By Jon Weisman
Minor-league pitching prospects Julio Urias, Jose DeLeon and Chris Anderson are among the 16 players not currently on the 40-man roster who have been invited to Major League camp for Spring Training.
The 19-year-old Urias is the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com, while DeLeon, 23, is the No. 5 righty. The 23-year-old Anderson, the Dodgers’ first-round draft choice in the 2013 draft, had a 4.05 ERA and 7.0 strikeouts per nine innings for Double-A Tulsa in 2015.
The hottest non-roster invite on the hitting side is Cody Bellinger, who is ranked sixth among first-base prospects in the minors.
Two old friends will join the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch: Elian Herrera and Matt West. Herrera, who turns 31 on February 1, had seven homers and .684 OPS (85 OPS+) in 277 plate appearances for Milwaukee last year. He has played at least 10 games in his career at every position but pitcher, catcher and first base, and was rated in December as one of this offseason’s best non-tender pickups by Eno Sarris of Fangraphs.
West led the Dodgers in ERA last season (minimum one pitch thrown) by tossing three shutout innings over back-to-back games against the Giants in June. The 27-year-old converted third baseman was nevertheless designated for assigment in July, before finishing the season with Double-A Tulsa, for whom he had a 0.56 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings.
One other player besides Anderson and Urias will be in his second consecutive Dodger camp as a non-roster player. That is 27-year-old catcher Shawn Zarraga, who OPSed .762 in Triple-A Oklahoma City and .681 in Tulsa. The Aruba native is trying to become the sixth player from his country and first catcher to make the Majors.
Another catcher, and the remaining name most familiar to Dodger prospect watchers, isKyle Farmer. The 25-year-old has played mostly catcher in his career but mixed in a little bit of third base last year for Tulsa and in the Arizona Fall League.
If you’re focused on the Major Leagues, the name Charlie Culberson should ring a bell. A veteran of 148 MLB games, including 18 against the Dodgers, Culberson (27 in April) had a .721 OPS for the Rockies in 2014, but slipped to .544 in 2014 and didn’t play in the big leagues last year while working through a disc issue in his back. He has played more than 20 career games at second base, shortstop, third base and left field.
Another former Major Leaguer is right-handed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla, whom the Dodgersclaimed in October from Texas. Bonilla will be looking to continue his comeback from Tommy John surgery. The 25-year-old had a 3.05 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 20 2/3 innings for the Rangers in 2014, striking out 17.
There will be two Browns in the Dodger derby: Brooks Brown, a 30-year-old veteran of 64 games as a right-handed reliever for Colorado (3.97 ERA, 6.3 K/9), and 30-year-old sharer-of-my-birthday Corey Brown, an outfielder who OPSed .761 for Triple-A Durham in the Rays’ organization last year.
Two of the Dodger camp attendees are former Toronto farmhands born five days apart and will each turn 28 in April: Alex Hassan, an outfielder who OPSed .776 for Triple-A Buffalo, and Jack Murphy, a catcher who OPSed .624 for Double-A New Hampshire. Hassan went 1 for 8 with a walk and five strikeouts for Boston in 2014.
Another import from the American League East is first baseman/third baseman Rob Segedin, who spent six pro seasons in the Yankee organization after being selected in the third round of the 2010 draft. The 27-year-old Segedin OPSed .828 for Double-A Trenton and .764 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season.
Last but not least is 27-year-old center fielder Rico Noel, who boasts a career 1.000 OPS in the Majors after playing in 15 games for the Yankees last year. Noel was a defensive replacement in his MLB debut September 2, then pinch-ran in his next 11 games, stealing bases in his first five attempts. He then singled in the first of his two career at-bats in October.