Patriots Add Big Leaguers LaForest, Raines, Jr.

Finally officially announcing a much-rumored deal, the Somerset Patriots have signed former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Tim Raines, Jr.  Additionally, the team has added ex-Rays, Padres and Phillies catcher Pete LaForest.

Raines was rumored to be coming to the Patriots in 2006, but he ultimately signed a deal with the Washington Nationals organization.  Last season he played for his dad, Tim Raines, in Newark…but just like his famous father, a former Patriot himself, the younger Raines is heading to Somerset.

30 years old, Raines has spent parts of three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, playing in 75 games during the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons.  He hit .213 in 160 MLB at-bats, driving in seven runs and swiping ten bags.

He’s spent all or parts of eight of the last nine seasons at the Triple-A level in the Orioles, Nationals, Astros, Diamondbacks and Royals organizations, and is a career .270 hitter in 1,288 games played.  Although he had a 20 game experiment of sorts at second base in 2006, he’s an outfielder only…and that’s where he played during his brief, four-game stint with the Newark Bears last year.

LaForest is a 32-year-old native of Hull, Quebec, Canada and has 68 games of big league experience under his belt.  He most recently played at the Major League level in 2007 with Philadelphia.  Just a career .196 hitter at the MLB level, his credentials in the minors are much better.  A true slugger, LaForest has seven double-digit home run seasons to his credit, including a career-high 29 in Triple-A Portland in 2007.

Most recently, LaForest played for his hometown Quebec team in the Can-Am League, where he hit .277 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI in 92 games.  He played 37 games at first base, and 37 at catcher last year…he didn’t become a full-time catcher until the 2000 season.  In 886 minor league games, he has a career .256 batting average.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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