The Rays have released “20 or so” minor league players from their system, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The full list of names has yet to be announced, though two non-roster invitees to Tampa’s Spring Training camp have been cut. Topkin reports that right-hander Brooks Pounders was one of the releases, and righty Deck McGuire tweeted earlier this week that he had also been released. Pounders and McGuire both inked minors contracts with the Rays back in February.
Pounders has the more recent experience on a Major League diamond, tossing 7 1/3 relief innings for the Mets in 2019 but spending much of the season at the Triple-A level (for the Mets’ and Indians’ affiliates). Originally a second-round pick for the Pirates in the 2009 draft, Pounders has bounced around to seven different organizations over his pro career, accumulating 45 2/3 frames at the MLB level with the Mets, Rockies, Angels, and Royals over the last four seasons. While he owns an impressive 9.3 K/9 and 3.92 K/BB rate against big league hitters, Pounders has a career 8.47 ERA, largely due to an ungainly 2.8 HR/9.
McGuire also has a journeyman’s resume, being part of eight different MLB organizations over his career as well as pitching with the Korean Baseball Organization’s Samsung Lions in 2019. McGuire posted a 5.05 ERA over 112 1/3 innings with the Lions, which is close to his 5.23 ERA over career 51 2/3 Major League innings (with the Reds, Blue Jays, and Angels in 2017-18). McGuire was selected 11th overall by Toronto in the 2010 draft, though he has yet to find much consistency even at the minor league level, with a 4.31 ERA, 2.33 K/BB rate, and 7.7 K/9 over 1079 2/3 IP.
The two pitchers were competing for jobs in Tampa Bay’s 2020 bullpen, and for what it’s worth, Pounders had tossed four scoreless innings of spring action prior to the coronavirus shutdown. While the Rays join several other teams in making mass releases to clear room on minor league rosters, Tampa is also one of the teams who has publicly committed to paying its remaining minor leaguers their $400 weekly stipend at least through the end of June. At that point, Topkin writes that “Rays officials will re-evaluate the plan…based on several factors, such as whether big-leaguers are playing and the potential to stage some form of late-summer minor-league camp or development program.”