Today I look at the infielders signed to minor league deals and invited to Spring Training. I hoped the Indians would make an attempt to bring back Omar Vizquel as a utility infielder, but he signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe it’s for the best…with Jason Donald on board, there really isn’t room for anyone else (barring injury).
Chin-Lung Hu – Primarily a second baseman and shortstop, the 27-year-old Hu spent the 2011 season in the New York Mets organization. In limited at-bats with the Major League club (20) he hit .050/.091/.141; he wasn’t much better in their minor league system – split between the Mets’ rookie league team and Triple-A Buffalo he hit .188/.270/.213. His Major League career numbers are .176/.225/.259 and minor league career numbers are .296/.339/.412.
Andy LaRoche – I mentioned once before that my cousin used to make fun of Andy LaRoche and Adam LaRoche when they were both in Pittsburgh, referring to them sarcastically as “the dynamic duo.” Andy was definitely the less dynamic portion of the duo. He had a decent year with Oakland in 2011, hitting .247/.320/.333. This was slightly better than his career averages of .226/.305/.337.
Jose Lopez – In 2011 Lopez split his time between the Florida Marlins and their Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. In New Orleans he hit .400/.430/.688 and at the Major League level .226/.259/.472. He had some good years in Seattle from 2006-2009 and was even a replacement for Robinson Cano in the 2006 All-Star Game. He also hit 25 home runs in 2009, which is his last really good season in the Majors.
Julio Lugo – The 36-year-old Lugo has been all over the Majors throughout his career, and spent 2011 with the Atlanta Braves. He hit .136/.208/.136 and was released by the team in early September. He had a decent season as recent as 2009 though, and may have something left in the tank. If nothing else, he may be able to provide advice to young players. He attracted controversy in 2003 while with the Houston Astros, when he was arrested for assaulting his wife in the parking lot of Minute Maid Park. The Astros released him the next day in order to distance themselves from the situation.
Argenis Reyes – The 29-year-old second baseman hasn’t played in the Majors since 2009, when he was with the New York Mets. That season he hit .118/.167/.118 in limited at-bats; he .282/.336/.377 with Triple-A Buffalo. His career minor league stats are .287/.335/.357.
Ryan Rohlinger - He’s only played in 46 games at the Major League level between 2008-2011 with career line of .134/.183/.194 – all with the San Francisco Giants. While he spent most of the time in the Giants organization, he also played briefly with the Rockies Triple-A club in 2011. His minors career line is .268/.353/.437.
What can I say about all of these players, other than the fact that I’m significantly less excited about them than I was the pitching invites (and I’m not really excited about the pitching invites). I guess the best bet out of all of these players is Jose Lopez, if he’s able to regain some of his past glory. I think Julio Lugo is past his prime and that the rest never really had a prime (except for in the minors, perhaps). Perhaps they could provide some depth and insurance at the minor league level; in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects of 2012, the Indians had exactly one entry. (But that’s a story for another post…)