Andres Torres was a non-roster invitee. Gregor Blanco was a non-roster invitee. Santiago Casilla was a non-roster invitee. Yamid Haad was a non-roster invitee, and, OK, you can’t get a productive player for several years out of every NRI, but some of them become exceptionally important. Some of them we’ve covered, like Justin Ruggiano and Jose Dominguez. Some of them, though, we haven’t.
These are their stories. Their potentially important stories. Their probably-not-that-important-but-hey-remember-Ryan-Vogelsong stories.
Carlos Alvarado is a right-handed pitcher who came over as a minor-league free agent before the 2012 season. He came over from the Tigers. Coincidence? Let’s just say that many Bothans died to help Pablo Sandoval do what he did against Justin Verlander.
Regardless, Alvarado has been kicking around for a while, struggling with injuries. The important part, though, is that he’s been successful. He has command. His fastball isn’t a blazer, but it’s reportedly low-90s. And his breaking ball gets raves.
Frankly, Alvarado shouldn't be in the SAL. The fact that he's in his first year of A-ball at 24 is odd. His breaking ball is so good.— David Lee (@David11Lee) June 24, 2014
This is a perfect example of someone that suddenly becomes an inextricable part of a bullpen for a long time. Or someone who gets invited to camp and you won’t think about again.
Roberto Gomez is a big right-handed starter, and he’s hoping to follow the Albert Suarez path. He was let go by the Rays, and he doesn’t strike a lot of folks out, even though it looks like he should. Baseball America wrote this about him in 2013:
A late bloomer, he has made up for lost time by earning pitcher of the year honors on Tampa Bay's Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team in 2011 and leading the system with a 2.48 ERA last year. Gomez has a tall, lanky frame with a live arm. He does a good job of pitching off his 92-93 mph fastball and commands it well to both sides of the plate. His mid-80s slider has a short, sharp break, while his changeup is inconsistent but shows promise.
Bryan Morris is a right-handed reliever who has appeared in 211 major league games for the Pirates and Marlins, and he’s a disciple of the George Kontos method of making his ERA look way more impressive than his K/BB, though he was hurt most of last year.
I’d put Jean Machi as a reasonable ceiling. Could be more than expected. Will probably never save 50.
Neil Ramirez is yet another right-handed reliever, and he’s appeared in 87 major league games. He stands out, though, because he’s struck out 10 batters for every nine innings he’s pitched.
It’s not like you have to use your imagination to figure out why.
Yes, please. He pitched for three different teams last year, starting with the Cubs, going to the Brewers on waivers, going to the Twins on waivers, and going back to the Brewers on waivers. I would give very good odds on seeing him on the 40-man roster this year as an injury fill-in.
Michael Roth is a 27-year-old left-hander who appeared in one game for the Rangers last year. He’s been a starter for most of his minor-league career, though he’s bounced back and forth. He doesn’t strike a lot of batters out, but he also hasn’t been used exclusively in a LOOGY role, so maybe that would change.
Kraig Sitton sounds like a complete sentence, but it really isn’t, unless Kraig is a drunk guy at a party who likes to get a few yuks by yelling that whenever he takes a seat. He’s also a 28-year-old left-hander who showed off really good control last season in the Mariners’ system, walking eight of the 211 batters he faced.
Chris Marrero was a first-round pick by the Nationals in 2006, and that was one of those desperate seasons where I paid too much attention to the draft and thought things like, “Man, I hope the Giants can get someone like Chris Marrero.” They drafted some little long-haired weirdo instead, but it all worked out.
From Baseball Prospectus:
Among rumors of pre-draft deals include the Giants taking California high school slugger Chris Parmalee with the 10th overall pick after an impressive private workout. Most teams project Parmalee as a late first-round selection based on talent.
Another deal that looks to be done is the Marlins and local prep third baseman Chris Marrero coming to terms if Marrero is available at No. 19.
“The Giants could sure use a young hitter, so either one of those guys would be fine,” the horrible amateur baseball analyst opined. “This is my opinion and it is what I believe. Please leave an opinion in the Comments Powered by LiveFyre.”
Marrero was ranked as high as the #28 prospect in baseball in 2008, but his career stalled in the upper minors. He’s a career .277/.342/.446 hitter in the minors, with a career .773 OPS in Triple A. That might work just fine for a middle infielder, but he’s limited to first base and corner outfield spots.
Wynton Bernard might be the most interesting story of all. Here, just read this lede:
Wynton Bernard spent $500 to attend an open tryout with the Detroit Tigers last March in hopes of keeping his baseball dreams alive.
He wound up being named the MVP of the Midwest League, is now on the Tigers' 40-man roster and spent the last few days touring the state with guys he hopes to one day play with in the major leagues.
Heck, yes. I love a good tryout-to-majors story. The right-handed Bernard was a thing for a bit, making the 40-man roster and showing off plus defense in center, good speed, and doubles/triples power in the minors, where he’s a career .296/.360/.405 hitter. He’s 26 now, and I’m not entirely sure why the Tigers let him get away, considering they’ve spent a lot of their offseason looking for center field depth (signing Juan Perez, for example).
Is that as fun as Bernard gets? It is not.
Oh, absolutely heck yes.
Say, this is a good time for a story:
Anyway, I’m rooting for Wynton Bernard pretty hard, and I’m also curious about Neil Ramirez. Mostly, though, I remember Andres Torres getting three hits in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series, Ryan Vogelsong grinding through the Tigers in the 2012 World Series, and Santiago Casilla allowing exactly zero runs during the entire 2014 postseason. Non-roster invitees are life. Here are the players with a chance to contribute to the 2017 season.
It’s an even year in our hearts, dammit. It’s an even year in our hearts.