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Rays tweak roster to hang onto prospects

The Rays took steps Tuesday to avoid losing four prospects in the Rule 5 draft, designating relievers Jon Switzer and Brian Stokes for assignment and trading recently acquired outfielder Chris Snelling in order to add minor-league catcher John Jaso, outfielders Fernando Perez and Jason Pridie and left-hander James Houser to the 40-man roster.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published November 21, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays took steps Tuesday to avoid losing four prospects in the Rule 5 draft, designating relievers Jon Switzer and Brian Stokes for assignment and trading recently acquired outfielder Chris Snelling in order to add minor-league catcher John Jaso, outfielders Fernando Perez and Jason Pridie and left-hander James Houser to the 40-man roster.

"We feel like we've added four really good major-league prospects to our roster," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

The Rays lost Josh Hamilton, who broke out with the Reds, in the Rule 5 draft last year.

Snelling, claimed off waivers from the A's last month, was traded to the Phillies for cash considerations. The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or outright Stokes and Switzer.

Jaso hit .316 with Double-A Montgomery, second in the Southern League and third in Rays organization, and was a Baseball America Double-A All-Star. The switch-hitting Perez was also a Double-A All-Star, hitting .308 with 32 steals and a .423 on-base percentage.

Pridie hit .303 with 14 homers, 32 doubles, 11 triples and 26 steals between Montgomery and Triple-A Durham. Houser, a Sarasota High product, was 5-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 20 starts for the Biscuits.

Stokes was a candidate for the Rays' closer job in the spring but struggled, going 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in his first full season. The left-handed Switzer, a second-round pick in 2001, battled injury early in the season and saw limited action at the major-league level, going 0-2, 8.05, in 21 innings with the Rays.

"I wasn't really surprised," Switzer said. "I knew I was one of the bubble guys. ... I kind of got roughed up in my first outing back and it's hard to recover from that when you're only throwing 20 innings."

TICKETS: Tickets for the April 8 home opener against the Mariners will be available via online presale Friday and will expand to box office locations Monday.