Spring training is coming to a close and the Tampa Bay Rays are making their final cuts to camp in preparation for their opener against the Houston Astros. The last few moves have been made and as a result, the Durham Bulls roster is becoming clearer. Here are some of the latest cuts from Rays big league camp:
Emilio Bonifacio: Bonifacio, 33, was reassigned by Tampa Bay after joining the team on a minor league deal. A veteran of eight different Major League teams, Bonifacio could join Andrew Velazquez as one of the fastest duos in the International League. Bonifacio has notched 297 steals at the MiLB level and 166 in the Major League and will likely provide more of the same in Durham this season.
Jason Coats: Coats, 29, will likely return for his second season in Durham after being a part of the 2018 Governors’ Cup run. Coats provided some power to the offense, notching 15 home runs and 60 RBI’s, while hitting .247 over 108 games. Coats has hit double digits in home runs every year of his career and more will be expected for the Bulls this season.
Oliver Drake: Drake, 32, played for a Major League-record five teams last season and joins Durham for the first time in his career. Despite the unprecedented movement, Drake played 44 games at the Major League level, going 1–1 with a 5.29 ERA. Now Drake will provide veteran leadership in the Bulls bullpen.
Mac James: James, 25, made his Durham debut in 2018 and will look to accomplish more this season after playing 15 games at DBAP. James tallied 14 RBI’s in 54 games between Montgomery (AA) and Durham last season and will add depth behind Nick Ciuffo at catcher.
Andrew Kittredge: Kittredge, 29, has been one of Durham’s most effective relievers for the past two seasons and will likely return to the DBAP this season. Kittredge was 6–0 with a 2.74 ERA in Durham last season and went 3–2 in 33 games with Tampa Bay.
Hoby Milner: Milner, 28, came to Durham in the middle of the 2018 Governors’ Cup title run and will likely return to begin the season with the Bulls. Milner split 2018 between the Major League (with Tampa Bay and Philadelphia), going 0–0 with a 7.36 ERA and MiLB (Lehigh Valley and Durham), going 1–0 with a 2.88 ERA.
Emilio Pagan: Pagan, 27, was one of the final players to be optioned by Tampa Bay, losing a battle for the final reliever spot with Adam Kolarek. Pagan is in his first season with the Rays organization and has excelled early in his career, going 14–16 with a 2.46 ERA in 173 MiLB games and going 5–4 with a 3.85 ERA over two Major League seasons with Seattle and Oakland.
Casey Sadler: Sadler, 28, worked his way back to the Major League with Pittsburgh last season for the first time since 2015 and will look to build on his success with Durham this season. Sadler went 6–5 with a 3.39 ERA with Indianapolis (AAA) last season.
Jake Smolinski: Smolinski, 30, is a veteran of five Major League seasons with Texas and Oakland and joins the Rays organization for the first time in 2019. Smolinski has notched 803 hits, 200 doubles, 73 home runs and 361 RBI’s in MiLB and will likely add to these totals with Durham this season.
Cole Sulser: Sulser, 29, is in his first season as a Rays prospect, after coming over from the Cleveland Indians in December. Sulser adds more talent to an electric Bulls bullpen and went 8–4 with a 3.86 ERA between Akron (AA) and Columbus (AAA) last season.
Kean Wong: Wong, 23, is coming off a decorated season with Durham in 2018, after being named team MVP and an International League Midseason and Postseason All-Star. Wong hit .282 with nine home runs and 50 RBI’s with Durham in 116 games and will likely serve a critical role in the Bulls hopes for a Governors’ Cup three-peat.
Hunter Wood: Wood, 25, is a veteran of two seasons in Durham and will return for a third after being optioned by Tampa Bay. Wood split 2018 evenly between Durham and Tampa Bay, going 2–2 with a 3.00 ERA (42.0 IP) with Durham and going 1–1 with a 3.73 ERA (41.0 IP) with Tampa Bay. Wood will likely have a similar 2019 and provide leadership and stability to the Bulls bullpen.
See Hit Bull Win Blog’s previous Spring Training spotlights: