ST. PETERSBURG — First baseman Kyle Manzardo and lefty starter Mason Montgomery, two quick-rising 2021 draft picks, head the list of 18 minor-leaguers from the Rays’ system invited to major-league spring training.
Manzardo, a second-round pick from Washington State, hit his way from High Class A Bowling Green to Double-A Montgomery last season, compiling a .327 average with 22 homers, 81 RBIs and a 1.043 OPS in 93 games.
The 22-year-old lefty swinger led the Rays’ minor-leaguers in average, on-base percentage (.426) and slugging percentage (.617) while earning organization honors as the top minor-league player, and he was ranked the game’s No. 60 prospect by Baseball America.
“Kyle has been as productive a hitter as anyone in the minor leagues since he was drafted,” Rays general manager Peter Bendix said. “His combination of hitting ability and power has the chance to be really special, he’s an excellent worker and teammate, and the adjustments he’s made as he’s faced more difficult pitching have been really impressive.”
Montgomery, a sixth-round pick from Texas Tech, was 6-3 with a 2.10 ERA over 27 starts with the Hot Rods and Biscuits, striking out 171 in 124 innings. He led the Rays’ minor-leaguers in ERA and strikeouts, was second in innings, and third in walks and hits (1.06) per inning, and was named their top pitcher.
“Mason has been really fun to watch since Day One after we drafted him,” Bendix said. “He knows what he’s doing on the mound, attacks hitters and has great stuff. He’s shown an impressive ability to make adjustments and turn a lineup over. We’re really excited about his future.”
Also invited were right-handed pitchers Trevor Brigden, Ryan Burr, Cooper Criswell (who made one big-league appearance in September), Evan McKendry, Michael Mercado, Chris Muller, Hector Perez (a minor-league Rule 5 draft pick from Baltimore), Evan Reifert and Josh Roberson; catcher Blake Hunt; infielders Tristan Gray and Ronny Simon and outfielders Ruben Cardenas, Niko Hulsizer, Kameron Misner and Grant Witherspoon.
Not included was 19-year-old shortstop Carson Williams, the 2021 first-round pick who had a stellar season at Class A Charleston and was ranked the No. 52 overall prospect by Baseball America.
Burr, a 28-year-old who pitched parts of four seasons with the White Sox, signed a two-year minor-league deal in August with the expectation that he will be recovered from shoulder surgery and back on the mound during the 2023 season.
The Rays also formally announced the previously reported signings of eight players from outside the organization to minor-league contracts with camp invites: catcher Nick Dini and right-handers Colten Brewer, Braden Bristo, Zack Burdi, Ben Heller, Heath Hembree, Trevor Kelley and Elvin Rodriguez.
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The Rays now have 66 players set for camp, with several more internal and external additions expected before they get underway Feb. 14 at the Disney complex.
Tickets for their Feb. 28 exhibition at Disney, and 13 others at Tropicana Field, go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com and the MLB Ballpark app.
Rays’ spring roster
(x for non-roster invites; * for lefty pitchers)
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