For a brief period in the 2015 season, left-hander Robbie Ross became the Boston Red Sox's closer.
Ross, recently inked to a minor-league contract with the Detroit Tigers, picked up all six of his career saves that September and tied for second on the team with 12 holds. He had a 3.86 ERA, 53 strikeouts and 23 walks through 54 games (60⅔ innings) out of the bullpen.
The Tigers notice his bounce-back potential, even if it's best used as organizational depth. Ross, 31, was one of four players signed Saturday to a minor-league deal, along with infielder Yariel Gonzalez, right-hander Andrew Moore and first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez.
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Ross returned to the Red Sox in 2016, firing 56 strikeouts (with 23 walks) in 55⅓ innings across 54 games. He had a 3.25 ERA but didn't pitch in save situations.
Since then, however, he has just nine innings in the majors. A back injury shortened his 2017 season to eight appearances, and he was outrighted from the big-league roster before electing to enter free agency. He underwent back surgery that August.
During his six-year MLB career, Ross pitched 266 games and 330⅔ innings between the Texas Rangers (2012-14) and Red Sox (2015-17), registering a 3.92 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 274 strikeouts and 120 walks. The Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft out of high school.
He signed minor-league deals with the Chicago White Sox (2018) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2019) but was released both times. In June 2019, he joined the Sugar Land Skeeters, an independent team in the Atlantic League. One month later, after having an 8.64 ERA in 8⅓ innings, he was released.
Ross pitched for the Lightning Sloths, another independent team, in the Constellation Energy League in 2020. He tossed five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Here's more information on the three other players signed by the Tigers:
Yariel Gonzalez, INF
Vitals: 6-1, 190.
Last played: Triple-A Memphis (seven games), Double-A Springfield (56 games) and High-A Palm Beach (57 games) for St. Louis Cardinals in 2019.
The buzz: Gonzalez played 120 games in the Cardinals' farm system in 2019, hitting .261 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs, adding 37 walks to 70 strikeouts. In his four-year minor-league career, he has experience at third base (147 games), first base (107 games), second base (25 games), left field (15 games), right field (seven games) and shortstop (nine games).
Andrew Moore, RHP
Vitals: 6-0, 195.
Last played: Triple-A Tacoma (13 games), Double-A Arkansas (five games), MLB (one game) for Seattle Mariners; Triple-A Durham (five games) for Tampa Bay Rays; Double-A Richmond (one game) for San Francisco Giants in 2019.
The buzz: A former second-round pick in the 2015 draft from Oregon State, Moore made his MLB debut on June 22, 2017, against the Tigers. He allowed three runs on six hits (no walks) in seven innings, with four strikeouts, to earn the win. Through 12 games (10 starts) in his MLB career, the right-hander owns a 5.51 ERA in 63⅔ innings, striking out 33 and walking nine.
Aderlin Rodriguez, 1B
Vitals: 6-3, 210.
Last played: Japan Pacific League (59 games) and Japan Western League (21 games) for Orix Buffaloes in 2020.
The buzz: Rodriguez hit .242 in Japan last season with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs in 83 games. He struck out 74 times and had 20 walks. He played 11 years in the minors, reaching Triple-A El Paso (San Diego Padres) in 2019. That year, he logged a .321 batting average, 19 homers and 64 RBIs in 75 games.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers sign ex-MLB lefty Robbie Ross to minor-league deal