5 Non-Roster Invitees That You’ve Never Heard of Who Might Make An Impact in 2008

In Spring Training every year, players that never got an opportunity from the minors to the majors and are hitting or pitching very well. Guys like Matt Diaz have exelled like this. Of course, we all know the high-profile stories about how Juan Gone hit a homer off of Johan Santana, as well as him doing very decent in Spring Training. Of course we know about how Bret Boone might catch on in the Nationals after a battle with alcoholism. These are not big-time prospects like Jay Bruce or Evan Longoria or Indians 2007 draft pick Beau Mills on a minor league contract. If any of these guys do not play this year, then don’t sue me. These are players that you might not have heard of, but they can make an impact, or had success last year but not many are talking about. In no particular order.

Hitters

Micah Hoffpauir – 1B – Chicago Cubs

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Ok, the Cubs are stacked at first base with Derrek Lee and Daryle Ward, and it would be stupid for the Cubs to carry three first basemen, but the 28-year old Hoffpauir has been hitting .455 during spring training and also has played in every game. He should have been the Pacific Coast League MVP rather than Geovany Soto, if Hoffpauir did not go down with a knee injury mid season.

“A large part of the RBIs that Soto (the eventual Pacific Coast League MVP) was getting in the second half of the season were ones that Hoffpauir was getting earlier in the year, Bailey noted.”

If Ward or Lee get injured, then count on Hoffpauir to deliver in the Majors. He’s a great hitter that never got a chance, and my favorite player out of this bunch.

Check this out for more players you’ve never heard of.

Mike Costanzo – 3B – Baltimore Orioles

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It would be nice to see a guy like Costanzo successful. A former second-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies, Costanzo has hit .313 over Spring Training so far. He also hit 27 home runs to a .270 average in AA last year. There is a chance that he will be called up for the Opening Day roster, and he has been working out as a catcher as well as a 3B. The current Orioles 3B, Melvin Mora is aging, and they basically have no backup catcher as top Orioles prospect Matt Wieters is not ready yet. With as thin of a roster as Baltimore has, maybe Costanzo will make it to the big leagues.

Brooks Conrad – 2B – Oakland A’s

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Another power offensive prospect at second base, he also has impressed a lot of people in Spring Training and deserves a chance. Even though he only hit .218 in the Houston Astros affiliate at Round Rock in 2007, it appears that this is a case of the Astros not promoting him earlier, like he should have in 2005 and 2006 where he hit 21 and 24 homers, respectively. He still hit 22 in 2007, and has impressed the A’s in Spring Training so far with a .429 average. He could be a backup infielder later in the year, if he plays well in AAA. Plus, his defense is pretty decent.

Pitchers

(note that I’m not as good dissecting pitching as I am with hitting)

Darren O’Day – Pitcher – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Darren O’Day, a 25-year old pitcher who has a great chance of making the Angels roster, has 10 strikeouts in Spring Training. He has certainly impressed everyone in the Angels organization, and chances are, he will be on the team at some point during this season. He’s always been lights out in the minors, and he is proving it right now. And he throws sidearm. The next Joe Smith here?

Chris Narveson – Pitcher – Milwaukee Brewers

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The ex-Cardinal who is having a good spring training with a Brewers team that does not have as much pitching depth in the bullpen this year could use another lefty arm, and Narveson is that, especially later in the year, if Ben Sheets gets injured again, and they end up using Claudio Vargas or something as their 5th starter. He won’t make Opening Day with the Brewers, but I think, also with a good AAA season for insurance, Narveson will be used in some form this year.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Milwaukee Brewers, Minor League Baseball, Oakland Athletics

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