Royals’ Non-Roster Invitees Headlined by Raul Mondesi, Sean Manaea
Blue Rocks shortstop Raul Mondesi at the plate on April 13, 2014 against W-S (Jen Nevius).
Yesterday, the Royals announced their full list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training, which opens in less than a month. In all, there will be 63 players in big league camp, including the 40 players already on the roster.
Headlining the non-roster players are the organization’s top prospects, shortstop Raul Mondesi, third baseman Hunter Dozier, and pitchers Sean Manaea and Miguel Almonte. None of those guys will break camp with the major league club, but it should be a valuable learning experience for them to spend time with the veterans and possibly get some playing time against major leaguers.
Mondesi’s numbers weren’t terribly impressive in 2014, but he still impressed scouts enough to claim the top spot on the Royals prospect rankings according to Baseball Prospectus. He’ll return to Wilmington in April, but I’d expect to see him in Double-A by mid-season. While Dozier got off to a hot start in Wilmington, he struggled mightily in Northwest Arkansas, meaning he’ll begin the year there once again, although a hot start could result in a promotion before too long.
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Manaea and Almonte both had very good seasons at High-A, but will face a tougher challenge in the hitter-friendly Texas League in 2015. It’s very unlikely either one makes it to Kansas City this season, even though they do have enough stuff to make contributions in September. It’s not crazy to think that Almonte’s fastball and changeup could be legitimate weapons out of the bullpen right now.
Joining those big four are a few post-hype prospects, including Bubba Starling, Chris Dwyer, and Brett Eibner. Dwyer was designated for assignment just a few months ago, but remained with the organization. Eibner has dealt with a ton of injuries and ineffectiveness at the plate, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be moved back to the mound if he can’t figure things out. As for Starling, well, you already know the story.
A few other young players who will get a taste of big league camp are Christian Binford, Scott Alexander, Cameron Gallagher, and Whit Merrifield. Binford, Alexander, and Merrifield all have a chance to debut in Kansas City in 2015, even if it’s just a cup of coffee in September. Gallagher is a defensive-minded catcher who has yet to reach his offensive potential.
Rounding out the list are a few names you’ve heard of, along with some you probably haven’t: Buddy Baumann (if you’ve read my work here, you should know about him), Brian Broderick, Casey Coleman, Ryan Madson, Joe Paterson, J.C. Boscan, Parker Morin, Matt Fields, Gabriel Noriega, Ryan Roberts, and Moises Sierra.
Of those players, Roberts may have the best chance at breaking camp with the club, because he could provide some versatility and a bit of offensive ability from the right side. Coleman and Madson also have the potential to provide a bit of value to the Royals, though the latter must prove he is healthy before he’ll get a chance.