Nothing signals that the Spring is drawing near like the phrase “Pitchers and catchers report”. Thus, nothing signals that we are drawing near to the point of Spring drawing near like the phrase “White Sox announce Spring Training non-roster invitees.”
More than anything, this is simply a tent pole, marking the slow passing of time as the promise of fake, empty, competition-free baseball grows, there’s no earth-shattering news. The White Sox like to rush prospects, but not to whatever degree is necessary to do something crazy like send their 19 year-old consensus #1 prospect to big league camp.
But this lack of sizzle does not prevent us from being able to run through each invite and giving a one (or two, to be realistic about my self-editing skills) line summary of each.
Trayce Thompson , OF– After mastering High-A last season, the focus will be on his strikeouts (this will be a theme) to see how close his combination plus-power and athleticism is to the major league doorstep.
Carlos Sanchez, IF—His actual chances of making the team have probably been overstated, but for most, it will be the first sustained look at a potential future lineup regular.
Keenyn Walker, OF—The first big league camp for the 2011 supplemental round pick should produce a faint wooshing sound—both when he races around the bases with electrifying speed and during his many strikeouts.
Erik Johnson, SP—After tearing up High-A in his first full season as a professional, the big right-hander from Cal with the slider to match is pretty much the best pitching prospect in the organization.
Scott Snodgress, SP—Very tall Stanford lefty who like Johnson has rocketed to the top of Sox pitching prospect heap after an encouraging turn through High-A ball. It’s the first chance to see the newest hope for the middle of the rotation.
Jake Petricka, SP – Bullpen future is all but etched in stone by now, but still has a big fastball that should be fun to watch…and interesting to see if it is overwhelming in short bursts.
Andy Wilkins, 1B – The power doesn’t exactly stir the loins, but he has the plate discipline to put together professional at-bats against right-handers, and the only other prospect at his position recently graduated high school. Some analysts have given him the tantalizing “can play a little 3rd base” distinction.
Tyler Saladino, SS—The excitement is gone after a power-starved year in Double-A, but there’s still hope of a major league future, even if it’s just as a utility guy.
Marcus Semien, SS—Drafted for his steady up-the-middle defense, it would be nice if he showed some hint that his surprisingly great 2012 at the plate had some reality to it.
Michael Blanke, C—There’s not really a major league bat here, but catching is a very rare skill that deserve to be appreciated.
Kevan Smith, C—He was more fun when he was a 23 year-old eviscerating Rookie League pitching, but still a big, athletic receiver who held his own in Single-A last year.
Daniel Moskos, RP—“Former fourth overall draft pick” is always exciting to say, even if it is not exciting to watch.
Veteran non-roster invites
David Purcey, RP—I felt better about confusing him with David Pauley after seeing that they were both ineffective relievers for the Detroit Tigers in 2011. Purcey is a big left-handed arm that’s never been reeled in.
Jeff Gray, RP—Not to dismiss the potential of Don Cooper to squeeze pints of blood out of stones, but getting to see Gray spend all of last year as a tomato can in the Minnesota bullpen really kills any potential excitement.
Stefan Gartrell, OF—He’s back because the sequel to “Stefan Gartrell Hits a Couple of Home Runs in the First Few Days of Spring Training and Receives 48 Hours of Buzz as a Potential Fifth Outfielder” just got greenlit for production.
Ramon Troncoso, RP—Really good at generating groundballs, but not anything else. Also is slowly getting worse at generating groundballs.
Bryan Anderson, C—Since the organization is light on catching depth, and currently slated to roll with Hector Gimenez as its primary backup, there’s plenty of room for the Cardinals former top catching prospect to get some run, even if his bat never developed all the way.
Steve Tolleson, IF—Last season, even with a legitimate prospect installed in the utility infielder role to start the year, Ray Olmedo found his way to 42 plate appearances. Perhaps it would be unwise to dismiss the chances of Steve Tolleson
Josh Bell, IF–
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