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Summer Olympics: Rays prospects and alumni heavily featured on Team USA

Ryan, Baz, Kaz, and Jackson represent.

Toronto Blue Jays vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays - April 8, 2007 Photo by Al Messerschmidt/WireImage

The 24-man roster for the baseball team representing the United States in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games has been announced.

The roster is made up of players from all points of their careers with minor league prospects mixing it up with veterans who are either in the twilight of their careers, or have already retired.

Four players on the finalized roster have close connections with the Tampa Bay Rays, and all of the are pitchers. The Rays organization will be sending right-handed pitchers Shane Baz and Joe Ryan to participate in the games. Meanwhile, former Rays pitchers, Edwin Jackson and Scott Kazmir, are also listed on the USA roster.

Ryan, 25, is currently with the Triple-A Durham Bulls, and has already pitched for Team USA in their ramp up for the Olympic Games. A 7th round selection by the Rays in 2018, Ryan quickly established himself as a solid pitching prospect. Known for having pedestrian fastball velocity for a righty, Ryan has still been able to rack up gaudy strikeout numbers using mainly his fastball due to it’s movement.

Baz, 22, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the 2018 trade deadline. He showcased his abilities in the lower levels of the Rays system and earned a trip to the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Entering the 2021 season, having already been among the top prospects in all of baseball, Baz has now harnessed his command to make him among the most dominant pitchers in the minor leagues, and was recently promoted to Triple-A Durham.

Kazmir, 37, is one of the most incredible stories of perseverance in baseball history. He has reached the pinnacle of his profession multiple times, only to have his body and performance deteriorate. During this past Spring, Kazmir was able to sign a contract with the San Francisco Giants after a four year hiatus from major league baseball. He reached the big leagues once again, pitching in three games this season for San Francisco.

Jackson, 37, pitched in the Major Leagues over 17 seasons, three of which came as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Over his career, he registered a 4.78 ERA / 4.48 FIP over 1,960 innings pitched. He was an AL All-Star in 2009 while as a member of the Detroit Tigers, and then the following season, he threw a no-hitter against his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays. He made his last big league appearance, back with the Detroit Tigers, on September 28, 2019.

Team USA will play in three exhibition games against the collegiate level Team USA from July 18th through July 20th in North Carolina.

Then the team will make their trip overseas to Japan with their first game set to be against Israel on July 30th and then against Korea on July 31st to decide the seeding for the ‘knockout stage’ that will be held from August 1st through August 7th.