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Talbot gets extra work in during AFL

Talbot gets extra work in during AFL

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Arizona Fall League just wrapped up with a championship game that saw the Peoria Javelinas defeat the Phoenix Desert Dogs, 5-4.

That matters if you're a Rays fan, because the Desert Dogs' roster contained players from Tampa Bay's organization, with right-hander Mitch Talbot being the most prominent of those.

Talbot fought an elbow injury this summer before finishing the season at Triple-A Durham, where he pitched in two of the Bulls' playoff games. For the season, Talbot went 4-4 with a 3.69 ERA in 15 Minor League starts, accruing just 68 innings after pitching 161 the previous season, when he went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA in 28 starts for the Bulls.

"We just weren't satisfied Mitch had enough work in for the 2009 season," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "And the Arizona Fall League provided an opportunity for him to make up some innings."

Talbot went 3-0 with a 4.37 ERA in six starts for the Desert Dogs, pleasing the Rays with his work.

"Mitch did everything we asked of him," Lukevics said. "He went out there, he made his starts, and he got innings that he sorely needed after missing over two months of the season for Durham.

"So he went out there with the intent to prove that he was healthy and to prove that he can compete, and he did that. So we accomplished our goals with Mitch Talbot in the Arizona Fall League."

Of note, Nevin Ashley put together a nice campaign in the AFL. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound catcher hit .212 at Double-A Montgomery and .240 at Class A Charlotte during the summer, and he was sent to Arizona in the hopes he would show some improvement with his bat. He did just that, hitting .366 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 games, including a 17-game hitting streak. He finished off his fall season with two hits in the championship game, one of which was a home run.

"Nevin did a nice job out there," Lukevics said. "Nevin went out there with the intent of improving his bat, and he showed what he's capable of doing. It was good to see Nevin competing out there and improving his bat. We hope that carries into next season."

Ashley is likely earmarked for a return to Montgomery in 2010.

Also participating for Phoenix were right-handed relievers Matt Gorgen (0-1, 10.38 ERA, 10 appearances), Heath Rollins (0-0, 8.03 ERA, 10 games) and Paul Phillips (0-1, 4.82 ERA, nine games).

Shortstop Shawn O'Malley hit .313 with five RBIs in 20 games for the Desert Dogs.

Of note, Shawn Riggans has just begun a stint in Puerto Rico playing for the Carolina club. Through five games, the oft-injured catcher was hitting .211 with eight RBIs and three doubles.

Eduardo Morlan is also in Puerto Rico. The right-hander was 0-0 with a 8.31 ERA after three appearances.

Outfielder Justin Ruggiano is in Venezuela, playing just one game so far for Caracas.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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