Rays sign 5 minor league free agents, announce invites to spring training
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays have signed left-handed pitcher Dana Eveland, right-handed pitchers Eddie Gamboa, Jhan Marinez and Tyler Sturdevant, and first baseman Kyle Roller to minor league contracts with an invitation to major league spring training.
In addition, the Rays have invited 12 of their minor league players to major league spring training: catcher Jake DePew, outfielder Johnny Field, right-handed pitcher Ryan Garton, infielder Patrick Leonard, right-handed pitcher Parker Markel, infielder Juniel Querecuto, infielder Daniel Robertson, right-handed pitcher Mark Sappington, right-handed pitcher Jaime Schultz, outfielder Dayron Varona, left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters and right-handed pitcher Neil Wagner.
The Rays have now invited 57 players to major league spring training.
Eveland, 32, has spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors (2005-12, 2014-15), going 20-27 with a 5.27 ERA (423.1-IP, 248-ER) in 154 games (61 starts). He made 10 appearances in the majors last season for the Atlanta Braves, his ninth major league team. He spent most of the 2015 season pitching in the International League between the Triple-A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox, Braves and Baltimore Orioles, combining to go 4-0 with a 1.95 ERA (55.1-IP, 12-ER) in 33 apps (3 starts).
Gamboa, 31, holds a 50-52 record and 3.61 ERA (806.1-IP, 323-ER) over eight minor league seasons, all with the Baltimore Orioles organization. He pitched for Triple-A Norfolk in 2015, going 8-11 with a 4.61 ERA (113.1-IP, 58-ER) in 26 games (19 starts). Since converting into a knuckleball pitcher in 2013, he has gone 19-29 with a 4.30 ERA (364.1-IP, 174-ER) in the minor leagues.
Marinez, 27, was named to the International League midseason All-Star Team in 2015, his first season with the Rays organization. He went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA (67.1-IP, 17-ER) over 50 appearances between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, following a non-roster invite to spring training. The righthander holds a career 4.03 ERA in the minors, and has pitched in six games in the majors between the Florida Marlins (2010) and Chicago White Sox (2012).
Sturdevant, 30, has gone 19-12 with a 2.81 ERA (301-IP, 94-ER) over six minor league seasons with the Cleveland Indians organization. He pitched to a 3.16 ERA (31.1-IP, 11-ER) across 26 appearances with Triple-A Columbus in 2015 following a 50-game suspension to start the season for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Roller, 27, is a career .268/.362/.458 hitter with 96 home runs and 375 RBI over six minor league seasons with the New York Yankees organization. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, making the International League midseason All-Star Team and earning the All-Star Game's Top Star honors. He hit .232/.339/.390 (99-for-426) with 14 homers and 59 RBI last season for Scranton.
DePew, 23, spent the 2015 season with Montgomery, batting .228/.280/.340 (45-for-197) in 55 games and throwing out 46.6 percent of attempted base stealers. He holds a career 43.9 percent eraser rate across six minor league seasons with the Rays organization. He was selected by the Rays in the ninth round of the 2010 June Draft.
Field, 23, was named to the Southern League midseason All-Star Team in 2015, batting .255/.329/.447 (110-for-432) with a career-high 14 home runs, 66 RBI and 18 stolen bases for Montgomery. He ranked third in the SL in doubles (33) and fourth in extra-base hits (51), and his 66 RBI ranked fifth among Rays minor leaguers. He was selected by the Rays in the fifth round of the 2013 June Draft, and holds a career .273/.342/.448 (310-for-1,137) line over three minor league seasons.
Garton, 26, went 6-1 with a 2.95 ERA (61-IP, 20-ER) in 41 appearances for Montgomery last season. He led Southern League relief pitchers in opponents' average (.197) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.33). He was selected by the Rays in the 34th round of the 2012 June Draft, and is 20-6 with a 2.72 ERA (225-IP, 68-ER) across four minor league seasons.
