(via Tampa Bay Rays Communications) - The Tampa Bay Rays have added infielder Vince Belnome, right-handed pitcher Jesse Hahn, left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser and right-handed pitcher Kirby Yates to their 40-man roster, bringing the total to 37 players.
In addition, the Rays signed three players to minor league contracts with an invitation to major league spring training camp: right-handed pitchers Mark Lowe, Victor Mateo and Sam Runion. Also signed to minor league contracts were catcher Mayo Acosta and right-handed pitchers Mike Colla, Eduar Quiñonez and Albert Suarez.
Belnome (bell-NO-may), 25, spent the 2013 season at Triple-A Durham and hit .300 (133-for-444) with eight home runs and 67 RBI in 127 games. He ranked among International League leaders in hits (133, 4th), doubles (35, T-3rd), batting average (.300, 7th), on-base percentage (.408, 2nd), runs scored (77, 2nd) and walks (84, T-3rd). In his first year in the Rays system, the Coatesville, Pa. native was named Durham’s Most Valuable Player by the Rays baseball operations department while earning spots on both the International League midseason and postseason All-Star teams. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher Chris Rearick following the 2012 season.
Hahn, 24, went 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA (67-IP, 16-ER) in 19 starts at Class-A Charlotte in 2013 and was named to the Florida State League’s midseason All-Star Team. Baseball America tabbed him as having the Best Fastball in the Rays system in its Best Tools Survey following the 2012 season. The righthander has a career 2.38 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched over two minor league seasons. He was selected by the Rays in the sixth round of the 2010 June Draft out of Virginia Tech University.
Riefenhauser (REEF-en-how-zer), 23, split the season between Double-A Montgomery and Durham, compiling a 1.22 ERA (73.2-IP, 10-ER) in 51 total appearances. He was named to the Southern League’s midseason All-Star Team and also represented the U.S. Team in the Futures Game at New York’s Citi Field in July. At season’s end, Baseball America selected him to the 2013 Minor League All-Star Team, the only relief pitcher named to the first team. He was also named by Baseball America as the Best Reliever in the Southern League. The lefthander has a career 2.99 ERA over four minor league seasons. He was selected by the Rays in the 20th round of the 2010 June Draft out of Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.
Yates, 26, spent the season at Durham and earned midseason All-Star honors, going 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA (61.2-IP, 13-ER) and 93 strikeouts in 51 appearances. His 20 saves led Rays farmhands and tied for third in the International League. Following the season, he was named the organization’s Best Relief Pitcher by the Rays baseball operations department. Over five minor league seasons, he has averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with a .202 batting average against. Yates was signed as a non-drafted free agent in June 2009.
Lowe, 30, has spent parts of eight seasons in the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners (2006-10), Texas Rangers (2010-12) and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2013). He owns a career 4.17 ERA in 264 games, all in relief. Last season, Lowe pitched in 11 games for the Angels after making their Opening Day roster. He was designated for assignment on May 29, signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals in June and spent the remainder of the season with Triple-A Syracuse, where he went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA (28.2-IP, 10-ER) and 37 strikeouts in 24 games.
Mateo, 24, has spent his entire career in the Rays organization and was briefly a free agent before re-signing with the club. In 2013, his first year at the Double-A level, he went 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA (153.1-IP, 67-ER) in 27 games (26 starts) for Montgomery. On August 24, the Dominican Republic native recorded the second no-hitter in Biscuits history in a nine-inning shutout vs. Jacksonville (Marlins).
Runion, who turned 25 this month, spent the first seven years of his professional career in the Kansas City Royals system. He pitched in 37 games (one start) for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2013, going 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA (55.2-IP, 23-ER), and in July pitched in one game for Omaha, his Triple-A debut. He was selected by the Royals in the second round of the 2007 June Draft out of Asheville (N.C.) High School.