The Rays have designated minor league shortstop and former top prospect Hak-Ju Lee for assignment, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets that the move creates 40-man roster space for minor league catcher/first baseman Luke Maile.
The now-24-year-old Lee and Chris Archer highlighted the prospect package the Rays received from the Cubs in exchange for Matt Garza back in 2011. Lee was a consensus Top 100 prospect prior to that 2011 campaign and again heading into the 2012 and 2013 campaigns. Lee ranked as high as No. 44 in the game at one point (Baseball America, pre-2012), and he began his 2013 season at the Triple-A level on a torrid stretch, hitting .422/.536/.600 through his first 15 games. Unfortunately, the Korean-born shortstop tore multiple ligaments in his knee in a collision at second base, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. Since returning in 2014, he’s posted a sub-.600 OPS in 189 Triple-A contests.
Maile, 24, is a former eighth-round draft pick (2012) that reached Triple-A for the first time this year. In 337 plate appearances there, he’s slashed a mere .207/.298/.296 at the minors’ top level. However, Maile’s value lies more on the defensive side of the spectrum, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs explained in examining Tampa Bay’s prospects prior to the season. Maile profiles as a “nice catch-and-throw backup that’s above average defensively with a bat that’s just OK,” per McDaniel.