clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

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

New, 5 comments

The lesser-known names in Cactus League box scores this spring

Oakland Athletics v Milwaukee Brewers
Frank THE TANK Schwindel
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are more than a week into the 2021 Cactus League, and as usual there are several unfamiliar names in the box scores.

In addition to the team’s 40-man roster, there are another 24 non-roster invitees. They include a mix of young prospects getting bonus experience, as well as depth veterans battling for jobs or planting the seeds for future consideration this summer. They aren’t on the roster now, but some of them could be later this year, especially when injuries take their toll.

Presenting the 2021 spring NRIs.

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 Peña (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)

We already covered the non-roster invitee pitchers. Now for the hitters.

There are two names that should immediately stand out due to their MLB experience. One is Lowrie, who was once an All-Star for the A’s, and the other is Kozma, who went to the World Series with the Cardinals in 2013. Beyond that, catchers Perez and Peña have also spent time in the bigs, about 300 games between them, and Schwindel got into six games for the Royals in 2019.

Among the rest, Soderstrom is the best-known prospect, as the A’s 1st-round draft pick last summer. Allen is also a big deal, and Reed has already made a name for himself this spring.

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.

Catchers

There are always extra catchers in spring camp, or else the pitchers would just have to throw at walls. This group includes two top prospects and two veteran journeymen.

  • Kyle McCann: Draft pick, 4th round, 2019. Still early in his pro career, but spent 2020 at alternate site camp and got great reviews. Best power hitter in the A’s system per Baseball America, but must prove himself in other areas of the game. Didn’t get a lot of catching experience in college, still has plenty of time at age 23. Ranks No. 24 on our Community Prospect List.
  • Francisco Peña: Minor league free agent. Began playing in pros in 2007 (now age 31) and briefly appeared in the majors in five different seasons, most recently and most notably as Cardinals backup catcher in 2018. Glove-first, though at the plate the righty did enjoy the supercharged Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 2019. Son of Tony Peña, who was a five-time MLB All-Star, four-time Gold Glove backstop, and one-time Manager of the Year. More details from 2018.
  • Carlos Perez: Minor league free agent in 2020. More than a decade in the pros including parts of four MLB seasons, and was Angels primary catcher in 2015-16. Glove-first and excels at throwing out base stealers, but all-around low marks for his righty bat. Was at A’s alternate site camp last year, and re-signed over the offseason, offering veteran presence at age 30.
  • Tyler Soderstrom: Draft pick, 1st round, 2020. Youngest player in camp by far at age 19, a local product with an elite lefty bat. One of the most exciting A’s prospects in recent memory, and the team is wasting no time getting him experience with spring invite. Might not stay at catcher, but he’s there for now. Ranks No. 2 on our CPL.

Infielders

The NRIs aren’t often in competition for actual Opening Day roster spots, but this year one of them could be, as Lowrie is a particularly high-ceiling bounce-back candidate.

  • Nick Allen: Draft pick, 3rd round, 2017. Best defensive shortstop in the entire minor leagues, per MLB Pipeline, with chance for Gold Gloves in his future. But still must prove bat against top competition, as he’s yet to play above High-A. High ceiling at age 22. Ranks No. 3 on our CPL.
  • Pete Kozma: Minor league free agent. Spent several seasons in majors with Cardinals and was the starting shortstop of their 2013 team that went to the World Series. Infamous subject of controversial infield fly ruling in 2012 NL WCG. No bat, but sturdy and versatile infield defense with MLB experience. Last played in majors in 2018, now entering age 33. More details from November.
  • Jed Lowrie: Minor league free agent. Easily the biggest name on this list, a 2018 All-Star second baseman who previously spent five seasons with A’s over two successful stints. Now entering age 37, looking for comeback after missing last two years to injury as member of Mets. Switch-hitter would fit perfectly in Oakland lineup if he’s healthy. More details from February, and update from Tuesday.
  • Frank Schwindel: Minor league free agent. Drafted as catcher but has settled at first base in the pros. Righty hitter has strong Triple-A numbers led by aggressively high contact rate, low strikeouts, and enough power for a defensive corner. Played six games for Royals in 2019, and turns 29 this summer. More details from 2018, and notes on catcher background from 2019.
  • Jacob Wilson: Minor league free agent. Former Cardinals mid-round draft pick, which is always a promising start. Righty hit well up through Double-A before stalling out, but later crushed Triple-A Pacific Coast League in Nats system and hit decently in a short stint in Korea in late 2019, with plate discipline as strongest suit but also a bit of power. Versatile defender who’s spent bulk of time at 2B and 3B, still awaiting MLB debut at age 30. More (old) details from 2015.

Outfielders

Only two names in this group, and they both made the 20s of our Community Prospect List. Both will be age 26 this season.

  • Buddy Reed: Acquired Dec 2019 for Jurickson Profar. Named to All-Defense Prospect Team by MLB Pipeline this year for second time, with combo of cannon arm and burner speed that gives him plus range for CF. Best athlete in the A’s system per Baseball America. However, switch-hitter must prove bat, which so far has stalled in Double-A with too much swing and miss. If he hits, could be a star. Ranks No. 20 on our CPL.
  • Cody Thomas: Acquired Feb 2021 for Gus Varland. Former college quarterback for Oklahoma who got a late start to full-time baseball. Raw power is his carrying tool, but still needs to refine lefty swing in minors, with defensive skill set for RF. Hit decently in Double-A in 2018, in Dodgers system. Ranks No. 27 on our CPL (writeup coming soon).

Note that I took liberty in terms of Thomas’ acquisition. He was part of a larger four-player deal, but it could reasonably be broken down to two individual swaps — Sheldon Neuse for Adam Kolarek, and Varland for Thomas.

***

But wait! That still doesn’t quite cover it. In addition to the 40-man roster, and the 24 NRIs, there are also 10 more prospects in the spring bubble as part of a “mini-camp.” They’re available for games and have indeed made occasional appearances, including pitchers Jeff Criswell and Zach Jackson, and infielders Logan Davidson and Edwin Diaz.

Davidson (No. 6) and Criswell (No. 11) are members of our CPL, and Diaz has been in the A’s system since 2013. Jackson was acquired in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. They aren’t in contention for the MLB roster at this time, but are gaining good experience.

***

As a reminder, here is the 40-man roster that the 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)