Last, but not least, are the outfielders will be in camp on minor league deals. While a smaller group than the pitchers and infielders, there are some well-known names in the group.
Fred Lewis – He spent the 2011 season in the Cincinnati Reds organization, splitting his time between the Major League club, Triple-A, and Double-A. With the Reds, the 31-year-old Lewis hit .230/.321/.317 with 3 home runs and 2 stolen bases. He spent much of his career with the Giants, and has a .267/.345/.406 career line over six Major League seasons.
Felix Pie – A highly touted prospect with the Chicago Cubs, they eventually gave up on him and sent him to the Baltimore Orioles. He’s had a few flashes of brilliance, but has yet to really live up to his predicted talent. With Baltimore in 2011, he hit .220/.264/.280 with 0 home runs and 3 stolen bases.
Ryan Spilborghs – The right-handed Spilborghs spent his entire career with the Colorado Rockies, averaging .272/.345/.423. He struggled in 2011, when he hit .210/.283/.305 with 3 home runs and 2 stolen bases. In a brief stop at Triple-A, he hit .444/.468/.711 with 3 home runs in just 45 at-bats. He was non-tendered by the Rockies in December, actually prior to when they signed Michael Cuddyer. The Rockies claimed that they wanted to try and re-sign him, but Cuddyer probably made that unnecessary. He’s had some problems with his foot, but supposedly had no problems with it when he played winter ball in Mexico.
Maybe it’s because I bought into all of the hype about him several years ago, but I’m still somewhat intrigued by Pie. Even though I think he’ll go down in history as another Andy Marte, he’s worth a minor league contract to see if he can still prove himself in the Majors. If all three of these players don’t make the 25-man roster, yet report to Columbus, they could provide the Indians with some solid depth in case of another catastrophic season for outfielders, where Grady Sizemore, Michael Brantley, and Shin-Soo Choo all spend time on the DL. (I should point out that Fred Lewis can opt out of his contract on June 1 if he’s not on the Major League roster). Aside from Ezequiel Carrera, the high minors are kind of stripped of outfield talent (unless Nick Weglarz can prove healthy this year).
Signed after I posted the piece on their respective position:
Dan Wheeler – The veteran RHP spent the 2011 season with the Boston Red Sox, where he went 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 49.1 innings pitched. His career numbers are 25-43 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.20 WHIP; he spent 2008-2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays and did slightly better than those career figures (except for the 2008 playoffs and World Series, where he struggled). It’s a little surprising that Wheeler didn’t get a Major League offer from anyone, but he’s 34 with a sub par year in 2011. Wheeler has some intriguing incentives if he makes the team: $900,000 salary and an extra $50,000 for 35 games finished, an extra $75,000 for 40 games finished, an extra $125,000 for 45 games finished, and an extra $125,000 for 50 games finished.
Jose De La Torre – The 26-year-old RHP spent his entire career in the New York Mets farm system, where he went 17-19 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 277 strikeouts in 265.2 innings over five seasons. He spent 2011 with three different teams; the Mets’ rookie league affiliate, low A affiliate, and Triple-A Buffalo. Between the three he went 2-2 with an 0.99 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 27.1 innings. He could provide some bullpen depth at Columbus, but it should be emphasized that he’s yet to pitch at the Major League level.
Gregorio Petit – Infielder that did not play with affiliated baseball during the 2011 season. Petit played in the Majors during the 2008 and 2009 seasons with Oakland, hitting .278/.304/.333 in just 54 at-bats. The 27-year-old’s career numbers in the minors are .265/.322/.365, with seven of his eight years spent in Oakland’s system (and the final year in Texas’s system).
In case you missed it:
Infielders invited to spring training (except for Julio Lugo, whose deal fell through).