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It must be September: Nick Ciuffo promoted, roster in flux

The Rays promote former first round draft choice Nick Ciuffo and activate Mallex Smith and Jake Faria

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays-Media Day Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s September roster expansion time, which around here usually means...well, not much. But this year is different, with two surprise, most likely injury-related promotions, bringing up Andrew Velazquez and Nick Ciuffo.

Yesterday, the Rays promoted reliever Jaime Schultz. They also added shortstop/centerfield Andrew Velazquez to the 40 man roster and promoted him to the big club. In a corresponding move to clear room on the 40 man roster, Jose Mujica was moved to the 60-day disabled list.

The 23 year old Velazquez came over from Arizona in the Jeremy Hellickson deal and was immediately ranked #10 in the system thanks to a breakout 2014 that saw him swipe 50 bags for South Bend. But due partly to injury, Velazquez never matched those numbers with the Rays. He fell off the prospect radar, only to resurface this year thanks to a strong year (.258/.317/.409) and added versatility (putting centerfielder into his tool box) in Durham. He also brought stolen bases to the table for really the first time during his Rays tenure, stealing 29 against 3 caught stealings.

The Velazquez move was to provide depth in centerfield with Kevin Kiermaier ailing, and we saw the rookie getting put to use almost immediately, entering as a defensive replacement yesterday against the Indians.

Today, more moves came.

That’s a lot to digest all at once.

The Smith and Faria moves were expected. The Nick Ciuffo call up was not.

It’s been a tough year for the 23 year old catcher, whose season got off to a late start thanks to a 50 game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse. Coming back from suspension, he served as Durham’s primary catcher, hitting .262/.301/.380.

The Ray first round choice in the 2013 draft (21st overall), he has been ranked as highly as the #7 prospect in the system, but has seen the shine dim. Known more for his receiving skills and strong arm than his bat, Ciuffo has yet to tap into the raw power that made him the second catcher drafted in his class. His big league opportunity this year owes as much to the Wilson Ramos trade, Michael Perez’s injury, and the, unimpressive showing by Adam Moore thus far behind the dish. He’ll try to make the most of the opportunity nonetheless.

A corresponding move is expected to clear room on the 40 man roster for Ciuffo.

Update: And in “moves that make you go wuh???” we now know the corresponding move. It’s...weird.