Port St. Lucie, Fla. — Melvin Mercedes signed with the Tigers as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Republic and for the last seven years made the gradual climb toward the Major Leagues.

Finally, late last season, he got there. He pitched two scoreless innings for the Tigers, striking out two. And then, a month or so later, he was designated for assignment.

"It was a discussion Dave (Dombrowski, president and general manager) and I had," manager Brad Ausmus said before the game Friday. "Melvin had come up last year. But unfortunately, at some point you have to cut the numbers off to be able to get your work done.

"Melvin was the guy that affected."

The Tigers took Melvin off the 40-man roster after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Alfredo Simon in a pair of trades Dec. 11.

Mercedes cleared waivers and eventually agreed to a minor league contract with the Tigers.

Which brought him to Port St. Lucie Friday. He and Guido Knudson were brought over as extra arms for the game against the Mets.

"It doesn't mean we don't think he can pitch in the big leagues," Ausmus said. "It's just, somebody was going to be affected."

Asked if he still thought Mercedes had some up-side, Ausmus didn't hesitiate.

"Yeah, absolutely."

Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky