The Tampa Bay Rays will promote infield prospect Curtis Mead for his big-league debut ahead of Friday's series-opening contest against the Detroit Tigers, the team announced Friday. Mead will be taking the roster spot of left-handed ace Shane McClanahan, who was placed on the injured list on Thursday night because of forearm soreness.
Mead, 22, has batted .291/.379/.453 with three home runs this season in 46 Triple-A games. He missed nearly two months earlier in the summer because of a wrist injury. Since returning to the Durham Bulls lineup in late June, he's hit .355/.460/.538 in 113 trips to the plate. It is worth noting that Mead has homered just once over those 24 games, though he has recorded 12 other extra-base hits.
Mead's ball-tracking statistics include an 89.3 average exit velocity, a 12.3 degree launch angle, and a 16.4% barrel rate. He was ranked by CBS Sports over the offseason as the No. 1 prospect in the Rays system.:
Mead, who originally signed with the Phillies out of Australia, was acquired in exchange for lefty reliever Cristopher Sanchez in November 2019. He's since ascended thanks to an above-average offensive projection. Mead split last season between Double- and Triple-A, batting .298/.390/.532 with 13 home runs in 76 games. He hits the ball hard and often, and he walked more frequently in 2022 than he had in past years. Mead's best defensive position is in the batter's box, since he lacks the arm to be good at third base and the range to excel at second. The Rays may try to play him all over the place anyway, but make no mistake: his bat is the selling point.
Mead has primarily played third base since coming back from injury.
As of Friday, the Rays sit in second place in the AL East, two games behind the Orioles, and hold the top wild-card spot.