Spring Training 2017 is underway, and in addition to the 40 players the Red Sox have on the 40-man roster, they’ve invited 15 non-roster players to hang out in Florida for a few weeks. From journeymen relievers to top prospects to guys I promise you’ve never heard of, it’s an eclectic group.
What follows is a very, very serious breakdown of their abilities and is in no way an attempt to quickly produce content late on a Sunday evening. As such:
2017 RED SOX NON-ROSTER SPRING TRAINING INVITEES, RANKED:
17) Jake DePew, C
I don’t know who Jake DePew is.
16) Jordan Procyshen, C
I don’t know who Jordan Procyshen is.
15) Marcus Walden, RHP
I don’t know who Marcus Walden is.
14) Kyle Kendrick, RHP
I am all too familiar with who Kyle Kendrick is, and so are you. His career ERA is 4.61. He strikes out so few people it’s a wonder Terry Ryan didn’t sign him to a lifetime contract. He’s been a whipping boy the past four seasons, and when he wasn’t a whipping boy, he was an uninspiring no. 5 starter. He might be better than Henry Owens.
13) Dan Butler, C
Dan Butler hit. 308/.399/.452 serving as a backup in Triple-A last season. He’s 30 and he’s bad, but could he be 2017’s Sandy Leon? You decide, friends. You decide.
12) Austin Maddox, RHP
Austin Maddox was a third-round pick out of Florida in 2012. I wanted to say he could be the next Noe Ramirez, but Noe Ramirez had more promising MiLB numbers.
11) Allen Craig, 1B
Joe Kelly’s Great Stuff™ aside, it’s beginning to look like that John Lackey trade might not work out. Craig played in just 29 games last season thanks to knee inflammation. The last time he logged substantial playing time (2015), he hit .274/.368/.350 in Triple-A. Yes, really .350, from a dude a who once slugged .555 in the majors. Sadface.
10) Brian Bogusevic, OF
Bogusevic was a first-round pick, you know. He’s only hit .238/.311/.373 in his career, but he has managed to appear in 321 games, and he has notched 834 PA. And he’s been not totally terrible against RHP in his career, hitting .254/.330/.403. You might call that a disappointment, but it beats the hell out of anything Jason Place, Trey Ball, Michael Chavis or Deven Marrero has done/is going to do. Don’t be mean to Brian Bogusevic, is what I’m saying.
9) Ben Taylor, RHP
The Red Sox converted Taylor to relief in 2016, and the initial results were promising. Taylor carved up High-A hitters to the tune of a 2.60 ERA and a 31.3 K%. He doesn’t really have an out-pitch, though, and seeing as he’s already 24, he needs to show what he’s got in the upper minors to be of any real interest.
8) Jamie Callahan, RHP
Callahan was a second-round pick in 2012. He struck out 22 percent of the batters he faced in High-A last season, which is good. He also walked 13.2 percent of the batters he faced, which is very, extremely bad. Here’s to hoping his second full season in relief goes better than his first. Also, tunnel reference/joke.
7) Junior Lake, OF
You remember Lake, no? Before the Cubs were The Cubs, Lake was one of their more promising prospects, but he was always viewed as high-risk, high-reward. In 2013 it looked like Lake might’ve figured it out, but his MLB success was short-lived. He signed on as a minor league free agent with the Blue Jays last season, and will now fill that role in Boston. It’s his age-27 season and there’s always a chance it will click late with guys, so it makes sense to roll the dice on someone with Lake’s talent. Don’t hold your breath, though.
6) Chandler Shepherd, RHP
Shepherd was dominant as a reliever in Pawtucket last season, but is already 24 and lacks much of anything other than a good slider. He’s got ROOGY potential, but the Red Sox are loaded with ROOGYs.
5) Edgar Olmos, LHP
Over the past two seasons, Olmos has been: DFAd by the Mariners; claimed by the Rangers; returned to the Mariners; DFAd by the Mariners; claimed by the Cubs; claimed by the Orioles; reclaimed by the Cubs; traded to the Orioles and then signed by the Red Sox. Teach your sons to throw left-handed.
4) Rusney Castillo, OF
Don’t you just hate it when you sign on to a new job and then they develop an MVP candidate, a role-6 center fielder and a potential ROY all to do the same thing you do? Just brutal. There’s a non-zero chance Castillo can sniff the majors this season, because aside from Mookie Betts and Chris Young, there’s not a lot of right-handed action occurring in Boston’s outfield. Castillo will need to hit better than .263/.309/.354 in Pawtucket to get another chance in Fenway, though. Also, he’s 29.
3) Matt Dominguez, 3B
We don’t always give scouts the credit they deserve for being right. When Dominguez was drafted, the rap on him was that he’d be a plus defender at the hot corner and that he’d have some pop, but the it tool was a big question mark. Check and check. Dominguez is good with the glove and has big right-handed power, but he didn’t hit well enough to earn an everyday job somewhere. He could, theoretically, earn himself a platoon role with Pablo Sandoval, as Evan Drellich writes here. Could Dominguez essentially take Travis Shaw’s spot on the 2017 roster? These are the questions that keep us all up at night.
2) Sam Travis, 1B
At some point this season Sam Travis is going to be labeled as a potential savior, and it’s going to suck. Travis is a doubles-hitting first baseman who has a real nose for the ball but who lacks elite power or an elite glove. Can he be a part of a first-division team? Yes. Should he be an everyday starter? No. Is he going to solve any offensive problems the Red Sox have halfway through the season? Not at all. The thinning out of the farm system is gonna make Travis seem better than he is — there’s an argument he’s the third-best dude in the system after Rafael Devers and Jason Groome, once Andrew Benintendi graduates. I feel bad for him.
1) Rafael Devers, 3B
Devers, however, is not overrated. He recently ranked as the no. 13 overall prospect in BP’s top-101, as he could be a potential 6-power, 6-hit third baseman. That presumes quite a few things, of course — the power comes, the hit tool plays up, he stays at the hot corner — but he’s got legit, All-Star-level upside. He shouldn’t contribute much in 2017, but it’s not crazy to think he’ll be a factor in 2018. He’s the most interesting non-roster invitiee heading into the season, and odds are he will be next season, too.
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