Rays Select Braden Bristo, Option Taj Bradley


The Rays announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Braden Bristo from Triple-A Durham and optioned top pitching prospect Taj Bradley, who made his MLB debut against the Red Sox, back to Durham in his place. To open a spot on the 40-man roster, Tampa Bay transferred righty Shane Baz from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Baz is recovering from September’s Tommy John surgery and could miss the entire season, so his move to the 60-day IL was a formality.

If the 28-year-old Bristo makes it into a game with the Rays, it’ll mark his big league debut after an eight-year minor league journey. The longtime Yankees farmhand was New York’s 23rd-round selection back in 2016, and he spent the next seven years climbing the ranks in their system. Bristo topped out at Triple-A in 2021-22 and never made it to the Majors with the Yanks, however. He elected minor league free agency at the end of the 2022 campaign.

In five innings with the Rays’ top affiliate in Durham thus far, Bristo has yielded three runs on six hits with an appealing 7-to-1 K/BB ratio. He’s had little problem missing bats in parts of three Triple-A seasons overall, fanning a strong 27.3% of his opponents. His 12.8% walk rate in Triple-A, however, is far more concerning. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen has previously noted Bristo’s high-spin curveball and a heater that can reach the mid-90s in short stints, but command has been an issue for Bristo in the upper minors — at least until this season. It’s a tiny sample, of course, but Bristo has walked just one of his 22 opponents so far.

For now, Bristo will give the Rays an extra arm in the ’pen. Tampa Bay used Jalen Beeks as an opener in a bullpen game on Monday, and their ’pen has covered a combined eight innings in the two games since.

Bradley won’t be able to return to the Majors for at least 10 days unless he’s recalled in place of someone who’s being placed on the injured list. Barring that scenario, yesterday’s MLB debut will go down as a spot start for Bradley, who ranks among the sport’s top 50 overall prospects. He tossed five innings against Boston and allowed three runs on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.

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