RHP Burch Smith – 6’4″ 215 lbs – 25 years old
Had TJ surgery in April 2015. Once he had the surgery, the Rays moved him to the active roster in order to clear a space for another player on the 40-man roster. Strangely enough, the move resulted in a huge pay raise since the “promotion” to the active roster enacted a loophole that has Smith getting paid $425,000 more than the $82,700 he otherwise would have received.
Above, I decided to include Smith’s last fully healthy season (2013) when he earned a promotion to MLB at only 23 years old with the Padres. Smith, for those who’ve forgotten, was part of the returns the Rays received in the Wil Myers deal, along with Jake Bauers as the package from SD.
Smith struck out 20 more hitters than he threw innings that season and maintained a SO/9 greater than 10 for the majority of the year. He had some hiccups in his MLB call ups, but he definitely proved that he had the potential to become a workhorse in the rotation as he worked to a career high 165 IP that year.
It obviously impacted him negatively as he wore down and eventually required TJ surgery, but his return in 2015 should be one that allows for a shortened season and one that allows him to build his arm strength, regain confidence in his arm and repertoire, and help the Rays in the pen or in the rotation as a result.
He’s more likely going to impact the Rays from July onwards if he gets called upon, but Smith has the stuff and capability to become an great asset. Should injuries or tough career starts occur, the Rays should be able to look to Smith among others to take up some of the load of what is a long and gruelling MLB season.
Next: A recent acquisition of the Rays is next at #2