ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays had right-handed pitcher Paul Campbell and six lower-level minor-leaguers taken Thursday in a busy Rule 5 draft in which they made two selections in the Triple-A phase.
Campbell, 25, was taken by the Marlins for the $100,000 fee and has to be kept on their big-league roster for the 2021 season or be offered back to the Rays.
Campbell impressed enough at the Class A and Double-A levels in 2019 — going 13-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games (20 starts) — to be invited to the Rays’ 2020 major-league spring training camp. The Rays knew there was a chance he would be taken in the Rule 5 draft after they declined to add him to the 40-man roster.
“Paul put himself in a really good position coming into spring training last year, a player that we were very excited about,” Rays vice president Carlos Rodriguez said Thursday. “Certainly, going into this year, he got slowed down a little bit by injuries, but he was a player that we thought if healthy was fully capable of potentially impacting our major league team, a player that we we sort of looked at potentially losing, not certain how other teams looked at his potential runway and opportunities that he would be able to receive.
“It just kind of speaks to the level of depth on our-40 man roster. Unfortunately for us, we lost a guy that we thought pretty highly of. But fortunately for him, he’ll receive an opportunity to showcase what he can do.”
Among the six players selected from the Rays in the minor-league portion of the draft (and not subject to any roster requirements or being returned) was left-hander Matt Krook, the last player remaining from the Dec. 2017 trade of star third baseman Evan Longoria to the Giants.
The Rays also got outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and right-hander Stephen Woods in the Longoria trade, as well as hefty salary relief. All three were traded previously.
Krook, 26, was selected 16th by the Yankees in the Triple-A phase of the draft. He spent 2019 at Double-A Montgomery, going 2-3, 4.50 in 32 games, including 18 starts.
“He still has really good components from the left side, still a really good slider, a player who’s still very much in the mix and we expect him to pitch for a really long time going forward,” Rodriguez said.
“Sometimes in this game the way that things happen is a player may not end up debuting with you or maybe contributing at the major-league level for you, but it all ends up coming around full circle. With him, he certainly served his purpose.
“I thought it was a really good piece as a part of that (Longoria) deal, and unfortunately he wasn’t able to impact our major-league team this year,” Rodriguez continued. “But I’m happy that he had enough value that others thought pretty highly of him as well and happy that he has an opportunity to continue his career.”
Also selected from the Rays’ minor-league system were:
Infielder Amador Arias, 9th by the Mariners, a 20-year-old from Venezuela who played in 2019 at the Gulf Coast League level.
Right-handed pitcher Nick Padilla, 17th by the Cubs, a 23-year-old who was a 13th-round pick in 2015 and played in 2019 at Class A Bowling Green.
Right-hander Jhonleider Salinas, 22nd by the Cubs, a 25-year-old from Venezuela acquired in trade from Cleveland in 2016. He split 2019 between the Class A and Double-A levels.
Outfielder Roimer Bolivar, 43rd by the Dodgers, a just-turned (Thursday) 21-year-old from Venezuela who played in 2019 in the Dominican Summer league.
Right-hander Justin Marsden, 45th by the Rangers, a 23-year-old who was a 22nd-round pick in 2015 and played in 2019 at Class A.
The Rays took two right-handed pitchers: Jordan Brink, 27, with their first pick, 24th overall, in the minor-league phase off the Cardinals’ Class A roster; and Ezequiel Zabaleta, 25, taken 42nd from the Mets, for whom he pitched at Class A in 2019.
Brink was an intriguing selection as he spent several seasons in the independent leagues altering and improving his pitching style, improving his velocity from the high 80s-low 90s coming out of Fresno State in 2014, and the Rays have been keeping track of him.
“Jordan’s a really interesting case ... a player who has turned out to be a late bloomer,” Rodriguez said. “He really reinvented himself, he really kind of dove headfirst into a lot of the tinkering and analytics and really trying to understand sort of his body, his mechanics and his stuff. A guy that we saw a definite uptick in his stuff, a mid-90s fastball with really good makings of a curveball, a power curveball. ...
“There’s certainly a lot of underlying positive characteristics that we’re really excited about, and hopefully he can kind of be in the mix there to work with our pitching group, and I think he’ll fit in really well.”
Stone Crabs say goodbye
The Charlotte Stone Crabs said their official goodbye after Wednesday’s news that the Rays were switching their Class A minor-league affiliation to Charleston, S.C., noting in a press release the decision “effectively ends” their 11-year run in in Port Charlotte.
“The Rays’ announcement is sad news for the Stone Crabs organization, our staff, this community and most importantly, our fans,” said Stone Crabs general manager Jeffrey Cook, the lone remaining full-time employee. “With the cancelation of the 2020 minor league season, we were looking forward to the future and being able to provide our great community with the affordable, fun entertainment they have grown accustomed to.”
Jared Forma, a former Crabs general manager and now vice president of the group that owns the team, said: “It’s a tremendous loss for Charlotte County and the surrounding communities, along with our dedicated fans and partners, to whom we will be forever indebted. On behalf of our ownership group, we extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to every member of the Stone Crabs Family.”