Over on Call to the Pen, Nathaniel Stoltz has been breaking down the Non-Roster Invitees for all 30 major league clubs. Considering spring training is just about to get underway this is a pretty timely topic on his part.
If you are interested in the NRI’s of our division rivals, he’s also covered the Royals, Tigers, Indians, and White Sox in similar fashion but our primary concern is of course, the NRI’s of the Minnesota Twins.
Kyle Gibson is obviously the Twins primary NRI that everyone will be watching in camp. Not only is he widely regarded as the teams top prospect, he is also the player among the 8 referenced that is most likely to have a significant impact on the major league club at some point this season. Not that he has a lot of competition from this group.
Beyond that however and there’s not a ton of intrigue with this group of 8 or the entire list of 19 NRI’s the Twins will have in camp.
Jeff Bailey and Justin Huber could provide some insurance and depth if – god forbid – Justin Morneau is not ready by Opening Day. The two have a combined 334 major league plate appearances and very similar minor and major league resumes. Between the two I’d probably give the nod to Bailey if I had to pick one of them based on defensive capabilities. If Morneau lands on the DL at some point, we’re talking about a case where Huber or Bailey could back up Michael Cuddyer but the Twins could also turn to Chris Parmelee as Cuddy’s backup if C-Parm’s holding his own in Triple-A this year. They could also have Jim Thome dust off his glove, as unlikely as that is, depending on the circumstances.
Chuck James … okay I should take back that there’s “not a ton of intrigue” with the NRI’s listed, because James does intrigue me a little. He could be very useful AAA depth and spot starter for the Twins during the season. The only problem? Well, you may have heard – as in, the horse has been beaten to death several times over – that the Twins have 6 starters for 5 rotation slots. That also doesn’t count Gibson who figures to push for one of those 5 at some point during the season. Still, James is a lefty who has been a slightly above average pitcher for 286 of his 315.2 career major league innings. Those 29.2 IP in 2008 however were brutal as his control evaporated and since that was the last time he pitched in the majors it’s going to be hard to erase the memory of those innings. Even if James could return to his 2006-2007 form, he’d be no higher than eighth on my list of rotation candidates. As a former Braves pitcher who had some success at one point, I’m still trying to figure out how he didn’t end up with the Royals this offseason.
Yorman Bazardo and Phil Dumatrait are obviously lightning-in-a-bottle type projects. Even if said lightning found its way into said bottle, it would take some prolonged success in Triple-A before any organization would put them on a major league mound again.
As far as the guys in the 2B “mix” I had honestly never heard of Chase Lambin. While he may have more pop than Brian Dinkelman, the other factors and their respective minor league profiles would suggest that Lambin is plan “B” between the two. Of course that is all academic since they are both looking up at Trevor Plouffe and Matt Tolbert. If I really focus and think real hard I can sort-of imagine a potential scenario where Dinkelman makes the major league roster at some point, but I can’t say the same for Lambin. It’s aways a good story of perseverance when a 30-something career minor leaguer breaks through and makes his debut so in a small way I hope I’m wrong. Then again, if Lambin does debut with the Twins this year, several things have probably gone terribly wrong.