays acquired Arroyo, a product of Hernando High School, in the Evan Longoria trade with the Giants. He hit .243 with a .710 OPS in 36 games.

OF , 2018; joined front office in 2021
Born: Tampa

A first-round pick by the Twins out of Tampa Catholic High School in 2002, Span -- also part of the Longoria trade -- played 43 games for the Rays during the final season of his 11-year Major League career. He had a huge moment right away, knocking a go-ahead three-run triple on Opening Day at Tropicana Field, and was eventually traded to Seattle alongside Alex Colomé. Span has officially returned to the organization as a special assistant in the baseball operations department.

RHP , 2018
Born: St. Petersburg

The right-hander was drafted out of Clearwater Central Catholic High School in 2008 and again out of St. Petersburg College a year later, and his big league career created the opportunity for a two-game stint with the Rays during a solid season for Triple-A Durham.

RHP , 2016-17
Born: Clearwater

Garton, a product of J.W. Mitchell High School, was selected by the Rays out of Florida Atlantic University in the 34th round of the 2012 Draft. He debuted for his hometown team on May 26, 2016, before being traded to the Mariners on Aug. 6, 2017.

INF/OF , 2016
Born: Lakeland

The 2018 World Series MVP’s career took him through Pittsburgh, Houston and the entire American League East: Baltimore, Boston, New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The versatile Lakeland native hit .309 with a .908 OPS in 60 games for the Rays, who flipped him back to the Orioles for catcher Jonah Heim, who was later sent to the A’s for Joey Wendle.

RHP , 2016
Born: Clearwater

A fourth-round Draft pick by the A’s out of Clearwater Central Catholic High, Webb posted a 5.19 ERA over 18 appearances for the Rays in his eighth year in the big leagues.

C , 2015-16
Born: Dunedin

Wilson, a product of Seminole High School and St. Pete College, spent 10 years in the Majors as a backup catcher. In 2015-16, he bounced from the Rays to the Rangers via waivers, became a free agent, re-signed with the Rangers, got traded to the Tigers, got traded back to the Rangers and then bounced back from the Rangers to the Rays via waivers. He played in 53 games for Tampa Bay.

OF , 2009-14
Born: Tampa

The sweet-swinging left-handed hitter went to Armwood High School and Florida Southern College before being selected by the Tigers in the 12th round of the 2005 Draft. The Rays acquired him for Edwin Jackson after the 2008 season, and he enjoyed a nice run for his hometown team, hitting .250/.342/.435 with 76 homers and 280 RBIs in 633 games over six seasons while earning an All-Star nod in 2011.

RHP , 2009-12
Born: Lake Wales

Davis was drafted by the Rays in 2004 out of Lake Wales High School, which is about 85 miles east of the Trop and actually closer to Orlando than it is to St. Petersburg. Originally committed to play for the University of Florida, Davis debuted for Tampa Bay in 2009, moved to the bullpen in ’12 and thrived there for Kansas City after he was part of the James Shields-Wil Myers/Jake Odorizzi trade.

1B , 2011
Born: St. Petersburg

Another product of Seminole High, Kotchman was a big contributor for the Rays as they secured a spot in the postseason in 2011. He hit .306 with an .800 OPS, recording 3.6 wins above replacement in 146 games.

RHP , 2003-06
Born: St. Petersburg

A third-round Draft pick in 1999, Waechter went 14-25 with a 5.62 ERA in 60 outings for the Devil Rays. The first of only three Tampa Bay players born in St. Pete, Waechter is now part of the Rays’ broadcast team as a pre- and postgame show analyst.

RHP , 2002-05
Born: Bradenton

A product of Manatee High School and State College of Florida, Carter spent four of his six big league seasons with Tampa Bay and earned an All-Star nod in 2003. Overall, the reliever posted a 3.92 ERA (114 ERA+) and 29 saves in 236 2/3 innings over 165 games.

LHP , 2001-04
Born: Sarasota

Drafted in the first round by the White Sox out of Sarasota High School in 1996, Seay debuted for the Devil Rays in 2001 and returned in ’03-04. In those three years, he earned his first big league win and logged a 3.63 ERA in 45 appearances.

INF/OF , 2004
Born: Tampa

The 39th overall pick in the 1997 Draft out of Hillsborough High School, Romano’s four-year, five-team big league career included a four-game stint with Tampa Bay during which he recorded one hit in eight at-bats. He remains in the industry as a player agent.

1B , 2004
Born: Tampa

A four-time World Series champion with the Yankees, the Jefferson High School graduate and University of Tampa product spent the 2004 season with Tampa Bay. The longtime first baseman hit .262/.362/.461 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs for his hometown team before finishing his career with the Yankees in 2005.

1B , 1998-2004
Born: Tampa

The first Tampa-native Devil Ray, “Crime Dog” joined Tampa Bay for its inaugural season in 1998 and spent parts of five seasons with his hometown team. Overall, McGriff hit .291/.380/.484 for the club, made an All-Star team in 2000 and slugged 99 of his 493 career homers here.

RHP , 1998-2000
Born: Dade City

Selected by the Yankees in the seventh round of the 1987 Draft out of the University of South Florida, Eiland finished his 10-year big league career with Tampa Bay. In 39 games, he went 6-12 with a 6.54 ERA.

OF , 2000
Born: Plant City

Kelly was selected by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 1997 Draft out of Tampa Catholic High School and -- after two years of playing in the Minors and serving as the University of Miami’s quarterback -- debuted for the club as a 21-year-old on Sept. 7, 2000. He only made one plate appearance in two games for his hometown team, however, and didn’t return to the Majors until 2005.

RHP , 2000
Born: Tampa

“Doc” came to fame with the Mets in the 1980s after they drafted him fifth overall out of Hillsborough High School in ‘82. A four-time All-Star, 1984 National League Rookie of the Year, ‘85 NL Cy Young Award winner and ’86 World Series champion, Gooden started eight games for Tampa Bay in 2000 before finishing the season with the eventual World Series champion Yankees.