Rays sign Belisario, Casilla, Zarate; announce internal invites to Major League Spring Training

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-The Tampa Bay Rays have signed right-handed pitcher Ronald Belisario, infielder Alexi Casilla and left-handed pitcher Robert Zarate to minor league contracts with an invitation to major league spring training. In addition, the Rays have invited eight of their minor league players to major league spring training: right-handed pitcher Andrew Bellatti, infielder Vince Belnome, right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro, right-handed pitcher Brandon Gomes, catcher Luke Maile, infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter, outfielder Boog Powell and shortstop Daniel Robertson. The Rays have now invited 62 players to major league spring training.
 
Belisario, 32, spent the 2014 season with the Chicago White Sox and went 4-8 with eight saves and a 5.56 ERA (66.1-IP, 41-ER) in 62 appearances. Over the previous two seasons (2012-13) with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was 13-8 with a 3.24 ERA (139-IP, 50-ER) in 145 appearances. Since making his major league debut in 2009, he ranks third in the majors (min. 300 IP) with a 61.3 groundball percentage. Belisario owns a career 3.75 ERA over five career major league seasons.

Casilla, 30, has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles (2013-14) and Minnesota Twins (2006-12), batting .247/.302/.331 (419-for-1,696). Over his major league career, he has seen action at second base (451 games), shortstop (79 games), third base (11 games) and center field (one game). In 2014, he was limited to a combined 61 games between the Orioles, Triple-A Norfolk and Short-A Aberdeen due to a hamstring injury. In 56 games with Norfolk, he hit .264 (52-for-197) with a .315 on-base percentage.  

Zarate (zuh-RAH-tay), who turned 28 yesterday, pitched this winter for Tigres de Aragua of the Venezuelan Winter League, appearing in seven games (five starts). He spent the 2012-13 seasons with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japan Central League, and pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays system from 2006-08, going 2-3 with a 2.42 ERA (67-IP, 18-ER).   

Bellatti (buh-LAH-tee), 23, spent the 2014 season with Double-A Montgomery, going 2-6 with six saves and a 3.68 ERA (71-IP, 29-ER) over 46 relief appearances. Over parts of six minor league seasons, he is 22-23 with a 3.49 ERA (409.2-IP, 159-ER).   

Belnome (bell-NO-may), 26, saw the first major league action of his career in 2014, serving three separate stints with the Rays and going 1-for-10 in four games. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Durham, where he hit .245 (101-for-413) with a .358 on-base percentage in 118 games. He ranked third in the International League with 72 walks. 

Floro, 24, spent the 2014 season with Montgomery, going 11-13 with a 3.48 ERA (178.2-IP, 69-ER) in 28 starts. He ranked among Southern League leaders in ERA (10th), innings pitched (first) and games started (tied for first). His 178.2 innings pitched marked the most by a Rays minor league pitcher since Andy Sonnanstine's 185.2 IP in 2006. He yielded only 24 walks, and following the season, Baseball America tabbed him as having the Best Control in the Southern League.  

Gomes, 30, split the 2014 season between the Rays and Durham, appearing in 29 big league games over three stints. He has pitched in the majors in each of the last four seasons, going 9-6 with a 4.17 ERA (108-IP, 50-ER) in 110 appearances. In his career, he has held righties to a .199 (49-for-246) batting average.

Maile (MAY-lee), 23, spent the 2014 season with Montgomery and was named a Southern League midseason All-Star. He hit .268 (94-for-351) with five home runs and 37 RBI in 97 games, and threw out 32.4 percent (24-of-74) of attempted base stealers. Following the season, he played for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League. He owns a career .276 batting average over three minor league seasons.

Motter, 25, was named to the Southern League midseason and postseason All-Star teams, batting .274 (124-for-452) and setting career highs in home runs (16, which ranked fourth among Rays farmhands), doubles (19) and RBI (61) in 119 games for Montgomery. He had a Biscuits record 24 outfield assists, one shy of the SL record set by Barry Morgan for the Montgomery Rebels in 1967. Following the season, he hit .243 (36-for-148) with 6 HR and 13 RBI in 43 games with Bravos de Margarita in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Powell, 22, was acquired as part of a five-player trade with Oakland on January 10. He split the 2014 season between Class-A Beloit and Class-A Stockton, led the Athletics system with a .343 batting average (108-for-315) and .451 on-base percentage. He was named a midseason Midwest League All-Star and earned Top Star honors there. Following the season, he hit .300 (21-for-70) with two home runs and 10 RBI in 21 games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. 
 
Robertson, 20, was acquired with Powell from Oakland on January 10. He spent the 2014 season with Stockton, batting .310 (170-for-548) with 15 home runs and 60 RBI in 132 regular-season games, and earning a promotion to Double-A Midland (A's) for its playoff run. He ranked among California League leaders in batting average (sixth), hits (first), doubles (37, tied for first), on-base percentage (.402, fourth), runs scored (110, second) and total bases (258, fifth). Following the season, he hit .301 (22-for-73) with one home run and 12 RBI in 20 games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, played in the AFL Rising Stars Game and was named to the AFL's Top Prospects Team. He was recently rated the No. 2 prospect in the Rays system by Baseball America.