Padres Finalize Non-Roster Invites

Friars give another 28 players a shot at the Opening Day roster

The Padres released their list of non-roster invitees for 2017 Spring Training. These are the guys who are not on the protected 40-man list like minor league prospects trying to get an early jump on their MLB careers and veterans looking to catch on one more time.

On the list are guys like Hector Sanchez, who played well for the Friars last year and has a good chance to be one of the backup catchers to Austin Hedges, and outfielder Jabari Blash, who still captures the imagination with his pure power potential.

But there are also a few guys who could be surprise contributors a lot sooner than expected, especially in the pitching staff where two guys really jump out: Dinelson Lamet and Phil Maton.

Lamet started the year at High-A Lake Elsinore and blasted his way all the way up to Triple-A El Paso. His fastball touches 97 MPH but his biggest improvement came with the slider. Once he started locating it more consistently in the strike zone he was a rapid riser in the Padres system. Given the fact the Padres really have no idea what their starting five will look like Lamet, even though he could benefit from some more seasoning in El Paso, could earn a starting spot at some point in the 2017 season.

Maton is a guy who kind of came out of nowhere. He was drafted in the 20th round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Louisiana Tech and not even the Padres really knew what they had in him. In 2016 … his first full season of professional baseball … Maton started in Low-A Fort Wayne and ended up in El Paso. In his minor league career Maton has struck out 136 hitters while walking just 16.

A big reason for his success is his fastball, which generates a lot of swings and misses. The reason is it has what so many pitchers crave: late life.

The statistical website FanGraphs has recorded Maton’s heater spinning at 2500 RPM. Not to get too science nerdy on you but that means his old #1 is able to stay on a different plane than the average fastball (MLB average is about 2200 RPM), avoiding the effect of gravity and finishing higher in the strike zone than most other pitchers’ offerings.

Hitters get used to seeing the ball dipping at a certain rate so they have trouble adjusting to the difference in Maton’s delivery, giving him an advantage and a real shot at earning the closer’s job in San Diego.

The full list of non-roster invitees is below. Pitchers and catchers report to the Peoria Sports Complex on Valentine’s Day.

Right-Handed Pitchers (11)
Logan Bawcom
Jon Edwards
Carlos Fisher
Erik Johnson
Jason Jester
Michael Kelly
Dinelson Lamet
Phil Maton
Aroni Nina    
Andre Rienzo
Craig Stammen

Left-Handed Pitchers (2)
Kyle McGrath
Brad Wieck

Catchers (4)
Tony Cruz
Rocky Gale
Stephen McGee
Hector Sanchez

Infielders (7)
Erick Aybar
Dusty Coleman
Jose Pirela
Jamie Romak
Luis Urias
Christian Villanueva
Brett Wallace

Outfielders (4)
Jabari Blash
Nick Buss   
Collin Cowgill
Rafael Ortega

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