Winter Updates, Spring Training Invites

Yesterday the Rays announced the signing of three players to minor league contracts, as well as a list of internal candidates the team will be inviting to Major League Spring Training. Tampa Bay officially announced the signing of RHP Ronald Belisario, INF Alexi Casilla and LHP Robert Zarate, and all three also received an invite to MLB Spring. Additionally, the club offered MLB Spring Training invitations to minor leaguers RHP Andrew Bellatti, INF Vince Belnome, RHP Dylan Floro, RHP Brandon Gomes, C Luke Maile, INF/OF Taylor Motter, OF Boog Powell and INF Daniel Robertson.

Belisario, 32, has logged 335 relief appearances since his rookie year of 2009, going 24-20 with a 3.75 ERA for his career. He went 4-8 with a 5.56 ERA a season ago for the White Sox over 62 games.

Casilla, 30, has spent parts of nine seasons at the Major League level, playing for the Minnesota Twins from 2006-2012 and the Baltimore Orioles from 2013-2014. Bulls fans might recognize the name, as he’s also appeared in 212 International League contests since 2007 between Rochester (MIN) and Norfolk (BAL).

Zarate, 28, makes his return to the States after pitching the 2012 and 2013 seasons in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers. He pitched for three seasons (2006-2008) in the Toronto Blue Jays’ system, but has not pitched in the U.S. since he was a member of the 2008 Gulf Coast League Blue Jays as a 21-year-old.

Bellatti, 23, spent the entire 2014 regular season with Double-A Montgomery, posting a 3.68 ERA over 46 relief outings. He joined Durham for the Governors’ Cup playoffs but did not appear in a game.

Belnome. 26, has been a Durham mainstay for the past two seasons, appearing in 245 games. In 2013 he was an IL Midseason and Postseason All-Star, and last year made his ML debut by appearing in four games for the Rays over three separate stints.

Floro, 24, went 11-13 with a 3.48 ERA in 28 starts for Double-A Montgomery in 2014. He ranked among Southern League leaders in starts (T-1st), innings pitched (1st, 178.2) and ERA (10th). Following the season, Baseball America ranked him as having the best control in the Southern League.

Gomes, 30, split 2014 between Durham and Tampa Bay. Over three stints with the Rays he appeared in 29 games, while making 27 appearances for the Bulls. All 110 of his Major League outings have come with the Rays in relief over the past four seasons.

Maile, 23, spent the entire 2014 regular season with Double-A Montgomery before joining Durham in the postseason. With the Biscuits he earned Southern League Midseason All-Star honors, batting .268-5-37 in 97 games, while going 3-for-17 for the Bulls in the playoffs.

Motter, 25, was a Southern League Midseason and Postseason All-Star with Double-A Montgomery, batting .274-16-61 in 119 games. Defensively, he tallied 24 outfield assists, one shy of the league record set in 1967.

Powell, 22, acquired in the trade that sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics, split the 2014 season between Single-A Beloit and Advanced-A Stockton, batting a combined .343 and posting a .451 on-base percentage, both tops among Oakland farmhands.

Robertson, 20, was acquired from Oakland in the same deal as Powell, and hit .310-15-60 in 132 games for Advanced-A Stockton in 2014. Ranked by MLB.com as the No. 9 prospect among all shortstops, he was promoted to Double-A Midland for their Texas League postseason run.

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