The Phillies announced their first batch of non-roster spring invitees, including a pair of previously unreported signings from the depths of the American League West.
Cesar Jimenez, a 28-year-old southpaw who's spent his entire career in the Martiners organization, and talented outfielder Jermaine Mitchell, a 28-year-old former top prospect who failed to break through the majors in seven seasons with Oakland, will join previously reported signees Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Steven Lerud, Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Pete Orr and Humberto Quintero when camp opens February in Clearwater.
Jimenez went 2-2 with a 5.75 ERA and 38/19 K/BB in 23 appearances for Triple-A Tacoma. He's been hindered by arm issues in recent seasons, including a strained forearm this season and a labrum tear that cost him most of 2010. When healthy, he's effective, including 81 strikeouts in 71 innings, and a stingy three homers allowed, just two seasons ago in the hitter-friendly PCL. He earned an extended opportunity with the Mariners back in 2008 and pitched to a 3.41 ERA in 31 games, included a pair of starts. Lefties often get a long look in spring training and he has the added advantage of having the Seattle connection.
But the real find is Mitchell, who brings his touted skillset to the Phils after spinning his tires for seven seasons in the Oakland chain. Despite his advanced age, he rated as the A's fifth-best prospect by Baseball America only a year ago after a late, breakout season in split duty between Double and Triple-A, hitting a combined .332/.430/.530 with 15 homers, 29 doubles, 16 triples and 27 stolen bases over 635 plate appearances.
The A's thought this would be the year he broke in. Unfortunately, 2012 proved to be a disaster as he missed significant time with a back injury and hit just .252/.345/.386 with six homers in 474 plate appearances. He became a roster casualty and was designated for assignment when the A's acquired Sandy Rosario from the Red Sox back in November, although his rise was ultimately blocked by the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes.
Considered a late bloomer, Mitchell, a former fifth-round pick, was recently rated by BA as the best defensive outfielder in the A's system for a second-straight year, seeing most of his action in center field, and was also previously considered their fastest prospect. He's also disciplined at the plate.
This is a quality signing who could put on a show this spring, and maybe even turn up the heat on Domonic Brown's slow ascent. Mitchell is a big-time spring sleeper.