Tigers sign Jiwan James out of tryout camp
For the second straight year, the Tigers have found an athletic outfielder out of their spring tryout camp. Whether Jiwan James follows Wynton Bernard’s trajectory remains to be seen, but after seeing the Phillies prospect try out last week, the Tigers are going to give him a shot, signing him to a minor-league deal.
James, who turns 26 next month, hit the Phillies top prospect rankings after back-to-back 30-steal seasons in A-ball in 2010 and 2011. From there, however, his career slowed for knee surgery and another procedure to deal with Crohn’s Disease. (Former Tigers pitching prospect Adam Pettyjohn had a somewhat similar condition, ulcerative colitis, that slowed his career.)
The injuries and ailments cost James parts of the last three seasons, and the Phillies released him last June. He had signed a few weeks ago to play independent ball with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League until he caught the Tigers’ attention during last Monday’s tryout camp. Mike Ashmore wrote a great profile of James a couple weeks ago.
As some have pointed out on twitter, the Tigers have signed a few former prospects this offseason looking for a rebound. One key difference with James is that he’s still young enough to be considered a prospect. The other, and arguably, bigger difference: He’s an athlete, and the Tigers system needs athletes, especially at the middle levels between a projected deep outfield at Triple-A Toledo and Derek Hill’s starting point.