Justin O'Conner played just 20 games in 2016 between rookie ball and Double-A after being sidelined until August with a back strain. He got off to a strong start in the former, slashing .325/.400/.525 over 45 at-bats. However, he had a tougher stint at Double-A Montgomery, where he hit just .160 over a 26-plate appearance stint to close out the season. The 24-year-old backstop figures to kick off 2017 at Double-A again but could certainly ascend to Triple-A Durham at some point during the coming campaign. He's proven capable of solid production in extra-base hits, homers and RBI at multiple stops, but his ability to carry that over against higher caliber of competition remains to be seen. Outrighted to Triple-A Durham in December, O'Conner will stay in the organization to begin spring training without the benefit of a 40-man roster spot following the team's addition of Wilson Ramos.
O'Conner (back) cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. O'Conner was DFA'd earlier in the month after the Rays signed Wilson Ramos, and given his lack of movement through the Rays organization, no team bit on his services. The 24-year-old is also recovering from some back surgeries and potentially could miss most if not all of the 2017 season, so that added wrinkle may have played a part in all of this as well. Regardless, he'll continue to rehab his back as the offseason rolls along with the hope of returning at the tail-end of the upcoming year.
O'Conner was DFA'd by the Rays on Monday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. O'Conner missed nearly all of last season due to a strained back, and the 24-year-old, former first-round pick, is yet to progress past the Double-A level. Monday's designation removes O'Conner from the 40-man roster, freeing up a spot for the newly acquired Wilson Ramos.
O'Conner, who's been sidelined the entire season with a back strain, returned to action with the GCL Rays on Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The 2010 first-round pick is officially on a rehab assignment, with the goal of eventually getting back to Double-A Montgomery after several appearances. O'Conner has gone 1-for-6 over his first two games, with the one hit coming on a solo homer that he blasted against the GCL Twins on Wednesday. The 24-year-old has yet to ascend beyond the Double-A level in five-plus minor league campaigns, slashing .232/.281/.392 with 54 homers and 246 RBI over 470 games.
O'Conner (back) was optioned to minor league camp Wednesday, Steve Carney of 620 WDAE reports. O'Conner had been sidelined for all of spring training with a back issue, so between this and his relatively low spot on the depth chart, he'll head back to the minors to develop more.
O'Conner received an epidural recently to help treat a herniated disk in his back, Steve Carney of 620 WDAE reports. O'Conner is already projected to be No. 3 on the Rays' catching depth chart, so chalk this ailment up as yet another obstacle to overcome. He remains without a timetable for a return to spring action.