I don’t know about you, but I just got hit with six inches of snow and I’m desperate for spring right about now. The Red Sox must have heard my prayers, because they just gave us a little taste of what we can expect when March rolls around. This is far from the most exciting time of year, but teams announcing non-roster invitees for spring training means baseball is just around the corner.
The headliner of this group is obviously Rafael Devers, who is set to become the team’s number one prospect after Andrew Benintendi loses his eligibility shortly after the season begins. Devers did get a taste of camp last season, but this figures to be a bit of a longer look. The third baseman will be entering his age-20 season, and will almost certainly spend most of it at Double-A Portland. We likely won’t see him in the bigs this season, but it’s probable this will be his first of many big league camps.
After him the list gets a little more boring. Allen Craig and Rusney Castillo will both be there, which isn’t much of a surprise. It’s hard to imagine any scenario in which Craig plays his way back into Boston this year, but there’s no harm in letting him with the big leaguers in March. Castillo might have a little more upside, and the team is weak in outfield depth, so with a hot spring he could put himself back in the conversation for later in the year. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
Sam Travis is likely the most likely to make an impact in 2017, although it’s hard to know what to expect after the first baseman missed the majority of last season. He’s not a traditional first base prospect, as he doesn’t possess huge power tools, but his hit tool is good enough that he could become the everyday first baseman if Mitch Moreland goes down. At the very least, he’s the ideal candidate for 2018.
Rounding out the invitations are Jordan Procyshen, Brian Bogusevic, Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepard and Ben Taylor. Procyshen is a glove-first catcher who will join Devers in Portland next season. Bogusevic is more outfield depth who was signed to a minor-league deal earlier this winter. He has minimal, unimpressive major-league experience. Kendrick was just signed earlier today, and the long-time Phillie figures to play a Sean O’Sullivan type role this year if he sticks around after camp. Shepard made it to Pawtucket last year, and profiles as a middle reliever at best. Finally, Taylor split the year between Salem and Portland and is another arm who profiles as a middle reliever.
Spring, you can’t get here soon enough.