Devil Rays add three to 40-man roster
Waechter removed to make room for Dukes, Johnson, Talbot
ST. PETERSBURG -- Three players were added to the Devil Rays' 40-man roster Monday, but in doing so, the Rays removed right-hander Doug Waechter, leaving him available for other teams to claim.
By adding outfielder Elijah Dukes, infielder Elliot Johnson and right-handed pitcher Mitch Talbot, the Rays' roster swelled to 41, making necessary the move with Waechter.
"Today was the deadline to set rosters all around the industry," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who noted that the talent of the three made putting them on the roster an easy decision. "In our case, they would have been Rule 5-eligible. All three are part of our future and we're excited about them."
Waechter, who hails from St. Petersburg, was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder in October that required surgery. He will not be able to pitch again until August.
Waechter began the season with the Rays, posting a disappointing 1-4 record with a 6.62 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 them starts. He was sent to Triple-A Durham and continued to get hit hard, compiling a 1-12 record with an 8.32 ERA.
Waechter has a 14-25 career mark with a 5.62 ERA in three seasons with the Rays.
The Rays will likely release Waechter, but the possibility exists that he could be re-signed to a Minor League contract.
Friedman said he could not comment on Waechter's situation.
Dukes, 22, batted .293 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 80 games for Durham last season, his first year at the Triple-A level. It was his third straight season with at least 15 doubles and 10 home runs. He sat out the final 30 games of the season, serving an organization-imposed suspension for on- and off-the-field incidents that occurred during the year.
"We feel [Dukes] has made dramatic strides," Friedman said. "The latest suspension got him to the point where he was asking a lot of questions, got him to the point where he's holding himself more accountable. ... Obviously, his talent speaks for itself. The physical part we feel very comfortable with. The other part is something we're working on."
Dukes was selected by the Rays in the third round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of Tampa's Hillsborough High School, and he was recently named the organization's best athlete and rated the sixth-best prospect in the Rays' system by Baseball America.
Johnson, 22, was named Montgomery's Player of the Year in 2006 after batting .281 with a team-high 139 hits -- fifth most in the Southern League -- in his first full season at the Double-A level. The switch-hitter was one of only six Minor Leaguers to record double digits in doubles (21), triples (10) and home runs (15).
Baseball America tabbed him as the starting second baseman on their Double-A All-Star team after he committed the second-fewest errors (13) among Southern League second basemen and finished third with a .976 fielding percentage. He capped his season hitting for the cycle in the deciding game of the league's championship series, becoming the first player in Biscuits history to hit for the cycle and the sixth Ray ever to accomplish the feat.
Talbot, 23, was acquired by the Rays along with shortstop Ben Zobrist from the Houston Astros in exchange for Aubrey Huff and cash on July 12. Talbot joined the Montgomery Biscuits, where he was 4-3 with a 1.90 ERA in 10 starts, allowing three runs or less in each outing.
During Montgomery's championship run in the postseason, he tossed two five-hit shutouts (24 strikeouts and just two walks in 18 scoreless innings).
Originally a second-round pick of the Astros in 2002, Talbot owns a record of 32-32 and a 3.55 ERA in his four-year professional career, holding opposing hitters to a .256 batting average with 416 strikeouts and just 153 walks in 514 2/3 innings.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.