Rays Sign Will Rhymes, Two Others to Minor League Deals

By Robbie Knopf

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has reported that the Rays have signed former Detroit Tigers middle infielder Will Rhymes, former Yankee and Pirates pitcher Romulo Sanchez, and ex-Mets outfielder Jesus Feliciano to minor league contracts with invites to spring training.

Rhymes, who turns 29 in April, was a 27th round pick by the Tigers in 2005 and spent 6 seasons in the Tigers system, hitting .289 with an average of 21 stolen per season before being called up by the Tigers and started 54 of their final 66 games at second base, posting a .304/.350/.414 line with 12 doubles, 3 triples, a homer, and 19 RBI (he was caught in all 3 stolen base attempts). Rhymes started 2011 on the Tigers’ roster, starting 19 of their first 28 games at second base, but after posting a .221/.321/.235 line, he was sent down to Triple-A for most of the season. In 104 games at Detroit’s Triple-A Toledo, he posted a .306/.377.390 line with 17 doubles and 13 stolen bases. Rhymes is a tap hitter with a little power and a little speed who has pro experience at every infield and outfield position other than first base. Rhymes will look to make the team in a utility role, probably competing against Elliot Johnson, who is a pretty similar player.

Sanchez, who turns 28 in April, owns a 1-0 career MLB record, a 4.04 ERA, and a 4.44 FIP in 28 career relief appearances in 2007, 2008, and 2010 with the Pirates and Yankees. In 199 career minor league games (43 starts) including a 15 game stint in Japan in 2011, Sanchez owns a 4.09 ERA and a 4.26 FIP, posting a 7.2 K/9, a 4.0 BB/9, and a 0.8 HR/9. Sanchez throws a fastball in the mid-90’s, a changeup, a slider, and a curveball. He has a pretty good arm and he’ll look to make the Rays bullpen out of spring training. In all probability, Sanchez will be an emergency relief arm stashed at Durham, something the Rays always seem to need.

Feliciano, who will turn 33 in June, is a career minor leaguer other than 54 major league games with the Mets in 2010. He was drafted back in 1997 in the 36th round by the Dodgers. Feliciano was in the Devil Rays system for part of 2003 and 2004. In 1458 career minor league games, Feliciano has a .283/.334/.344 line with 193 doubles, 22 triples, 22 homers, 420 RBI, and 193 stolen bases. That’s some longevity. But he features almost no power to speak of and his speed has evaporated as he has grown older. He posted a .268/.328/.334 line primarily at the Mets’ Triple-A Buffalo in 2011, hitting 14 doubles and 4 homers while stealing 7 bases. Feliciano appears to be ban outfield candidate for Durham unless the Rays decide that they want Brandon Guyer to play every day down there (even though there’s a pretty good chance he would play in at least 100 MLB games for the Rays if the season began tomorrow), which would open up a potential backup outfield spot on the major league roster. Not that Feliciano has any business at all getting that spot.

So we basically have here a player the Rays will consider for a utility role and two players who may see emergency major league action in 2012. Good luck to all three in spring training.