AUGUST 23: The Rays have selected Fleming’s contract, putting him in line to start today’s game against the Blue Jays, per Juan Toribio of MLB.com (Twitter link). Tampa designated left-hander Sean Gilmartin for assignment to clear space on the 40-man roster.
AUGUST 21: The Rays will select the contract of lefty Josh Fleming from their alternate training site this weekend, manager Kevin Cash announced to reporters (Twitter link via Rays pregame/postgame host Neil Solondz). He’ll start Sunday’s game for Tampa Bay. A Saturday starter hasn’t been named, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Charlie Morton won’t return this weekend.
Fleming will step into the void left by the injury to Yonny Chirinos, who’ll be out until the 2022 season due to a UCL tear that requires Tommy John surgery. The Rays will need to open a 40-man spot for Fleming, but that can be achieved by placing Chirinos on the 45-day injured list.
The 24-year-old Fleming was a rare draftee from a Division-III program — a fifth-round pick by the Rays out of Webster University in St. Louis back in 2017. He’s cruised through the minors, pitching to a combined 3.40 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent. He’s not considered to be among the organization’s top prospects, although that’s in part a testament to the deep and excellent farm that has been put together by the Tampa Bay front office. MLB.com lists Fleming 29th among Rays farmhands, calling him a potential back-end starter with an above-average slider, plus command but some struggles against righties. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen pegs Fleming as a future big league reliever.