Mike Hollimon‘s career has been a study in perseverance. He has encountered difficulties at every level of his career, from college to the minors to the Majors, but he has kept going. This spring, the 29 year old middle infielder will play for the Twins as a non-roster invitee. He will wear jersey number 73.
Hollimon attended the University of Texas for three years, and he helped the Longhorns win the National Championship in 2002, but his numbers slipped every season in Texas. By 2004, his average had dropped to .225. Hollimon did not give up; instead he opted for a change of scenery and transferred to Oral Roberts University, where he revived his college career by hitting .304/.422/.578 and stealing 26 bases. Hollimon had been drafted by the Twins in the 49th round back in 2003, but the year at Oral Roberts rocketed him all the way up to round 16, where the Tigers selected him in ’05.
It looked like a steal for Detroit. Hollimon put up some solid hitting numbers in the Tiger system. His best season was probably 2007, when he hit .280/.366/.473 with 35 doubles, 14 homers, and 17 stolen bases between AA and AAA (he played five games at AAA). He consistently showed good on-base skills and enough power and speed to make him an intriguing prospect. The Tigers were intrigued enough to call him up in June, 2008. He played 11 games for them and collected his only Major League homer, hit in Seattle against Mariner reliever Mark Lowe.
Then things took a turn for the worse. Despite the callup, 2008 was actually a bad hitting year for Hollimon. At AAA Toledo, he hit just .211 with a .306 OBP. In 2009 he had similar numbers in just 29 games before suffering a shoulder injury that ended his year. It also ended his Tiger career, as the team let him go after the season. He was unable to latch on with an MLB organization in 2010, so he played instead with the Grand Prairie AirHogs of the independent American Association.
The Twins signed Hollimon to a minor league deal last year, and he split time between Rochester and New Britain. His line for the season was .231/.326/.413. He hit 18 home runs, which was enough to place him among the Twins organization’s homer leaders. His 16 homers for New Britain tied him with Joe Benson for the club lead.
At age 29, Hollimon is probably too old to be considered a true prospect. Unfortunately, his career got off to a late start (he was drafted at age 23), and he’s suffered a few bad breaks along the way. He should be able to find a niche within the Twins organization, though, because the Twins really do not have a lot of switch-hitting shortstops with power. Look for Hollimon to spend a good deal of time at Rochester this season. It isn’t out of the question that he could be called up to the Twins at some point, expecially if he hits well and the Twins suffer some injuries at the shortstop position.
Hollimon is one of 25 Twins non-roster invitees this season. You can read about some of the others here.