Rockies, Angels, Cards send spring invites
McMahon, Thaiss, Bader lead way as teams head to Spring Training
By Chris Tripodi / MiLB.com
Ryan McMahon had a down 2016 season, but that won't keep him from joining the Colorado Rockies at Spring Training this season.
McMahon and left-hander Kyle Freeland, whom the team drafted eighth overall in 2014, headline 22 non-roster players Colorado invited to Spring Training. The 22-year-old third baseman was Colorado's No. 6 prospect at the last update, and Freeland was right behind him at No. 7.
After hitting at least .282 with an .860 OPS in his first three professional campaigns, McMahon slumped last season with Double-A Hartford. He hit under .200 in both April and June and finished the year with a .242/.325/.399 line, his worst performance in all three categories as a pro. McMahon recovered in the second half, batting .263/.347/.450 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 49 games -- better numbers, but still down from his first three years.
Freeland split his time between Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, going 11-10 with a 3.89 ERA and a 108-to-44 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 162 innings. The 23-year-old Evansville product tossed 85 2/3 innings in his first two seasons in the Colorado system and increased his workload significantly without regressing statistically after shoulder fatigue and surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow held him to 46 2/3 frames in 2015.
Others prospects receiving invites who were ranked at the end of 2016 include right-hander Ryan Castellani (No. 12), catcher Dom Nunez (No. 13) and left-handers Sam Howard (No. 20) and Harrison Musgrave (No. 25). The rest of the Rockies' camp invites are left-hander Jerry Vasto, right-handers Matt Carasiti, Johendi Jiminian, C.C. Lee and James Farris -- who was just acquired from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Eddie Butler -- catchers Anthony Bemboom, Chris Rabago and Jan Vazquez, outfielders Noel Cuevas, Chris Denorfia, Rosell Herrera and Michael Tauchman and infielders Stephen Cardullo, Daniel Castro, Mark Reynolds and Rafael Ynoa.
The Angels also announced their non-roster invites Thursday, including No. 1 prospect Matt Thaiss and third-ranked farmhand Taylor Ward. Thaiss hit .292/.361/.462 between Rookie-level Orem and Class A Burlington in 2016 after the team selected him 16th overall in the last year's Draft. Ward took a step back with Class A Advanced Inland Empire after an impressive 2015 debut with Orem and Burlington, posting a .249/.323/.337 line in 123 games, down from .348/.457/.438 in 56 games the year before.
Los Angeles invited 24 others to camp as well, including four ranked prospects from MLB.com's last update: middle infielder David Fletcher (No. 8), left-hander Manny Banuelos (No. 19) and right-handers Abel De Los Santos (No. 24) and Jose Valdez (No. 28). Others invited were left-handers John Lamb, Cody Ege and Kevin Grendell, right-handers Osmer Morales, Bud Norris, Drew Gagnon, Justin Miller and Blake Parker, catchers Francisco Arcia, Michael Barash, Jose Briceno, Jack Kruger and Tony Sanchez, infielders Sherman Johnson, Rey Navarro and Matt Williams and outfielders Ramon Flores, Michael Hermosillo, Shane Robinson and Eric Young Jr.
The St. Louis Cardinals will bring three of their top 10 prospects to camp. No. 3 prospect Harrison Bader, No. 4 prospect Jack Flaherty and No. 9 prospect Sandy Alcantara headline a group of 25 non-roster players invited.
A third-round pick in 2015, Bader impressed for Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, as the outfielder slashed .267/.335/.452 with 19 home runs and 13 stolen bases. Flaherty, a right-hander drafted in the first round in 2014, went 5-9 with a 3.56 ERA and 126-to-45 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 134 innings for Class A Advanced Palm Beach. Alcantara, a 21-year-old right-hander, struck out 159 batters in 122 2/3 innings, walking 59 with a 3.96 ERA for Class A Peoria and Palm Beach.
No. 15 Paul DeJong and No. 18 Austin Gomber were invited along with No. 30 Corey Littrell. The rest of St. Louis' invites went to pitchers Kendry Flores, Josh Lucas, Trey Nielsen, Zach Phillips, Daniel Poncedeleon, Arturo Reyes, Rob Rowland, Jordan Schafer and Ryan Sherriff, catchers Eric Fryer, Andrew Knizner, Gabriel Lino, Jeremy Martinez, Dennis Ortega and Alberto Rosario, infielders Wilfredo Tovar and Patrick Wisdom and outfielders Todd Cunningham and Chad Huffman.