Rockies Around Baseball: Non-Roster Spring Training Invitations


Non-roster invitees are always an intriguing part of Spring Training. They’re all players who are not on the 40-man roster but are given a chance to earn a spot and stick with that team. It’s also a chance to showcase some younger prospects and see how they do against stronger competition, push penciled-in starters with veteran players intent on taking their spot and for journeymen to find their next contract. While we wait for the Rockies to announce their non-roster invitees, let’s take a look around Major League Baseball and see where former Rockies are vying for a job.

Note: The Rockies, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals have not officially announced their non-roster invitees, according to Aaron Laffey has reportedly signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invitation, but I’m working with team-announced data.

Jhoulys Chacin – Atlanta Braves

Chacin is one of the best pitchers in Rockies history. Don’t believe me? His 14 WAR in a Rockies uniform is 9th all-time and 3rd for a pitcher behind Ubaldo Jimenez (18) and Aaron Cook (17). Sadly, he struggled to come back from a shoulder injury suffered during the 2014 season and was cut in Spring Training last year. He caught on with the Arizona Diamondbacks, appearing in five games (four starts), posting 3.38 ERA in 26.2 innings with 21 strikeouts and 10 walks. The biggest issue with Chacin was the decrease in velocity on his fastball – he was sitting around 86-87 in Spring Training – after sitting in the low-90’s for most of his career. Chacin has a chance to showcase his talents for a young team with some roster spots to spare and, if he doesn’t make the team, can open up a few doors with a good showing this spring.

Michael McKenry – Texas Rangers

Over the past four years, McKenry has alternated good seasons with a slightly below-average one. His past four years in WAR starting in 2011; 1.7, -0.3, 2.0 and -0.2 in 2015. He’s due for an upswing and Texas is as good a place as any. The 30-year-old has a shot at the starting job with Robinson Chirinos, last year’s starter, posting average numbers over the past two years in his first extensive major league stint.

Eric Young, Jr. – Milwaukee Brewers

Did you know EY Junior led the majors in steals in 2013? He stole eight bases in a Rockies uniform before stealing 38 in a Mets uniform after being traded for Colin McHugh. He struggled mightily last year with Atlanta – .153/.217/.247 with three stolen bases in 77 at-bats – and made his way back to the Mets, only recording eight at-bats and zero hits. Young, Jr. has always been a liability defensively and is mostly valued as a pinch-runner, but might find a roster spot on a struggling Milwaukee team.

Edwar Cabrera – Houston Astros

Cabrera was a highly regarded pitching prospect signed out of the Dominican Republic, leading the minors in strikeouts in 2011 with control and a nasty changeup. His only major league experience was during the 2012 season; nine runs, seven walks, five strikeouts in 5.2 innings over two starts. He was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers and stayed in their minor league system for the last two seasons. He’s staying in the Lone Star State, looking to stick with the young and talented Astros. He’ll be shooting for a bullpen spot if he wants to make the team with a loaded starting rotation. Either way, this could be the 28-year-old’s last shot at making the majors.

Josh Rutledge – Boston Red Sox

Remember when Rutledge and DJ LeMahieu were competing for the second base job? I do. I thought Rutledge was the guy. The 3rd round pick in 2010 debuted in 2012 at age 23 for an injured Tulo and played relatively well offensively, slashing .275/.306/.469 in 277 at-bats. His downfall has been his defense; in his four years of major league baseball, he’s been worth -34 runs on defense. That’s almost hard to do. He’ll keep getting shots because he’s still only 26 and can hit, but his leash is tightening.

John Lannan – Kansas City Royals

Lannan never appeared in major league game but spent all of 2015 in Triple-A Albequerque. The former Washington Nationals Opening Day starter has fallen quickly but, with a good spring, could provide minor league depth for a contending team. Guys like Lannan will have a job, albeit a minor league one, as long as he can prove he can handle a few spot starts while a starter is on the disabled list.

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Ryan Mattheus – Cincinnati Reds

Mattheus spent five years in the Rockies minor league system after being drafted in the 19th round in 2003. He was traded to the Nationals in 2009 for Joel Beimel and carved out a few good years in Washington when he debuted in 2011. He finished 2015 with Cincinnati, making 57 appearances with a 3.61 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 1.527 WHIP, good numbers for a middle reliever. Cincinnati knows what he is capable of and he has a good shot of making that roster.

Ramon Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels

Ramon Ramirez has a World Series ring. Let that sink in. After struggling mightily during the 2007 season with the Rockies, he bounced around, landing in Kansas City, Boston, and was traded to San Francisco during their first of three World Series wins. Since then, he’s played on the Mets, Giants again and ended with the Orioles in 2014. He pitched in Mexico for the 2015 season. Talk about a lucky situation. At this point, you know what you’re going to get out of Ramirez. We’ll see if it’s enough to make the roster.

Charlie Culberson – Los Angeles Dodgers

Charlie Culberson was acquired from the Giants for Marco Scutaro midway through the 2012 season and underwhelmed in a Rockies uniform. In 142 games, Culberson hit .227/.273/.327 and was unimpressive, at best. Culberson is one of those AAAA players; good enough to be in Triple-A but not quite there to make an impact on a major league roster, especially in a loaded Dodgers infield.

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Felipe Paulino – Cleveland Indians

Paulino is another AAAA player; he’s been rotating between Triple-A and the majors for the past four years with the Royals, White Sox and Cubs. The right-handed reliever pitched in 18 games in the 2011 season, giving up 23 hits, walking seven, striking out 14 and posting a 7.36 ERA in 14.2 innings. Yikes.

Thomas Field – Detroit Tigers

Field made his debut in the 2011 season during a September call-up. He’s had 117 at-bats in his career, 50 of those in a Rockies uniform. He was drafted in the 24th round of the 2008 draft out of Texas State University and exceeded his rookie limits in 2015 with the Rangers, hitting .195/.250/.366.

Jorge Rondon – Pittsburgh Pirates

Rondon made two appearances in Colorado, giving up 11 runs (10 earned), three walks, eight hits and striking out one in one inning. He throws very hard and will continue to get chances, but they’re dwindling quickly.

Logan Kensing – Detroit Tigers

Kensing made one appearance in his Rockies career and didn’t give up a run or hit, so that’s something. He’s made 20 major league appearances in the past six seasons.

Next: What's next at First Base in Colorado?

A few weeks ago, I weighed the idea of moving slugger Corey Dickerson into our hole at first base.  Our left fielder is now our former left fielder, so we are back to the drawing board. Staff Writer Logan Bannon offers his own ideas to solve the first base issue.