As San Diego Padres‘ GM A.J. Preller prepares for his first spring training at the helm of his newly-revamped Friars club, the team announced today that they have extended invitations to 18 players, signing each to a contract with an invite to big league camp. Some of the names are very familiar to fans of big league baseball, while others are attempting to make their mark for the first time. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more well-known names, and then fill out the entire list of invites:
–Jose Valverde: Once considered a premier closer with the Detroit Tigers, Papa Grande has fallen on hard times recently. The 36-year old signed a contract with the Padres earlier this month, and comes in to camp 12 saves short of 300 for his big league career. The long ball and zone control have hurt him over the past couple of seasons, and finished 2014 as a member of the New York Mets. Valverde will be looking to stick with the big club, and offer Bud Black some late-inning closer experience and depth in case Joaquin Benoit and/or Kevin Quakenbush falter.
–Ramiro Pena: The former Braves, Yankees, and Nats infielder will try to possible make himself a viable shortstop candidate along with Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes. What gives the Pena invite some legs, is that he hit .245 in just over 80 games for the Braves last season, can play all over the infield, is only 29-years old, AND he’s a switch-hitter. For a team that is lacking left-handed hitters, keep your eye on this guy throughout the month of March.
–Brett Wallace: Another option if the Padres are looking for left-handed pop, the former top 40 prospect in the Astros organization, spent all of 2014 in the minor between the Blue Jays and Orioles organizations. He had a nice bounce back season at Triple A, hitting .282 with 17 bombs. He’s only 28-years old, and could provide a powerful spark for a lackluster first base position with the Padres with a strong spring.
The rest of the spring training invites include familiar names that spent time on the big league roster, including Jason Lane and Jake Goebbert. Fan favorite and social media star Cody Decker will get his chance to shine in front of Preller and the big league staff as well, in the hopes that entering the final year of his contract, he might be able to stick with the club.
Top prospects Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, and Matt Wisler will all see time, but will most likely begin the season in the minor leagues, as will Diego Goris, who could prove to be the Friars shortstop of the future.
Other spring training invitees include:
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