LAKELAND, Fla. -- Joe Jimenez has made a very strong case to be the Tigers' closer of the future. His more immediate future, however, is in Minor League camp.The Tigers made their first round of cuts from Major League camp Saturday morning before their 3-0 win over the Pirates, including
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Joe Jimenez has made a very strong case to be the Tigers' closer of the future. His more immediate future, however, is in Minor League camp.
The Tigers made their first round of cuts from Major League camp Saturday morning before their 3-0 win over the Pirates, including the high-powered Jimenez, left-hander Kevin Ziomek and catchers Austin Green and Kade Scivicque. All four were assigned to Minor League camp.
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None of the moves were a surprise. As good as Jimenez looked this spring against big league hitters, pitching up to his billing as MLBPipeline.com's ninth-ranked Tigers prospect, the 21-year-old has yet to appear in a regular-season game above low Class A ball.
Jimenez's two innings in Grapefruit League play were impressive. He struck out four of the nine batters he faced, allowing two hits, no runs and no walks.
"Joe has been a guy right now that we look at and say, 'Hey, that guy can be one of our bullpen guys in the near future,'" general manager Al Avila told reporters on Thursday. "There's a chance he starts in Double-A [Erie] or even a chance we start him in [Class A] Lakeland because of the weather and then move him up to Erie a little later in the season. We'll make that decision a little later in spring."
Though Ziomek opened the Tigers' Spring Training schedule by starting against Florida Southern, the 23-year-old hasn't pitched above Class A Advanced Lakeland. Once Grapefruit League play began, he appeared in two games, allowing three runs on two hits in three innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Ziomek, ranked sixth on MLB.com's list of top Tigers prospects, is expected to open the season at Erie.
While Green isn't on the prospect list, having just turned 26 last month, the backstop made an impression in camp beyond his stats. Though he went 0-for-6 at the plate in five Spring Training games, he handled himself well behind it.
"He's a good worker," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's got a strong arm. He shows power with the bat. I think he needs to play more. As it is with all catchers, the catchers have to understand that their impact behind the plate is much greater than in the batter's box. And as a result, the concentration has to be there every single pitch for your team and for that pitcher. Sometimes it takes young catchers, not just Greenie, a little while to understand that.
"That's one of the hardest things in baseball, to concentrate every single pitch for six months at the Major League level, five months at the Minor League level. That's part of the learning process."
Scivicque fits into the same category. The Tigers' fourth-round pick in last year's Draft played 42 games at Class A West Michigan last year, and he earned a non-roster invite to camp to serve as an extra catcher and learn from Major League veterans.
"When you first come to big league camp, it's really about the experience of seeing how it's done at the Major League level, being around big league players," Ausmus said.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.