The Rays have had talent bursting from the seams for years now, yet for some reason, they had never gotten around to replacing Justin Ruggiano on their 40-man roster until finally making the Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon signings official today.
Ruggiano, along with Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, were designated for assignment to make room for the two veterans.
Ruggiano was added to the 40-man roster and called up by the Rays way back on Sept. 16, 2007. He got 14 at-bats with the team at the end of the season and had three hits and three RBI. In 2008, he received four callups and played in 45 games, hitting .197/.247/.329 in 76 at-bats. Already 26, his future seemed dim at that point.
Still, the Rays kept carrying him. Ruggiano slipped to .250/.330/.412 in his third season in Triple-A in 2009, and he was never given a callup, even after the rosters expanded in September. Yet there he was, still on the 40-man roster again all winter. In 2010, he bounced back somewhat, hitting .287/.357/.453 for Durham. Again, he was denied even a September callup.
So, Ruggiano ended up spending three years and five months on the Rays’ 40-man roster and giving the team a .200/.250/.311 line in 90 at-bats during the span. With the way his minor league numbers have fallen off the last two years, it’s hard to imagine him being claimed off waivers. He probably wouldn’t even be very intriguing to a Japanese team at this point. If he ever shows up on a 40-man roster again, it’d be an upset.