Today the Chicago Cubs formally announced their non-roster invites to Spring Training this year, and it includes many of the names we already knew – namely, the guys recently signed on minor league deals – and also some prospect names we didn’t yet know.
The big name on the list is Javier Baez.
Now, before you go gettin’ crazy, prospects are frequently invited to Spring Training for a variety of reasons – it isn’t always about “this is a guy who could make the 25-man roster in April.” Sometimes it’s to give him a brief taste of the caliber of players he’ll be around in the future. Sometimes it’s to give him different instruction in the Spring. And sometimes it’s a reward.
That said, it’s pretty rare for the Cubs to give a big league Spring Training invite to a kid who is years away from the bigs. Take this invite together with his recent participation in the Cubs’ rookie development camp (which was geared to be a get-you-ready-for-the-big-leagues kind of thing), and it’s quite obvious that the Cubs see Baez’s potential big league time line as including some part of 2013. Again: heavy emphasis on potential. I doubt anyone expects Baez to make the big league team, even as a September call-up (he’s not on the 40-man roster). But the Cubs are clearly bracing for the possibility that he plays himself right up the ladder this year. Seeing him in 2014 is becoming almost expected at this point.
The only other prospects who got an invite are pitchers Barret Loux and Nick Struck (but, keep in mind, many of the Cubs’ other prospects are already on the 40-man roster). Minor league catchers Michael Brenly and Rafael Lopez were also invited, but they’re pretty borderline, insofar as prospectdom is concerned.
The full list of non-roster invites, 22 in all:
Pitchers: Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Barret Loux, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Nick Struck, Hisanori Takahashi, and Cory Wade.
Catchers: J.C. Boscan, Michael Brenly and Rafael Lopez.
Infielders: Javier Baez, Alberto Gonzalez, Brent Lillibridge, Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson.
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez and Darnell McDonald.
Of the non-roster invites, most of the pitchers have a legit shot of cracking the roster (though only a couple spots are open in the bullpen). Of the position players, the guys to watch as possibilities are Lillibridge, Maysonet, Bogusevic, and McDonald. Lillibridge probably has the best shot out of that foursome.