Prospect Jimenez among 18 Tigers NRIs

Prospect Jimenez among 18 Tigers NRIs

DETROIT -- The Tigers' closer of the future will get his shot at big league hitters this Spring Training. So, too, will a Tigers infield prospect set to serve a suspension when the season begins.

The Tigers on Thursday announced 18 non-roster invitations to Major League camp. Most of the Minor League signings were already known, including just-announced acquisition John Mayberry Jr. and Nate Schierholtz in the outfield and pitchers Rafael Dolis, Preston Guilmet and Logan Kensing.

Tigers Spring Training info

Who would be going to camp among the prospects not on the 40-man roster, however, wasn't clear. The Tigers played it aggressively, inviting top relief prospect Joe Jimenez to camp coming off a dominant season at Class A West Michigan.

It doesn't mean the Tigers are expecting Jimenez to make a run at a spot in their bullpen out of camp, but officials believe he's close enough to at least benefit from working with the big club. General manager Al Avila seemingly had Jimenez in mind when he talked at last month's Winter Meetings about having pitching prospects who could help Detroit's staff this coming season.

Jimenez, who turns 21 on Sunday, overpowered Midwest League hitters, allowing seven earned runs on 23 hits in 43 innings with 11 walks and 61 strikeouts. He earned a spot in the All-Star Futures Game in July, then made three appearances for Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Several other A-level players were invited, including Jimenez's West Michigan teammate, outfielder Mike Gerber. He hit .292 with 31 doubles, 10 triples, 13 homers and 76 RBIs. His invite continues a rapid climb that included a spot in the Arizona Fall League a few months ago. West Michigan catcher Kade Scivicque, a fourth-round Draft pick last summer, also was invited after 42 games for the Whitecaps.

Left-hander Kevin Ziomek was invited after finishing with a 9-11 record and a 3.43 ERA at Class A Advanced Lakeland. So was first baseman Dominic Ficociello, who hit .293 with eight homers and 60 RBIs in 128 games between Lakeland and Double-A Erie.

Also invited was shortstop JaCoby Jones, the Tigers' return package from Pittsburgh in the Joakim Soria trade. He made an impression with a three-homer game at Erie, part of a 16-homer season at three different clubs, before he carried it into the Arizona Fall League. However, he still has to serve 38 games of a 50-game suspension he received during Fall League play for testing positive for a substance of abuse.

The suspension -- which included the last 12 games of the Fall League schedule -- has no impact on Jones' Spring Training, but it will apply when the regular season begins.

Here's the full list of invites:

• Right-handed pitchers: Lendy Castillo, Dolis, Guilmet, Jimenez, Kensing
• Left-handed pitchers: Drake Britton, Ziomek
• Catchers: Miguel Gonzalez, Austin Green, Raffy Lopez, Scivicque
• Infielders: Ficociello, Tommy Field, Jones
• Outfielders: Gerber, Jason Krizan, Mayberry, Schierholtz

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.