The Dodgers on Thursday announced their 21 non-roster invitees, and it is considerably prospect-heavy. The list of names doesn’t include prospects already on the 40-man roster like Tony Gonsolin, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, DJ Peters and Keibert Ruiz. It does include a lot of prospects — some getting their first NRI — and some minor-league veterans.
Before we get to this year’s NRIs, let’s look back at the NRIs who contributed to the 2019 Dodgers:
- Kyle Garlick
- Will Smith
All prospects, and almost all really, really good. OK, let’s get to this year’s crop.
- Brett de Geus
- Josiah Gray
- Reymin Guduan*
- Marshall Kasowski
- Kyle Lobstein*
- Zach McAllister
- Edubray Ramos
- Jordan Sheffield
- Edwin Uceta
*Denotes left-handed pitcher
The first one up is de Geus, 22, who was a 33rd-rounder in 2017 (and will appear in the next set of prospect rankings at this very weblog). He went to the Arizona Fall League and impressed. Gray, 22, will rank much higher than de Geus, but his first year in the Dodgers’ organization was nothing short of incredible. He may very well contribute to the 2020 Dodgers. Guduan, 28, has a lot of talent, but, well…
“Astros minor league pitcher Reymin Guduan has been suspended for the remainder of the season because of a ‘disciplinary issue’ with Class AAA Round Rock, general manager Jeff Luhnow said Sunday. ‘He broke our team rules and is being disciplined because of it,’ Luhnow said.”
Maybe he didn’t want to participate in the now-infamous sign-stealing scandal. Anyhoo…
Kasowski, 25, was invited to Spring Training last year and could have made his MLB debut last year, but he was limited to just 31 2/3 innings pitched. Lobstein, 30, is a former Rays’ draft pick who was selected by Andrew Friedman and played with now-Dodgers vice president and assistant general manager Brandon Gomes. Cody actually wrote about Lobestein last year, when he was with the A’s organization. He was also with the Dodgers’ org in 2018. McAllister, 32, signed with the Dodgers in late-2018, but didn’t make it to LA. He pitched with OKC last season, but things didn’t go well (8.03 ERA in 12 1/3 innings). Ramos, 27, might be the most interesting non-prospect coming to Spring Training. His first three seasons with the Phillies produced promising results (3.53 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 17.4 K-BB%). However, he threw just 15 innings in the majors in 2019 and Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy touched him up for dingers on July 15. Sheffield, 25, was not taken in the Rule 5 Draft, so he’ll go to camp with the Dodgers. He has really good stuff, but command/control issues are still present. Uceta, 22, is a solid starting pitcher prospect who doesn’t have premium stuff, but he has some of the best command/control of any prospect in the org.
Gale, 32, had a brief stint with the Dodgers last season, but spent most of his season in Triple-A. Lobaton, 34, is strictly upper-level catching depth at this point. Wong, 24, is the only prospect of the three, and he had a strong finish to his season in Double-A. He has swing-and-miss concerns, but he has pop and athleticism, which we know the Dodgers really like.
All four of these guys are prospects, led by Downs, 21, who — like Gray — had a great first year in the Dodgers’ org. Amaya is a guy the front office really likes. He’s not ready for the majors yet, but the fact they’re inviting him to spring training after his age-20 season says a lot about the organization’s esteem for him. Estevez missed time last season with an injury, but he still managed to post a .784 OPS at Double-A Tulsa as a 21-year-old.
Everyone but Santana among the infielders are middle infielders, with Amaya most likely to stick at shortstop. Santana, 23, was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and went unselected. He has the look of a big leaguer and the power and defensive chops at both corner infield spots to go with it. He’s a super aggressive approach which could get exposed at the upper levels.
Garcia, 28, is a journeyman who has been in pro ball since 2009. He had a .797 OPS with Triple-A Sacramento (Giants’ org) last season. Joe, 27, was Rule 5’d in 2018 by San Francisco before being returned to the Dodgers. All he did was hit Triple-A pitching, but that might be his ceiling at this point. While he’s listed as an outfielder, that’s limited to left field (he can also play first base).
Kendall, 24, is the biggest surprise here. He has the pedigree (2017 1st-rounder), but the results haven’t been there. He repeated High-A Rancho Cucamonga in ’19 and showed some signs of life late in the season, but he’s still a long way from sniffing MLB action. Reks, 26, was an unheralded 10th-rounder who has reworked his swing and become a viable offensive threat. Thomas, 25, has a lot of a swing-and-miss, but he’s athletic with power. He got a late start in baseball, so there’s still hope that he makes more contact going forward.
The Dodgers’ 26-man roster — barring injury — is probably pretty set. That doesn’t mean we won’t see an NRI guy crack the team. It probably won’t be the younger prospects, so here’s who I think could be on the shortlist.
Outside of Ramos, I don’t feel confident about anyone else really having a chance to break camp with the team. The only position player I could see making it is one of the catchers if something happens to Smith or Austin Barnes. I’m not sure the Dodgers would opt for Ruiz in that situation, but I have been wrong (many times) before.
Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14. It’s hard to believe baseball season is so close. The excitement is … lukewarm to start.