Hometown Pitcher: James Shields
Shields likes being a Devil Ray.
James Shields made the Santa Clarita Valley proud in 1999 when he led Hart High School to the Division II Championship after an 11-0 season. This earned him the Los Angeles Times Valley Player of the Year award and the Southern Section’s Division II Player of the Year.
He was ranked the 16th high school prospect in the nation by Baseball America in 2000 and was sought by colleges like Louisiana State University. Instead, he was drafted in 2000 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After paying his dues in the minors, Shields picked up his first big league win against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim striking out six over six innings on June 5, 2006. He went on to become the first Devil Ray Pitcher to start his career with 4 straight wins
This past season was James’ first full season, and he turned the heads of Major League Baseball. He started 31 games, pitching 215 innings with 12-8 record and a 3.85 ERA. Most impressively he struck out 184 batters (13th in the majors) while only walking 36.
Shields has emerged for the Devil Rays as a legitimate top of the rotation starter and as one of the hottest young pitchers in the MLB, and sources close to him say that he’d like to continue to pitch for the Devil Rays and stay with his young teammates to build up that franchise. That might take some work in what most people would argue is the toughest division in baseball with the Big Brother Rivalry of the Yankees and Red Sox atop the American League East. But regardless, our hometown hero gets the support of his hometown station.