Red Deer pitcher finding way in Rays’ system

Reign Letkeman isn’t one to look to far into the future.

The 21-year-old Tampa Bay Rays pitching prospect realizes he has to concentrate on the present if he ever wants to progress through the Rays’ system.

“It’s a learning process and there will be ups and downs, and I have to continue to work to get better,” said the six-foot-three right-hander from Red Deer.

Letkeman, who was drafted out of Big Bend Community College in the 23rd round of the 2015 draft, is in his third season with the Rays organization. He played in the Gulf Coast League in 2015 and spent last year with the Rookie League Princeton Rays in the Appalachian League.

He played nine games in the GCL, three as a starter, posting a 1-3 record and a 7.01 ERA. Last year he was strictly a reliever, playing in 15 games and lowering his ERA to 5.19.

It doesn’t matter to Letkeman if he starts or is in relief.

“I think I kind of enjoy closing, but really I just enjoy playing.”

Letkeman is still in the Rays minor league facility in Port Charlotte, Fla., and won’t know where he may end up this season until June.

“We’re still in an evaluation period,” he said. “We work every day with the coaches and will know for sure where we’ll be once we break in June.”

He could return to Princeton or possible make the jump to the short season A Hudson Valley Renegades.

But right now it’s a matter of continuing to improve.

“My curve ball is my best pitch, but I’m trying new things, fine-tuning and working on other pitches, but mainly I have to work on my mechanics.”

Reign stresses it’s not an easy game.

“It’s a tough game and I’ve been here for some time now and I still have a long way to go. I just have to take it on a year-to-year basis.”

But he has seen an improvement.

“I have seen a drastic improvement especially with a couple of the things I’ve been working on.”

He knows he can still get physically stronger and to slow the game down.

“Sometime when I get going I get going too fast,” he said.

Letkeman came up through the Red Deer Minor Baseball system and played with the Red Deer Riggers before concentrating on his college career in the States. He always hoped to get drafted. He attended a sophomore showcase and drew some attention, but an injury appeared to sideline any hopes to being picked in 2015.

“I missed two-thirds of my sophomore season and I started to think there was always next year.”

However, once he returned the interest returned and there were ”eight to 10 scouts” at his final start.

“I was contacted by 12 teams and I felt I may get picked by Tampa Bay as they showed the most interest,” he said. “The 23rd round certainly isn’t high, but being from Canada it’s still exciting.”

He signed and found himself in the GCL.

“I got off to a tough start, my mechanics needed adjusting, but I was able to continue to advance and made Princeton the next year. I can’t say where I’ll be this year, but I can’t rush it.”

He will continue to work on all his pitches.

“My strength is that I can really spin it … a good breaking ball and I have some movement. I will continue to get stronger and work on changing speeds.”

The average age of a player making The Show is 24.5, so he’s still got time to progress.

“I don’t have a long-term contract or anything, it’s a year-to-year thing, but so far so good. I would obviously like to make the Major Leagues, but I also want to play for as long as I can.

“This game is deep in me and if I’m blessed to make the highest level great. If not and it’s obvious I won’t then we’ll see, but as of now I want to play for as long as I can.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at


Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

WATCH: Setters Place grand opening in Red Deer

Red Deer’s Setters Place officially opened to the public Saturday afternoon.… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month