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Pipeline names Rays' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathaniel Lowe and Brendan McKay were named the Rays' Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline.

McKay, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the organization.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathaniel Lowe and Brendan McKay were named the Rays' Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline.

McKay, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the organization.

Video: Top Prospects: Brendan McKay, 1B, Rays

McKay played for Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte, along with a brief stint with the Rays' Gulf Coast League team in 2018, going 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 games.

Though McKay is the organization's pitching prospect of the year, he also hits, serving as a two-way player.

He finished the year batting .214 with six homers and 39 RBIs.

"He looked fantastic on the mound," Rays general manager Chaim Bloom said. "And I think at the plate, there's a lot of underlying things -- in terms of how well he controlled the strike zone, how hard he hit the ball -- that the stat line doesn't show."

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Injuries limited McKay to 56 games in 2018.

The injuries "just curtailed the amount of time he could play," Bloom said. "I think overall, we're really encouraged. … He continued to show just an enormous amount of maturity. Just a calmness with the way he goes about his business. He has a very good idea about what he's trying to do. He's really advanced beyond his years in a lot of respects.

"Where this ends up going, I don't think we know exactly still. But we're really encouraged. Just would have liked to have had him out on the field a little bit more."

As for the answer as to whether McKay will continue to be a two-way player, Bloom responded: "Yes. He will continue to do both."

Lowe, 23, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rays' No. 13 prospect. He hit .330 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs in 130 games at Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.

Between the three levels, the first baseman led the organization in home runs and RBIs.

Video: WLD@USA: Lowe opens the scoring with an RBI single

"Coming into this year, I don't think any of us really expected him to do what he did," Bloom said. "I think we were encouraged that there was a better version of him in there than we got to see -- especially in the Florida State League. ... But to see him come back and just simplify things was more than I think we had a right to expect.

"His body, was stronger, looser; his swing was simpler. His approach was simpler and more conducive to hitting, and it unlocked the natural talent that he has.

"What an impressive season for him to blast his way through three levels. And really, at the highest level he played at this year, he still had a lot of success. It really encourages you about what he can do next year."

Bloom allowed that Lowe serves as an excellent example for others in that every player has a chance to write his own story.

"That's so important," Bloom said. "Jim Hoff, our field coordinator, likes to tell guys we have tremendous instructors here, but none of us can get you to the Major Leagues. Only you can get you to the Major Leagues."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays

Prospect Ciuffo smacks first big league homer

Choi adds second grand slam of '18 as Rays club quartet of HRs
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nick Ciuffo's first career home run got the Rays' long ball party started Friday night.

Three additional home runs followed, with the quartet accounting for 11 of the Rays' runs in a 14-2 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nick Ciuffo's first career home run got the Rays' long ball party started Friday night.

Three additional home runs followed, with the quartet accounting for 11 of the Rays' runs in a 14-2 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

View Full Game Coverage

Ciuffo's homer came with two aboard in the second inning off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, staking the Rays to a 3-0 lead.

"I got a good pitch to hit, and I didn't miss it," said Ciuffo -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rays' No. 25 prospect.

The Rays' bats were far from satisfied.

Kevin Kiermaier's turn came when he stepped to the plate with two on and two out in the third.

Video: BAL@TB: Kiermaier smacks 3-run dinger off foul pole

Kiermaier hit a pair of home runs in the Rays' 10-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday. On Friday night, he jumped on a 1-2 Bundy offering, driving the ball over the right-field wall near the foul pole to put the Rays up, 6-0.

Sean Gilmartin replaced Bundy in the fifth, and the results were similar. With one out in the inning, Tommy Pham homered over the center-field wall to push the lead to 7-0.

Video: BAL@TB: Pham launches a solo homer to center field

Ryan Meisinger took over from Gilmartin with two out in the sixth and he walked Matt Duffy, the first batter he faced. Ji-Man Choi followed with his seventh home run of the season -- and his second career grand slam, both coming this season -- for an 11-2 lead.

Video: BAL@TB: Choi launches a grand slam to right-center

But it all started with Ciuffo, whose contract was selected from Triple-A Durham on Monday, when he made his Major League debut as part of a whirlwind season.

During last year's Winter Meetings, the Rays gambled by not protecting their first pick of the 2013 Draft, and they were pleased that no teams selected him in the Rule 5 Draft.

In the spring, Ciuffo received a 50-game suspension without pay for testing positive for marijuana.

Ciuffo then hit .262 with five home runs and 28 RBIs in 60 games for Durham, while throwing out 43.2 percent of attempted basestealers behind the plate.

He recorded his first Major League hit Wednesday night in Toronto, then stepped up his game with his first homer Friday to help a team trying to make a charge in the AL Wild Card race.

"We scored a lot of runs tonight, and a lot of people contributed," Ciuffo said.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays may be grooming next teenage phenom

Appalachian League Player of the Year Franco, 17, 'can do everything on a field'
MLB.com

Wander Franco's gameday routine officially starts when he struts into H.P. Hunnicutt Field, pushes through the metal door of the Princeton Rays' cramped home clubhouse and steps on the blue carpet.

First, he devours a large bowl of fruit. Then come the fist bumps, the handshakes and the playful greetings from his teammates as he makes his way past the two card tables in the middle of the musty-smelling room to his blue locker.

Wander Franco's gameday routine officially starts when he struts into H.P. Hunnicutt Field, pushes through the metal door of the Princeton Rays' cramped home clubhouse and steps on the blue carpet.

First, he devours a large bowl of fruit. Then come the fist bumps, the handshakes and the playful greetings from his teammates as he makes his way past the two card tables in the middle of the musty-smelling room to his blue locker.