Leonard, 23, spent the 2015 season with Montgomery, batting .256/.350/.408 (114-for-446) with 10 homers and 43 RBI and ranking tied for fourth in the Southern League with 32 doubles. Over four minor league seasons, he has hit .254/.338/.415 (401-for-1,576) with 46 homers and 204 RBI. He was acquired by the Rays as part of a seven-player trade with the Kansas City Royals in December 2012.
Markel, 25, spent the majority of the 2015 season with Montgomery, going 5-3 with a 3.23 ERA (53-IP, 19-ER) in 42 appearances. He received a late-August promotion to Durham and pitched in five games there to end the season. He was selected by the Rays in the 39th round of the 2010 June Draft, and has gone 27-23 with a 4.22 ERA (395-IP, 185-ER) in six minor league seasons since.
Querecuto, 23, split the season between Class-A Charlotte, Montgomery and Durham, batting a combined .256 (74-for-289) in 89 games. He started the season with Charlotte and was named to the Florida State League midseason All-Star Team before his first promotion. Following the season, he played for the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League and hit .329 (52-for-158) in 51 games. He was signed by the Rays as a free agent in 2009 and has hit .255 (399-for-1,563) in five minor league seasons.
Robertson, 21, was limited to 78 games with Montgomery in 2015 due to a broken hamate bone. He hit .274/.363/.415 (82-for-299) with 20 doubles, five triples, four homers and 41 RBI there, and played in an additional four games on a rehab assignment for the Gulf Coast League Rays. Following the season, he played in 22 games for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League and was named to the AFL Rising Stars Team. Over four minor league seasons, he has hit .283/.371/.429 (411-for-1,451) with 33 home runs and 177 RBI. He was acquired by the Rays as part of a five-player trade with the Oakland Athletics in January 2015.
Sappington, 25, went 3-6 with a 3.69 ERA (68.1-IP, 28-ER) in 48 games with Montgomery in 2015. He was also named the winner of the 2015 Erik Walker Community Champion Award. The annual award recognizes one Rays minor leaguer who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement--attributes exhibited by former Rays minor league pitcher Erik Walker, who died tragically in October 2006 in a canoeing accident. Sappington, who was acquired by the Rays from the Los Angeles Angels in November 2014, is 20-23 with a 4.44 ERA (374.2-IP, 185-ER) in four minor league seasons.
Schultz, 24, went 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA (135-IP, 55-ER) and 168 strikeouts in 27 starts for Montgomery in 2015, earning Southern League midseason All-Star honors and ranking among SL leaders in ERA (ninth), starts (tied for first), strikeouts (first) and opponents' average (.218, second). His 168 strikeouts led Rays minor leaguers--five more than lefthander Blake Snell--and were the most in the organization since Matt Moore in 2011 (210). He was selected by the Rays in the 14th round of the 2013 June Draft and is 14-8 with a 3.23 ERA (239.1-IP, 86-ER) in three minor league seasons.
Varona, 27, was signed by the Rays on May 7, 2015 and hit .377 (26-for-69) in 15 games with Charlotte before a promotion to Montgomery, where he batted .264/.310/.458 (73-for-277) with 10 home runs and 50 RBI in 69 games. Following the season, he played in five games for the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rican Winter League. Prior to signing with the Rays, he played seven seasons in the Cuban National Series where he held a career .312 (412-for-1,320) batting average and .376 on-base percentage.
Venters, 30, has spent parts of three seasons (2010-12) in the majors with the Atlanta Braves, going 15-10 with a 2.23 ERA (229.2-IP, 57-ER) and averaging 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. The 2011 All-Star was signed by the Rays on March 11, 2015 and is currently rehabbing from a third Tommy John surgery. He has not pitched in a game at any level since the 2012 National League Wild Card Game, when the Braves lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wagner, 32, has spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the Oakland Athletics (2011) and Toronto Blue Jays (2013-14), going 2-4 with a 4.92 ERA (53-IP, 29-ER). He was signed by the Rays on September 17, 2014 and spent the 2015 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in Port Charlotte.