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A Pair Of Small Rays Trades Yield 2021 Breakouts



The Rays make a lot of trades.

And they always make an effort, even in the smallest of deals, to hunt for upside.

Consider the November 2019 trade in which they dealt lefthander Cristopher Sanchez, who had pitched only one game above Class A, to the Phillies rather than protect him from the Rule 5 draft.

The return was a lanky Australian third baseman who in two pro seasons hadn’t gotten out of Rookie ball.

Today, Curtis Mead is a 20-year-old prospect who already has advanced from Low-A Charleston to High-A Bowling Green this season.

Through 57 games, Mead had hit .341/.392/.552 with eight home runs.

“In the time that Curtis has been in our organization, he’s impressed our staff with his ability to impact the baseball,’’ Rays vice president of player development Carlos Rodriguez said.

“We’ve enjoyed watching him carry that into full-season competition. He’s got a good feel for hitting and can recognize spin early. As a result, he hits the ball hard and puts it in play often . . .

"We’d love to see him maintain the same type of impact while continuing to improve his plate discipline as he faces higher-level pitching.’’

And consider the January 2020 trade in which Tampa Bay dealt Austin Pruitt to the Astros.

The return included a large-framed righthander who had pitched one season in the short-season New York-Penn League.

Today, Peyton Battenfield is a hard-throwing starter who already worked his way from Bowling Green to Double-A Montgomery. Through 62 innings he had recorded a 1.74 ERA while striking out 88 and walking just 10.

“Peyton has attacked hitters efficiently with his four-pitch mix and has very much been in control on the mound this year,’’ Rodriguez said. “His changeup, cutter and curveball got better over the first month and a half.

"One of our goals is to see him further his understanding of how his pitches work together against upper-level hitters. He improved in this area while in Bowling Green and it’s been promising to see him continue making strides in Montgomery.”

COOL RAYS

— Righthander Shane Baz and second baseman Xavier Edwards represented the Rays in Futures Game in Denver. Vidal Brujan also was chosen but was called up to the majors the week before.

— Baz and fellow Triple-A Durham starter Joe Ryan were headed to Tokyo as part of the United States team competing in the Olympics.

Roansy Contreras Courtesyaltoona

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