"Bueno días, Patrón!"

"Good afternoon, Patrón."

"Patrón, let's get a win today!"

Patrón, which loosely translates in English to "boss man," is what Franco's teammates call him, and so far, the teenager has lived up to the nickname. At 17, Franco was named the Appalachian League's Player of The Year, and the Rookie League star already has the baseball world wondering if he will follow in the footsteps of Washington's Juan Soto and Atlanta's Ronald Acuna Jr. as the next international prospect to play in the big leagues as a teenager, or if he will take a more deliberate path.

"We'll see how his career goes, but here's a young guy that's very mature at 17, and he has a smile on his face and plays every game like every game is the final game of the World Series," said Mitch Lukevics, the Rays' director of Minor League operations. "I call him 'Wonderful Wander Franco' for more reasons than him being the league MVP. It's about who he is and how he goes about his business, and the wonderful person that Wander Franco is."

Franco, whom MLB Pipeline ranks No. 4 among Tampa Bay prospects and 40th in baseball, sported a .351 batting average and slugged .587 with a .418 on-base percentage in 242 at-bats in 61 regular-season games for Princeton. He also racked up 10 doubles, seven triples and 11 home runs with 57 runs driven in. He walked more times (27) than he struck out (19).

He went 5-for-13 with four RBIs, a run scored and a walk in the three Appalachian League East Division Semifinal games against the Bluefield Blue Jays over the weekend to advance to the final. The league's Championship Series between the Rays and the Elizabethton Twins starts Tuesday in Princeton.

Video: Top Prospects: Wander Franco, SS, Rays

"He can do everything on a field," one National League scout said. "There's a plus bat from both sides and projectable raw power that he's barely scratching the surface of right now. He can run, he can pick it at shortstop and the arm is strong. He's real."

Scouts gush over Franco's hand-eye coordination, his quick hands at the plate and his ability to recognize pitches. The teenager also has an uncanny ability to barrel up baseballs.

But like many prospects his age, Franco is a work in progress. He needs to experience the workload of a full season and take the several hundred at-bats that come with it. He's also still working on using his legs more during his swing and learning the finer points of being a professional.

"I'm learning this game is about adjustments, adjusting to the pitchers that are trying to get you out," Franco said. "My goal and what I am working hard for, is to make it the Major Leagues so I can have a good career and help my family. That's all I want to do."

Franco's big league debut might not come for a couple of years. It could happen when he reaches his 20s. Here's what we know: Franco currently shares a stadium and a clubhouse with a local West Virginia high school team, another sign of how far away he is from Tropicana Field.

"He was at the right level and there's nothing wrong with having a great kid have a great year like he did, and he turned out to be league MVP," Lukevics said. "We're known as a conservative organization. But were more so conservative with the lower levels in terms of getting the players acclimated to the league, apartment living, living on their own and all of the nuances that come with being a first-year professional baseball player."

Franco will participate in the club's instructional league in Florida later this month. Where he goes from there remains to be seen. How Wander Samuel Franco reached this point can be traced back to a dirt field in Bani, Dominican Republic.

Franco's father, also named Wander, pitched in the Minors with the White Sox. He passed down his love of the game -- and his name -- to his sons. Some days, the Franco brothers spent all day fielding ground balls on the rocky terrain of the baseball field near their childhood home.

When the boys weren't busy chasing bad hops, they were in the backyard or on a nearby street swinging a broomstick at large water jug caps in a game called "vitilla." Think stickball, only much harder.

The work paid off. The shortstop's oldest brother, Wander Javier Franco, 23, and his second-oldest brother, Wander Alexander Franco, 21, are Minor Leaguers in the Giants' organization. Wander Javier was recently named the Offensive Player of the Year for Class A Advanced San Jose. It helped that their uncles, former Major League infielders Erick and Willy Aybar, were around to offer tips and guidance.

Tweet from @SJGiants: Congratulations to Wander Franco for winning Bubba Burger Offensive Player of the Year! pic.twitter.com/yu69GPtb69

The Francos also had the advantage of growing up in the same neighborhood as Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez. Ask Ramirez about the youngest Franco, and his face lights up. He pounds his chest a few times, the universal sign for "that's my boy."

"I have him over to my house, we practice, we train together, I'm helping him a lot," Ramirez said. "He's good. Better than me. He has more strength, more of everything. He really knows how to play."

Franco's training began in earnest at age 10 when joined a family friend named Oritel "Chiqui" Peguero. "Chiqui" had his own baseball program, but it was small, and he only had a few kids. He did, however, have relationships with well-known trainers at much bigger programs. One of those trainers was Rudy Santin, a former Major League scout and executive that had spent a combined 27 years with the Yankees, Rays and Giants before becoming a player trainer in 2011.

"I was on a trip to Bani to look at a pitcher to add to my program, and I asked Chiqui if he had anyone else to see. He told me he had a 10-year-old that was a natural," said Santin, who was inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame in 2008. "I'm like, 'OK, sure.' But as soon as the kid got to the second ground ball, I'm like, 'Wow, this guy is special.' He looked like a miniature big leaguer. I wanted to work with Wander right then, but he was too young, so I left him a pair of spikes and a glove and told them to call me in a few years."

A little more than two years later, Chiqui sent Franco to Santin's MVP Sports Academy in Santo Domingo, D.R. The longtime scout was so excited that he held a press conference at a local restaurant to announce the news a few weeks after Franco turned 13.

"I invited all of the press and told everybody that this kid will be legit and they're looking at the next superstar," Satin said. "People were telling me I'm nuts. They were all laughing at this crazy man saying this kid is going to be special. The radio stations killed me. Everyone destroyed me, but I was right."

