Rays Notes: Reid Brignac, Elliot Johnson Talk Leaving Rays, Rays Prominent Among “32nd Team”

It was exciting for the Rays to officially sign Kelly Johnson and Kyle Farnsworth for next season, with both having the ability to make a considerable impact to the Rays’ chances in 2013, Johnson with his power-speed combination and Farnsworth with his electric arsenal. But the other side of the coin is that two players who made their way to the major leagues with the Rays and saw quite a big of team with the team the last five years had to be designated for assignment, Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson. It was tough for Brignac and Johnson to hear the news of their impending departure, but after everything they went through with the Rays organization, they had no hard feelings talking to Marc Topkin after the moves.

Brignac: “Just right now it’s not working out for them and I. I’m not disappointed, I’m eagerly excited about the opportunity to play for another organization, possibly the chance to get a little more playing time. So I’m really excited with the chance to play for somebody else but I’m super gracious what the Rays have done for me. I have nothing but great things to say about those guys, the organization is one of the best organizations in baseball. It’s a little bittersweet. It’s going to be different being in a different uniform and playing for a different team, but it’s going to be a great opportunity for me I believe. There’s no hard feelings.”

“I’m not really surprised. I pay attention to what’s going on and they’re signing infielders, signing infielders, signing infielders. I just knew I possibly could be one of the guys that gets designated. I’m not bitter, I don’t have any animosity toward the Rays, I have nothing but praise and respect for those guys. They gave me the opportunity to live my lifelong dream and play in the big leagues.”

Johnson:  ”I don’t think I’m too terribly surprised. I guess it’s just a matter of this team, the Rays are one of the best teams in baseball, and things like this happen… I feel good about how I played, it was a big improvement over 2011 offensively, so I’m looking forward to 2013 and getting the chanace to do it in the big leagues with somebody else.”

Brignac and Johnson understand that the Rays gave them their chances to be starting players, Brignac in 2011 and Johnson in 2012, but at the end of the day things simply didn’t work out and the Rays had to move on. It’s been for Rays fans great watching both of them on the team (and also interacting with Johnson on Twitter), but unfortunately they watched both of them fall apart and the Rays had to look elsewhere. Best of luck to Brignac and Johnson wherever they end up- no hard feelings on our end either- and Rays fans can wish them nothing but success as look to continue their careers in other organizations.

Yesterday, the fine folks at Baseball America released their “32nd team,” which was composed of 28 scouting reports of players who had been in their team’s top 31 prospects according to Baseball America but were booted out because of trades. In the Rays case, the huge James Shields trade to the Kansas City Royals netted them Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leonard, and four players who had been considered top 31 prospects were displaced. On Tuesday, Baseball America talked about those four players, RHP Damion Carroll, OF Granden Goetzman, RHP Roberto Gomez, and LHP Alexander Torres. The entire piece is worth the read, but here are a few highlights about each player.

Carroll has a strong, physical frame with excellent athleticism and a low-90s fastball that touches 95. He should add more velocity as he refines his mechanics. All of his secondary pitches need work, though his curveball cuts diagonally and down through the strike zone when he has a good feel for it.

Goetzman is one of the top defensive outfielders in the Tampa Bay system. He has enough speed and arm strength to man any of the three outfield positions. He remains a raw prospect but has five-tool ability provided he can stay on the field.

Gomez has a tall, lanky frame with a live arm. He does a good job of pitching off his 92-93 mph fastball and commands it well to both sides of the plate. His mid-80s slider has a short, sharp break, while his changeup is inconsistent but shows promise.

Torres generates impressive velocity for a lefthander and flashes three pitches with the potential to be solid or better. His fastball sits in the low 90s at times and features nice sink. His cutter/slider has some bite to it, and his changeup sinks as well. Torres throws across his body, which creates deception and generates movement on his pitches but also leads to control issues.

All of these four have the ability to be top 10 or 15 prospects as soon as next year- although Torres is more likely to end up in the major leagues- with Carroll and Gomez looking to further their development on the mound, Goetzman fighting to stay on the field, and Torres striving to rectify his control issues. Other prospects appearing on the “32nd team” weren’t very impressive at all and were only their team’s top 31 because their team had little organizational depth. The Rays on the other hand, have an impressive minor league system stretching well beyond their top 31 prospects, and from top to bottom the Rays are expecting plenty of good things to come from their system in coming years.

Topics: Damion Carroll, Elliot Johnson, Granden Goetzman, Reid Brignac, Roberto Gomez, Tampa Bay Rays

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