Rays' Curtis Mead Ready To Make His MLB Debut
The Rays will begin spring training with a pretty good idea of what their infield alignment will look like.
But they will be eager to see what impact 22-year-old third baseman Curtis Mead, the Rays' top position prospect, could have on those plans at some point in 2023.
“Curtis has been extremely impressive in his time with us,’’ Rays general manager Peter Bendix said. “His natural feel to hit and his power is exceptional, and he's improved a lot defensively as well."
The 6-foot-2, 171-pound Mead has been on a fast track since the Rays acquired him from the Phillies for lefthander Cristopher Sanchez in November 2019, when Mead had played only in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League as a teenager after signing out of Australia.
Once minor league play resumed in 2021 following the canceled 2020 season, Mead quickly showed them what they had.
In 2021, split mostly between Low-A Charleston and High-A Bowling Green, Mead hit .321/.378/.533 with 15 home runs in 104 games.
He started 2022 at Double-A Montgomery then moved to Triple-A Durham, but he was limited by an elbow injury that eventually ended his season in August. He batted .298/.390/.532 average with 13 homers in 76 games.
Mead’s elbow got better during the offseason, enough so that he hoped to play for Australia in the World Baseball Classic, but the Rays filed an objection, preferring he be in camp under their auspices.
Plus, they want to get a good look at him to try to get a better sense of his readiness at the plate and his prowess in the field, with the chance he could join the group of first base candidates.
“As much as anybody in our organization, we're thrilled about his bat and the versatility, that he's been at third, he's played some second," manager Kevin Cash said.
“I would guess that with the right opportunity, he should be factored in at some point this year.’’
— Reliever Jaime Schultz, who debuted for the Rays in 2018 and later pitched for the Dodgers, rejoined the organization on a minor league deal with a spring training invite. He spent 2022 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Catcher Gavin Collins, who spent last year with the Guardians' Triple-A team, also signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
— The Rays changed managers at four of their five domestic minor league affiliates. The new managers are as follows: former field coordinator Michael Johns at Triple-A Durham; former Florida Complex League manager Rafael Valenzuela at High-A Bowling Green; former Double-A Montgomery bench coach Sean Smedley at Low-A Charleston; and former hitting development manager Frank Maldonado in the FCL.