Monday, March 3, 2008

Tampa Bay Rays: Grant Balfour RHP #50

As we continue on our 40 Rays in 40 days series, our next Ray is P Grant Balfour.

Grant Balfour
RHP #50
HT:6'2 WT:190

The Dish: The Thunder From Down Under, Grant Balfour signed with the Minnesota Twins as an undrafted free agent out of Sydney, Australia. Balfour (pronounced Ball-Four) was once a touted starting pitching prospect in the Minnesota Twins system.

From 1997-2000, Balfour compiled a minor league record of 25-16 with a 3.73 ERA working mostly as a starter. In late 2000 and early 2001 Balfour was moved to the bullpen. He made his Minnesota Twins debut on 7/22/01. His call up was brief, only lasting two games. The bulk of his work for 2001 came at AA New Britain and AAA Edmonton, working 46 games as a reliever. He spent all of 2002 and most 2003 in the minors working 79 games including 11 as a starter. He did make 16 relief appearance and his lone MLB start in 2003 for the Twins. In 2004 Balfour was a part of the Twins Central Division Championship team. Balfour pitched in 36 games with 4-1 record and posted a 4.35 ERA, striking out 42 batters in 39.1 Innings.

In 2005 the injury bug hit Balfour hard. He started the season on the DL with what was diagnosed with a forearm injured that later turned into season-ending elbow ligament-replacement surgery. Balfour successfully underwent Tommy John Surgery on May 13, 2005. He missed the entire 2005 season and was non-tendered in the offseason, ending his career in Minnesota. He signed with the Cincinnati Reds for the 2006, but never made it past Single A ball pitching 9 games including two starts with a ERA of 7.00.

In 2007 he was claimed off of waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers. Balfour was pretty impressive in his 32 minor league relief appearances going 1-1 in 32 games with a 1.87 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. Those numbers earned Balfour his trip back to the Majors. On July 16, 2007 the Brewers called Balfour up to the Major Leagues. Balfour pitched in three games for the brewers going 0-2 with a 20.25 ERA. He was designated for assignment a little more than 10 days later. That same day he was traded to the Rays for Seth McClung. Balfour finished the season in the Rays pen going 1-0 in 22 games with a 6.14 ERA. The Rays liked what they saw and re-signed Balfour to a one-year deal this offseason worth over a million dollars.

2007 Numbers: (AA Huntsville and AAA Nashville) 32 games, 1-1 with a 1.87 and 0.92 WHIP. (Brewers and Rays)25 Games, 1-2 with a 7.66 ERA and 2.027 WHIP.

Jules Fantasy Impact: He could have little value in AL only leagues, but that's about it.

Role for '08: Balfour comes into this spring as one of three candidates for the final bullpen spot. His competition is Scott Dohmann and the Ghost of Juan Salas, so he has a legitimate shot. If he doesn't make the team he will be subject to waivers, where a team may take a flier on him. If not he will wait for the call at AAA Durham.


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