Under Santin's guidance, Franco visited MLB team academies in the D.R., starred in showcases and worked out on the tryout circuit that's common for top international prospects. The Rays first laid eyes on him back in 2014 while scouting outfielder Jesus Sanchez, who was also in Santin's program. The Rays signed Sanchez, now No. 3 on the club's prospect list, on July 2 that year. They signed Franco, then the No. 1 prospect on the international market, on July 2, 2017, for $3.85 million.

Video: Sanchez on Rays landing top international prospect

"The truth is, it is so incredibly difficult for the stars to align with the talent, the cultivation of that talent and for the player to be in the hands of a trainer who puts him in the position to succeed and get proper evaluation," said Tampa Bay director of international scouting Carlos Rodriguez. "And then you have to be in the financial position to compete. It's one thing to identify the guy, it's another thing to be able to sign him. But through hard work and over time, teams are rewarded for the commitment to the international market and development. We are seeing that with Wander."

Franco's development could still propel him into Soto's and Acuna's exclusive big league club, but the Rays are not taking any chances with him.

"We are the Tampa Bay Rays. We are who we are," Lukevics said. "We depend and rely on our scouting and player development system on domestic or international more than any team in baseball and we have less margin of error here. If some teams have errors, they can go buy some players. We don't have that luxury, so we would want to do what's right for the player and err on the side of caution."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Tampa Bay Rays

Lowe, Wendle lead Rays to series win vs. Tribe

Special to MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Oakland and Seattle have been battling for the American League's second wild-card spot all summer.

The Tampa Bay Rays believe they can make it a three-team race.

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CLEVELAND -- Oakland and Seattle have been battling for the American League's second wild-card spot all summer.

The Tampa Bay Rays believe they can make it a three-team race.

View Full Game Coverage

Brandon Lowe established single-game career highs of three hits and three RBIs, Ryan Yarbrough pitched five strong innings of relief and Joey Wendle was a one-man defensive highlight reel Sunday, powering the red-hot Rays to a 6-4 victory over the Indians at Progressive Field.

Video: TB@CLE: Yarbrough allows 1 run over 5, K's 3

Tampa Bay is 11-2 since Aug. 19 and has outscored its opponents 65-36 during the stretch to move into the periphery of the playoff picture. The Rays trail the Athletics by eight games with 26 to play.

"Everyone in this clubhouse feels like we're still in the race," Yarbrough said. "And we're going for it. We all support each other."

Video: TB@CLE: Cash, Rays discuss the 6-4 win vs. Indians

Manager Kevin Cash has noticed, saying, "I don't think I could ask for much more from these guys. Whatever they're doing, they can keep doing. We're not playing to survive, we're playing to win."

Lowe, who made his Major League debut Aug. 5, hit a solo homer for the second consecutive day and added a two-run double in the seventh. The second baseman is ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline and is one of a team-record 21 rookies to play for Tampa Bay this season.

Video: TB@CLE: Lowe belts an RBI double off the wall

Wendle, Tommy Pham, Willy Adames and C.J. Cron had two hits apiece for the Rays, who are 10 games above .500 for the first time under Cash. Wendle also made four flashy plays at third base, including three in a row in the sixth inning.

"Joey Wendle's day at the plate and defensively was something to see," Cash said. "That had to be fun as a fan to watch. He's a stud defensively and offensively, and you could hit him anywhere in the lineup."

Yarbrough earned the win and held Cleveland hitless during his first four frames. His 13 wins are tops among AL rookies, largely fueled by Tampa Bay's innovative "opener" strategy that saw him enter the game one batter into the second inning.

Diego Castillo, normally a reliever, started and pitched one inning as the Rays used a bullpen day for the 40th time. Jose Alvarado picked up his seventh save, retiring two batters after the Indians scored three times in the ninth off Hunter Wood.

Video: TB@CLE: Alvarado strikes out Kipnis, records save

"Yarbrough has put together a lot of good performances, but that one was right at the top," Cash said. "This was a really big win for our team. We did a lot of good things real well the whole day."

Tampa Bay center fielder Andrew Velazquez appeared in his first big league game, entering as a defensive replacement in the eighth.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pham smashed a run-scoring triple to center in the seventh to chase Carrasco. The hit extended Tampa Bay's advantage to 4-1 and ensured Carrasco would not move into a tie for the Major League lead with his 17th victory. Pham finished 2-for-5 in the win and is batting .417 during his eight-game hitting streak.

Video: TB@CLE: Pham hammers an RBI triple to center field

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Wendle -- in his eighth start of the season at the position -- made a diving stop on a Francisco Lindor one-hopper over the bag in the third inning, then threw out the speedy All-Star shortstop. He robbed Lindor of another hit with a second diving stop, and flashed a slick barehanded play to steal a hit from Greg Allen as well. Matt Duffy regularly plays third, but had the afternoon off.

Video: TB@CLE: Wendle puts on a defensive clinic vs. Indians

"When I started playing third base, I was told to try and be like a hockey goalie and glove everything," Wendle said.

HE SAID IT
"Joey will probably be all over SportsCenter tonight." -- Yarbrough

UP NEXT
Designated hitter Ji-Man Choi has reached base in 15 consecutive starts heading into the 7:07 p.m. ET series opener Monday in Toronto at Rogers Centre. Choi matched his career high with three hits Saturday in Cleveland. Tampa Bay, which is 7-2 against the Blue Jays, has not named a starter. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (4-8, 5.27 ERA) will pitch for Toronto.

Brian Dulik is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle

Lowe boosts Rays, odds of sticking around

Second baseman strokes important 2-run single vs. Royals
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brandon Lowe earned his Major League shot, and Tampa Bay has been patient with the prospect who blistered Minor League pitching en route to Tropicana Field.

