Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Turk Time - Non Roster Invitees

The Buc brass met yesterday to talk over cuts; minor league camp is now in full swing and the guys have had a couple of weeks to impress (or depress) the evaluators. We don't think the cuts this round will be real deep quite yet; that's a little down the road. Here's a look at the non-roster guys in camp right now:

Pitchers: A couple of candidates for the pen have looked strong; that's no surprise as the Bucs have an eye for bullpen fodder. LHPs Kris Johnson and Mike Zagurski along with RHP Ryan Reid have put up zeroes so far. Zagurski has 7 K in 4 IP, Johnson 6 K in 4-2/3 IP and Reid 4 in 4. They'll hang around for sure.

A couple of other players have looked OK, too - Brooks Brown has a 2.60 ERA and is 2-for-2 in save ops with 6 K in 6-2/3 IP. Kyle Waldrop and Eric Cordier haven't been score on either, but their lack of work likely means they're ticketed for the minors.

Vin Mazzaro hasn't broken out of the gates very well; he's got a 5.40 ERA in 5 IP with just one K. And Jonathan Sanchez has an 11.81 ERA after three starts, going 5-1/3 IP with 8 BB, and his bid for a MLB job with the Bucs is on life support.

Gerrit Cole and Jamison Taillon were brought up for a meet-and-greet, while Jose Contreras is still rehabbing.

Catchers: Lucas May, Carlos Paulino and Ali Solis are in camp just to help handle the workload. May has shown a decent stick but not very strong defensive skills; Paulino is his mirror image and Solis, who was supposed to play for the Mexican National team, has a back injury and has gotten just one at-bat this spring.

Infield: A couple of guys have made some noise here. Jared Goedert, who was brought into the organization with a rep for a good stick, has lived up to the billing with a .316 BA/.435 OBP and a homer. Anderson Hernandez, who has an undisclosed shoulder injury, was hitting .417/.462. Even the Hit Collector is getting into the act. Matt Hague's line is .364/.391, and he's seeing some time at the hot corner. That's not going to earn them a spot on the team, though we think Goedert has opened some eyes, but it is promising in regard to some depth at Indy.

Two players on this list have a legit opportunity to break camp with the team. Ivan DeJesus Jr. has been playing SS/2B, and he's batting .300 with an .833 OPS as the once highly touted prospect tries to prove that he's over a recent rash of injuries.

Brandon Inge brings experience, power and versatility to the bench, but he's on the far side of his MLB hill and his bat (.197 - 2011; .218 - 2012) may have deserted him. He's hitting .150 now with 7 K in 20 AB, but the Bucs will keep him around awhile to see if he comes around.

Brad Hawpe was brought in, we think, just to be showcased a little, and he's played first and some OF, but is hitting .167 with a HR and 10 K in 24 AB.

Outfield: Felix Pie and Darren Ford started off well, but now Pie's BA is down to .217 and Ford's to .182. Both are vets, good with the glove and the CF/LF type the Pirates like, so they'll serve as insurance policies at Indy.

The non-roster players are a little stronger collection than most seasons, and there are several guys alive for roster spots competing from the group. A handful of relief arms are still in play, and DeJesus looks like he has a decent shot at sticking; Inge needs his stick to heat up to get back in the game. But there's only been two weeks of camp, with three to go, and these coming days will be the crucible for the NRI candidates.

The active roster should be fairly safe, though it's probable that a couple of minor-league guys will be assigned to minor-league camp to get some regular work.

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