Tigers announce 18 non-roster invites
The Tigers’ closer of the future will get his shot at big-league hitters this Spring Training. So, too, will a Tigers infield prospect set to serve a suspension when the season begins.
The Tigers on Thursday announced 18 non-roster invitations to Major League camp. Most of the minor-league signings were already known, including just-announced acquisition John Mayberry Jr. and Nate Schierholtz in the outfield and pitchers Rafael Dolis, Preston Guilmet and Logan Kensing.
Who would be going to camp among the prospects not on the 40-man roster, however, wasn’t clear. The Tigers played it aggressively, inviting top relief prospect Joe Jimenez to camp coming off a dominant season at Class A West Michigan.
It doesn’t mean the Tigers expect Jimenez to make a run at a spot in their bullpen out of camp, but officials believe he’s close enough to at least benefit from working with the big club right now. General manager Al Avila seemingly had Jimenez in mind when he talked at last month’s Winter Meetings about having pitching prospects who could help their staff this coming season.
Jimenez, who turns 21 on Sunday, overpowered Midwest League hitters, allowing seven earned runs on 23 hits in 43 innings with 11 walks and 61 strikeouts. He earned a spot in the All-Star Futures Game in July, then made three appearances for Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
Several other A-level players were invited, including Jimenez’s West Michigan teammate, outfielder Mike Gerber. He hit .292 with 31 doubles, 10 triples, 13 homers and 76 RBIs. His invite continues a rapid climb that included a spot in the Arizona Fall League a few months ago. West Michigan catcher Kade Scivicque, a fourth-round draft pick last summer, also was invited after 42 games for the Whitecaps.
Left-hander Kevin Ziomek was invited after finishing with a 9-11 record and 3.43 ERA at Class A Lakeland. So was first baseman Dominic Ficociello, who hit .293 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 128 games between Lakeland and Double-A Erie.
Also invited was shortstop JaCoby Jones, the Tigers’ return package from Pittsburgh in the Joakim Soria trade. He made an impression with a three-homer game at Erie, part of a 16-homer season at three different clubs, before carrying it into the Arizona Fall League. However, he still has to serve 38 games of a 50-game suspension he received during AFL play for testing positive for a substance of abuse.
The suspension has no impact on Jones’ Spring Training, but his suspension — which included the last 12 games of the AFL schedule — will apply when the regular season begins.
Here’s the full list of invites:
Right-handed pitchers: Lendy Castillo, Rafael Dolis. Preston Guilmet, Joe Jimenez, Logan Kensing
Left-handed pitchers: Drake Britton, Kevin Ziomek
Catchers: Miguel Gonzalez, Austin Green, Raffy Lopez, Kade Scivicque
Infielders: Dominic Ficociello, Tommy Field, JaCoby Jones
Outfielders: Mike Gerber, Jason Krizan, John Mayberry Jr., Nate Schierholtz