Alexis Israel "Alex" Ríos
(born February 18, 1981 in Coffee
) is a Puerto Rican-American Major League Baseball right fielder
who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays
. He bats and throws right-handed.
Rios was drafted in the first round (19th overall) in the 1999 MLB draft. A top prospect in the Blue Jays organization for several years, Ríos had considerable success in the organization's minor league system. In he hit .352 with 11 home runs and 82 RBI en route to winning the Double-A Eastern League Most Valuable Player award. Ríos was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse for the start of the season and made the jump to the big leagues shortly thereafter.
He finished his rookie season with Toronto hitting .286 with one home run, 55 runs
and 28 RBI in 111 games.
After his participation with the Puerto Rican team in the World Baseball Classic
, Ríos (a player often touted as having "unlimited" potential) began to show why the Blue Jays were so high on him in his break-out 2006 season. As of June 6, 2006, Ríos was 1st in the league in batting average (among qualified batters) with a .359 average, along with 11 home runs - a new personal best only 60 games into the 2006 season, and 43 RBIs. He then had his first multi-home run game on June 12
, facing the Baltimore Orioles
at the Rogers Centre
. He is a good example of what is known in baseball jargon as a "five-tool player
In recognition of his outstanding third season in the majors, the young outfielder was rewarded with a spot as a reserve on the American League All-Star Team. While Ríos did not play in the game due to a staph infection in his leg (Gary Matthews Jr. of Texas played instead), he was invited to attend the All-Star Game festivities during the July 10 weekend at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Alex said in a video interview that he fouled a ball off his foot which resulted in a staph infection, it also hospitalized him, seriously depleted his strength, and affected his stats after the 2006 All Star Game. Rios recovered from the illness later in the season.
On February 2
the Blue Jays and Ríos agreed to a 1 year, $2.535 million contract -- meaning that, for at least the next year, the two parties will avoid the process of salary arbitration
. Rios' performance earned him a spot as a reserve on the 2007 American League All-Star team and he also agreed to participate in the 2007 State Farm Home Run Derby
. He led all competitors by hitting 19 home runs throughout the contest, but the final round was won by Vladimir Guerrero
Ríos fielded the last out in the All-Star game. He led the team in all offensive categories during the first half of the season but slumped after the all-star break, with his hitting average settling to slightly below .300, and was overtaken by Frank Thomas as HR and RBI leader . In 2007, he had the lowest range factor of all major league right fielders, 1.82.
Rios has agreed to a six-year contract extension with the Blue Jays through 2014 for $64 million. It also has an option for 2015 that would make the deal $77.5 million.
- Prior to signing a long term contract with the Blue Jays in the 2007 offseason, Alex Rios was often mentioned in trade rumours. J.P. Ricciardi even openly stated that Rios was available during 2005 Spring Training, telling his scouts to see if they could get him "a bag of balls for Alex Rios".
- On June 6 2008, Alex Rios extended his hitting streak vs the Yankees to 26 consecutive games, the longest such streak vs the Yankees since Charlie Gehringer had a 31 game streak in 1935-36.