Wednesday night, the Rays' patience paid off when Lowe came through on offense, leading a 6-3 Rays win over the Royals. Tampa Bay has won four consecutive games to move to 51-46 on the season and 6-0 against the Royals in 2018.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Brandon Lowe earned his Major League shot, and Tampa Bay has been patient with the prospect who blistered Minor League pitching en route to Tropicana Field.

Wednesday night, the Rays' patience paid off when Lowe came through on offense, leading a 6-3 Rays win over the Royals. Tampa Bay has won four consecutive games to move to 51-46 on the season and 6-0 against the Royals in 2018.

View Full Game Coverage

Lowe hit .297 with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs in 100 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham this season. The Rays selected him on Aug. 4 and he's struggled since, going 0-for-19 before getting his first Major League hit.

"You get up to the big leagues and you think you have to go out and prove yourself rather than just really taking it in," Lowe said. "You earned your way here, you have the skills to be here, [you should just] relax and let yourself play. And I've been really stressing, trying to really prove that I belong here."

Lowe entered Wednesday night's start hitting .091 and riding an 0-for-9 stretch, but his fortunes changed in the second when he came through with a two-run single to put Tampa Bay up 2-0. He finished 2-for-4 in the win.

"He came up and broke it open there with the two-out single to score two," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "And that's all we're looking for. Give him a little bit of confidence. Since he's been here it hasn't gone the way he's wanted it to, but he's put together a tremendous season between Double-A and Triple-A, and I want to see that continue here."

Lowe told reporters that the confidence the Rays have shown in him has been a "real help to let me settle down and not stress out that I haven't been tearing it up."

"They're giving me a shot to settle in and give me some experience," said Lowe, who is hitting .278 with four RBIs in his past four games.

Tampa Bay scored on a Carlos Gomez squeeze bunt in the sixth, and Mallex Smith added an RBI single to push the lead to 4-1. Smith and Matt Duffy added RBI singles in the eighth to give the Rays a little breathing room heading into the ninth.

Video: KC@TB: Gomez plates Adames with squeeze bunt in 6th

Whit Merrifield had a solo home run in the fourth and Hunter Dozier added a two-run homer in the eighth to account for the Royals' runs.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With the Rays clinging to a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth, Gomez singled with one out then stole his 10th base of the season. One out later, Smith came through with a single to drive home Gomez.

Video: KC@TB: Smith rips 2nd RBI single of the game in 8th

SOUND SMART
Kevin Kiermaier is heating up. He went 2-for-3 Wednesday night and is now hitting .357 in eight games since Aug. 15, including multiple hits in three of those games.

STANEK TOUGH
Ryne Stanek served as the Rays "opener" Wednesday night and retired each of the six batters he faced, giving him his sixth start this season without allowing a hit, the most for any pitcher within a single season since Baseball Reference data is available (1908).

Video: KC@TB: Stanek K's O'Hearn to finish 2 perfect innings

HE SAID IT
"It looked like he was throwing a bowling ball up there for most of the outing." -- Cash on Yonny Chirinos, who allowed three runs on four hits in five innings to pick up his second win

Video: KC@TB: Cash on Chirinos and Gomez in win vs. Royals

UP NEXT
Tyler Glasnow will start Thursday night when the Rays wrap up a four-game series against the Royals with a 7:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. He is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts since joining the Rays. Excluding openers, he is the first pitcher in franchise history to allow three or fewer hits during the first four starts of his Rays career. Danny Duffy (7-11, 4.90 ERA) will start for the Royals.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2004.

Tampa Bay Rays, Brandon Lowe

Rays get Bucs' No. 4 prospect to cap Archer deal

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The final piece of the Chris Archer trade with the Pirates came into focus on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh sent right-hander Shane Baz, its No. 4 prospect, to Tampa Bay as the player to be named in the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal.

That unnamed player was expected to be one of consequence, and Baz certainly fits that bill. The 19-year-old from Texas was the Pirates' first-round Draft pick in 2017 (12th overall selection), and he signed above slot value for $4.1 million.

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NEW YORK -- The final piece of the Chris Archer trade with the Pirates came into focus on Tuesday, when Pittsburgh sent right-hander Shane Baz, its No. 4 prospect, to Tampa Bay as the player to be named in the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal.

That unnamed player was expected to be one of consequence, and Baz certainly fits that bill. The 19-year-old from Texas was the Pirates' first-round Draft pick in 2017 (12th overall selection), and he signed above slot value for $4.1 million.

View Full Game Coverage

"I know we're excited to get him," manager Kevin Cash said. "He's a really high-end prospect. Twelfth overall pick. Very powerful right-handed kid. There's probably going to be some time before we see him, but to put a kid like that into our system ... I know he's a guy that during the Draft, we talked a lot about. We were happy with who we picked at four, but we were disappointed we didn't get the opportunity, and now with that trade, we have him."

Video: Top Prospects: Shane Baz, RHP, Rays

Baz, ranked No. 95 among all prospects by MLB Pipeline, projects as a top-of-the-rotation arm, with fastball velocity that touches 98 mph and sits between 92-96 to go with a plus cutter that scouting reports suggest can be turned into a true slider. He also spins a unique curveball, giving him an elite multi-pitch arsenal that not many his age possess.

Baz went 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA and 54 strikeouts over 10 starts (45 1/3 innings) this year for the Bristol Pirates, a Rookie-level affiliate. He made 10 starts for the Gulf Coast League Pirates last year, going 0-3 with a 3.80 ERA. He has 73 strikeouts in 69 pro innings and was named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week on Monday after recording back-to-back scoreless outings for the first time this season.

