I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for Spring Training to start. I also don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time balancing this excitement with what is actually happening in training camp right now. Nothing is happening. Like, nothing at all. Guys are giving milquetoast interviews and doing calisthenics. That’s about it.
As such, I, like you (even though I’ve previously stated twice now that I don’t know about you), choose to focus my attention on the non-roster invitees in training camp because, well, they are the known unknowns. They are as close to excitement as there is, let’s get to know the Angels non-roster invitees and see if they are actually worth knowing (unlike you, whom I know nothing about):
Let’s be honest this is the group you care about because they are the ones that actually have a chance of breaking camp with the Halos. That doesn’t mean any of them will, but at least they’ll be considered for the final bullpen or bench spot. That gives us all some underdogs to root for in camp, which is all we can really ask for.
Matt Lindstrom – Here’s your token established veteran reliever trying to extend his career, aka the Jason Isringhausen Memorial Role. Dipoto has a quite the history of bringing these guys in and giving them a legit shot at making the team. Lindstrom might have more than a legitimate shot if he can just show he is healthy, which he allegedly has thus far. Dipoto values variety in the bullpen and Lindstrom would be the hardest thrower in the bullpen and the only groundball specialist in a middle relief role.
Ryan Mattheus – He throws hard and spells “Matthews” wrong. I guess that counts as bullpen variety. Mattheus has some big league experience, so he just barely makes the cut as a roster contender, but realistically, he is a guy coming off some health issues who really needs to spend some time in Triple-A reestablishing himself.
Marc Krauss – For a second there Krauss was actually projected to be part of a DH platoon with C.J. Cron this year. Then the team traded for Matt Joyce and Krauss fell off the 40-man roster entirely. Now he’s back as a non-roster invitee and will be looking to force his way into the DH platoon again, at least while Josh Hamilton is out. Krauss is a big dude who should have big power, but he’s had a few bites at the apple in the majors already and tasted nothing but abject failure.
Ryan Wheeler – Wheeler just barely made the cutoff for this group. He wouldn’t have if he swung right-handed. The Halos could use a lefty bat on the bench and Wheeler technically qualifies, though he couldn’t even hit at Coors Field when he was with the Rockies. That’s usually a bad sign (cough, cough… Josh Rutledge… cough). As a corner infielder, he also doesn’t quite offer the defensive coverage the Angels want (oh, if only he could play second base).
Roger Kieschnick – Hey, look, another lefty bat and another guy who spent a few weeks on the 40-man roster before getting the boot. He isn’t getting much hype as a roster contender, but he’s an outfielder with some pop in his bat and an ability to draw a walk. However, he isn’t much of a defender who in 136 big league plate appearances has not shown any power and had a hell of a time with strikeouts. Also, real men don’t eat Kieschnick.
Alfredo Marte – Marte is a real dark horse to watch. He’s a late bloomer prospect with decent power and enough defensive ability. He also has problems with strikeouts and has thus far fallen on his face in very limited MLB experience, but there is a sneaky amount of talent there and a strong camp could easily secure him a spot on the bench.
It isn’t that these guys can’t break camp with the team, it is more that making the team on Opening Day isn’t part of the plan. These are the young guys that the organization likes and wants to see in the majors, just maybe not until later this season or in 2016.
Trevor Gott – Jerry Dipoto was recently raving about Gott, so maybe he should be in the roster contender section. Clearly the organization likes him, they wouldn’t have had him added to the Huston Street swap otherwise, but Gott doesn’t even have all that much minor league experience (just 29.1 innings in Double-A), so there is no need to rush him to the majors when there are so many other viable options in front of him on the depth chart.
Nate Smith – Smith was on the short list to plug the hole in the rotation down the stretch in 2014, so he isn’t far from making an impact. He isn’t very toolsy, but grades out well in the mythical “pitchability” area. In years past, he might have been a dark horse at winning the #5 starter spot, but the Halos had to go out and acquire all that pesky rotation depth. Now Smith is more in camp to impress the coaching staff so that they consider him for a promotion mid-season if/when injuries strike.
Scott Snodgress – Snodgress is new to relieving, but has LOOGY potential. He probably needs more time to work on the nuances of this role. Even with an impressive camp, he isn’t going to leapfrog Hector Santiago an Cesar Ramos and the Angels aren’t going to carry three southpaws. Not even Scioscia is that crazy. This is all about him showcasing himself for a mid-season promotion.
Alex Yarbrough – If Yarbrough was just a little further along the developmental curve, he’d be in the mix for the starting job at second base, or at least in the mix as a platoon option since he is a switch-hitter. His job in camp is to show the team how close he is to being ready for such a gig because, let’s be honest, when this pile of garbage the Angels have competing for the second base spot all flameout, they are going to need somewhere to turn.
Someone needs to play in the late innings of all the Spring Training games. These are those guys.
Alex Sanabia – Oooh, someone with real MLB experience. Sanabia isn’t very good, but he’s done the whole “MLB rotation” thing before. He isn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, but he’ll hang around Triple-A to soak up innings. If he gets added to the big league roster at any point of the season, something has gone tragically wrong.
Frank Herrmann – Have mid-90’s fastball will travel. Will also surrender an unconscionable amount of homers. Life in Salt Lake will be… interesting for him.
Edgar Ibarra – Left-handed? Check. Has a pulse? Check. Give him an invite!
Atahualpa Severino – A lefty with a real ability to miss bats. He’s also the token “can’t report to camp because of visa issues” guy. He’s been banging around Triple-A for a few years now thanks to control problems, so if he gets those ironed out he might actually be an asset. Let’s be straight though, the only reason you know him is because his name sounds like he is a high priest of Yunkai’i.
Albert Suarez – A starter with barely any Double-A experience. I’m not even sure how he got an invite.
Adam Wilk – A starter, but a southpaw. He might just be here to audition as a future LOOGY.
Jackson Williams – I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure that as the college batterymate of Garrett Richards, he’s only in camp to provide someone for Richards to pal around with as he rehabs.
D’Arby Myers – Claims to be the fastest American alive. He also goes by @homerundarby on Twitter despite having 22 homers in nine minor league seasons. I guess this is the Angels’ attempt to add more athleticism to the farm system, even though he might be totally delusional.
HERE FOR THE EXPERIENCE
Every team throws some prospects a bone during Spring Training and let’s them practice with the big boys so that they can get a preview of what awaits them and so the big league coaching staff can get some hands on experience with the future.
Sean Newcomb – He’s a big part of the Angels’ future, but he isn’t ready yet. The best part about him being in camp is that fans who attend Spring Training will get a shot at seeing him perform live and in person without having to go through the trouble of trolling the backfields of the greater Phoenix metropolitan area in hopes of catching a glimpse.
Stephen McGee – Not really the traditional showcase prospect, but McGee does have some potential. The truth is that he’s in camp because every team needs warm bodies to strap on the tools of ignorance.
Sherman Johnson – I almost put him in the “Roster Contenders” category and the “Maybe Later” category, but I’m settling for keeping him here if only because he has yet to play above Advanced-A. Still, there’s something about Sherman’s skillset that makes me think he could be an out of nowhere candidate for a bench job. He is a strong defender at second, third and short. He has excellent speed. He hits left-handed. He draws a ton of walks. He doesn’t strike out much. He even has a little bit of pop in his bat. That’s a lot of things that he has. There’s a superutility player in the making here, he just may be a year or two away from realizing that potential.