In a corresponding move to make room for the two players acquired for pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore, the Rays have traded Austin Pruitt to his hometown team, the Houston Astros.
Pruitt’s connection to Houston has been the most endearing aspect of his Rays career:
In his third career start on August 2, 2017 at Minute Maid Park, he pitched in front of family and friends and went 6.1 scoreless innings, defeating former American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. Pruitt was selected in the ninth round of the 2013 June Draft out of the University of Houston, and went 12-8 with a 4.87 ERA (199.2-IP, 108-ER) in 67 appearances (10 starts) over three seasons in the majors with the Rays.
Last season, Pruitt went 3-0 with a 4.40 ERA (47-IP, 23-ER) in 14 apps (two starts) over nine stints with the Rays, six of which were two days or fewer. It was his final year with an option on his rookie contract.
In exchange for the 40-man rostered Austin Pruitt, the Tampa Bay Rays have acquired minor league right-handed pitcher and minor league outfielder Cal Stevenson.
Battenfield, 22, was selected by the Astros in the ninth round of the 2019 June Draft out of Oklahoma State University, where he was a honorable mention All-Big 12 selection following his sophomore and junior seasons.
Over three collegiate seasons, Battenfield went 6-6 with a 4.19 ERA (122.1-IP, 57-ER) in 61 appearances (one start). After signing with the Astros, he pitched for Short-A Tri-City and was named to the New York-Penn League midseason All-Star Team. He went 2-1 with a 1.60 ERA (39.1-IP, 7-ER) and 46 strikeouts (10.53 SO/9 IP ratio) in 14 apps (5 starts) with Tri-City. His older brother, Blake, pitched for Oklahoma State from 2014-17 and ended last season with Double-A Birmingham in the Chicago White Sox system.
Stevenson, 23, was selected by the Blue Jays in the 10th round of the 2018 June Draft out of the University of Arizona. Over two minor league seasons, he is batting .315/.433/.431 (199-for-631) with seven home runs and 90 RBI. He was recently ranked the 39th best prospect in the Astros system by FanGraphs.
WALK OFF WITH THE WILDCATS!— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) March 5, 2017
Arizona moved to 10-0 on Cal Stevenson's walk-off double vs. Oklahoma State!
(Courtesy ESPN3) pic.twitter.com/zXAM3kegju
Stevenson split last season between the Toronto Blue Jays and Astros organizations, batting .288/.388/.384 (120-for-417) with five home runs, 59 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 113 games between Class-A Dunedin (Blue Jays) and Class-A Fayetteville (Astros). He was sent to the Astros, along with right-handed pitchers Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez, at the trade deadline in exchange for outfielder Derek Fisher.
At the time of the trade, Stevenson ranked among Florida State League leaders in avg. (.298, third), runs (59, first), hits (100, sixth), RBI (50, tied for ninth), walks (50, third), on-base pct. (.388, first) and on-base plus slugging pct. (.780, fourth).
Overall it’s a solid return for a consistent role player for the Rays over the last few seasons.
Until we meet again!