Breaking down Archer trade with final piece set

In total, the Pirates sent Baz, outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow -- each of whom is expected to play a significant Major League role in the coming years -- in exchange for Archer, who has made two starts for the Pirates and is scheduled to start on Wednesday. Meadows was Pittsburgh's first-round pick in 2013, and Glasnow was taken in the fifth round in 2011.

Glasnow, who was moved to the Pirates' bullpen earlier this year, has returned to the rotation for the Rays, filling in behind All-Star Blake Snell and Jake Faria. Glasnow has made three starts for Tampa Bay, giving up three earned runs while holding opposing hitters to a .150/.209/.325 slash line in 12 innings. He topped out at 99.7 mph and averaged 97.1 mph in his most recent start, on Sunday in Toronto.

Video: TB@TOR: Glasnow sharp against Toronto in no-decision

Meadows, who had been up and down between the Pirates and the Minors, was assigned to Triple-A Durham the day following the trade. He's hitting .333/.372/.718 with three homers in 42 plate appearances over 11 games for Durham.

"I think it's a pretty good haul," Faria said. "I wouldn't have expected anything less. Trading a guy like Arch, you expect to get a pretty good haul.

"But we got two big league-ready guys, and one guy who was a first-rounder last year. Seems like a pretty big guy. I mean, Twitter fell apart as soon as his name was announced. Looks like a really good return on our part."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Chaz Roe is back with the team after being activated from the 10-day disabled list (torn left meniscus). Roe made two appearances during a rehab assignment for Class A Charlotte, retiring all six batters he faced.

Cash noted that having Roe back means "a lot" to the team.

"We've asked Chaz, basically ever since he got here last year, we've challenged him with getting some big outs," Cash said. "Late in the ballgame, a lot of big outs with right-handed hitters. The knee thing popped up. He tried to pitch through it. Went and got that procedure done.

"He's in a much better spot physically, and probably mentally, knowing he can go out there and perform pain-free. He'll add to some of that veteran leadership. Kind of complement Sergio [Romo] and continue to get big outs for us."

Roe told reporters he's back to full speed and that he has no restraints in regard to what he can and can't do in games.

• Outfielder Tommy Pham (10-day DL, fractured right foot) is with the team in New York as he continues to progress.

"Tommy's doing well," said Cash of Pham, whom the Rays acquired from St. Louis for three prospects on July 31, and who will begin a rehab assignment at Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley. "It's not the easiest thing to come here, then go on the DL and be away from the team for 10 days.

"There's no urgency [for him to return]. We want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy. I know he's going in the right direction. But when you fracture a bone, it takes some time to heal."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays get Pham from Cardinals

3 prospects sent to St. Louis for outfielder, international bonus pool money
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Consistent with how the Rays do business, they made a trade for Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham and international bonus pool money in exchange for three Minor League prospects: outfielder Justin Williams, the Rays' No. 14 prospect, left-hander Genesis Cabrera (No. 25) and right-hander Roel Ramirez.

While Chris Archer had been the focus of trade rumors involving the Rays -- and was dealt to the Pirates before Major League Baseball's 4 p.m. ET Deadline -- the Pham deal seemingly came out of nowhere.

ST. PETERSBURG -- Consistent with how the Rays do business, they made a trade for Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham and international bonus pool money in exchange for three Minor League prospects: outfielder Justin Williams, the Rays' No. 14 prospect, left-hander Genesis Cabrera (No. 25) and right-hander Roel Ramirez.

While Chris Archer had been the focus of trade rumors involving the Rays -- and was dealt to the Pirates before Major League Baseball's 4 p.m. ET Deadline -- the Pham deal seemingly came out of nowhere.

Video: COL@STL: Mozeliak talks about trading Pham to Rays

"I woke up to [Cards president John Mozeliak] calling me early this morning with the news, so I was really shocked," Pham told MLB Network Radio. "That's the first thing, you know, you wake up to your boss calling you that you've gotten traded, it's shocking."

Pham is hitting .248 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs.

"It hurts," he said. "More specifically, for me, I've been underperforming from my expectations, and I feel like if I had done my job better, [the Cards] wouldn't be so far down in the standings."

A late bloomer, Pham emerged with both his bat and his glove to break into St. Louis' lineup last season, hitting .306 and slugging .520 with 23 homers. Pham, 30, is making just $570,000 this season and is under team control through 2021. He will become eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. In March, details emerged that Pham rejected the Cardinals' offer of a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

Tweet from @snellzilla4: Let���s go!!!! Welcome to the family!! @TphamLV

Williams, 22, who came to the Rays in the November 2014 trade that sent Jeremy Hellickson to the D-backs, played in one game for the Rays this season. He was hitting .258 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs for Triple-A Durham.

Cabrera, 21, was 7-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 games at Double-A Montgomery while Ramirez, 23, was 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 42 games for Montgomery and Class A Advanced Charlotte.

With Pham out of the mix, the Cardinals have various directions they can now turn to plug the opening in their outfield. Harrison Bader, who is hitting .265/.338/.400 over 83 games, is the best defensive outfielder on the team's 25-man roster. This could also make room for outfielder Tyler O'Neill, who has 26 homers and 61 RBIs in 61 games with Triple-A Memphis. He, too, can play center.

Williams will be part of the outfield mix, as well, though the Cardinals plan to send him to Memphis for now. A second-round Draft pick in 2013, Williams appeared in 94 games for Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate this season. He hit .258/.313/.376 as the club's everyday right fielder.

