Spring training is just a short distance away. Soon pitchers and catchers will be reporting and the sights and sounds of baseball will fill the air once again. The start of a new season also means that everyone has a clean slate, including non-roster invitees.
A non-roster invitee is a player who is currently not on a teams 40-man roster, but will participate in spring training games for their big league club. This year, the Brewers non-roster invitee list is very diverse. The group ranges from guys with major league experience, players looking to rebound after playing overseas, and some top prospects within the organization.
Here we will take a look at three of the Brewers' non-roster invitees that could make a push for a 2023 Opening Day roster spot.
Non-Roster invitee candidate #1: LHP Alex Claudio
Alex Claudio rejoined the Milwaukee organization on a minor league deal earlier this off-season. He last pitched for the Brewers in 2020 and spent some time with the Angels and Mets afterwards. Over that time frame, the nine-year veteran has pitched 36 Major League innings and has had a 5.00 ERA.
During his first four seasons in the big leagues, Claudio posted ERA's under 3.00. He has not had that same level of success since, but the left-handed reliever is still deceptive on the mound and generates a lot of ground balls. The Brewers currently are lacking in the left-handed reliever department, so a solid spring training could be enough to secure him an Opening Day roster spot.
Non-Roster invitee candidate #2: OF Sal Frelick
Sal Frelick was a first round draft pick by the Brewers in 2021, which was a year after Garrett Mitchell was selected. Mitchell ended up making his Major League debut last season, but Frelick stayed in Triple-A Nashville, where he continued to tear it up after a late season promotion. In 46 games, the left-handed speedster collected 69 hits and nine stolen bases. He also had a 41-game on base streak.
With his impressive end to the 2022 minor league season, Frelick shot up prospect rankings boards this off-season and was recently announced as MLB Pipeline's 30th best prospect. Various sites have gone so far as to label Frelick as having the best hit tool among all prospects.
The Brewers currently have a log jam of outfield prospects and Frelick is also expected to play for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. All of this makes it a long shot for Frelick to make the Opening Day roster, but anything is possible.
Non-Roster Invitee Candidate #3: RHP Thyiago Vieira
This last selection in Thyiago Vieria is a bit of a wild card, but there is a lot of upside with this hard-throwing right-handed reliever. The 29-year-old is a former top 20 prospect in both the Mariners and White Sox organizations and has spent the past three seasons in Japan.
Vieria has a similar profile to Brewers prospect Abner Uribe in that both pitchers can reach triple digits, but development has been slowed down by injury and command issues. During the 2021 season in Japan, Vieria's fastball was clocked at 103 MPH, breaking a NPB record previous held by Shohei Ohtani and Robert Corniel.
Overall in Japan, Vieria pitched to a 2.86 ERA over 125 innings while recording 150 strikeouts. He certainly will be an intriguing player to keep an eye on during spring training.
The Brewers begin Cactus League play on February 25th and play their last spring training game on March 28th. Perhaps one of these non-roster invitees will find their way on to the roster over that time frame.