The San Diego Padres have extended major league spring training invitations to 21 players, including most of their prized prospects and several low-impact free agents.
The list of non-roster invitees includes 11 right-handed pitchers, one left-handed pitcher, four catchers, four infielders and one outfielder. Eight of the invitees have major league experience. Additionally, seven of the 21 players were either drafted by the Padres or signed as non-drafted free agents by the club.
Because of this year's World Baseball Classic, MLB teams are opening spring training early -- Padres pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12 -- and will play more spring games than usual. The Padres will start playing exhibition games on Feb. 22, about a week earlier than a usual spring.
Padres manager Bud Black has indicated that he will use the extra time to evaluate young players.
Non-roster players invited to major league spring training are:
Right-handed pitchers: Johnny Barbato, Wilfredo Boscan, Brandon Kloess, Sean O'Sullivan, Kevin Quackenbush, Jason Ray, Donn Roach, Daniel Strange, Matt Stites, Jerry Sullivan and Thad Weber.
Left-handed pitcher: Robbie Erlin.
Catchers: Jason Hagerty, Austin Hedges, Rene Rivera and Eddy Rodriguez.
Infielders: Jonathan Galvez, Jedd Gyorko, Gregorio Petit and Cody Ransom.
Outfielder: Travis Buck.
The Padres had a relatively quiet winter, making no major moves and feeling like they are set at most positions except starting pitching. Among the young players hoping to break through are Gyorko, the Padres' top minor leaguer in 2012, and Boscan, who recently led the Venezuelan League in earned run average.
Gyorko's problem is that he is by trade a third baseman, where the Padres have an All-Star in Chase Headley. So Gyorko will be spending the off-season and spring training learning to play other positions. Gyorko could also be used as trade bait.
Best rumor of the winter: The Miami Marlins are disenchanted with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and have spoken to several teams -- including the Padres -- about a trade. Stanton has been openly critical of the team's off-season salary dump. He'd be a good fit for the Padres, who could use an everyday right fielder.
The right-handed-hitting Stanton, 23, belted 37 homers in only 123 games last season. Stanton, who is monstrously strong and has a rifle arm in the outfield, has already hit 93 homers for the Marlins and his contract is controllable through 2016.