As well as the 40-man roster, the team is inviting 28 other players to spring training. These are a mix of prospects that have not yet been added to the 40-man, and players signed to minor-league contracts. They are less likely to make the Opening Day squad, because they would have to be added to the 40-man roster as well - that means someone else has to be removed, and potentially lost through the waiver wire process. But in any given season, one or two will typically make it out of spring training, and more over the course of the season. Last year, of the 21 non-roster invitees, we saw 9 of them appear for the D-backs at some point in 2022. So this is a good chance to get ahead of the curve.
There’s a bumper crop this year, especially in right-handed pitchers, who represent almost half of the total number, being 13 of the 28. So those will be split over two posts, today and Wednesday. The third next Monday will cover the left-handed pitchers and catchers, then we’ll finish off on Wednesday with the other position players. Here’s the first half of the right-handed pitchers with their uniform number (where assigned) in brackets.
Austin Adams (55)
Adams has appeared in the majors each of the past six seasons, but still has not yet reached a hundred innings there. For the past three years he was with the Padres, and his most remarkable feat there was to lead the majors in HBPs for 2021. He plunked almost 10% of the batters he faced: 24, which was actually the most for over a century. despite throwing only 52 innings that year. Might be while he only appeared twice last season (2.1 IP, 0 HBP). Seems he is basically a one-pitch pitcher, with an unhittable slider. In San Diego, he threw it 86.5% of the time and got 85 strikeouts over 59 innings. The problem was controlling it, walking 40 batters in those 59 frames, as well as all those HBP.
Austin Brice (70)
If he reaches the majors, this would add another country to the Diamondbacks of the World list, as the other non-roster invitee Austin is the first MLB player ever to be born in Hong Kong [his father worked in construction, and had to move around a lot]. Team China asked him to play in the 2017 WBC, but he turned them down. Over his seven-year career, he has tossed 168.2 innings, with an ERA of 5.12 (ERA+ 86). Like his father, he’s has moved around a lot, with two spells in Miami, around time in Cincinnati, but spent last year in the Pirates, mostly at the AAA level. He was called up twice, and designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on both occasions, passing through waivers each time.
Slade Cecconi (88)
Our first prospect NRI, Cecconi was a first-round pick in the 2020 draft by Arizona, going 33rd overall. He spent last year in the rotation with Double-A Amarillo, posting a 4.37 ERA across 129.2 innings, with a decent K:BB ratio of 127:32. He was bitten a bit by the long-ball, surrendering 22 homers over the season. It was just nice to see him healthy, as his 2021 campaign in the minors had both begun (wrist) and ended (elbow) on the injured list. Michael recently ranked Slade #8 among Arizona prospects, and though he’s likely too far down the depth chart to have much of a shot at Opening Day, the 23-year-old might get a Nelson/Jameson look in September.
Stefan Crichton (58)
Does this name sound familiar? It should, since Crichton was in the same article at this point last year, being an NRI to spring training 2022 as well. He basically vanished thereafter, and it’s all a bit mysterious. Crichton was placed on the 60-day injured list for an undisclosed reason before the start of the minor-league season, only being re-activated in September, to throw 3.1 innings for Reno. Quite the fall from grace, considering he entered 2021 as the team’s potential closer. He’ll turn 31 later this month. Or possibly remain 7, I’m not sure. That’s because Stefan’s birthday falls on February 29th, which doesn’t exist this year.
Jeurys Familia (43)
Arguably the highest profile of this year’s NRI, Familia has 11 years of experience, 125 saves and an All-Star appearance on his resume. Admittedly, his time as a closer was a while ago: over the past four seasons, he has just one save, and a 4.96 ERA between the Mets, Phillies and Red Sox. Last year was a real horrorshow, Jeurys signed a $6 million contract in Philadelphia, only to post a 6.09 ERA over 44.1 innings. That’s why he finds himself on this kind of deal. He was decent as recently as 2020-21, with a 106 ERA+ for the Mets, so there is bounce-back potential present. If he makes the major-league roster, he’ll earn $1.5 million, with up to another $500,000 in potential bonuses.
This 30-year-old from the Dominican has a decent 116 ERA+ over 91 innings in the majors. Last year, he tossed 28 innings for the Brewers with a 3.86 ERA (103 ERA+) and a K:BB of 27:11. There were some medical concerns, with a strained hamstring taking him out of action in the first half, before a forearm issue ended his season at the beginning of August. This may have been a factor in Milwaukee’s decision to non-tender Gustave in November, and proving his health is good, will be the first thing on Jandel’s agenda this spring. With an average fastball velocity last year of 96.2 mph, he’s another example of Mike Hazen looking to gather power arms this winter.