Detroit Tigers: Non-roster invite players to watch in spring training

Sep 28, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Renato Nunez (39) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Renato Nunez (39) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Michiganders can take some warmth as pitchers and catchers report for the Detroit Tigers today. In addition to the excitement in the air about players arriving to camp, news broke out yesterday that the Detroit Tigers are interested in adding another starting pitcher.

Detroit has also discussed a six-man rotation and some of the arms on this list we are going to highlight could be in position to make a case to start. Let’s plow ahead at some of the notable non-roster invitees to camp and how they may or may not play a role for Detroit in 2021 with some hypothetical questions thrown in the mix.  Today, we will focus on a few names who are not highly ranked prospects.

Off-season signings

Renato Nunez-1B

Al Avila praised assistant GM David Chadd for helping nail down Nunez, who signed to a minor-league deal with the invite to camp.  While Avila flat out say that Nunez will be playing first, he is the leader in the clubhouse. So much so that FanGraphs has him listed on the depth chart starting the year at first base.

1. Who is his competition? 

Non-roster invitee first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez has been a career minor leaguer so you can rule him out as likely he will be in Toledo.

2.What about the idea of Jeimer Candelario to first and Isaac Paredes at third?

Unless he can’t hit the broadside of a barn in spring training, Nunez based on his ability to hit for power (in 2019, he had 31 home runs) and strong OPS, should be on the ballclub when they head north. You want to have the best defense out there and while Paredes has shown good range at third, Candelario is one of the best defensive third baseman in the American League.

Erasmo Ramírez-RHP

In my brief summary of Ramirez, I wrote about him being minor league depth in Toledo. I still believe that based on his stuff, he could be a reliever that could be used as an opener since he used to be a starter in Tampa.  A.J. Hinch has indicated that he wants him and Derek Holland to be used multiple innings in games. Hinch wants fresh arms he could move in and out. With his major league experience and a good performance for the Mets after being called up, Ramirez could be one of the first arms outside of Matt Manning that could drive up I-75 in the summer.

Derek Holland-LHP

The K rate of 25.1% in 2020 with the Pirates is what stands out for Derek Holland, which still makes him an option for long relief or a spot start despite the amount of home runs he has given up. What helped him with his K-rate is a slider that helped him generate a 20% SwStr% rate.  He could make the case in camp for Detroit to carry three lefties up north.

Ian Krol-LHP

Ian Krol has not pitched in the majors since 2018, where he threw just two innings. He bounce around in the minors in 2019 and last year to keep his arm fresh, he pitched in independent ball down in Joliet,Illinois where he dominated and was hitting up to 95 MPH.  (Random pop culture reference. If you ever seen Blues Brothers, that’s John Belushi’s character’s name and where he was in jail to start the movie) 

Like Ramirez, he could start the year in Toledo before getting the call up.

Notable Detroit Tigers minor leaguers not named Riley Greene or Spencer Torkelson

Kody Clemens-2B

Clemens played indie ball this summer in the Constellation Energy League with several minor league players from various teams including another Tigers minor leaguer Luke Sherley and the Tigers 2020 4th round draft pick Trei Cruz. I admit, I was surprised and I am sure a few fans were to see he was not in summer camp in 2020 but there could be a good reason for it.

He is in that category of minor leaguers like Jacob Robson and Danny Woodrow (both Woodrow and Robson came from the 2016 draft class)  who also received a invite to camp, where they have a chance to make an impression for a potential call up later on the season and at some point, Detroit would have to make a decision on as the newest draft classes and international signings develop this season.

The left-handed hitting Clemens is listed as number 18 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Detroit Tigers prospect list based on his power potential. If Clemens improves his pitch recognition, he could still give Detroit something to think about in 2021 as a call up option.

Greg Garcia-INF

Garcia’s versatility makes him an ideal non-roster invite candidate because he has played every position in the infield and he bats left-handed.  What also helps Garcia is his walk rate, which 12.7% for his career. He may not hit for power but he is a plus defender and could find his way onto the roster at some point in the season.

Dustin Garneau-C

Garneau along with Eric Hasse as the other non-roster invitee is competing for the backup role with two catchers on the 40-man roster, Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner.

It’s simple really when it comes to these four. They have to hit. While Greiner and Garneau are known for their defensive prowess, Hasse is more known for his power. Out of the few position battles in camp, this is one that has a lot of intrigue because you would like to see the Detroit Tigers improved on a position that were 29th in the majors in terms of fWAR with a -0.9.

It is not unusual to see a lot of catchers in spring training so Dillon Dingler, Cooper Johnson and Brady Pollcelli are the other non-roster invitees who will be in camp.

I believe I speak for a good majority of you who read this blog on a regular basis. I am beyond stoked that baseball is back because that means no more free agent articles and spring is just around the corner. It may not feel that way but the sights of Lakeland across my social media timelines is a wonderful change of pace from the snow and ice across the Michigan streets.