I don't know about all of you, but one of my favorite parts of Spring Training is seeing which random players get invited to camp as non-roster invitees. Most of the time, these players are either years away from making the big league team or really don't have much of a chance of making the roster come April, but hey, you never know.
Most of these guys are career Minor Leaguers, but I'll try to give you at least a little factoid about the more interesting players.
Ronald Belisario: Belisario had a couple good seasons with the Dodgers in the first decade of this millennium (the aughts? The 00's? Take your pick). But he put up a 5.56 ERA with the White Sox last year, though he saw plenty of time in Chicago's bullpen. He's pitched in 62 games or more in each of the last three seasons, so he'll take the ball. You just might not like the results. Also, his picture on Baseball-Reference is great.
Andrew Bellatti: Well, I had never heard of Bellatti until I looked up his name. And, uh, I did not expect what came up in my Google search. Bellattii was sentenced to eight months in prison for his part in a fatal car accident in 2010. It's just a really sad story.
Dylan Floro: Floro seems like one of those guys who, when you look at his stats, looks really impressive but will probably end up being a AAAA guy. He's produced at every level he's pitched at (rocking a career 2.71 ERA in the minors), but he's 24 and hasn't pitched above AA. His career K/9 is 6, which isn't particularly great, so he might just end up being organizational filler.
Brandon Gomes: You know this guy. He's pitched out of the Rays' bullpen in some fashion every year since 2014. Might not break camp with the team but will probably see some action due to injuries or ineffectiveness.
Jordan Norberto: Norberto's last Major League season was pretty good. He put up a 2.77 ERA in 39 games out of Oakland's pen in 2012. But he's recovering from Tommy John surgery and hasn't pitched since 2013. Danny thinks he's headed for the 'pen in place of McGee in April, but we'll see if he can even still pitch.
Everett Teaford: He struggled to a 5.24 ERA with the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization, so I wouldn't expect too much from him.
Bobby Wilson, catcher: A (relatively) native son! Wilson, whose played for four different big league clubs, was born in Dunedin, went to Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, and then attended St. Petersburg College. I can almost hear fans at Tropicana cheering, "Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!" (It could happen).
Alexi Casilla, infielder: You may remember Casilla from his time in Minnesota, where he played 515 games from 2006-12. He's your typical backup infielder. He doesn't hit particularly great, but you could put him in for defense or some speed off the bench.
Allan Dykstra, infielder: No relation to Lenny. I checked.
Juan Francisco, infielder: He's been around, playing for four teams in the last four years. He has a career 99 OPS+, so he could provide some value off the bench, but i wouldn't expect too much.
Daniel Robertson, infielder: We've talked about Daniel Robertson before, so if you care about non-roster invitees, you know who he is. Acquired from the A's in the Ben Zobrist deal, Robertson is ranked as the Rays' top prospect by MLB.com. He's just here to get a taste of big league camp, and his projected Major League ETA isn't for another year or so.
Corey Brown, outfielder: An actual native who was born in Tampa and went to Plant High School. He played in three games for the Red Sox last year.
Boog Powell, outfielder: Also came over in the Zobrist trade. He's killed it at the plate in the minors, but he did test positive for amphetamines, so take the good with the bad.
- Marc Topkin has got some pre-spring training notes for you. At the bottom are the dates when you can catch Rays spring training games on TV. They'll be on Sun Sports on March 19 (Twins), March 26 (Yankees) and April 4 (Tigers); Fox Sports Florida on March 28 (Red Sox); and MLB Network on March 29 (Red Sox) and April 3 (Tigers).
- Grantland's Ben Lindbergh ranks this offseason's MLB farewell ads. Several Rays are featured. Open at your own peril.
- MLB is rumored to be considering three pace-of-play rule implementations, you can find those here.
- Cole Hamels really wants to be traded, as MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes. Just do it, Phillies. He's 31 and not getting any younger. If a player comes out and tells the media he wants out, then he must really want out. Trade him while you can get a big haul.
- Nathaniel Grow imagines a concussion lawsuit against MLB in his post on Fangraph's blog. As far as we know, baseball doesn't have near the concussion problem that football does, but every sports fan should read up on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). You read accounts of how these aging players suffer awful neurological ailments after their careers are over, and it breaks your heart. As frustrating as some of football's rules on tackling have been, they're needed.
- Also on concussion technology, read about the impressive X2 Patch.
- ICYMI, the Rays announced their 2015 giveaways, including a Fedora, Kiermaier action figure, Archer bobble, Longoria rubber duck, Cobb gumby, and more -- but no Kevin Cash money clip!?