When Dane De La Rosa was removed from the 40 man roster prior to Spring Training, it seemed as though his time with the Rays may be approaching an end. His performance during camp, where he went 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA certainly did not help his cause. As such, it was no surprise when de la Rosa found himself sent to Durham for the third consecutive year.
While he had been solid for Durham, putting together a 6-9 record with 26 saves and a 3.00 ERA while striking out just over 11 batters per nine innings, he had been unable to translate that success to the majors. In his brief stints in Tampa, he has a career 10.95 ERA, and has given up 17 hits and 5 walks in 12.1 innings of work. He was still able to strike out more than a batter an inning, but heading into his age 30 season, it seemed apparent that de la Rosa did not have much of a future with the Rays.
The other shoe dropped today, when the Rays traded de la Rosa to the Angels for Steve Geltz. Much like de la Rosa, Geltz has not had a lot of time in the majors, as he appeared in two games last year for Los Angeles. While it may seem as though the Rays traded a minor league reliever for a younger minor league reliever (Geltz is 25), he has something that makes him an intriguing player. Quite simply, despite his small frame, Geltz strikes people out – his K/9 in the minor leagues is at 12.1 throughout his career. He did have a rough time for AAA Salt Lake, where his 5.08 ERA and K/9 of 8.8 were the worst of his career, but he still has time to develop.
The biggest knocks on Geltz are his control and command. In the minors, Geltz has walked just under four batters per nine innings, but he seems to have a tendency to miss his spots. He also throws a rising fastball, making him extremely prone to fly balls, and, subsequently, home runs. Yet, the Rays happen to have a park in Tropicana Field that plays as an extreme pitcher’s park, with only 87 home runs for every 100 given up in a neutral park. Playing for the Rays may help mitigate some of the potential issues with home runs.
At first glance, this trade may not appear to be of much significance. However, in a year or two, Steve Geltz may end up as an important piece of the bullpen.