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Rays add four to 40 man roster

The Rays added four former Futures Game participants to the 40 man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 draft

2008 first overall pick Tim Beckham was one addition to the 40 man roster
2008 first overall pick Tim Beckham was one addition to the 40 man roster

Per Marc Topkin, the Rays have added shortstops Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham as well as lefties Felipe Rivero and Enny Romero to the 40 man roster. Along with the Joel Peralta signing becoming official, the 40 man roster now stands at 39. Today was the deadline for teams to add minor leaguers to the 40 man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft which will take place on December 6th at the conclusion of the winter meetings. All four would've been eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time. The Rays didn't leave any notable first-time players unprotected. Lefty Kyle Lobstein and outfielder Ty Morrison have reached AA Montgomery, but it's hard to see them being selected.

Lee, acquired from the Cubs in the Matt Garza trade two winters ago, batted .261/.336/.360 with 37 steals and a 9.6 BB% and 19.1 K% in 534 plate appearances with AA Montgomery in 2012. After missing the final three weeks of the season with an oblique injury, he was assigned to the Arizona Fall League. In 96 plate appearances for Phoenix, he hit .247/.344/.272. Widely considered to be the organization's top position player prospect, Lee would have been eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time. Despite the down year, the Rays hope he can be the long-term answer at shortstop they've been seeking.

Beckham, the first overall pick in 2008, is coming off a lost season. After going on the DL in late April, he was hit with a 50 game suspension due to his second positive test for a drug of abuse. In 323 plate appearances with AAA Durham, he batted .256/.325/.361 with six home runs, six steals, a 9.0 BB% and 22.0 K%. Like Lee, he was assigned to the AFL and struggled. He batted just .231/.271/.346 in 85 plate appearances with Phoenix. Beckham has a .709 career OPS in 2187 career plate appearances in the minors, and 2013 will be his third season since being included on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list.

Romero is coming off a mixed season with high-A Charlotte. He struck out 107 batters in 126 innings (19.9 K%) and walked 76 (14.1 BB%). Both rates slightly moved in the wrong direction compared to his 2011 season with low-A Bowling Green, but there's still plenty of reason to be optimistic about the soon-to-be 22 year old's stuff. He has easy mid-90's velocity on his fastball with a potential plus breaking ball, and that was on display in Kansas City in the 2012 Futures Game. While the delivery is easy, scouts day he has trouble repeating his mechanics which leads to his poor command.

Like Romero, Rivero signed as an amateur in 2008 and appeared in the Futures Game this July. The 6'0, 151 pound lefty posted a 20.6 K% and 6.1 BB% in 113.1 innings for low-A Bowling Green. His workload increased by over 50 innings compared to his 2011 season, and that may explain his struggles down the stretch (18 earned runs allowed in 20 August/September innings). His fastball has improved and now sits in the 93-94 range, and he also has a potential plus breaking ball. After struggling with pitches up in the zone with Princeton in 2011, his HR/9 plummeted to 0.4 as he induced more ground balls. He's a level behind Romero, but Rivero is known to mix up his pitches well and could advance quickly.