We finish off our round-up of the non-roster invitees who were invited to spring training, by looking at the infielders and outfielders. With questions particularly over both third-base and shortstop right now, there may be room for one of these to crack the Opening Day roster next week.
Originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft, Bishop made his major-league debut for them in 2019. But in 99 PA over three seasons, he has hit just .133 with 33 strikeouts. Seattle put the outfielder on waivers and San Francisco picked Bishop up, but he didn’t make the majors with them and was released as the end of the year. Arizona signed him on January 13, and being a right-hander who can play center-field perhaps enhances his chances on a lefty-heavy Arizona outfield. Fun fact: started the 4MOM charity to raise awareness of and fund research into Alzheimer’s, after his mother was diagnosed with the disease.
C.J. Chatham [reassigned to minor league camp, March 25]
Connor James Chatham, to give him his full name, is a 27-year-old shortstop, who originally a 2nd-round pick by the Red Sox in 2016. He was traded to the Phillies in January 2021, but elected free agency at the end of the year, and signed for the D-backs on November 21. Across five seasons he has hit .294 in the minors, but with not much power (17 HR in 1,290 PA) or plate discipline (K:BB of 229:69). A September 2020 scouting report said his ceiling was “an end-of-the-bench player carried by his defense and positional versatility.” Likely not much has changed since then. Fun fact: Arrived in Philadelphia on exactly the same day last year the team officially signed Archie Bradley.
Easily the most experienced of this group, Difo has seven seasons of MLB experience, mostly on the Nationals but most recently last year on the Pirates. It’s a total of 489 games, with a triple-slash of .251/.313/.355 for a .668 OPS (OPS+ 76). He has mostly been a middle-infielder, with a slight tendency towards 2B over SS, but has appeared everywhere bar 1B and C (yes, twice as a pitcher). Got his first home-run against the Diamondbacks, off Robbie Ray on September 29, 2016. Has a fondness for romantic ballads like Unchained Melody and My Girl as his walk-up music, and went by the nickname of “El Lindo” (the beautiful one) on Players’ Weekend. Fun fact: today is Wilmer’s 30th birthday.
Surprised to find that Davidson is now 31 years old. But it will be nine years in August since Matt made his debut, having been a 1st-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2009. But after a 110 OPS+ over 37 games in 2013, he all but vanished for several seasons, until becoming an everyday DH and corner infielder for the White Sox in 2017-18. He was last seen in 20 games for the Reds in 2020, mostly as a DH. All told Matt has a 95 OPS+ across 293 major-league games. Fun fact: has quite a track record as an emergency pitcher, having appeared on the mound six times, posting a 2.84 ERA across 6.1 innings, with three strikeouts, including one of Giancarlo Stanton (below).
Jeison Guzman [mysteriously evaporated off roster]
This is an odd one. He was present on the opening roster I saw, on March 14, but by the first update thereafter, on March 20, he was a non-person. All his transaction page says is, “March 17: Assigned to Arizona Diamondbacks.” Odd. He was once quite a highly-regarded prospect, getting a $1.5 million signing bonus from Kansas City as a 16-year-old in 2015. But he has generally not lived up that, with an OPS of .662 across five minor-league seasons. Still, he is only 23 and is mostly a shortstop, a position where the D-backs need depth with Ahmed’s injury. Fun fact: is a “phantom” major-leaguer, having spent three days on the active roster for the Royals in August 2020 without getting into a game.
Not to be confused with the pro wrestler who performs with AEW, Hager was part of the Mets, Brewers, Mariners and D-backs during 2021, though didn’t appear in the majors for Seattle or Milwaukee. The 29-year-old played only on the infield for the D-backs, but only in the outfield for the Mets. Still looking for his first extra-base hit in the majors. He was actually a first-round draft pick out of high school, back in 2011 for the Rays, but was taken off the D-backs 40-man roster in mid-September. After becoming a free-agent, he returned to the organization on a minor-league deal at the start of December. Fun fact: if he hadn’t signed with Tampa Bay, he’d have gone to ASU.
Alek Thomas [reassigned to minor league camp, March 31]
Of the players here, Thomas (top) is undeniably the one most likely to have a future here. He’s not on the 40-man roster yet, but as the team’s #1 prospect according to MLB.com, it’s surely only a matter of time. The outfielder hit .313/.394/.559 for a .953 OPS between AA and AAA. Even allowing for Reno, that’s pretty good, especially as Alek is still only 21. He’ll likely take over a starting outfield spot soon, either in center or left, and should occupy the position for a long time. Fun fact: While listed by MLB.com as born in Chicago, this article says, “Thomas was born in Arizona but moved with his family to North Carolina where his dad was raised. The Thomas Family moved to Chicago when Alek was in middle school.”