Colorado Rockies: The interesting non-roster players heading to spring training

Feb 16, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Jose Briceno (19) warms up during spring training baseball. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 16, 2020; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Jose Briceno (19) warms up during spring training baseball. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Rockies have announced the 22 players who will be non-roster invitees (NRI) to 2021 spring training, set to begin later this week at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Here are the 22 players invited by the Rockies, including nine pitchers.

Left-handed pitchers (2): Brian Gonzalez, Ryan Rolison

Right-handed pitchers (7): Julian Fernández, Chi Chi González, Joe Harvey, Heath Holder, Dereck Rodríguez, Chad Smith, Jesus Tinoco

Catchers (5): José Briceño, Max George, Willie MacIver, Chris Rabago, Brian Serven

Infielders (7): Greg Bird, C.J. Cron, Connor Joe, Chris Owings, Eric Stamets, Alan Trejo, Ryan Vilade

Outfielders (1): Jameson Hannah

Of the list, there are some interesting choices and battles shaping up for the Colorado Rockies in spring training.

Among them will be the burgeoning battle for first base with both Greg Bird and C.J. Cron signed in recent days to compete with Josh Fuentes for the starting job. Both are MLB veterans and will push Fuentes for the job he earned at the end of the 2020 season.

Hannah, the lone outfielder NRI, was part of the trade package that also brought reliever Robert Stephenson to Colorado from Cincinnati in exchange for Jeff Hoffman. The 23-year-old Hannah was listed as Cincinnati’s 15th-ranked prospect at the time of the trade and will be participating in his first Major League spring training.

In an outfield where the Rockies already have plenty of young talent, could Hannah make an impact in spring training and set himself up for playing time at the MLB level in 2021?

Three of Colorado’s top 10 prospects, according to are on the list, with Rolison (2), Vilade (4), and Welker (7). Rolison impressed in last year’s summer camp and drew high praise from Rockies assistant general manager for player development and farm director Zach Wilson in this exclusive interview.

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Four of the players on the NRI list saw time with the Rockies in 2020, including three pitchers (González, Harvey, and Tinoco, who had a very interesting 2020 to say the least). Owings saw his season ended early by a hamstring injury, but showed the veteran versatility coveted by manager Bud Black. Don’t be surprised to see him earn a roster spot.

Speaking of González, he and Dereck Rodríguez were thought to be two of the candidates to compete for the fifth starter spot before the Rockies acquired southpaw Austin Gomber in the Nolan Arenado trade. While there will still likely be a competition between those three and Ryan Castellani at the back end of the rotation, the addition of Gomber could have Colorado’s initial five-man rotation set heading into the season.

Behind the dish, Briceño has 122 at-bats under his belt with the Angels, including six last season. He started his career with the Rockies organization as an amateur free agent in 2009 and will likely provide catching depth, but could push for playing time should Elias Díaz or Dom Nunez falter.

Next. How does Colorado's farm system compare to others?. dark

Also behind the plate, George will be attending his first MLB spring training. A Colorado native, George was a sixth-round pick of the Rockies in 2014 but has never played above Class-A level.