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Rays DFA Hak-ju Lee

It's a strong signal that they've lost confidence in what was once a top prospect in the system

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have designated shortstop Hak-ju Lee for assignment, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, to make room for catcher Luke Maile on the 40-man roster.

We knew that a roster move was coming, but I don't think many predicted that this would be it. Hak-Ju Lee was ranked as the number-two prospect in the Tampa Bay system in 2011, the number-four prospect in 2012, and the number-two prospect again in 2013, but he tore ligaments in his knee early in the 2013 season (while being slid into at second base) and has never been the same player since.

Once known for his slick shortstop defense and fine bat control, Lee's strikeout rate in Durham ballooned in 2014 and even more so this season. It currently sits at 29.2% (with almost no power).

This DFA is a clear signal from the Rays that they've given up on Lee as the shortstop of the future.

It's also a reminder that while prospects are exciting, and can have huge potential that a team can't trade for in a major league player, they also carry a ton of risk. When the Rays traded Matt Garza to the Cubs in a package that also sent away Fernando Perez but brought them Lee, Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Sam Fuld, and Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee was ranked by Baseball America as the 44th best prospect in all of baseball. Archer was ranked 89th.

Now Archer has an outside shot at the American League Cy Young and Lee only has an outside shot of ever making it to the majors.