Austin Pruitt Walks The Line For Rays

Austin Pruitt (Photo by Carl Kline) Austin Pruitt (Photo by Carl Kline)

ST. PETERSBURG—Austin Pruitt doesn’t seem like the type of pitcher to wow you with his numbers.

Until you look at the bottom line, and see how good they are.

Pruitt, 27, made his fourth pro season his best, posting an 8-11, 3.76 mark in 28 starts for Triple-A Durham. He ranked second in the International League with 149 strikeouts in 162.2 innings and fourth with a 1.19 WHIP. Baseball America tabbed him as the owner of the IL best control in its annual Best Tools survey, evidenced by logging just 27 walks.

The performance was good enough to earn him midseason all-star recognition and the Durham MVP award, but most importantly a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster and the potential to compete for an open spot in the Rays bullpen.

“It was a good year, I had a lot fun and everyone around me did well,’’ Pruitt said. “It was just having fun.’’

Pruitt, a ninth-round pick in 2013, was surprised to rack up as many strikeouts as he did, crediting the uptick to the implementation of “a little cutter-slider” and following the game plan of Bulls pitching coach Kyle Snyder.

But the low number of walks is what he expected.

“I would like to not walk anybody,’’ he said. “None. I guess you need to every now and then, but I don’t like walking people.’’

Pruitt was one of eight players added to the Rays’ 40-man roster and protected from the Rule 5 draft. The others were pitchers Jose Alvarado, Chih-Wei Hu, Jaime Schultz, Ryne Stanek and Hunter Wood, and infielders Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson. To make room, the Rays traded utilityman Taylor Motter and corner infielder Richie Shaffer to the Mariners, and designated for assignment Steve Geltz. Shaffer was subsequently designated for assignment by the Mariners.


To create space on the 40-man roster, the Rays non-tendered second baseman Ryan Brett, who made his big league debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Steve Henderson, who was the Rays’ major league hitting coach in 1998 and 2006-09, was rehired a minor league hitting coordinator.

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