The A’s have announced a series of non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training today (Twitter link via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). Among the notable names are right-hander Simon Castro, who logged 37 innings with the A’s last season, as well as veteran utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi, former Cubs lefty Eric Jokisch and former top outfield prospect Slade Heathcott. Castro had previously elected minor league free agency but will return on a new minor league pact.
The 29-year-old Castro pitched to a 4.38 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in his 37 frames with the A’s. Castro averaged nearly 94 mph on his fastball, but as an extreme fly-ball pitcher that saw 14 percent of flies against him turn into homers, he also averaged 1.7 long balls per nine innings pitched. The journeyman righty posted a career-best 14.9 K/9 in 38 Triple-A innings this season but averaged five walks per nine, as well. He’s set to turn 30 in April.
[Related: Updated Oakland Athletics depth chart]
Lombardozzi, 29, went hitless in eight plate appearances with the Marlins this past season and hasn’t recorded a hit in the Majors since 2014. But, he’s a career .279/.332/.337 hitter in parts of five Triple-A campaigns and posted numbers that were nearly identical to that career output with Miami’s Triple-A affiliate last season. Lombardozzi has played second base, third base, shortstop and the outfield corners in his career, so he can serve as a versatile depth option capable of stepping into multiple roles for the A’s should injuries arise.
The 28-year-old Jokisch posted a 1.88 ERA with a 10-to-4 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings for the 2014 Cubs. That’s his only MLB experience to date, though, as he’s spent the 2015-17 seasons bouncing between the Double-A and Triple-A levels. Jokisch has a career 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 422 innings of Triple-A work — most of which has come as a starter. While he spent the bulk of the 2016 season working in relief, 22 of his 29 appearances this past season were starts. In 140 2/3 innings, he notched a 4.09 ERA.
Heathcott, now 27, was the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft and rated as the game’s No. 63 overall prospect (No. 2 in the Yankees’ system) heading into the 2013 season, according to Baseball America. However, while he demonstrated impressive offensive potential in the lower minors, his bat has stalled in Double-A and Triple-A. Heathcott, who can handle all three outfield spots, hit a combined .267/.350/.435 in 478 plate appearances between the Giants’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in 2017.
Someone tell me how a kid with a career .400 average hasn’t gotten another opportunity in two years. I hope this kid gets another chance
Only 25 at bats though
Injuries derailed him a bit.
30 PA does not make a career. Lot’s of guys have hit .400 over two weeks and are never heard from again.
The Yankees’ outfield depth at the time was the biggest factor in Heathcott not getting another opportunity, although in retrospect it made no sense for them to waste roster spots on the likes of Dustin Ackley and Ike Davis, among others.
Nice bunch of Spring training invitees. Heathcott is a good pick up
With Lombardozzi in the minors the A’s will give more outfield time to guys like Neuse or Mateo, which is ok. Still, the best would be if guys in Nashville get to rotate with positions, so that the A’s can see where these prospects sue best.
Beane and whoever the GM said Mateo will be playing shortstop
I play in a strat-o-matic league with Jokisch’s uncle; he was so excited when that kid made his major-league debut, and I was really happy for him. Here’s to the best of luck.
Always liked Lombardozzi. Good pick up for the A’s to give them some depth and options.
I’ve always liked him too. I’ve always thought he would serve a team well as a bench piece and pinch hitter, but since his time with the Nationals it has just not panned out for him for whatever reason.
Some decent signings for the a’s. Hopefully Castro works on his control he could become a solid bullpen option
A BIG CONGRATS Heathcott. Another Texarkana kid that’s making it big. We’re very proud of him. Hope he can make it to the big show really soon. Hope to see him play against the Rangers and the Astros really soon in the big leagues.
If a MLB team signs a FA player to a minors deal, can they trade them to another MLB club later on? Or can that player just leave for the other club?
Such a player can be traded. He can’t just up and leave; however, he can ask to be traded or released if there doesn’t appear to be an opportunity for him to be called up to the majors.
They need an out clause in their contract to be let go during the season; I think.
OK cool. Thanks 25thman and Realtexan for your replies. It’s just weird to me that all these teams are signing FA minor league players but my team (SF) don’t seem to be very active at all. Yet they have the third worst farm system.
Also I thought maybe they would have jumped all over those Braves minor leaguers that were declared Free Agents.
I guess there’s intricacies that I’m just not understanding.
Minor League FAs are not considered to be very good players. They are generally assigned to AAA teams. They are generally considered as injury backups. They don’t effect a systems rankings. They could discover hidden talents. But, that is really rare.
Very good point. Thank you for your input vpolite.
If they trade him I believe the receiving team must add him to their 40 man roster whereas the player, on a MiLB contract, is not coming from a 40 man roster.
Slade Heathcott plays with an all out playing style that’s infectious.
The problem is he runs into walls.
The potential is there: Career .400 BA with 2 homers, 6 runs, 8 RBI 30PA (17 games) in 2015. But, NYY never promoted him to the majors, again.