With the Durham Bulls’ season ending on Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays promoted a trio of players to join the club for the last couple of weeks of the season. With Durham being the runners up for the International League championship, the team clearly had a wealth of talent, and as such there were plenty of players who you could have made a case for a call-up. Who were these worthy players that did not get a shot with the Rays?
Cole Figueroa– Utility Infielder
The utility infielder saw a couple of stints with the Rays over the course of the season, hitting .233/.286/.326 in 23 games primarily spent at second base. Figueroa is valuable enough, and he could still be a piece for the Rays moving forward. But, his upside is a utility man without much power. With Nick Franklin being promoted and possessing the upside of a good starter in the middle infield, Figueroa would not have seen playing time had he been promoted, and thus he was left out.
Tim Beckham– Utility Infielder
Beckham is in the same boat as Figueroa. He still has a chance to be a nice piece for the Rays in the future, but he still doesn’t have the upside of a starter and wouldn’t get playing time over Franklin had he been promoted. Beckham also never really got a chance to get his bat going this year, as he just played in 24 games after missing time with an ACL injury, hitting .258/.281/.290 in 65 plate appearances for Durham.
Vince Belnome– Utility Infielder
Belnome is more bat-first than Beckham and Figueroa, and he is pretty much limited to being a 1B/DH. Belnome saw a couple of brief stints with the Rays this season and went 1 for 10. His bat was fairly disappointing in Triple-A this year, putting up a 108 wRC+ after posting a 143 wRC+ for Durham in 2013. Belnome will likely see time with the Rays moving forward, but he may never be more than a Quad-A player thanks to his iffy defensive profile.
Mikie Mahtook– Outfielder
After disappointing in his first two pro seasons, Mahtook broke out this year, hitting .292/.362/.458 with a 125 wRC+ albeit with a sky-high .380 BABIP. Mahtook’s performance warranted a call-up, but the Rays would have needed to add him to the 40-man roster to do so, and that would have resulted in another player being designated for assignment- something they weren’t prepared to do.
Mike Montgomery– Starting Pitcher
Montgomery seemed to be experiencing a career-resurgent season, posting a 3.21 ERA over his first 17 starts. But after missing a start due to elbow soreness Montgomery struggled mightily to the tune of a 7.63 ERA over his last 8 starts and raising his ERA on the year to 4.29. After showing fatigue down the stretch it makes sense that the Rays want Montgomery to rest his arm, but getting him a couple of innings of big league exposure out of the bullpen also would have made sense as well.
Matt Andriese– Starting Pitcher
Andriese was the most consistent starter Durham had this year, as he posted a 3.77 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 in 162.1 innings. He doesn’t have the upside of an Alex Colome or Nate Karns, but he also has a higher floor than the pair. With Colome and Karns already joining the big league rotation there wasn’t a spot for Andriese to start, but the Rays could have given him a chance to throw a couple of innings out of the ‘pen.
Merrill Kelly– Staring/Long-Relief Pitcher
Kelly once again had a nice season at Triple-A, putting up a 2.76 ERA, 8.5 K/9, and a 2.9 BB/9 in 15 starts and 13 relief outings. His stuff doesn’t project him to be more than a 5th starter, but he is likely going to be a reliever with the Rays moving forward. Kelly was in a similar boat as Mahtook, as his performance warranted a call-up, but to do so the Rays would have needed to open a 40-man roster spot.
Adam Liberatore– Relief Pitcher
Liberatore was dominant for the Bulls this year, throwing to a 1.66 ERA, 11.9 K/9, and a 2.1 BB/9. He is likely a lefty specialist moving forward, however he could be very good in that role. Once again, not being a member of the 40-man roster was the reason Liberatore did not get promoted.
All-in-all there were plenty of deserving players that did not end up getting the call to the Rays on Sunday. More players can still be called up, and we could very well end up seeing a player or two on this list join the Rays before the year ends. But for now, these players will have to wait at least a little bit longer to get a shot at the big leagues.