Royals acquire Joey Gathright

New Royals General Manager Dayton Moore didn't take long to make his first trade. Moore today sent J.P. Howell, a left-handed pitcher selected in the first round of the 2004 draft, to Tampa Bay in exchange for outfielder Joey Gathright and infielder Fernando Cortez.

Joey Gathright, 25, is a left-handed batter with blazing speed. He struggled through the first two months of the season, hitting just .201/.305/.240 while stealing 12 bases, and he was optioned to triple-A Durham on June 6 when the Devil Rays activated Rocco Baldelli. In 11 games in Durham, Gathright hit .258/.410/.323 and stole six bases.

In an interview with 810 AM in Kansas City shortly after completing the trade, Dayton Moore said Gathright will be recalled from the minors immediately, and he should start in center field when the Royals play the Pirates on Wednesday night.

Fernando Cortez was drafted by the Devil Rays in the ninth round of the 2001 draft, and he's played the entire 2006 season with Durham, hitting .222/.265/.271 in 60 games. He plays first base, second base, and third base, and Moore said he sees him as a useful utility player.

J.P. Howell, who was widely considered one of the Royals' top pitching prospects, has made eight starts for the Omaha Royals this season, compiling a 3-2 record with an ERA of 4.75.