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Rays invite three to spring training; Cron heads to Twins

Photo by Wayne Masut I The Scrum Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays added some spring training competition today, inviting three players to camp on minor league contracts.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – Catcher Anthony Bemboom, lef-handed pitcher Ryan Merritt, and outfielder Jake Smolinski have all been signed to minor league deals with invites to Port Charlotte. They have also agreed to terms with lefty Ryan Sherriff on a minor league contract.

Meet the new faces

Bemboon, 28, has spent parts of seven minor league seasons with the Angels and Rockies. He’s a MiLB career .237 hitter with 31 home runs and 197 RBI. In 2018 at AAA Albuquerque, he hit .232 with five bombs and 29 driven in through 70 games. He also threw out 14 of 38 would-be base stealers.

Merritt, 26, has spent his entire career in the Indians organization. From 2016-2017 he went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings at the MLB level. Five of his nine appearances being starts. He also started Game 5 of the 2016 American League Championship Series against the Blue Jays. He threw 4.1 scoreless innings and the Indians clinched the pennant winning 3-0 that night. In 2018 with AAA Columbus he went 3-3 with a 3.79 ERA in 15 games, 13 of them starts.

Smolinski, 29, is a five-year MLB veteran with the Rangers and A’s. He’s a career .235 hitter with 16 home runs and 67 RBI in 234 big league games playing all three outfield positions. Nursing a shoulder in 2017 and a blood clot in 2018 his playing time has been limited. Over the last two years he’s played in just 35 games. The former 2nd-round pick by the Nationals in 2007 has played in 12 minor league seasons.

Sherriff, 28, has spent parts of two seasons with the Cardinals from 2017-2018. In 18 appearances, he’s 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 innings. He underwent Tommy John surgery on June 5, 2018. Through eight minor league seasons, he has a 3.05 ERA in 485 innings.

Cron heads north to Minnesota

The Twins announced today that they have claimed first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers from the Rays.

Cron played in 140 games for Tampa in 2018 hitting .253 with 28 doubles, 30 home runs, and 74 RBI – all career-highs.

The Rays had DFA Cron last week ahead of the protection deadline to make room on their 40-man roster.

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