ST. PETERSBURG, FL—The Tampa Bay Rays have signed three players to minor league contracts, each with an invitation to major league spring training: catcher Craig Albernaz, outfielder Jason Bourgeois and right-handed pitcher J.D. Martin. In addition, the Rays have invited four of their minor league players to major league spring training: right-handed pitchers Marquis Fleming and Kirby Yates, left-handed pitcher Adam Liberatore and catcher Mark Thomas.
Albernaz, 30, re-signed with the Rays this offseason and returns for his fifth straight spring in major league camp. He split the 2012 season between Triple-A Durham and Double-A Montgomery. The Eckerd College graduate was originally signed by the Rays as a non-drafted free agent in 2006. Over his seven minor league seasons, he has thrown out 40 percent (105-of-261) of attempted base stealers.
Bourgeois (boosh-WAH), 30, hit .258 (16-for-62) in 30 games with the Kansas City Royals last season and .243 (54-for-222) with their Triple-A affiliate Omaha. The right-handed hitter has spent parts of five seasons in the majors including stints with the Chicago White Sox (2008), Milwaukee Brewers (2009), Houston Astros (2010-11) and Royals (2012), playing at all three outfield positions. In 222 major league games, he has 51 stolen bases and a .261 (121-for-463) average including .315 (74-for-235) against left-handed pitching. During his only full season in the majors in 2011 with the Astros, he hit .294 (70-for-238) with 31 stolen bases in 93 games. Over 13 minor league seasons with seven different organizations, he has hit .282 with 263 stolen bases.
Martin, 30, went 6-9 with a 5.95 ERA (130-IP, 86-ER) for Triple-A New Orleans in the Miami Marlins farm system last year. He has had two stints in the majors, combining to go 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA (125-IP, 60-ER) over 24 starts in 2009 and 2010 with the Washington Nationals. The 12-year veteran has spent time with the Cleveland Indians, Nationals and Marlins organizations and has a career 72-49 record with a 3.78 ERA in his minor league career. He was a supplemental first round selection (35th overall) by the Indians in the 2001 June Draft.
Fleming, 26, combined to go 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA (76.1-IP, 38-ER) in 48 relief appearances for Montgomery and Durham last year. The righthander will spend his second straight spring training in major league camp. Over five minor league seasons, he has posted a 3.45 ERA with 385 strikeouts in 331.1 innings pitched.
Yates, 25, went 4-2 with a 2.65 ERA (68-IP, 20-ER) and 16 saves in 50 relief appearances for Montgomery last season. This will be his first season in major league camp. The Hawaiian has spent four years in the Rays organization, compiling a 2.78 ERA with 291 strikeouts in 229.2 innings pitched.
Liberatore (LIB-er-uh-tor), 25, split the 2012 season between Montgomery and Durham and combined to go 4-5 with a 2.47 ERA (73-IP, 20-ER) in 49 relief appearances. This will be his first season in major league camp. The left-handed reliever was originally selected by the Rays in the 21st round of the 2010 June Draft and has posted a 2.78 ERA over his three minor league seasons.
Thomas, 24, hit .254 (79-for-311) with five home runs and 42 RBI in 93 games for Montgomery last year. He will spend his second straight spring training in major league camp. The backstop was recently rated the Best Defensive Catcher in the Rays system entering the 2013 season by Baseball America, the second year in a row that he has earned that designation. He threw out 46 percent of attempted base stealers for Montgomery last year (44-of-96) and has thrown out 41 percent for his career (176-of-434). In six minor league seasons, he has hit .255 with 41 home runs and 230 RBI.
33 Days Until Pitchers & Catchers Report to Spring Training