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Kevin Padlo's Skills Shine In Breakout Year



When the Rays traded for Kevin Padlo way back in January 2016, they envisioned a smooth fielding third baseman who could get on base and hit for power.

Nearly four years later, they feel like they’ve got that.

The 23-year-old Padlo showed the Rays enough to be one of the five players they added to the 40-man roster in November to shield them from the Rule 5 draft.

Tampa Bay acquired Padlo plus outfielder Corey Dickerson in the trade that sent prospect righthander German Marquez and big league reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies. Colorado had drafted Padlo in the fifth round in 2014 out of high school in Murrieta, Calif., but traded him before he had even reached full-season ball.

Padlo didn't hit much prior to 2019, but that changed in a hurry.

At Double-A Montgomery and then Triple-A Durham, Padlo hit .265/.389/.538 with 21 home runs and 31 doubles in 110 games. He drew 68 walks against 116 strikeouts and even stole 12 bases.

What changed?

"I think health played into it to some degree," general manager Erik Neander said. "He battled some things off and on over time here that may have limited him . . .

"And I think he went into (last) winter and put himself into a position where he came in in significantly better shape. Not that he was ever out of shape, but he just really poured it on (last) winter in terms of his prep. He came in healthy, and with a mentality that was in a good place.’’

Neander praised Padlo as a gifted athlete whose skills stand out both offensively and defensively.

"I think it’s just a matter of a young player going through the experiences to strengthen themselves," the GM said, "and appreciate what they needed to do to succeed and really taking ownership of his career and being rewarded for it.’’

The Rays are pleased to see it. Padlo worked himself up the organizational depth chart to such a degree among righthanded-hitting infielders that the club was willing to trade Triple-A second baseman Nick Solak to the Rangers in July and part with big league third baseman Matt Duffy in November.

COOL RAYS

— In addition to Padlo, the Rays added middle infielders Vidal Brujan, Jake Cronenworth and Lucius Fox, plus catcher Ronaldo Hernandez to the 40-man roster.

— Rather than add him to the 40-man roster, the Rays traded lefthander Cristopher Sanchez to the Phillies for second baseman Curtis Mead, an Australian.

— In addition to designating Duffy for assignment, the Rays also parted ways with righthander Jose De Leon, whom they traded to the Reds for a player to be named and cash. De Leon missed all of 2018 and the first half of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery and pitched in just five games for the Rays organization since being acquired in January 2017.

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Lucius Fox Expands His Versatility

The speedy middle infielder embraces a new role in center field to expand the ways he can potentially impact the big league club.

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