The Texas Rangers have announced the full list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training 2021 with several surprises added and left off.
The Texas Rangers are gearing up for what we all hope will be a full, pandemic-less Spring Training (very wishful thinking, of course).
At the very least, the Rangers have taken a step towards normality with their 40-man roster set ahead of the Spring, but even more interesting is the list of non-roster invitees (NRIs) that will be in big league camp to start.
New MLB.com Rangers beat reporter Kennedi Landry tweeted the full, up-to-date list on Friday.
Interestingly enough, 2020 first-rounder Justin Foscue has been left off of the NRI list, as Landry points out.
Foscue has yet to play in a professional game, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to give the former Mississippi State Bulldog some much needed experience and at-bats.
A familiar face in Matt Bush reappears on the list after recovering from a right UCL injury, followed by a second UCL injury resulting in Tommy John surgery.
Bush had been rehabbing with Frisco and signed a two-year minor league deal with the Rangers after his first surgery.
Former first-rounder Bubba Thompson has also been invited to big league camp this spring.
A multi-sport athlete, Thompson has yet to figure it out in the minor leagues and has dealt with a multitude of injuries that have hindered any kind of success.
His best season was in 2018 with Hickory where he hit .289 with eight home runs, 42 RBIs and 32 stolen bases over 84 games.
He’ll have a chance to get healthy and leave a positive impression on Chris Woodward and the big league staff this spring.
He is projected to be the starting center fielder at Frisco this season.
Most of these guys will not make the Texas Rangers roster out of spring training, but a few have a shot.
We noted earlier in the offseason that journeyman Charlie Culberson will have a shot to win third base out of camp.
Another player to watch will be former Oakland A’s top prospect Jharel Cotton.
Cotton has appeared in 29 major league games and sports a 4.95 ERA.
His rookie season in 2016 has been his most productive season, going 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA over 29.1 innings.
Lastly, veteran catcher Drew Butera could make the Opening Day roster as a backup catcher.
Former battery mate with new GM Chris Young, Butera brings quality pitch framing and a veteran presence to guide Jose Trevino and Sam Huff.
Butera has spent the last three season with the Rockies after four strong years and a World Series championship with Kansas City.
Out of the NRIs, there are three pitchers that could see big league time during the 2021 season.
Jake Latz is the first player on the NRI list that could get called up during the 2021 season.
The 6’2 lefty will be given a chance to showcase himself with the possibility of seeing bullpen time or a spot starter later in the season.
Latz was the first player we covered in our prospect series, and you can read more on him here.
The second is another relatively unknown prospect and converted second baseman Fernery Ozuna.
The former D’Backs farmhand was picked up by the Texas Rangers two seasons ago and quickly took to pitching, touching triple digits at times.
Lastly is another hard-throwing right hander in Alex Speas.
Speas was a second round pick by the Texas Rangers in 2016, but battled Tommy John surgery early in his minor league career.
In this particular case, the Tommy John surgery helped Speas as he saw a huge uptick in velocity, also touching 102 mph.
He was Rule 5 eligible this offseason, but was not selected because he has battled control issues the last few seasons.
All three of these young pitchers could see time at Globe Life Field this season, but they will likely begin the year at Hickory or Frisco.
Only time will tell who pans out and who won’t, but every year has its surprises during Spring Training.
Danny Santana was a product of a really good Spring Training and became the Texas Rangers Player of the Year in 2019.
Who could this year’s Danny Santana be? We might find out very soon.