The Washington Nationals released a list of their non-roster invitees to Spring Training this afternoon. Going into his first Spring as a major league manager last year, Matt Williams invited 60 players to the big league camp so he could get a good look at some in the organization he was just getting familiar with after being hired.
"You can look at stats and say this guy hit 25 homers, but I want to know the intricacies of the player," he explained.
"I want to know what his instincts are. We're going to have a little heavier camp than the organizations have in the last couple of years. So we'll have 60‑plus players. It's a function of me wanting to see them, certainly."
Among those at the Nationals' facilities in Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium at the start last year were 18 non-roster invitees including Jamey Carroll, Brock Peterson, Mike Fontenot and Chris Snyder and prospects like A.J. Cole, Danny Rosenbaum, Blake Treinen and Matt Skole.
There were 20 non-roster invitees named by the Nats today.
Here's the list that was included with the press release:
Nationals' pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training next Thursday, February 19th, with position players expected to arrive by Tuesday, February 24th and the first full-squad workouts of the year scheduled for Thursday, February 26th.
Some interesting names among the prospects who received invitations to Spring Training?
There's 23-year-old, 2012 5th Round pick Spencer Kieboom, who put up a .309/.352/.500 line with 28 doubles and nine home runs in 87 games and 361 plate appearances for Low-A Hagerstown in 2014, after returning from Tommy John surgery the previous year.
Another catcher who got an invite, 21-year-old Pedro Severino, spent the 2014 campaign at High-A Potomac, posting a .247/.306/.399 line in 94 games and 326 PAs over which he hit 15 doubles and nine home runs. As the Nats note in today's press release, Severino, "... is considered the 'Best Defensive Catcher' in the Nationals’ chain, per Baseball America, and will enter the 2015 season rated as Washington’s top catching prospect and No. 13 prospect overall."
Matt Purke, the Nationals' 2011 3rd Round pick, is recovering from Tommy John surgery in May 2014. The 24-year-old left-hander underwent shoulder surgery in 2012 and returned to the mound only to suffer a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow early last summer. Given a well-above slot major league deal when he was selected 96th overall in 2011, Purke was released this past November and then re-signed by the Nats on a minor league deal.
Matt Skole is another prospect who was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery after the corner infielder tore the UCL and suffered a fracture in his right wrist on a defensive play at first base early in 2013.
The 25-year-old, 2011 Nats' 5th Round pick out of Georgia Tech returned to the field last season and put up a .241/.352/.399 line with 29 doubles and 14 HRs in 132 games and 544 PAs for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. Skole, "... ranked second in the Eastern league with 78 walks," as the Nationals note in today's press release.
The prospects probably won't be around for long, how about the veteran invitees? Which are you most interested in seeing? Heath Bell? Bruce Billings? Manny Delcarmen? Rafael Martin? Evan Meek? Emmanuel Burriss? Kila Ka'aihue? Ian Stewart? Dan Uggla?