Scott Rice was a first-round pick way back in 1999, going 44th overall to the Orioles out of high school. He spent the next 14 years playing in the minors, including multiple stints in independent leagues. And now he’s headed to the big leagues for the first time.
Rice has secured an Opening Day spot in the Mets’ bullpen after a solid spring training performance that saw the 6-foot-6 left-hander throw 11 innings with a 3.18 ERA and 10/3 K/BB ratio.
Rice wasn’t particularly good at Triple-A last season in the Dodgers’ farm system, posting a 4.40 ERA and 47/22 K/BB ratio in 59 innings, and his overall track record is mostly underwhelming. But he has some chance of being a decent middle reliever for the Mets and most of all a guy cracking an Opening Day roster after 14 seasons and 480 appearances in the minors is just a great story.
Outfielder Marlon Byrd and right-handers LaTroy Hawkins and Scott Atchison also made the Mets on minor-league deals.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.