By: Max Zuiker
Every year there is that one impact player not set to be on the major league roster. This particular person whether it be a high prospect, an aging veteran who is looking for one last shot or that kid no even recognizes, can have tremendous impact throughout the season. Non-roster invitees are a great way of including non-roster players to compete for a spot heading out of spring training. I’ll give you an inside look from team to team on who I believe is the best spring invitee is.
BOSTON: Carlos Marmol- Marmol had between 93 and 138 k’s from the 2008-2011 seasons and is credited to 117 career saves. The problem for Marmol is his lack of control. If he can replicate what he did early in his career Boston might have a solid late inning man in Marmol.
NYY: Drafted in the first round in 2013, Arron Judge might make the big league cut finally. With the loss of Greg Bird and all the aging stars it’s time for the Yankees to turn to Judge.
BALTIMORE: Drafted 22nd overall in 2013, Hunter Harvey is a kid who should get a good look this spring. Starting pitching was a problem for Baltimore in 2015 and losing ace Wei-Yin Chen in free agency will only increase the chances of seeing Hunter in an O’s uniform very soon.
TAMPA BAY: Remember flame thrower Johnny Venters? Venters took a minor league deal this off season as he hopes to be healthy for the first time in over three years. Over his three seasons with the Braves (2010-2012), Venters was one of the best set up men in all of baseball posting a solid 15-10 record with a 2.23 ERA.
TORONTO: I feel like the Blue Jays have a knack for acquiring a below average player and making them in to a star. Look at the cases of Jose Batista and Edwin Encarnacion both ok players who are now 40+ home run threats every year. I think Dominic Brown a former all-star is a guy who should intrigue Blue Jay fans. He is only 28, so there is plenty of upside with a player like Brown.
CLEAVELAND: Jaba Chamberlain has had an interesting career would like to see him as the Indians 7th inning guy.
CHICAGO: This is easy Jimmy Rollins. Great to see Jimmy be able to compete for starting SS job. The all-star veteran has logged 465 stolen bases with over 2400 hits in his career.
DETROIT: For Casey McGehee this might be his last change for romance. Casey had a sold 2014 in which he played in a 160 games for the Marlins and notched 177 hits with .355 OBP. However, last year was a disaster for McGehee who batted a weak .198 and only had 47 hits in 109 games.
MINNESOTA: Owning a 36-20 record with an ERA just under three Jose Barrios is a kid Twins fans should be ecstatic for. Barrios has the stuff of a true major league ace and is only 21 years old. Look for him to compete for the 5th starter job.
KANSAS CITY: Coming off a World Series title the Royals are bringing plenty of veteran pitchers to camp with them. It is John Lannan’s name that caught my eye. I feel if there is any team that could revive Lannan’s career it would be Kanas City. Look for Ned Yost to work his magic.
TEXAS: Robinson Cherinos and Chris Gimenez are looking like the favorites to start at catcher for the Rangers in 2016. However, Michael McHenery should be considered as an option. He is just one year removed from a .315 AVG and .398 OBP season. I think he would make a solid back up and perhaps catch Cole Hamel or Yu Darvish on a regular basis.
LA ANGELS: With many of the Angels starters coming off the books at the end of the season, watch out for the Angels third best prospect… Nate Smith. The lefty look to have a promising future in the majors. I’m convinced if he has a great spring then he will open with the team in 2016. Since being drafted in 2013, Nate is 23-16 with a 3.50 ERA.
HOUSTON: Having the 10th most wins and 9th most strikeouts in Astro history, Wandy Rodriguez is planning to try and prolong his career with the team that originally signed with. Rodriguez comes in with a 97-98 career record, seeing time with the Pirates and Rangers as well. Wandy figures to be a good insurance policy as the Astros are filled pitching across the board.
OAKLAND: Franklin Barreto is Oakland’s top prospect. He is currently ranked 18th among all prospects according to mlb.com He was the center piece to the Josh Donaldson trade a year ago. Plenty of upside for the young shortstop who batted over .300 and had 102 hit over 90 games in his first pro year.
SEATTLE: 39 year old Joel Peralta will try and secure a roster spot this spring. Prior to his one year stint with the Dodgers in 2015, Peralta was one of the more durable relif pitchers in the league. From 2011-2014 Peralta averaged 74 games pitched per season. Over his long career Peralta is 19-34 with a 3.94 ERA.