With the Spring Training countdown clock winding down to February 12, when pitchers and catchers report to camp, on Monday the Tampa Bay Rays announced they have signed a pair of right-handed pitchers to minor league contracts with invites to Port Charlotte. The team also re-signed fleet of foot outfielder, Johnny Davis, to a Minor League deal. As of now, 62 players will attend Spring Training later this month.
Dylan Covey, who elected free agency in lieu of an outright assignment from the White Sox, and John Curtiss, who bounced from the Twins to the Angels and to the Phillies in 2019, are the newest additions.
Last season, Covey split time between the Chicago White Sox and Triple-A Charlotte. Over the past three seasons, Covey has shown promise, however he ultimately posted rather unappealing numbers, posting a 6-29 records and a 6.24 ERA across 250-1/3 innings, with a 6.2 K/9, a 4.1 BB/9, a 1.62 HR/9, and a 50.5% ground-ball rate (ranking 10th in the AL over that stretch). During that same time stretch, Covey went 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA at Triple-A Charlotte.
Curtiss made one big-league appearance for the Angels last season, while also spending time in Triple-A Angels affiliate Salt Lake City and Phillies affiliate Lehigh Valley. The former sixth-rounder spent parts of the 2017-18 seasons with the Twins, posting an 0-1 record with a 6.75 ERA across 17-1/3 relief innings. As Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) noted, Curtiss was shelled in Triple-A in 2019 but was very good there in 2017-18, pitching to a combined 2.49 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. Control has long been an issue for Curtiss, though, as even in that solid 2017-18 run in Triple-A, he issued 41 free passes (4.6 BB/9).
Davis, 29, was plucked out of the Mexican League last August and rushed to the big leagues as a September call-up/pinch-running specialist. The outfielder had a strong campaign in Mexico, slashing .300 BA/.353 OBP/.392 SLG/.745 OPS while swiping 54 bases. Davis was used as a pinch-runner six times last season and twice as a defensive replacement. He has 142 steals over parts of seven minor league seasons and is a career .265 hitter with a .646 OPS.
Davis did not earn an invitation to MLB camp as a total of 15 players already under contract had been invited including pitchers Paul Campbell, Josh Fleming, Shane McClanahan, Sam McWilliams, Joe Ryan, Phoenix Sanders, Ryan Sherriff, Ryan Thompson, and Tyler Zombro. Outfielder Dylan Cozens, infielder Tristan Gray, first baseman/outfielder Dalton Kelly, infielder/outfielder Miles Mastrobuoni, catcher/outfielder Brett Sullivan, and infielder Taylor Walls have been invited as well.
Of the 62 players that received an invitation to Spring Training, 32 are pitchers, six are catchers, 15 are infielders, and nine are outfielders.
Rays Fan Fest
Tampa Bay Rays Fan Fest is also just around the corner is, and will take place Saturday, February 8 inside of Tropicana Field. The Rays released details on Fan Fest, which you can read below:
…This year’s Fan Fest will again be held on the field and include the Charity Yard Sale and Clubhouse Corner retail sites, which benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation, as well as clubhouse tours, youth clinics and panels with executives and coaches. Upon entry to Fan Fest, all fans will receive a License Plate Frame, presented by the Florida Department of Transportation, while supplies last.
“We are excited to welcome everyone to Tropicana Field for Fan Fest on February 8,” said Rays President Brian Auld. “I know many of us are still energized from the postseason run in 2019, and eager for the 2020 Rays to make more history. Fan Fest is a great way to kickoff the 2020 season with a family-friendly affair for all baseball fans.”
As a continuation of last year’s entry process, free tickets are required for access to Fan Fest. Tickets can be claimed on the Ballpark app and scanned from a mobile device for entry. All fans 18 years and older must have a mobile ticket for entry. Children 17 years and under do not need a ticket to attend Fan Fest.
Rays Season Ticket Holders receive exclusive benefits at Fan Fest, including early access through The Outfielder entrance near Gate 7 and special programming in the Season Ticket Holder-only Republic Bank Draft Room, such as photo stations with Rays players and coaches and new menu item sampling.
Rays Season Ticket Holders also have the first chance to purchase autograph passes for select players. Autograph passes are $25 each, with a limit of four (4) autograph passes per player. Season Ticket Holders and Rays email newsletter subscribers, called Rays Insiders, will receive emails with information about their special early access to autograph passes. All other fans can purchase autograph passes in the Ballpark app or at RaysBaseball.com/fanfest starting today at 4 p.m. The following players are scheduled to sign autographs (subject to change): Willy Adames, Tyler Glasnow, Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows, Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. All proceeds from autograph pass sales benefit the Rays Baseball Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, which focuses on youth and educational programming that make a measurable difference in the Tampa Bay region.— Rays Press Release
The free tickets can be downloaded from the MLB Ballpark app, or via this link.