August 13: The Rays have now officially recalled Basabe, with left-hander Josh Fleming optioned in a corresponding move.
August 12: The Rays will promote infield prospect Osleivis Basabe to the majors prior to tomorrow’s game with the Guardians, according to Daniel Alvarez-Montes of El ExtraBase (Twitter link). Basabe is already on Tampa’s 40-man roster, and his first in-game appearance will mark the 22-year-old’s Major League debut.
The Rangers signed Basabe during the 2017-18 international signing period, but then dealt Basabe to Tampa Bay as part of the five-player swap that saw Nathaniel Lowe end up in Arlington. While Lowe has gone onto become a fixture in the Rangers lineup, it’s rare to see the Rays ever come up short in a trade, and now Basabe looks like an interesting candidate for big-league infield work after a solid season at Triple-A Durham.
Basabe’s hitting took a step up during his 2022 minor league campaign at the high-A and Double-A levels, which earned him his first trip to Triple-A in 2023. His season at Durham has resulted in a .297/.350/.427 slash line and four homers over 424 plate appearances, with 16 steals as well as 24 doubles and seven triples. This performance has boosted his prospect stock, as MLB Pipeline (6th) and Baseball America (7th) each rank Basabe within the top seven minor leaguers in the deep Rays farm system.
Both outlets view Basabe as a 60-grade hitter with 55-grade speed, able to beat out some of the many balls that he puts into play with his excellent contact skills. The power is a question mark, but Basabe’s approach at the plate and ability to draw walks makes him a decent offensive threat even if he might need a bit more pop to stick as a big league regular. Defensively, Basabe is yet another Rays versatile infield prospect, as he has gotten a lot of time at shortstop, second base, and third base and played solidly well at all three spots.
Speculatively, it could be that Basabe might replace Curtis Mead on the active roster, as Mead hasn’t done much at the plate since making his own MLB debut last week. The Rays might prefer to give Mead more regular playing time at Triple-A to get his groove back, whereas Basabe might fit more smoothly into a right-handed hitting, part-time infield role. While the Rays are known for juggling lineups, they’ve gotten into a somewhat regular alignment of Wander Franco at shortstop, Yandy Diaz at first base, Brandon Lowe at second base, and Isaac Paredes at third, leaving little room for Mead, Basabe or anyone to really clock regular at-bats behind these established starters.