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Meet the A’s 2021 spring non-roster invitee pitchers

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The lesser-known names you’ll see in Cactus League box scores this spring

Oakland Athletics v San Diego Padres
Ben Bracewell
Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Spring training camp is always packed with players, and the Oakland A’s are no exception in 2021.

It begins with the 40-man roster, of which only two-thirds will make the Opening Day major league squad and the rest will go back to the minors. But on top of those players, there are also 24 non-roster invitees, between less advanced prospects getting bonus experience as well as depth veterans battling for jobs or planting the seeds for future consideration this summer.

You probably already know some or most of the names on the actual roster. That’s the stars like Matt Chapman and Jesús Luzardo; the other major leaguers, like Tony Kemp and Lou Trivino; the new additions, like Elvis Andrus and Trevor Rosenthal; and a few other top prospects like Daulton Jefferies and Luis Barrera. Click here for more info on these 40 players, or actually 41 for now while Frankie Montas remains on the COVID injured list.

Then there are the others. These 24 players aren’t on the roster, though some will be later this year, whether by design as they finish their prospect development or as a response to an emergency like an injury. Presenting the 2021 spring non-roster invitees.

Oakland A's non-roster invitees (24)
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Paul Blackburn (R)
Parker Dunshee (R)
Brian Howard (R)
Trey Supak (R)

Relievers

Domingo Acevedo (R)
Cristian Alvarado (R)
Argenis Angulo (R)
Matt Blackham (R)
Ben Bracewell (R)
Montana DuRapau (R)
Reymin Guduan (L)
Deolis Guerra (R)
Brian Schlitter (R)
Catchers

Kyle McCann (L)
Francisco Pena (R)
Carlos Perez (R)
Tyler Soderstrom (L)

Infielders

Nick Allen (R)
Pete Kozma (R)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Frank Schwindel (R)
Jacob Wilson (R)

Outfielders

Buddy Reed (S)
Cody Thomas (L)

Three names on that list are familiar just from watching the A’s the last few years. Lowrie of course played in Oakland for half a decade and was an All-Star at second base, and Blackburn also appeared in the last four summers and was on Oakland’s roster until just last Tuesday when he was DFA’d and cleared waivers. Schlitter donned the green and gold for six games in 2019 and has stuck around in the minors ever since.

Expanding to the rest of the majors, Kozma in a previous life played in the 2013 World Series as the Cardinals starting shortstop.

Beyond that, just from recent news, a casual fan might recognize Soderstrom as the latest 1st-round draft pick and arguably the team’s top prospect, and perhaps Thomas as the prospect who came back from the Dodgers this month in the Adam Kolarek trade.

Frankly, even the most diehard fans probably won’t know at least one of these NRI players, so let’s have a quick meet and greet, including how they got here and who they are. In this post we’ll cover the pitchers, and then the hitters will come later in a separate post.

Starters

There’s not really a roster distinction between starters and relievers, but these three have the best chance of pitching in a rotation this summer. They’re all right-handers around age 25-27.

  • Paul Blackburn: Acquired Nov 2016 for Danny Valencia. The sinkerballer has been on the A’s for four years, usually as the emergency spot starter when someone else gets hurt. He was DFA’d on Tuesday but cleared waivers and stuck around.
  • Parker Dunshee: Draft pick, 7th round, 2017. He’s a sleeper who relies on control, command, pitchability, a wide arsenal, and fastball spin, rather than velocity. He initially got roughed up in Triple-A Las Vegas in 2019 but settled in and improved as the year went on. More details from last year’s CPL.
  • Brian Howard: Draft pick, 8th round, 2017. Similar to Dunshee, except taller, and he might have added velocity up to the mid-90s. Conquered Double-A in 2018-19 but got lit up in four Triple-A games. More details from last year’s CPL.
  • Trey Supak: Minor league free agent. Big frame, throws strikes using four-pitch arsenal, including spinny fastball with decent velocity, and a good change and breaking ball. Reached Triple-A in Brewers system in 2019 (at age 23) and got knocked around but with a strong K/BB rate underlying. More details from November.

