Total NRIs: 19
Almost famous: Neither Jason Pridie nor Brandon Moss were headliners, but both were included as part of two big trades surrounding the 2008 season. Pridie headed to the Twins in the Delmon Young/Matt Garza swap prior to the season, and Moss joined the Pirates in the three-team deal that sent Jason Bay to Boston and Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles at the trade deadline. Another notable is Landon Powell, who Scott Boras once entered into the draft class without telling anyone.
The next big thing: Kevin Goldstein surveyed Michael Choice’s tools and noted that he has power, patience, and athleticism, all the while choosing him as the organization’s best prospect. Choice’s grade-70 power should make his batting practice sessions a must-see spring event. The Athletics have two other recent first-round picks in camp: pitcher Sonny Gray and converted outfielder Grant Green. Max Stassi was not a first-round pick, and his last name is not that of a color, but the fourth-rounder will join Green and Gray in camp.
Too old for this: Some guy name Manny Ramirez. Nobody knows quite what Ramirez will offer the A’s this season—if anything—and nobody will find out until almost two months into the season. Regardless, you don’t see players with 555 career home runs taking non-roster spots very often.
Sticker potential: Shy of an injury, it does not appear likely that a non-roster invitee breaks camp with the A’s.
Total NRIs: 19
Almost famous: How stocks can fall. Colorado drafted Greg Reynolds second overall in 2006, ahead of Evan Longoria, Tim Linceum, and others. Meanwhile, Alberto Gonzalez went from being part of a Randy Johnson deal to being parts of deals for Jhonny Nunez and, later, Erik Davis.
The next big thing: Mike Olt led the Arizona Fall League in home runs after recovering from an in-season broken collarbone. A plus-defender at third base, Olt is one of the Rangers’ (and baseball’s) top prospects—and one of their trade chips thanks to Adrian Beltre’s presence. Three pitchers to look out for: Tanner Scheppers, Fabio Castillo, and Robert Ross. Scheppers and Castillo are bullpen-bound, while Ross is a small lefty with superb control.
Too old for this: Lefty Joe Beimel was born on April 19, 1977, just days into the Rangers’ sixth major-league season.
Sticker potential: Should the Rangers want a utility infielder on their Opening Day roster, then Gonzalez stands a chance of getting that call. By the same token, Brad Hawpe could break camp with the club if Mitch Moreland isn’t ready to go.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Total NRIs: 20
Almost famous: Francisco Rodriguez gets confused for that other Francisco Rodriguez a lot. Jorge Cantu totaled 115 RBI in 2005. Loek Van Mil stands in at 7-foot-1. Eric Hurley is a former first-round pick of the Rangers who cannot seem to stay healthy.
The next big thing: All told, four of the Angels’ top-20 prospects will be in camp: David Carpenter and Dan Tillman out of the bullpen, Carlos Ramirez behind the plate, and Taylor Lindsay at second base. Lindsay ranked the highest (sixth) in large part to his hitting ability—light on power, heavy on contact.
Too old for this: Officially, Ryan Langerhans is the Angels’ oldest non-roster invitee, but he also has major-league experience, so Doug Deeds gets the nod here. Deeds is a former ninth-round pick (by the Twins) who turns 31 in June and is without a major-league plate appearance. He spent last season in the Rangers’ organization and has bounced around to various other Arizona-based camps in recent years. As unlikely as it may seem, perhaps Deeds will get a taste of the show this season.
Sticker potential: Langerhans could work his way onto the Opening Day roster should the Angels opt for a fourth outfielder and/or trade Bobby Abreu.
Total NRIs: 27
Almost famous: Oliver Perez’s three-year, $36 million deal with the Mets is over, but his hope of reaching the majors again is not.
The next big thing: Taijuan Walker earned the top spot in Kevin Goldstein’s organizational rankings, and the potential ace is one of many tantalizing prospects in camp for the Mariners. Nick Franklin, James Paxton, and Vinnie Catricala are the other worthwhile non-roster invitee prospects, but the M’s will have eight or nine of their top 11 prospects hanging around the big league portion of spring training in one way or another, depending on who Jesus Montero would knock off the list.
Too old for this: Four invitees were born in the 1970s, including Josh Kinney (1979), Scott Patterson (1979), Aaron Heilman (1978), and Kevin Millwood (1974). Here’s a fun thought: Millwood signed with the Braves on June 4, 1993. The aforementioned Walker was born August 13, 1992.
Sticker potential: Millwood could break camp in the M’s rotation if Eric Wedge pushes for a veteran starter. Likewise, Carlos Guillen may find his way onto the bench.