Over the weekend, the Rays finalized a few deals involving minor leaguers. These can easily slip under the radar, and are a bit tedious to cover one move at at time, so here's a quick round up of what was done.
Rays complete Sean Rodriguez Trade
Now that the Rule 5 draft has passed, the Rays have finalized their trade with the Pirates for Sean Rodriguez, bringing in Buddy Borden, a 2013 seventh round draft pick out of college.
Borden fits the mold of a starter, with an athletic and durable build - something we've seen the Rays prioritize in other recent starting prospect acquisitions (Odorizzi, Karns).
In a write up for Fangraphs, Nathaniel Stoltz noted last May that Borden's pitches were "problematic" in their lack of movement, though it's worth noting he would finish a full season at Low-A with 128 innings and a 23.1% strikeout rate, coupled with a 9.1% walk rate and a 3.16 ERA in 2014.
Borden's easy low-90s heat, stamina, breaking ball, and decent feel make for a reasonable overall package, but the overall lack of movement in his game will likely make it difficult for him to consistently miss bats at higher levels, painting him as a solid organizational arm more than a prospect on the rise.
You can find a video of Borden and a write up on his full arsenal behind the link, as well as Rays catcher Armando Araiza, for those unfamiliar with his plus defensive game.
Borden's twitter bio @BudreauxThe5th describes the right hander as a Gold Glove BP center fielder.
C Bobby Wilson, UT Eugenio Velez, and OF Corey Brown signed
The rest of the minor league signings include two outfielders and a catcher to round out Durham's depth.
St. Petersburg College and Seminole High School graduate Bobby Wilson joins the Rays after five years of depth appearances with the Angels. His framing grades fairly well, like other Rays one-year minor league signings before him, as does the rest of his defense, though don't expect a Rene Rivera renaissance with the bat.
Wilson played on the Triple-A squads for NYY in 2013, and AZ in 2014, though only the latter would call him back up to the show. With the Rays, he fills a need in Durham with the departure of Ali Solis and Mayo Acosta. He will likely play behind Luke Maile and Curt Casali next season.
33-year old Eugenio Velez last had a regular role in the majors in 2008 and 2009, off the bench with the Giants, and last saw MLB time with the Dodgers in 2011. He batted .309/.363/.441 with Milwaukee's minor league affiliate last season with 27 swiped bags, and can fill the void at many defensive positions.
29-year old Tampa native Corey Brown was with Boston last season, and saw one game at the major league level, after three season's worth of bus trips to and from the Nationals. His batting line was not as kind last season, at .231/.294/.446, with 17 longballs.
Other odds and ends:
Merrill Kelly leaves for Korea, Sands to Cleveland, Figueroa to Yanks
Mentioned in our winter meetings coverage, Merrill Kelly is departing the Triple-A depth to pursue a starting role with the SK Wyverns, which traditionally does well in loading its roster with talent out in the KBO. Best of luck, Kelly.
OF/1B Jerry Sands also departed the Rays, trying his luck with the Indians next year. I still like his flyball potential, perhaps that will shine better in a more neutral environment.
Meanwhile, org. soldier Cole Figueroa hit free agency and is off to the Yankees.
That last bit is true, and some tough Figgy pudding to digest.
Figueroa finally broke into the Rays roster this season, accumulating 49 plate appearances and stealing a bit of the spotlight along the way, responsible for the game-winning hit in a 1-0 game against the Red Sox on May 23, resulting in a massive celebration for the youngster.
He was fun to watch, so here's to hoping he finds success. Just not against the Rays.
Top AZ scout joins Tampa Bay
In what looks to be a nice pick up for the Rays staff, Todd Donovan, one of the high ranking amateur scouts with the Diamondbacks, has elected to leave Arizona after not being selected to replace Ray Montgomery as scouting director.
Donovan was already in line for a promotion in Arizona, slotted to be a national cross checker this season after working as a regional supervisor. It's not yet clear what his role in Tampa Bay will be.
Among players Donovan was heavily involved in drafting is recent trade acquisition Andrew Velazquez.