Tampa Bay entered Tuesday 21 games out of the American League East lead and 10 games back of the league's second Wild Card spot, so this would appear to be a move directed more toward the club's future beyond 2018.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Tommy Pham

How the Rays fare in prospect ranking update

Archer talks potential last start with club; Cash on Beeks, Perez additions
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- MLB Pipeline released its updated 2018 Top 100 Prospects and Top 30 Prospects by team rankings on Thursday. Six Rays prospects were among the Top 100.

Shortstop/second baseman Willy Adames is the highest ranked Rays prospect in the Top 100 at No. 22. Others in the Top 100 include RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 24), LHP/1B Brendan McKay (No. 30), OF Jesus Sanchez (No. 32), SS Wander Franco (No. 41) and LHP Matthew Liberatore (No. 68).

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BALTIMORE -- MLB Pipeline released its updated 2018 Top 100 Prospects and Top 30 Prospects by team rankings on Thursday. Six Rays prospects were among the Top 100.

Shortstop/second baseman Willy Adames is the highest ranked Rays prospect in the Top 100 at No. 22. Others in the Top 100 include RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 24), LHP/1B Brendan McKay (No. 30), OF Jesus Sanchez (No. 32), SS Wander Franco (No. 41) and LHP Matthew Liberatore (No. 68).

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Last start?
Chris Archer, the subject of countless trade rumors, was asked Thursday if he had any thoughts about the possibility of Friday's start against the Orioles being his last as a member of the Rays.

"I haven't thought that much about it," Archer said. "There's always a lot of speculation. My main focus, as cliche as that sounds, is pitching tomorrow and giving our team a chance to win. That's it."

Video: MIA@TB: Archer strikes out season-high 13 vs. Marlins

Archer was asked if the two trades on Wednesday coming to fruition made him antsy that he may soon be dealt to another team.

"Not really," Archer said. "I've been trying to do my best to put as little energy as possible into things I can't control. All I control is 60 feet, six inches tomorrow."

New guys
As far as trades are concerned, the Rays had a busy day on Wednesday. Two of the new players, left-hander Jalen Beeks and catcher Michael Perez, were in uniform and on the club's roster on Thursday.

Beeks came to the team in the deal that sent Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox.

Video: Top Prospects: Jalen Beeks, LHP, Rays

"He's done some special things in Triple-A," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Pretty well known within the industry. We've received a lot of compliments. We just want to get him in here and to get comfortable."

Cash said Beeks could provide length out of the bullpen, but he could also find some starts.

"Hopefully, I can help this team win," Beeks said. "Just be a positive influence in the clubhouse. Just try to be a team guy and do the best I can when I'm here."

Perez was shipped to the Rays in the trade that sent Matt Andriese to the D-backs. In his Major League debut on Thursday with his new team, Perez knocked a double for his first MLB hit in a 4-3 win for the Rays.

Video: TB@BAL: Perez double for 1st Major League hit in 5th

"[Perez's] all-around game defensively has been something we've valued, we've monitored," Cash said. "Our guys do a good job of knowing what makes people special, and we feel he can be a special defender, special overall catcher. Left-handed [batter] that's swung the bat pretty well in Triple-A. Get here, and he's going to get to play some. We'll see how it goes from there."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays

Rays thrilled to add Beeks' 'deep repertoire'

Neander, Tampa Bay had 'kept tabs' on prospect for years
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- General manager Erik Neander sounded excited about the return the Rays got by sending Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox in Wednesday's trade for left-hander Jalen Beeks.

"The return, Jalen Beeks, this is a pitcher we've kept close tabs on for a few years," Neander said.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- General manager Erik Neander sounded excited about the return the Rays got by sending Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox in Wednesday's trade for left-hander Jalen Beeks.

"The return, Jalen Beeks, this is a pitcher we've kept close tabs on for a few years," Neander said.

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Though Tampa Bay isn't sure where Beeks will begin his tenure in its organization, he could be joining the Major League squad soon.

"We're talking through it right now, but I think there's a decent enough chance that he joins us in Baltimore," said Neander, citing the city where the Rays begin a four-game series against the Orioles on Thursday.

Video: Eovaldi discusses being traded to the Red Sox

Beeks, 25, is 34-28 with a 3.63 ERA in parts of five Minor League seasons, including a 5-5 mark with a 3.29 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket this season. He had two appearances for Boston this year, going 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA.

"He's had the two Major League experiences," Neander said. "Obviously, those didn't go very well, and those aren't our expectations moving forward. Somebody with a deep repertoire, he commands, he competes. He's a guy we think has a chance to be a Major League starter, and we'll see where things go."

Neander noted that Beeks "can really pitch," which accounts for his high strikeout numbers.

Video: Cash discusses losing Eovaldi, adding prospect Beeks

"He can ride the fastball, he can move it in and out," Neander said. "... There's glove-side command, there's arm-side command, and there's feel to elevate. He's got a cutter. He's got a curveball. He's got a changeup. There's a lot of mix. There's a lot of setting up. There's a lot of sequencing.

"I don't necessarily think right now he has a go-to strikeout pitch that he can lean on. I think a lot of those strikeouts in Triple-A have been more of a product of pitching and setting guys up."

Clearly, Neander wants to see what Beeks can do at the Major League level.

"With a guy like that, I think it's essential to give him an opportunity to get feedback at the Major League level, to better learn what sequences work, what sequences don't," Neander said. "Where the strike zone is, etc. And there's no real substitute for getting that opportunity."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jalen Beeks

Rays net prospect Beeks from Sox for Eovaldi

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Eovaldi wasn't exactly suprised to find out that the Rays had traded him to the Red Sox on Wednesday for left-handed pitching prospect Jalen Beeks.

