1.15.2013

Los Angeles Angels Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees: Who To Watch

Can Grichuk stay healthy in 2012?

The Angels released their non-roster spring training invitees yesterday. Amongst the list included top system prospects Kaleb Cowart, Randal Grichuk, Alex Yarbrough and A.J. Schugel.

Angels fans should recognize some of these names, particularly Angels prospect Kaleb Cowart and 2011 first-round pick Randal Grichuk. As I wrote yesterday, neither did very well in winter ball this year but as I also noted, winter ball usually doesn't mean much.

While neither will be competing for a spot on the 25-man roster, it will be fun to see how they perform. This will be the first big league spring training that Grichuk has attended. The former first-round pick is most famous right now for being picked before Mike Trout. Unfortunately, Grichuk has been riddled with minor injuries that have stunted his rise through the minor league system to this point sine he hit .613 in the complex league in 2009. Still just 21, Grichuk had a good (but not stellar) year in the Cal League last year and is a candidate for a big breakout in 2013 if he can stay healthy.

Besides the back-up catcher competition (see my post here), there is possibly an open spot on the 25-man roster for a utility infielder not named Andrew Romine. The two players competing for that spot will be journeymen infielders Brenden Harris and Luis Rodriguez, both who the Angels signed in the off-season to add infield depth with the departure of Macier Izturis.

The Angels have traded a number of top prospects in the past year including infielders Alexi Amarista, Jean Segura, and pitchers Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena. All four were on the Angels top 20 prospects via John Sickels at Minor League Baseball in 2012 as well as the Top 11 from Baseball Prospectus. Add the graduation of Mike Trout and Garret Richards to the big league club and the Angels farm system is looking mighty thin. As a result, there will be a fair amount of new names at spring training. A few to watch include infielder Alex Yarbrough and pitcher A.J. Schugel.

Yarbrough was rated number 8th prospect in the Angels system by Sickels in his recent assessment of the Angels top 20 prospects this year. The second basemen and former University of Mississippi star will get a look in Arizona and hopes to improve on his .287/.320/.410 line that he posted last year in Low-A.

A.J Schugel, who was rated 10th by Sickels, posted a respectable 2.89 ERA in double-A last year at the age of 23. Sickels pegs him as a possible fifth reliever/long relief candidate.

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