With today being the first official workout by pitchers and catchers in big league camp I figured it would be a good time to highlight the players not on the 40-man roster who will be attending camp in the hopes to play their way onto the team.
The Pirates have made it a tradition that their 1st round draft picks from the previous year gets invited to the big league camp and you can 100% expect that Cole will be starting the season in the minor leagues, but this should still be a great experience for him and will provide him some competition against Major League caliber talent. Cole made his professional debut in the Arizona Fall League last season and in 5 starts, went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings where he struck out 16 batters.
Crotta surprised us all last season when he made the trip north with the club following a successful spring campaign. His first taste of the bigs didn’t go great as he posted a 9.28 ERA over 10 2/3 innings. Injuries sidelined him for a while and he was later designated for assignment and made it through waivers. Last season was the first year in which Crotta did not start, so it will be interesting to see how he does as a reliever for a full, healthy season.
Out of everyone on this list, Cruz has the best chance of making the team right out of spring training, and if I had to put a team together right now, he would be going north with the club. Cruz, now 33 years old, has put together a pretty successful career and he proved last year with Tampa Bay that he is still effective. His velocity is a bit down (92.8 mph avg) but he posted a 3.88 ERA over 48 2/3 innings for the Rays last year with a K/9 of 8.51.
Igarashi is coming off 2 seasons with the Mets where he posted a 5.74 ERA over 69 innings. He did, though, put up a 0.87 ERA and a 9.87 K/9 over 31 innings in AAA last year. He will mostly serve as depth in AAA, but you never know. With success there and if there are multiple injuries at the ML level, he is someone who we could see this season.
Kensing hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2009, and that season wasn’t very pretty (8.92 ERA in 35 1/3 IP). Last year in AAA, Kensing had a 4.28 ERA over 27 1/2 IP but showed he could still strike batters out with a 10.54 K/9. Be surprised if you see him this season.
Martis, like Kensing, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2009. He is also the first guy on this list (other than Cole) who is a starting pitcher. He is also the youngest player (other than Cole) on this list (25). After 3 seasons at the AAA level for Washington, he spent the year last season in AA. His numbers definitely benefited from pitching at the lower levels. At this point, he just looks like organizational depth.
Reyes spent all of last season in the AL East between Toronto and Baltimore where he posted a 5.57 ERA over 140 2/3 IP. Surprisingly, in his 5 seasons in the Majors, that was the lowest ERA out of all of them. Reyes will likely start out in AAA, however could be called upon if there a few injuries in the rotation.
Slaten battled injuries last season in which he only pitched in 16 1/2 innings for the Nationals. But his 2010 campaign was pretty good. He has a lot of ML experience with as he has pitched in parts of 6 different seasons while posting a 3.60 ERA over 137 2/3 innings. The southpaw has held lefties to a .239 batting average over that time frame.
We saw some of Wood last season, but his great stuff did not translate into great numbers. His control seemed to be his main problem with 8 walks in 8 IP. He did, however, put up good numbers in AAA while serving as the Indians’ closer. In 44 1/2 innings at Indy, he posted a 2.84 ERA with 23 saves. Look for him to have the same role this season.