"I knew I was on the trading block," Eovaldi said. "... I assumed [getting traded] was a possibility, particularly where I am in my career and the way my contract was for this year. I assumed that I would get traded. As to what team it would be, I wasn't thinking about that at all."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Eovaldi wasn't exactly suprised to find out that the Rays had traded him to the Red Sox on Wednesday for left-handed pitching prospect Jalen Beeks.

"I knew I was on the trading block," Eovaldi said. "... I assumed [getting traded] was a possibility, particularly where I am in my career and the way my contract was for this year. I assumed that I would get traded. As to what team it would be, I wasn't thinking about that at all."

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Eovaldi added: "[Still], everything's kind of swirling right now."

Eovaldi, 28, had been scheduled to start Wednesday afternoon's game against the Yankees. Right-hander Ryne Stanek stepped in to make the start and tossed a scoreless inning in the Rays' 3-2 win.

Getting traded is "pretty much the same every time," Eovaldi said. "They just told me I'd been traded, and it was to Boston. I just let [the Rays] know how thankful I was for the opportunity to come over here at that point of my career. To just take that year for recovery. I can't thank the Rays enough."

Video: MIA@TB: Eovaldi tosses six strong frames vs. Marlins

Eovaldi was reminded that he was going from a third-place team to a team with the best record in baseball.

"It's definitely exciting," Eovaldi said.

Eovaldi has experienced the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry from the Yanks' side, as he made 51 appearances for New York in two years with the team.

"Those [Yankees-Red Sox] games are definitely exciting," Eovaldi said. "The fans, it's kind of one of those indescribable feelings. The tensions are always high. It's always real good games, good series."

Eovaldi returned from Tommy John surgery (August 2016) and arthroscopic surgery (March 30) on his right elbow to make 10 starts for the Rays this season, going 3-4 with a 4.26 ERA. When Eovaldi made his season debut on May 30 at Oakland, he became the 12th pitcher to start in the Majors after multiple Tommy John surgeries. Of the pitchers who have done so, he is only the seventh to make at least five starts.

Video: Eovaldi discusses being traded to the Red Sox

Eovaldi allowed that his arrangement with the Rays had been mutually beneficial.

"I do think it was fair," said Eovaldi, who did not pitch for Tampa Bay in 2017. "They're getting a really good left-handed pitcher in return for me. ... There's a lot of talent over here for the Rays and they're headed in the right direction."

"He's a guy that's not making a lot of money. He's got a power arm. He throws strikes. Any contender has room for a guy like that," said Rays general manager Erik Neander on the demand for Eovaldi.

Beeks, 25, is on the 40-man roster, and his assignment is to be determined. He has totaled three days of Major League service time over two stints with the Red Sox this season, and he made his big league debut in a start on June 7 against the Tigers.

Rays thrilled to add Beeks' 'deep repertoire'

In 16 starts with Triple-A Pawtucket, Beeks is 5-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 117 strikeouts. Over five Minors seasons, Beeks is 34-28 with a 3.63 ERA in 96 appearances (94 starts). In 2017, he was named the Red Sox's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

Beeks was selected by the Red Sox in the 12th round of the 2014 Draft out of the University of Arkansas, where he was a teammate of Stanek for one season ('13).

The Rays had a busy morning.

Right-hander Chih-Wei Hu was optioned to Triple-A Durham, and left-hander Jonny Venters was activated to take his place. Venters entered the game on Wednesday in a ninth-inning double switch, and he retired Greg Bird on a groundout, In addition, right-hander Austin Pruitt was recalled from Durham to take Eovaldi's spot.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Jalen Beeks, Nathan Eovaldi

Adames called up, draws critical walk in rally

Williams sent down day after making MLB debut
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- After making his MLB debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Rays No. 8 prospect Justin Williams returned to Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay recalled infielder Willy Adames -- the team's No. 2 prospect -- in his place.

With Matt Duffy (back spasms) and Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) out Saturday night and Adeiny Hechavarria (sore oblique) having to leave after the seventh inning, the Rays had to bring in Carlos Gomez to play second base in the eighth and ninth innings. Hechavarria does not feel like he's headed to the disabled list, but he's not yet ready to be back out at shortstop.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- After making his MLB debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Rays No. 8 prospect Justin Williams returned to Triple-A Durham. Tampa Bay recalled infielder Willy Adames -- the team's No. 2 prospect -- in his place.

With Matt Duffy (back spasms) and Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) out Saturday night and Adeiny Hechavarria (sore oblique) having to leave after the seventh inning, the Rays had to bring in Carlos Gomez to play second base in the eighth and ninth innings. Hechavarria does not feel like he's headed to the disabled list, but he's not yet ready to be back out at shortstop.

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"Obviously, with Hech and his oblique -- I think he's going to be more day to day -- we needed another infielder," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Sending down Justin Williams, it's tough. I think we pride ourselves in trying not to make those quick decisions. But he was on the roster. We needed somebody, just because of the injuries to the bench lately.

"It's not ideal, but [Williams will] go down there. I reassured him, we all reassured him, he's done some good things. He's definitely in the plans. He's a young player. Part of that core we're excited to see what the future brings. But he's done good things. He'll go back down there and continue to do so."

Duffy started at third base in Sunday's 6-4 walk-off win over the Marlins at Tropicana Field. Adames started at shortstop, and though the rookie went 0-for-3, he drew a critical walk during the Rays' ninth inning rally, which ended on a pinch-hit grand slam by Daniel Robertson.

