Non-Roster invitees are generally a mix of wet-behind-the-ear rookies with an outside shot of making the opening day roster and vets trying to prove they still have what it takes to play at the big league level. In between, of course, there are the utility, AAAA type guys who have had big league experience with limited success and are still trying to establish themselves. This year’s Padres invites are no different. I wanted to take a look at who’s in camp this year.
A few days ago I wrote about pitchers and catchers. Today it’s the outfield and infield.
Before we get started here’s a link to sortable Spring Training stats for the Padres.
8 Erick Aybar – Age: 33
Aybar was an All-Star just 3 years ago. But he’s looking at a crowded infield which includes Rule 5 draft pick Allen Cordoba who would almost certainly be chosen over Aybar due to the Rule 5 status. Both have seen an equal amount of at-bats so far this spring.
78 Dusty Coleman – Age: 29
Coleman got his first taste of the big leagues with Kansas City last year. Coming into his age 29 season he needs to perform immediately to stick around. He’s already 4 for his first 10, but like Aybar, he’s facing a crowded infield.
17 Jose Pirela – Age: 27
Pirela appeared in 41 games last year and didn’t hit well at all. Looking at this crowded infield and all the talent on the outside looking in, it doesn’t appear that this will be the year Pirela gets much of a chance to shine.
79 Jamie Romak – Age: 30
Romak, along with Naylor, is playing in the WBC for Canada. From the outside it seems like a bold move, but maybe if he shines there that will be even better than perfoming well as an NRI.
85 Luis Urias – Age: 20 (#7 in Top 50)
Urias is a stud, but he’s young. He recorded a few at-bats before moving over to the WBC. Team Mexico is continuing the Padres’ efforts to convert him from a 2B to an SS but no one is expecting him to become a Major League SS overnight.
80 Christian Villanueva – Age: 26
Villanueva has yet to reach the big leagues and given his 2015 season in the minors I doubt he’ll suddenly make jump.
39 Brett Wallace – Age: 30
It’d be great to see Brett put it all together this year and become an option off the bench for San Diego. He is coming off a rough 2016 campaign though and will really need to impress. Spring Training might not be enough time for him to win the trust he needs.
32 Jabari Blash – Age: 27
Blash might be ready for a breakout year. He hit home runs in three games in a row and he’s shown power throughout his time in the minor leagues. I took him in my rookies only fantasy draft, but maybe he’s even a sleeper in a late round of a deep standard league. His age hurts his “prospect” status, but don’t let that stop you.
64 Nick Buss – Age: 30
After being called up last year Buss started off by going 6 for 17. Then he cooled off considerably. In fact, he wound up posting a slash line of .197/.247/.346.
5 Collin Cowgill – Age: 31
The veteran saw limited big league action in 2015 and didn’t perform well. He saw less in 2016 and performed worse. I don’t even think a strong spring will have him see the roster, but if he winds up in El Paso a strong season there could always lead to a call-up.
82 Rafael Ortega – Age: 26
He’s younger than the other outfielder NRIs on this list and he made his MLB debut at the age of 21 so he has talent. He hit well in 2015 and 2016 in AAA. There probably just isn’t room for him at the big league level.