Jul 12, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays hat and glove lay in the dugout against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
In late October this year, the Blue Jays resigned the 27-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela to a minor-league contract. While this would usually be characterized as a small signing, I’m sure there were a few people in the organization that were more than happy to see that no other teams noticed Infante’s strong season.
The right-hander spent time between the Triple-A and Double-A levels last season and posted some career numbers. Although he was a bit old for the Double-A level and he only spent 7.2 innings in Buffalo, he held batters to collective WHIP of 1.036 while striking out 8.5 per nine innings. Infante’s calling card as a reliever is his lightning arm. The velocity he features is well-above average and it was reported that he had topped 100 mph on several occasions last season. Also, after walking 6.4 batter per nine in the Los Angeles Dodger’s organization in 2013, he was able to reduce that ratio to 3.5 BB/9 last year, meaning he may have proved that he is finally able to harness his natural ability.
Infante originally signed with the Chicago White Sox as an 18-year-old, but it feels wrong to call a 27-year-old reliever a journeyman minor leaguer. For someone with such an impressive fastball, it seems odd that he has never gotten a prolonged shot to prove himself in the major leagues. There may be something behind that, but there may be something to his recent success as well. Either way, with an invite to Spring Training in hand, Infante will surely look to show John Gibbons and company that he can factor onto the big league roster this upcoming season.