Video: MIA@TB: Choi, Robertson lift Rays to comeback win

Williams, 22, made his debut Saturday when he pinch-hit for Hechavarria in the seventh inning, grounding into a double play to end the frame.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Justin Williams

Rays call up No. 8 prospect Williams

Outfielder makes Major League debut after Hechavarria exits
MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Outfielder Justin Williams, the Rays' No.8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his Major League debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

Williams was recalled from Triple-A Durham to help shore up the Rays' offense with Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) sidelined, as well as Matt Duffy (back spasms).

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Outfielder Justin Williams, the Rays' No.8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his Major League debut in Saturday night's 3-2 loss to the Marlins.

Williams was recalled from Triple-A Durham to help shore up the Rays' offense with Kevin Kiermaier (right foot soreness) sidelined, as well as Matt Duffy (back spasms).

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Left-hander Hoby Milner was optioned to Durham to make room for Williams.

Williams, 22, made his debut when he pinch-hit for Adeiny Hechavarria in the seventh inning.

"It was crazy," Williams said. "I wasn't nervous after the first pitch. My mind was saying, 'Just try to get the job done.'"

Williams was used as a pinch-hitter because Hechavarria left the game with an oblique issue. So the left-handed hitting Williams' first at-bat came against left-hander Adam Conley.

Williams then hit into an inning-ending double play.

"I do a lot of dumb things, but I don't know if I'd go left against left," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, when asked about Williams getting put into a tough spot. "It was probably good, because we ambushed him. ... He didn't have time to think about it."

Williams was hitting .267 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs in 87 games for the Bulls this season.

"Exciting young player," Cash said. "Talking to [Durham manager] Jared [Sandberg] today, he's made progress. Obviously, any guy at Triple-A, there's still room to improve. He's done some good things. I know our hitting coordinators and hitting coaches, they really like him. He hits the ball really hard.

"I saw him in Spring Training, and then I saw him out in the Arizona Fall League. A lot of talent. He's young, but hopefully we can get him out there, get him in a ballgame, and let him get acclimated like we've done with a lot of these other guys."

Cash said he did not know if Williams' time with the club will be an abbreviated stint or not.

"In fairness, a lot will be determined by [Kiermaier] and how he's able to respond and come back from his foot injury," Cash said.

Durham was in Buffalo, so Williams did not make it to Tropicana Field in time for the start of the game.

Williams was selected by the D-backs in the second round of the 2013 Draft and was acquired by the Rays in the November 2014 trade involving Jeremy Hellickson.

Cash noted that Milner's performance Friday night -- when he allowed three runs (one earned) in two-thirds of an inning -- had nothing to do with the move. They simply needed another position player.

"You hate doing that," said Cash about optioning Milner. "We're intrigued by Hoby. We like Hoby. The deception he creates, [it's good for] left on left matchups."

Kiermaier day to day

A day after leaving the game with right foot pain, Kiermaier had an MRI and got a cortisone shot.

"There's still a bone bruise there, just kind of like we expected," Kiermaier said. "So I got a cortisone shot, so I should be feeling 100 percent by Monday."

Kiermaier told reporters that the lingering pain in his foot stems from an April 8 game in which he fouled a ball off his foot.

"Yesterday was kind of the breaking point for me and the worst day I've had, so I had to speak up and let these guys know that we need to do something else to figure this thing out," said Kiermaier, who hit a leadoff double Friday night but had to leave the game after the fifth inning.

Kiermaier will have to wait 36 hours after the shot before he can resume activity.

"I'm happy that I'll feel as good as I've felt all season, once Monday comes around," Kiermaier said.

"We're going to give him a day or two to kind of see if that pain and irritation subsides and we'll go from there," Cash said. "But we're hopeful that he'll be in here real soon for us. We didn't place him on the DL, so we think he'll be back sooner than later."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Kiermaier, Justin Williams

Adames optioned to Triple-A to get more action

Rays hope to get club's No. 2 prospect into better rhythm
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- In order to get one of their top prospects more playing time, the Rays optioned shortstop Willy Adames to Triple-A Durham on Thursday. In a corresponding roster move, right-hander Chih-Wei Hu was recalled from Durham.

Adames, the Rays' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, hit .216/.263/.341 with three homers in 26 games with Tampa Bay. He was called up on May 22 after Adeiny Hechavarria went on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- In order to get one of their top prospects more playing time, the Rays optioned shortstop Willy Adames to Triple-A Durham on Thursday. In a corresponding roster move, right-hander Chih-Wei Hu was recalled from Durham.

Adames, the Rays' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, hit .216/.263/.341 with three homers in 26 games with Tampa Bay. He was called up on May 22 after Adeiny Hechavarria went on the 10-day DL with a right hamstring strain.

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But with Hechavarria back in the mix over the past few weeks, Adames had been bumped from his natural position at shortstop and was playing primarily at second base.

"It was a really hard decision," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We thought about it and, in fairness to Willy, when we called him up, we thought we were going to be able to do a better job of creating a lane. We've got a lot of good infielders here right now playing. We needed pitching, which also went into it, obviously, with the two bullpen days back to back."

Video: TB@NYM: Adames clubs a homer to center in the 5th

Adames, MLB Pipeline's No. 19 overall prospect, hit .286/.356/.424 with four homers and 30 RBIs in Triple-A prior to his promotion. The organization hopes that more consistent playing time will help Adames find his rhythm.

"Ultimately, it was more about Willy, in fairness," Cash said. "We want him to be a shortstop. He's got to get some reps down there and get some more consistency. But we anticipate he's going to go do his thing. He was positive with the message, and get him right back up here."

This will be Hu's second Major League stint for the Rays this season. He made one appearance, allowing three runs in 2 2/3 innings vs. the Rangers on April 16, before being sent down. He has recorded a 4.66 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) for Durham. The Rays used five pitchers on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames