Bulls No More? “Rays” Minor League Free Agents
On Tuesday Baseball America published a list of every player who is now a minor league free agent. That is to say, these are players who were not on their parent club’s 40-man roster, and are now available to sign with any team they want. Of the 17 players granted minor league free agency from the Tampa Bay Rays organization, 14 have spent time with the Bulls in the last two seasons, while 10 spent significant time with Durham in 2015. Here we look at who hit the free agency market this season, and their contributions to the Bulls.
C Mayo Acosta: Sparingly used as a third catcher over the last two years, Acosta has appeared in just 48 games since the start of the 2014 seasons. He’s been in the Rays organization his entire career though, including re-signing as a minor league free agent each of the past two years.
LHP Jeff Beliveau: After splitting the 2014 season between Durham and Tampa Bay, Beliveau made the Rays opening day roster this season. However, after just five appearances he missed the rest of the campaign with a torn left labrum, and was outrighted off the 40-man roster once the season ended.
OF Corey Brown: At 29 Brown turned in a productive 2015 season, hitting 19 homers and driving in 60 for Durham. He was signed by Tampa Bay as a minor league free agent in December of 2014.
OF Jose Constanza: After six players were promoted to Tampa Bay on September 1st, Constanza, 32, was signed out of the independent Atlantic League to help fill out the roster for the season’s final week.
LHP Scott Diamond: Signed by Tampa Bay on March 30th, Diamond proved to be Durham’s most consistent pitcher in 2015, going 11-6 with a 3.71 ERA and turning in a team-high 25 starts. The 29-year-old turned it around this past year, after a 2014 season saw him post a league-worst 6.57 ERA.
RHP Jose Dominguez: Acquired from the LA Dodgers in a trade in November of 2014, Dominguez spent the majority of 2015 battling injuries. He made four scoreless appearances for Tampa Bay in April, but struggled with the Bulls, posting a 6.18 ERA in 30 games. He was designated for assignment on Aug. 16, but returned to finish the year with Durham on Aug. 27.
INF Jake Elmore: Signed by the Rays as a minor league free agent in February, Elmore made two stints with the Rays after beginning the season in Durham. He hit just .206 in 51 games with Tampa Bay, and .247 in 57 games in the Bull City.
RHP Bradin Hagens: The Rays acquired Hagens, 26, from Arizona in exchange for cash in April, just before the start of the season. After opening the year with Double-A Montgomery, Hagens was promoted to Durham for good in July and proceeded to go 5-5 with 2.67 ERA over 14 games (12 starts).
SS Hak-Ju Lee: After hitting .422 through his first 15 career Triple-A games in 2013, Lee missed the rest of the season after suffering a torn ligament in his left knee. Since returning in April of 2014 the 25-year-old has struggled, hitting .203 in 2014 and .220 in 2015. He was a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster for all of 2014 and most of 2015, before he was designated for assignment on September 1st.
RHP Jhan Marinez: Picked up by the Rays as a minor league free agent last December, Marinez began the season with Montgomery. However he was promoted to Durham in late April, and earned Midseason All-Star honors. The 27-year-old finished the campaign with a 1.92 ERA and a .196 opponent’s average, the best among IL relievers.
RHP Jim Miller: Signed as a minor league free agent in March, Miller turned in an effective season by posting a 2.91 ERA in 44 outings for the Bulls. The 33-year-old led all IL relievers by allowing just 1.45 BB/9 and just 10.17 baserunners/9, while posting a career-best 23.1 consecutive scoreless innings from April 30th to June 5th.
INF Leonardo Reginatto: A Brazilian infielder, Reginatto got his first taste of Triple-A baseball this season as he shuttled back-and-forth between Durham and Montgomery. In 42 games with the Bulls the 25-year-old hit .267, and provided a memorable pitching performance in a June victory.
LHP Robert Zarate: A bit of a journeyman, Zarate hadn’t pitched on US soil since 2008, and spent the last three seasons prior to 2015 as a minor leaguer in Japan. He pitched well with the Bulls this season though, posting a 2.90 ERA as injuries limited him to just 17 games (five starts).
Also granted free agency in the Rays’ system were C Wilmer Dominguez, RHP Ely Echarry, 2B Hector Guevara and RHP Matt Lollis.