Relievers

These nine pitchers are more likely to see work strictly as relievers. DuRapau, Guduan, Guerra, and Schlitter have MLB experience. Guduan is a lefty, and the rest are righties.

  • Domingo Acevedo: Minor league free agent. Tall with a funky delivery and a mid/upper-90s fastball that clocked triple-digits in the past, but his velocity dipped lately and he’s been hurt a lot. Former top prospect in Yankees system, he was good in Double-A and got a little time in Triple-A. More details from November.
  • Cristian Alvarado: Minor league free agent. Low-90s, good curveball, good command. In Orioles system, posted strong Double-A numbers in 2019, including encouraging K/BB rate. More details from November.
  • Argenis Angulo: Minor league free agent. Big stuff but shaky command, leading to tons of strikeouts and walks. In Indians system in 2019, struck out nearly half his batters in Double-A but got smashed in Triple-A. More details from November
  • Matt Blackham: Minor league free agent. Low-90s, with a curve, slider, and change, and an impressive sleeper track record as 29th-round pick. In Mets system in 2019, he breezed through Double-A, and kept rolling in Triple-A despite a dip in his peripherals. More details from November.
  • Ben Bracewell: Undrafted free agent in 2014. Low-90s, a few secondary offerings, and was part of the 60-man player pool last summer. In A’s system in 2019, he pitched reasonably well in the nightmare ballpark of Triple-A Las Vegas. More details from July 2020.
  • Montana DuRapau: Minor league free agent. Low-90s four-seamer, cutter, curve, occasional changeup, all of which he uses to rack up monster strikeout totals. In 2019 in Pirates system, he dominated Triple-A but got wrecked in an MLB audition, though he still did miss bats and strike out major league hitters in between shellackings. More details from November.
  • Reymin Guduan: Minor league free agent. Lefty who operates over 95 mph with movement and touched 100 in the past, plus a well-regarded slider, but zero control or command. In Astros system, navigated huge walk rates in Triple-A to find success, and saw two dozen MLB innings from 2017-19, where his strikeouts stayed high but he otherwise got annihilated. More details from Think Blue in Feb 2020.
  • Deolis Guerra: Minor league free agent. Low-90s, with a changeup, occasional breaking ball, and over 100 innings in the majors split between four teams, mostly the Angels. He was serviceable in 2016-17 but barely cracked the majors since then, and last summer he threw only seven frames for the Phillies. More details from earlier this month.
  • Brian Schlitter: Minor league free agent in 2019. Mid-90s sinker and a cutter, a combo he uses to induce ground balls at a high rate. Worked his way to Oakland for 10 solid innings in 2019, and has re-signed here as a free agent every winter since. More details from 2019, and fatrolf profile.

In terms of age, Schlitter is the elder statesman at 35, then Guerra is next at 31, and Bracewell is 30. Everyone else is in the 26-28 range.

Hitters coming soon in another post!

As a reminder, here is the 40-man roster that these NRIs are currently competing with. It’s really 41 right now, with Montas still on the IL, and someone will need to be removed soon to clear a spot for him. Players in --italics haven’t yet debuted in MLB, and those with asterisks** are Rule 5 draft picks who can’t be sent down to the minors.

Oakland A's 40-man roster (40)(+1 IL)
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)
Jesus Luzardo (L)
Sean Manaea (L)
Mike Fiers (R)
Cole Irvin (L)
A.J. Puk (L)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
James Kaprielian (R)
—Grant Holmes (R)

IL: (Frankie Montas) (R)

Relievers

Trevor Rosenthal (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Sergio Romo (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)
Nik Turley (L)
Dany Jimenez (R)**
Burch Smith (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Jordan Weems (R)
—Wandisson Charles (R)
—Miguel Romero (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Austin Allen (L)
Aramis Garcia (R)

Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Elvis Andrus (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Tony Kemp (L)
Vimael Machin (L)
DH: Mitch Moreland (L)

Outfielders

Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
—Ka'ai Tom (L)**
Seth Brown (L)
Skye Bolt (S)
—Luis Barrera (L)
—Greg Deichmann (L)