Spring Training is officially underway, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Dunedin today in order to begin the 2013 season. There is an air of excitement around camp this season, as the Blue Jays stroll in him high expectations in the wake of a flurry of offseason improvements.
But before we get there, we have some unfinished business to attend to. Thus far, we have reviewed the non-roster invitees for right-handed and left-handed pitchers, catchers, and outfielders.
You can find those post here:
With camp underway, it is only right that we wrap up this series by reviewing the non-roster infielders invited to Dunedin.
The 30-year-old Venezuelan is with his eighth Major League organization and 9th professional including one season with the Nippon Ham Fighters, with Toronto picking him up on December 11th with a minor league deal. Jimenez finally got a chance to make his big league debut in 2012, appearing in 7 games and getting 18 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners, but managed only a single hit. However, he has shown some interesting power in the minors and owns a career .845 OPS in the lower levels. He’s destined for Buffalo in 2013, but may see some at-bats this spring with Edwin Encarnacion away at the World Baseball Classic.
The younger brother to Adam LaRoche, the 29-year-old Andy has not nearly enjoyed the success of his big brother. That said, he has plenty of Major League experience all around the infield, but primarily as a third baseman. LaRoche is a career .226 hitter at the Major League level, but that bumps up to .285 in the minors with a .864 OPS. He’ll be a solid fallback option should an injury occur with Brett Lawrie, Maicer Izturis, or Emilio Bonifacio.
McCoy has been with the Blue Jays organization since being claimed off waivers from the Rockies in November 2009. The 31-year-old has appeared in 158 games for Toronto over the years, with a .276 average, 3 home runs, and 20 RBI. McCoy gives the Blue Jays some minor league depth at shortstop, second base, and the outfield, but he is unlikely to hit enough at the Major League level to make the team as a back-up.
A former Pirates and Nationals farmhand, Negrych was signed to a minor league deal on November 20th. At 27-years-old, he has never appeared in the Major Leagues despite being a .298 hitter in the minors with a .779 career OPS. Primarily a second baseman, Negrych has spent time at third and left field during his career. There could be a healthy competition between Negrych and LaRoche in camp.
Schimpf, a fifth round selection of the Blue Jays in 2009, worked split his time between Dunedin and New Hampshire in 2012, showing excellent power in the process. He authored a batting line of .269 with 22 home runs, 76 RBI, and a .868 OPS. Primarily a second baseman, Schimpf will get his a look this spring, but is likely headed back to New Hampshire to start the season after making just 33 appearances there last year. Our Charlie Caskey recently listed him as a possible sleeper to watch this summer.
The 30-year-old Velez started his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, but was lost when the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. The shortstop has appeared in second baseman/outfielder has appeared in 259 games at the Major League level, but has made the most noise by holding the record for most at-bats in a season without a single hit (37) and the most consecutive at-bats without a hit (46). His record in the minors is a bit more promising, where he holds a .297 career mark with a .798 OPS and 232 stolen bases. Velez is another of a wide crop of middle-infielders that can add depth in the minors, but hold little to no value at the Major League level.
The Blue Jays are the sixth organization for the 27-year-old Zawadzki, who has not appeared at the Major League level since getting a 20-game cup of coffee with the Padres in 2010 and it’s not hard to see why. Since making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A in 2010, Zawadzki has failed to hit above .233 in a single campaign, despite spending all three of those seasons toiling in the hitter-friendly PCL. He has the claim to fame for having the first ever hit in Petco Park history, as a student as San Diego State University, but it will take a surprise for him to get a hit in another Major League ballpark at this stage.
Tags: Toronto Blue Jays