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Dodgers sign former Rays prospect Andrew Toles

The enigmatic center fielder is back in professional baseball

Tampa Bay's patience with Andrew Toles ran out, but Andrew Friedman is giving him another chance
Tampa Bay's patience with Andrew Toles ran out, but Andrew Friedman is giving him another chance
Jim Donten

According to Matt Eddy at Baseball America, Andrew Friedman and his Dodgers added center fielder Andrew Toles on a minor league deal.

Friedman, of course, was at the helm when Tampa Bay drafted Toles from Chipola JC in the third round of the 2012 draft.

In his pro debut that year, Toles batted .281 with a .327 on-base percentage and .482 slugging percentage with 23 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 51 games for the Princeton Rays.

His second act was even better. The next year with Bowling Green, he batted .326/.359/.466 with 62 steals in 79 attempts and 53 extra-base hits in 121 games. For his efforts, BA named him the No. 19 prospect in a loaded Midwest League, and the staff here at DRaysBay viewed him as the organization's sixth-best prospect. The Rays chose him as their minor league player of the year.

Toles' walk rate was always pretty low, but he also did not strike out. While he had power, he did not sell out to get it. He put the ball in play and used his legs to get hits most players wouldn't.

Things quickly turned south. Through two months with Charlotte, he was batting just .261/.302/.337. After he went 0-for-1 on May 25, it was revealed that he was benched for lackadaisical play and would miss some games. Days later, he left the team and was eventually placed on the inactive list. He never returned to the Stone Crabs.

No one seemed interested in talking about his stint on the inactive list; given that it was described as personal reasons, I can't blame anyone for that.

Trouble seemed to follow Toles throughout his baseball career. At Tennessee, where his father and uncle starred on the gridiron, he was dismissed from the team after being named to the SEC's All-Freshman team a year earlier.

"Within all successful programs, there is a certain standard of accountability to which every member of the team must be held," Volunteers coach Dave Serrano said.

Toles landed on his feet the next season with Chipola, one of the premier junior college programs that has produced Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, Pat Corbin and others. Toles would be reportedly suspended and benched there, but he would still be drafted by the Rays that summer and earn a $394,200 bonus.

In 2015,Toles moved past his departure from the previous season and reported to spring training with the Rays. Apparently, they did not like what they saw, and he was released at the end of March.

It is clear that Toles has talent. Still just 23 years old, he will, however, have to show that his ability is still there after missing an entire season. Presumably, Friedman and the Dodgers did their homework on a player he is already quite familiar with and feel he is ready to resume his professional career.