The Milwaukee Brewers are getting ready for spring training, which starts in just a few weeks.
Every year, teams invite players that aren’t on the 40 man roster to big league camp for an outside shot at competing for a roster spot to begin the season. These “non-roster invites” go out to veterans on minor league deals and prospects alike.
Most of the veterans got their invite to spring training when they signed their contracts. Players like Mike Morin, Tuffy Gosewisch, Logan Morrison, Shelby Miller, and Keon Broxton already have been invited.
But the Milwaukee Brewers have just announced ten more invites going out to prospects from the farm system.
Seven of the 10 players are pitchers and there’s a good chance we’ll see at least a few of these guys in Milwaukee at some point in 2020.
Let’s look at the position players first. Lucas Erceg is the Crew’s top third base prospect, a former 2nd round pick, and was in Triple-A last season. He struggled in Triple-A, missing a great opportunity to cement himself as the third baseman of the future with Travis Shaw‘s 2019 struggles and Mike Moustakas‘ impending free agency. Because of his struggles, the Brewers have had to sign guys like Eric Sogard and Ryon Healy to deal with the position.
Still, with the Crew’s third base situation unsettled to say the least, an invite to big league camp makes sense. Perhaps he can break out this year and fix the issues he had from 2019. The long-term third base job is his for the taking, he just has to earn it.
The Crew has two solid catching prospects in Mario Feliciano and Payton Henry, both earning invites to camp. With the large number of pitchers needing to throw bullpens in spring training, teams bring in extra catchers every year. Feliciano and Henry will gain more familiarity with the pitching staff as they look to take another step forward in their development.
As for the pitchers, the list is headlined by 2019 first round pick Ethan Small. As a four-year college lefty, Small is a pitcher that’s projected to move quickly through the farm system and could reach the big leagues in short order. He won’t break camp with the Brewers, but this is a great opportunity for him to prove himself.
Zack Brown is a highly rated pitching prospect as well, although he went through a down year in 2019 and was left off the 40 man, despite his eligibility for the Rule 5 Draft. He didn’t get taken, luckily, and will get a chance to bounce back in 2020. With a strong showing in spring, there’s an outside chance Brown could make the Opening Day roster as a member of the bullpen.
Some other exciting pitchers are Clayton Andrews and Drew Rasmussen. Andrews can both pitch and play outfield, working as a rare two-way player. Standing at just 5’6″, Andrews isn’t your prototypical pitching prospect, but he’s got a lot of talent and is very exciting to watch. Rasmussen is a first-round talent that the Brewers got in the sixth round in 2018 after Tommy John surgery.
Rasmussen is healthy and has a big fastball. There’s a very good chance we’ll see him in Milwaukee in 2020.
Aaron Wilkerson is a guy Brewers fans have seen before and he’s looking to earn one of those few available roster spots. Thomas Jankins and Miguel Sanchez are both interesting pitchers that could push their way to a September call up in 2020.
There could be more non-roster invitees before spring training begins. It’s not impossible for a non-roster invitee to be on the Opening Day roster, as Jesus Aguilar and Ji-Man Choi are recent examples of non-roster players pushing their way to making the club.