Bulls Roster Almost Complete
The Tampa Bay Rays cut their roster once again yesterday heading into the final few days of Spring Training. 2017 Durham stalwarts Ryan Yarbrough and Yonny Chirinos were informed over the weekend that they have earned a spot on the 2018 Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day roster.
With the ascension of Chirinos and Yarbrough to the majors, Austin Pruitt has been slated for a return to the Bull City for his third season after making nine appearances in 2017 and 28 in 2016.
Also returning to Durham is Jonny Venters. He was, in a way, a victim of the Rays bullpen structure since they are not carrying a second short left-handed reliever in addition to Jose Alvarado.
Venters has battled his way back from three Tommy John surgeries to appear in 24 games within the Rays organization last season. He still has a strong possibility of joining Tampa Bay at some point during the season. He was named a 2011 National League All-Star after going 4–1, 1.46 over 51 first-half appearances with the Atlanta Braves and is hoping to develop back into an All-Star caliber reliever.
Also, the Rays reassigned OF Jason Coats, INF/OF Micah Johnson, C Adam Moore, and INF Kean Wong to minor league camp. Which means there is a high probability that those four players will be joining the Durham Bulls roster to begin the season.
Coats, 28, missed the entire 2017 season due to a torn UCL, over the course of 479 minor league games, he has hit .287 with 54 home runs with a career-high 17 home runs with Triple-A Charlotte in 2015 and a career-high 84 RBI with Class-A Kannapolis in 2013 as a member of the Chicago White Sox organization.
Johnson, 27, has a career .292 batting average over 550 minor league games and has appeared in 61 Major League games, posting a career .224 batting average. He was claimed off waivers from San Francisco and assigned to the Durham Bulls after a very strong Spring Training with Tampa Bay, where he slashed .316/.381/.526 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, and three RBI, over 16 games.
Moore’s addition and the recent news of signing veteran backstop Curt Casali, 29, gives the Durham Bulls four catchers at this moment (in addition to Xorge Carrillo and Johnny Monell). Also, the return of Kean Wong has everyone in Durham excited after his grand slam lifted the Bulls to their second Triple-A National championship.
Wong, 22, enters the 2018 season with a career minor league batting average of .284 on the heels of a career-high 17 stolen bases between Montgomery and Durham last season. He showed off his skills in Spring Training, batting .308 over 19 games (39 at-bats) with one home run, five RBI, and two stolen bases.