Spring Training is (finally) here. With that comes non-roster invitees. This year, the Dodgers have invited 22 players, which is down from previous years.
Before we get to this year’s crop, let’s look at last year’s NRI contributors.
That’s it. It wasn’t a long list. Burns made it into nine regular season games and even had two plate appearances in the NLCS. Gray threw eight innings for the Dodgers until being sent to the Nationals as part of the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade. Nelson had the biggest impact, as he was pitching to a 1.86 ERA until he went down with an elbow injury that would cost him the remainder of his 2021 season.
Onto the 2022 non-roster invitees.
*Denotes left-handed pitcher
Burrows and Fulmer are former 1st-round draft picks (Tigers and White Sox, respectively) who are looking to re-energize their careers. If one or both do make it to LA at some point, it’ll be out of the bullpen.
Duplantier is a former 3rd-rounder of the D’backs who has 49 2/3 innings of MLB experience (6.70 ERA, 5.18 FIP). Like Burrows and Fulmer, if he makes it to LA, it’ll be as a reliever. However, he could also be starting rotation depth for Oklahoma City.
Erlin has the most MLB experience of any of the non-roster pitchers, amassing 339 2/3 innings with the Padres, Braves and Pirates. Diego Cartaya took him yard last week at Camelback Ranch.
Gaviglio spent 2021 in the Korea Baseball Organization 296 1/3 MLB innings — mostly with the Mariners.
Ramirez and Wahl have limited MLB experience and will probably spend most of the season with OKC.
Pepiot returns for a second season (but somewhat strangely, not Bobby Miller). He’s one of the best Dodgers’ pitching prospects who also happens to be close to the majors.
Yency Almonte just signed as well.
Taylor is the most notable catcher who got an NRI. He’s not MLB-ready, but he’s a solid prospect. Feduccia is probably a career minor-leaguer, but he’s been an NRI before. Telis and Wolters are probably the first guys up from OKC if the situation presents itself.
Busch, Hoese and Vargas are all prospects. Before a poor 2021 season, this could have been an opportunity for Hoese to really make a name for himself. Now, he’s trying to right his career. Busch and Vargas are close to the majors (probably 2023) and are the two best non-catching position prospects the Dodgers have. Alvarez and Burns (as previously noted) have MLB experience. Alvarez had 115 plate appearances between 2020 and 2021 with the Marlins.
Pages is the big name here. Famously not acquired by the Angels after the Dodgers traded for Mookie Betts, Pages led the Dodgers’ minor-leaguers in homers and is on the verge of being a global Top 50 prospect. Noda had a solid 2021 with his eyes on the Luke Raley role for 2022. The light-hitting (.588 OPS) Martin has 205 career plate appearances — most of which came with the Rangers in 2021. Romero might be the most interesting. The former Mariners’ prospect is 33 years old and hit 98 home runs in the Japan Pacific League since 2017. With the DH here, there’s a non-zero chance he could carve out a spot on the 26-man roster (if the Dodgers don’t sign Nelson Cruz and/or Freddie Freeman).
Who are the most likely to crack the Opening Day roster? I’m glad you asked.
Almonte has the best chance because he has good stuff and a contract that you could easily slot into the bullpen. Romero has the best chance among position players because he can hit a bit. Gaviglio has the experience that a lot of NRIs tend to have. I’m not expecting any of them to make it, but stranger things have happened.