Some veterans join a long list of invites to Port Charlotte. Thirteen players have received invites to camp.
It was announced late last week that the Rays would send 13 invites to spring training, most of which have spent parts of their careers at the major league level. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a diamond in the rough can be found amongst the invites.
The following have had MLB experience and most likely have the best shot at Opening Day:
RHP Cody Hall
LHP Adam Kolarek
RHP Colton Murray
LHP Vidal Nuno
UTIL Brandon Snyder
LHP Jonny Venters
OF Jason Coats
The wild card among this group has to be Venters. Not only is he a great story coming off two Tommy John surgeries, but he is a former All Star with the Braves in 2011. The Rays signed him in 2015 following his second surgery. Last season in 24 games between GCL, Charlotte, Montgomery, and Durham, Venters, now 32, showed why that risk just may pay off. He pitched to a 2.28 ERA in 23.2 innings. As a lefty he would prove to be a key component to a bullpen that may just be in need of a southpaw with experience. Venters has not pitched at the MLB level since 2012.
Vidal Nuno might have something to say about being a lefty specialist. The 30-year old lefty has pitched for four different teams since 2013, most recently with the Orioles last season. While he’d like to forget his 2017 campaign (10.43 ERA in 12 games) he has seen some success. In 2016 he put together a respectable year in Seattle appearing in 55 games and pitching to a 3.53 ERA while striking out 51 in 58.1 innings. His downside is being prone to the long ball, of which he gave up seven in his 12 games last year.
The Rays are most familiar with 28-year old lefty, Kolarek. He made his MLB debut last season with the big league club and pitched in 12 games to the tune of a 6.48 ERA in 8.1 innings.
The long shots
Hall, 29, has made a combined nine appearances in the majors with the San Francisco Giants (2015) and Miami Marlins (2016). Despite some struggles at the MLB level he has had great success at the lower levels. In 245 minor league games he’s pitched to a 2.87 ERA all in relief.
Murray, 27, has spent his entire career in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, combining to make 32 appearances in the majors from 2015-16. He hasn’t made it to the big league level, yet, but could wind up being a solid addition to the Durham roster with a good chance at a call up later.
Snyder is an interesting invite and could be another that winds up at Durham. He’s versatile, able to play both corner infield positions as well as some experience in the outfield. While a long shot to make the 40-man roster the Rays are always interested in a man with his skill set and experience. He’s bounced between four MLB teams in five years playing in 120 big league games.
Coats, 27, made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2016, appearing in 28 games (14 starts). He was claimed off waivers by the Rays in January but subsequently released and re-signed to a minor league contract. Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the entire 2016 season. He could sneak into the OF depth conversation if he puts together a solid spring and shows he’s healthy.
The list rounds out with some minor leaguers who have seen some success at the lower levels of the Rays, or other, farm system.
RHP RJ Alaniz
OF Johnny Field
RHP Ian Gibaut
1B/OF Joe McCarthy
INF Kean Wong.
For those keeping track – there is officially less than two months before pitchers and catchers report.
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