Rays’ Osleivis Basabe Hits Good Pitching

When the Rays shipped Nathaniel Lowe and two others to the Rangers in December 2020, they were excited to get back three 20-year-old players who had performed in the low minors.

“We think,’’ Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said then, “they have a chance to impact our club down the line.’’

Outfielder Heriberto Hernandez had the more noteworthy statistics, and outfielder Alexander Ovalles had obvious tools. But third baseman Osleivis Basabe has so far made the greatest impression.

Enough that he was added to the 40-man roster in November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.

“Basabe is very athletic,’’ Rays general manager Peter Bendix said. “He’s a dynamic player. He’s got fantastic bat-to-ball skills, really good barrel control. He can hit. It’s unusual to find somebody who can make contact—and quality contact—with as many different kinds of pitches as Basabe.

The 22-year-old Basabe started last season at High-A Bowling Green, then got promoted in late June to Double-A Montgomery. At the two levels he hit .324/.385/.462 with 39 doubles, four home runs and 21 stolen bases in 112 games.

He played second base and shortstop in addition to his primary position of third base.

“His season was very impressive,’’ Bendix said. “He opened a lot of eyes. And I think he made us really excited for his future. That type of skill set is the skill set that can be really successful against better pitching.

“He made a lot of strides this year, and I think we’re excited to see what he can do next year against even higher level pitching.’’

Texas had signed Basabe out of Venezuela in December 2017. Over four minor league seasons, he has hit .316/.375/.435.


Brendan McKay, the Rays’ 2017 top pick as a promising two-way prospect, re-signed on a two-year minor league deal after being released in November. McKay had Tommy John surgery in September, the latest in a series of arm injuries.

— The Rays also signed two players with previous big league time to minor league deals with spring invites: righthander Colten Brewer and catcher Nick Dini.

— Former Rangers general manager and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels was hired as senior advisor of baseball operations.

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