ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays finalized their 40-man roster by the 8:00 deadline on Wednesday evening, protecting five players from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
Infielders Vidal Brujan, Lucius Fox, and Kevin Padlo, infielder/pitcher Jake Cronenworth, and catcher Ronaldo Hernandez were all selected to the 40-man Major League roster Wednesday. To get down to the 40-man limit, Tampa Bay traded pitcher Jose De Leon to the Cincinnati Reds, and designated third baseman Matt Duffy for assignment.
Duffy, acquired at the trade deadline in 2016, dealt with a myriad of injuries during his time with the Rays. He missed all of 2017 due to complications from an Achilles injury, and played in just 46 games in 2019 due to back and hamstring troubles.
The release from the team is below:
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Tampa Bay Rays Communications) — In advance of tonight’s reserve list deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays have selected five players to their 40-man roster: infielders Vidal Bruján, Lucius Fox and Kevin Padlo, infielder/right-handed pitcher Jake Cronenworth and catcher Ronaldo Hernández. In addition, minor league infielder Curtis Mead was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for left-handed pitcher Cristopher Sánchez. The Rays have also designated infielder Matt Duffy for assignment and traded right-handed pitcher José De León to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for a player to be named and cash considerations. Tonight’s moves bring the Rays 40-man roster to its full capacity.
Bruján (vee-DAHL brew-HAHN), 21, split the season between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, batting .277/.346/.389 (106-for-383) with four home runs, 40 RBI and 48 stolen bases, which led the organization and tied for 5th in all of Minor League Baseball. He was named to the Florida State League midseason All-Star Team and was recognized as the organization’s Baserunner of the Year for a second consecutive season. Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the Best Baserunner, Fastest Baserunner, Best Defensive Second Baseman and Most Exciting Player in the Florida State League in its Best Tools survey. Bruján, who is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 3 prospect in the organization, was signed by the Rays as a free agent in 2014. He is a career .294 (457-for-1,554) hitter over five minor league seasons.
Cronenworth, 25, was named Most Valuable Player for Triple-A Durham, batting .334/.429/.520 (115-for-344) with 26 doubles, 10 home runs and 45 RBI. He led the International League in batting avg. and on-base pct. and ranked 3rd with a .949 on-base plus slugging pct. He was also used as a two-way player for the first time since playing collegiate ball at the University of Michigan. He was used on the mound seven times, including six as an opener, and yielded only two runs, both unearned. He was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Month for April, batting .370 (30-for-81) with one home run and 11 RBI, and was named to the International League midseason and postseason All-Star teams. Following the season, he was ranked by Baseball America as the Best Batting Prospect, Best Infield Arm, Best Defensive Shortstop and Most Exciting Player in the International League in its Best Tools survey. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 June Draft and is a career .283 (539-for-1,906) hitter with 22 home runs and 219 RBI over five minor league seasons.
Fox, 22, split the season between Montgomery and Durham, batting .221/.331/.327 (90-for-407) with three home runs, 34 RBI and 39 stolen bases, which ranked second in the organization behind Bruján (48). Fox was named to the Southern League postseason All-Star Team, leading the league with 37 stolen bases. In 2017, he was recognized as the organization’s Baserunner of the Year and played for the World team in the Futures Game. Fox played high school baseball in Florida and moved back to the Bahamas before signing with the San Francisco Giants as an international free agent in July 2015. He was acquired by the Rays on August 1, 2016 and is a career .244 (382-for-1,564) hitter over four minor league seasons.
Hernández, 22, spent the season with Charlotte, batting .265/.299/.397 (104-for-393) with nine home runs and 60 RBI. He was named to the Florida State League postseason All-Star Team and is currently ranked by MLB.com as the No. 7 prospect in the organization. He played in 11 games for the Arizona Fall League champion Salt River Rafters this offseason, batting .359 (14-for-39) with three doubles, one home run and five RBI. In 2018, he was named Most Valuable Player for Class-A Bowling Green and ranked second in the Midwest League with 21 home runs and third with 79 RBI. He was signed by the Rays as a free agent in August 2014 and is a career .293 (373-for-1,271) hitter over five minor league seasons.
Padlo, 23, split the season between Montgomery and Durham, batting .265/.389/.538 (93-for-351) with 31 doubles, 21 home runs and 62 RBI. He led Rays minor leaguers in homers and ranked fifth with 189 total bases. He was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Month for June, batting .329 (26-for-79) with nine home runs and 21 RBI. From his July 17 promotion to Durham through the end of the season, he led the Bulls with nine home runs, 27 RBI and 78 total bases. He was selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fifth round of the 2014 June Draft out of Murrieta Valley (Calif.) High School and traded to the Rays in January 2016. He is a career .244 (460-for-1,885) hitter over six minor league seasons.
Mead, 19, hit .285/.351/.462 (45-for-158) with 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 19 RBI in 44 games this season with the GCL Phillies East. He ranked among Gulf Coast League leaders in doubles (tied for seventh), extra-base hits (18, seventh) and total bases (73, tied for seventh). He was signed by the Phillies as a free agent on May 4, 2018 out of Adelaide, Australia and began his professional career with the GCL Phillies West that season. Prior to signing with the Phillies, he committed to play college baseball at Grayson College in Texas.
Sánchez, 22, split the season between Bowling Green, Charlotte and Durham, going 4-1 with a 2.26 ERA (75.2-IP, 19-ER) in 24 appearances (10 starts). He earned a July 6 promotion from Bowling Green to Charlotte, then made one relief appearance for Durham at the beginning of September. Following the season, he made five relief appearances for the Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League. He was signed by the Rays as a free agent in July 2013 and is 17-16 with a 4.53 ERA (270.1-IP, 136-ER) in 90 appearances (40 starts) over six minor league seasons.
Duffy, 28, was limited to 46 games this season after starting the year on the injured list with left hamstring tightness. It was the fourth consecutive season he spent time on the injured list and third time in the last four seasons he missed significant time. After being acquired from the San Francisco Giants at the 2016 trade deadline, Duffy hit .284/.351/.357 (206-for-726) in 199 games for the Rays. He is a career .282 (456-for-1,616) hitter over five major league seasons.
De León, 27, made three relief appearances over four stints with the Rays this season, yielding two runs (one earned) in four innings. He spent the first half rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews on March 13, 2018. On August 14 against the San Diego Padres, he pitched in the majors for the first time since May 29, 2017, going 806 days in between. He was acquired by the Rays from the Los Angeles Dodgers in January 2017 and has totaled eight appearances (four starts) at the major league level, going 4-0 with a 6.08 ERA (23.2-IP, 16-ER).