If you happened to miss the news on Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers announced their list of 21 non-roster players who were invited to the big league side of spring training, which happened to be the exact number of NRIs the team welcomed to camp in 2019.
In 2018, the team invited 24 players to major league camp who were not part of the 40-man roster.
Among this year’s invitees were three catchers, four infielders, five outfielders and nine pitchers.
Catchers—Rocky Gale, Jose Lobaton, Connor Wong
Infielders—Jacob Amaya, Jeter Downs, Omar Estevez, Cristian Santana
Outfielders—Anthony Garcia, Connor Joe, Jeren Kendall, Zach Reks, Cody Thomas
Pitchers—Brett de Geus, Josiah Gray, Reymin Guduan, Marshall Kasowski, Kyle Lobstein, Zach McAllister, Edubray Ramos, Jordan Sheffield, Edwin Uceta
Estevez is the only returning player who was invited from last year’s group not currently part of the club’s 40-man roster. Notable players who were among the 2019 NRIs but were not invited this year include Joe Broussard and Jake Peter.
The NRI veteran crew includes Gale, Lobaton, Lobstein, Ramos, Guduan and Garcia.
With Keibert Ruiz presumably not quite ready for big league, regular season action, Gale may conceivably be the first catcher called up in the event to an injury to either Will Smith or Austin Barnes.
The 30-year-old Lobstein has not thrown a pitch in the majors since the 2016 season with the Pirates. Last year, he threw for Las Vegas in the Pacific Coast League on the Oakland farm. In 2018, the Dodgers snagged the lefty starter as a minor league free agent.
Ramos is a hard-throwing righty reliever who spent last season with the Phillies. Last season, the 27-year-old Venezuelan native made 20 appearances at the major league level, posting a 5.40 ERA with 11 strikeouts over an even 11 innings of work.
Guduan, a reliever capable of hitting triple digits, was suspended for a “disciplinary issue” for the second half of the season last year for the Astros and was subsequently DFA’d in September. The Dodgers signed the Dominican native to a minor league deal in December.
Among several notable prospects to watch are Downs, Santana, Reks, de Geus, Gray, Kasowski and Sheffield. Both Santana and Sheffield were Rule 5 eligible at the draft during 2019’s winter meetings, but neither were snagged by rival teams.
In the 2019 Arizona Fall League, the 21-year-old de Geus appeared in eight games and did not surrender an earned run. Over 9-1/3 innings pitched, the righty allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out an impressive 11 batters.
Not far behind teammate Gavin Lux, Downs was recently ranked among the Top 10 shortstops in baseball.
Arguably, Kasowski might currently be the top reliever on the Los Angeles farm.
Across two levels of the farm last season, Reks slashed .291/.385/.536 with 28 homers, 21 doubles and 93 RBI over 121 games. The 26-year-old lefty hitter earned Texas League Player of the Week honors in late April and was eventually honored as a milb.com organizational All-Star.
In 26 appearances last season between Low-A Great Lakes, High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Tulsa, Gray finished with an 11-2 record and a 2.70 ERA with 147 strikeouts against just 31 walks. The team named the New York native the 2019 Branch Rickey Minor League Player of the Year last September.