The Oakland A’s have added two more players to their non-roster invitee list to big league camp: veteran infielder Steve Lombardozzi and outfielder Slade Heathcott.
Lombardozzi, 29, spent the 2017 season in the Miami Marlins’ organization. He appeared in 103 games with Triple-A New Orleans, batting .274/.337/.339. Lombardozzi spent four days on the Marlins’ roster in May and didn’t collect a hit in eight at-bats. He also spent time on the disabled list with pulled groin.
Lombardozzi, the son of the former big leaguer by the same name, was a 19th round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2008. He reached the big leagues with Washington in 2011 and spent all of 2012 and 2013 with the Nats. In Dec. 2013, he was part of the trade with the Detroit Tigers that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals. A few months later, Detroit traded Lombardozzi to the Baltimore Orioles for Alex Gonzalez.
Lombardozzi spent the 2014 season bouncing between Triple-A and the big leagues. That off-season, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash. He shuttled between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis in 2015 and was released by the Pirates at the end of that season. He signed a minor league free agent contract with the Chicago White Sox before the 2016 season, but was released at the end of spring training. Lombardozzi re-signed with his original organization in June and spent the rest of the year with Triple-A Syracuse before electing free agency at the end of that year.
Lombardozzi is a career .287/.351/.373 hitter in 789 minor league games. In 291 big league games, he is a .260/.292/.333 hitter. Primarily a second baseman, Lombardozzi also has significant experience in left field, third base, right field and shortstop. He helps rebuild the minor league depth in the upper-levels at second base that the A’s lost when trading Joey Wendle and Max Schrock earlier this off-season. Assuming Lombardozzi begins the year in Triple-A, his presence on the Nashville roster could allow the A’s to keep Sheldon Neuse in Double-A to start the year. If Neuse begins the year with Midland, he will likely get more opportunities to move around the infield defensively than he would with Nashville.
Heathcott, 27, was once one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ organization. He was a first-round pick (#29 overall) of the Bronx Bombers in 2009 out of Texas High School in Texarkana, TX. Heathcott jumped to Low-A in 2010 and hit .259 in 76 games but injured his shoulder and had to have off-season surgery. Heathcott would play well in Low-A in 2011, but he injured his shoulder again after a mid-season promotion to High-A Tampa. In 2012, Heathcott again battled injury but hit .302 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Before the 2013, he was added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He hit .261 for Double-A Trenton in 2013, but a knee injury ended his season after 103 games.
That same knee injury popped up again in 2014, sidelining Heathcott after just nine games. After being non-tendered that off-season, Heathcott re-signed with the Yankees to a minor league deal and spent most of the 2015 season in Triple-A. He hit .267 for Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in 67 games. Heathcott earned a promotion to the big leagues that May and got off to a fast start for the Yankees before landing on the DL with a quad injury. He returned to the big leagues that September and hit .400 in 17 major league games in 2015.
In 2016, Heathcott returned to Triple-A to start the season, but when he landed on the DL with a knee injury, he was released by the Yankees. He spent the rest of the year in the Chicago White Sox’s organization.
Last season, Heathcott had his healthiest campaign as a pro. While with the Giants’ organization, he hit .267/.350/.435 with 14 home runs and 11 stolen bases in 119 games between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento.
When healthy, Heathcott is an above-average runner who can handle centerfield. He has some power and the ability to hit for average and get on-base at a decent clip. Despite being in professional baseball since 2009, Heathcott will be 27 until late September. Heathcott will give the A’s some upper-level depth in centerfield next season.
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