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.