Rays Notes: Price’s Dog Astro Opens SportsCenter, Rays Re-Sign RHP Hector Lopez, Two Ex-Rays Head to Twins

By Robbie Knopf

A common complaint for Rays fans is that the Rays never make SportsCenter on ESPN. Well, the Rays don’t, but apparently their pets do.

Congrats to Astro (and of course David Price), and hopefully plenty more fun (and SportsCenter appearances) and are ahead for the Rays in 2013.

With no major league games going on right now, something tempting to do is to check the ESPN MLB Transactions Page vigorously to find out whenever your team makes a move. I have unfortunately fallen into that habit- and got completely duped. Here’s what I saw.

My first reaction was “Oh, the Rays must have signed another potential bullpen arm. Cool.” My second reaction was to look up his stats. Good thing I did. Who is Hector Lopez? He’s a 6’4″, 192 right-hander who is just 17 years old and pitched at the Rays’ complex league team in Venezuela last season. He managed just a 7.27 ERA and a 14-21 strikeout to walk ratio in 17.1 innings across 13 appearances before getting released in August. No, we will not be seeing him in the major leagues next season. He definitely has some projection remaining and may have some potential, but even in the best-case scenario, we’re not seeing him in the big leagues for four more years at the absolute bare minimum and there’s a negligible chance he actually reaches the major leagues. Congrats to Lopez that the Rays see enough ability in him to bring him back for another season, but the moral of the story here is don’t analyze transactions before looking at the stats.

(Side-note: if his career was taking place now, the Rays would have loved to sign the Hector Lopez who played with the Royals and Yankees from 1955-1966. That Lopez was a career .269/.330.415 hitter (103 OPS+) while seeing time at every position on the diamond other than pitcher. He had his best season in 1959 when he hit .283 with 22 homers and 93 RBI.)

In terms of actual moves that could make an impact on the big leagues next season, a pair of former Rays minor leaguers are heading to the Minnesota Twins: right-hander Bryan Augenstein and infielder Ray Olmedo. Both of them are Quad-A type players who have bounced from organization to organization the past few years with a spattering time in the big leagues, but Augenstein, 26, could have been a nice player for the Rays to bring back as bullpen depth thanks to a high-80’s sinker and a solid slider. Olmedo, 31, appeared in 20 games as a utility player for the White Sox this season, hitting .244. Good luck to both trying to get back to the big leagues as members of the Twins.