Prior to Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Tigers announced that they had assigned four players to minor league camp: pitchers Joe Jimenez and Kevin Ziomek, and catchers Austin Green and Kade Scivicque.
Jimenez entered spring training with the most hype of the four players cut. Following a dominant season at Single-A West Michigan, Jimenez drew ample praise from prospect evaluators for his raw stuff and advanced control. He impressed in his limited time in major league camp, allowing just one run in three innings of action. He struck out the side in his lone inning against Florida Southern, and fanned four of the eight big league hitters he faced.
As exciting as it is to think about Jimenez leaping to the majors this year, this early cut was expected. His fastball command and consistency with secondary offerings are still a work in progress, however, and he will benefit from addition time in the minor leagues. Earlier this week, Tigers general manager Al Avila hinted that Jimenez would start the season at Advanced-A Lakeland with a chance to jump to Double-A Erie by season's end.
Ziomek, a 23-year-old lefthander, will try to make the vaunted jump to Double-A this season. He posted a 3.43 ERA and 4.21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 154 2/3 innings at Advanced-A Lakeland last year. He started the Tigers' spring opener against Florida Southern, but allowed three runs in three innings of MLB action.
Of particular importance this spring is Austin Green, one of the catchers who will provide injury depth should the club lose Bryan Holaday to waivers. Green isn't much of an offensive threat -- he hit .259/.310/.350 at Double-A Erie last season -- but he is a solid defender who could eventually find himself in a backup role. Both he and Scivicque were in major league camp for depth purposes, and neither collected a hit in seven combined at-bats (Scivicque walked once).
Although the Tigers still have 55 players remaining in major league camp, we probably have not seen the last of Jimenez and Ziomek this spring. The Tigers have used 39 pitchers in Grapefruit League games this year, and have gotten contributions from minor leaguers like Paul Voelker, Joe Mantiply, Adam Ravenelle, Confesor Lara, and many others (including guys we've never heard of).
Stay patient, everyone. Jimenez will be here soon enough.