On Wednesday, the Royals announced the invitations of 21 players to their Major League side of camp. The group consists of nine pitchers, four outfielders, four infielders, and four catchers. The most notable of the group is former MVP Miguel Tejada who signed a Minor League deal on December 31st.
Joining Tejada are some other former big leaguers with some moderate success. George Sherril, who was an All-Star in 2008, will be in camp and compete for a spot as a left handed specialist out of the bullpen. Dan Wheeler, another bullpen guy, has a career 3.98 ERA over 13 Major Leagues seasons. Endy Chavez, who was also signed on the same day as Tejada will join the rest of the group for an opportunity to make the opening day roster as a fourth outfielder. Also added to the camp list is former Astros centerfielder, Willy Taveras, who once led the National League in stolen bases with 68.
Brandon Wood was also invited to camp as a non-roster invitee. I’m anxious to see if he can resurrect his career after last playing in the majors in 2011 with the Pirates. He’s had a very abysmal start to his big league career as he has hit .186 in 700 at bats. He was a very promising young up and comer with the Angels as he hit 43 home runs during his 2005 campaign in the minors. Prior to the 2006 season, he was rated the number three overall prospect by Baseball America. It will certainly be interesting to see if he can challenge for a job on the big league roster, possibly as an option at second base. Wood is 27, but he still has some time to figure out his stride in the majors, but he better make some progress this spring with his opportunity with the Royals.
Also included in the list of 21 players are catchers Manuel Pina, Adam Moore, Max Ramirez, and Julio Rodriguez. Moore and Pina both made brief appearances as September callups for the Royals this past season. Besides Tejada and Wood, Anthony Seratelli and Christian Colon will make up the group of infielders invited to camp. I could see Colon also battling for the second base job or possibly the utility role, but I think it will be an uphill battle as he has quite a few guys in front of him. The former first round pick in 2010 could see his first big league at bat this year, but it will most likely come later in the season and not as a result of him breaking camp.
Recently acquired pitcher, Blaine Boyer, along with Sugar Ray Marimon, Michael Mariot, Brian Sanches, Atahualpa Severino, Yordano Ventura, and Ryan Verdugo round out the rest of the pitchers invited. While I don’t think Ventura will break camp with the team, I do believe he will be up at some point throughout the season and make a few starts. In my opinion, Ventura is the best pitching prospect we have and it will be exciting to see him at some point pitch at the highest level this season.