Apr. 17: Knight has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Apr. 14: The Rays have selected right-hander Phoenix Sanders onto the major league roster, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. In a corresponding move, reliever Dusten Knight was designated for assignment.
Sanders, 26, is getting a big league call for the first time. He was a 10th-round senior sign out of South Florida in 2017, signing for just $7.5K. The overwhelming majority of players in that demographic don’t advance to the majors, but Sanders earned his way there with an excellent five-year run in the minor leagues.
Aside from a rookie ball stint late in his draft year, Sanders hasn’t posted an ERA above 3.29 at any stop. He’s backed that up with excellent strikeout and walk numbers, routinely punching out upwards of 30% of opponents while only once dishing out free passes at a higher than average clip. Sanders, who has worked almost exclusively in relief, owns a 1.81 ERA in 49 2/3 Double-A innings and a 3.19 mark in 79 frames over parts of three seasons with Triple-A Durham. He’s fanned 31.1% of batters faced against a meager 4.6% walk rate at the top minor league level.
Sanders has never appeared on an organizational prospects ranking at either Baseball America or FanGraphs, but his consistently strong production caught the attention of the Tampa Bay front office. He’ll offer a fresh arm in the middle innings for manager Kevin Cash, having not pitched for Durham since last Friday.
Knight loses his roster spot just a day after being selected back to the majors. He’s a quick casualty of roster churn as the Rays shuttle through bullpen arms to cover a stretch of 13 games in as many days to open the regular season. The righty tossed 42 pitches in last night’s loss to the A’s, likely knocking him out of commission for the next day or two. Tampa Bay will now risk losing him on waivers to add to the immediate bullpen options at Cash’s disposal.
The 31-year-old Knight has logged big league time in each of the past two seasons. He struggled over seven appearances with the Orioles last year, allowing ten runs in 8 2/3 innings. He had a nice showing with Baltimore’s top affiliate, though, posting a 3.05 ERA in 38 1/3 frames with a 26.2% strikeout rate. Knight hasn’t allowed a run in four innings with Durham in 2022 and struck out three batters in 2 1/3 innings of one-run ball against Oakland yesterday.