ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Tampa Bay Rays Release) — The Tampa Bay Rays have invited 11 of their minor league players to major league spring training: catcher Mayo Acosta, right-handed pitcher Matt Andriese, catcher Curt Casali, infielder Cole Figueroa, right-handed pitcher Steve Geltz, right-handed pitcher Merrill Kelly, left-handed pitcher Braulio Lara, left-handed pitcher Adam Liberatore, outfielder Mikie Mahtook, catcher Luke Maile and right-handed pitcher Victor Mateo. The Rays have now invited 59 players to major league spring training.
Acosta, 26, has thrown out 40.1 percent (175-of-436) of attempted base stealers in his seven-year minor league career. He spent the 2013 season with Double-A Montgomery, appearing in 71 games and hitting seven home runs. He played in 30 games for Toros del Este of the Dominican Winter League, finishing third on the team with a .292 (21-for-72) batting average.
Andriese (ANN-dreese), 24, started the 2013 season with Double-A San Antonio (Padres) and was named to the Texas League midseason All-Star Team before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tucson. He combined to go 11-7 with a 3.27 ERA (134.2-IP, 49-ER) and 105 strikeouts over 27 appearances (25 starts) between the two levels, ranking among Padres minor league leaders in ERA (fifth), wins (second) and strikeouts (fifth). He was acquired as part of a seven-player trade with San Diego on January 22.
Casali (cah-SAL-ee), 25, split his first season in the Rays organization between Class-A Charlotte and Montgomery. He was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein prior to the start of the 2013 season. The Florida State League All-Star was transferred to Montgomery on July 23 and went on to hit .383 (46-for-120) with five home runs and 31 RBI in 35 games with the Biscuits.
Figueroa, 26, spent the 2013 season with Triple-A Durham, compiling a .286 (132-for-481) batting average along with 20 doubles, three home runs and 62 RBI for the International League champions. He appeared at five different positions over 129 games (94-3B, 20-2B, 12-SS, 5-RF, 1-LF) and struck out only 30 times in 461 at-bats. Following the season, he was recognized by the Rays baseball operations staff as having the Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the organization.
Geltz, 26, spent his first season in the Rays organization with Triple-A Durham, appearing in 41 games and going 5-3 with a 2.82 ERA (67-IP, 21-ER) and 80 strikeouts. He held opponents to a .156 (35-for-225) batting average, lowest among International League relief pitchers, while establishing a career high with 67 innings pitched.
Kelly, 25, split the season between Montgomery and Durham, earning a June promotion to the Triple-A level. He went 13-10 with a 3.64 ERA (158.1-IP, 64-ER) in 28 games (26 starts), ranking among Rays minor league leaders in wins (third) and strikeouts (111, fifth). Following the season, he made nine appearances for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, going 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA (11-IP, 8-ER).
Lara, 25, converted from starting pitcher to reliever in his sixth year with the Rays organization, appearing in 45 games with Montgomery. He went 4-2 with a 4.38 ERA (72-IP, 35-ER) and 14 games finished for the Biscuits, including a 0.55 ERA (16.1-IP, 1-ER) over 10 appearances in August. He made one appearance for Durham at the end of the season.
Liberatore (LIB-er-uh-tor), 26, made 43 appearances with Durham after one game with Montgomery to open the season. He went 5-3 with a 3.58 ERA (60.1-IP, 24-ER) and 69 strikeouts for the Bulls. He has posted a 2.95 ERA over four minor league seasons.
Mahtook (MAH-took), 24, spent the season with Montgomery and hit .254 (130-for-511) with seven home runs and 68 RBI, which ranked third among Rays minor league players. He led the Biscuits with 71 runs scored, 30 doubles and 25 stolen bases. He was selected by the Rays in the first round (31st overall) of the 2011 June Draft.
Maile (MAY-lee), 22, spent the 2013 season with Class-A Bowling Green, batting .283 (102-for-361) with four home runs and 49 RBI while being tabbed to both the Midwest League midseason and postseason All-Star teams. He threw out 36 of 70 attempted base stealers (51.4 percent) and was named by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Catcher in the Midwest League in their Best Tools survey after the season.
Mateo, 24, spent the 2013 season with Montgomery and went 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA over a career high 153.1 innings pitched. He allowed one run or fewer in eight of his final 10 starts of the season. On August 24, he recorded the second no-hitter in Biscuits history, first in Riverwalk Stadium history, in a 9-inning shutout of Jacksonville (Marlins). It marked the second no-hitter of his career, joining lefthander Matt Moore and righthander Wade Davis as the only pitchers with multiple no-hitters in franchise history.