The Tampa Bay Rays have invited seven of their minor league players to major league spring training: outfielder Wil Myers, first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson, infielder Cole Figueroa, right-handed pitchers Matt Nevarez and Jim Paduch and left-handed relievers Jim Patterson and Neil Schenk. The Rays have now invited 64 players to major league spring training, their highest total since 2005 (also 64).
Myers, 22, began the 2012 season in the Kansas City Royals organization with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and earned a May 16 promotion to Triple-A Omaha. He hit a combined .314 (164-for-522) with 37 home runs and 109 RBI in 134 games. After the season, he became the third player ever to win the Baseball America, USA Today and Topps Minor League Baseball Player of the Year Awards, joining Andruw Jones (1996) and Josh Beckett (2001). Entering 2013, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect, Best Power Hitter and Best Hitter for Average in the Rays system and the No. 4 prospect overall in the minor leagues by MLB.com. The North Carolina native has hit .303 with 64 home runs, 259 RBI, a .395 on-base percentage and .522 slugging percentage over four minor league seasons after being selected in the third round of the 2009 June Draft by Kansas City.
Anderson, 30, spent 2012 with Triple-A Durham and hit .309 (137-for-444) with 14 home runs, 21 doubles and 56 RBI. The Cuba native has played three minor league seasons, totaling 38 home runs and 170 RBI with a .295 career average.
Figueroa, 25, split 2012 between Double-A Montgomery and Durham, combining to hit .292 (116-for-397) with 23 doubles, 43 walks and 54 RBI. He was named the Rays Minor League Hitter of the Month for April and earned a promotion to Durham on May 2. The infielder was acquired from the Padres in December 2010 in the trade involving Jason Bartlett. Born in Tallahassee, Fla., he attended the University of Florida and has a .292 career average and .384 on-base percentage over five minor league seasons.
Nevarez, 25, started the 2012 season in the independent leagues but signed with the Rays on July 22 and went 1-1 with a 0.98 ERA (18.1-IP, 2-ER) with only five hits allowed in 12 relief outings split between Class-A Charlotte and Montgomery. He has a career 3.47 ERA over seven minor league seasons with the Texas Rangers (2005-09), Houston Astros (2009-11) and Rays organizations.
Paduch, 30, combined to go 6-12 with a 5.48 ERA (120-IP, 73-ER) in 29 appearances (22 starts) with Montgomery and Durham in 2012. The righthander signed with the Rays on June 3, 2011 and has spent 10 seasons in the minors, including five in the independent leagues.
Patterson, who turns 24 on February 9, spent the majority of his 2012 season with Charlotte but also made one appearance each at Montgomery and Durham. In 37 appearances (one start) with Charlotte, he went 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA (73.1-IP, 23-ER) and 76 strikeouts. He was selected by the Rays in the 18th round of the 2010 June Draft and has gone 18-11 with a 2.78 ERA in three minor league seasons.
Schenk, 26, was 3-1 with a 2.97 ERA (60.2-IP, 20-ER) in 42 relief outings for Montgomery last season. In five minor league seasons with the Rays, he has posted a 3.45 ERA and 302 strikeouts in 308 innings pitched. He was originally selected by the Rays in the 23rd round of the 2008 June Draft.
8 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report to Spring Training