The Minnesota Twins will have 19 non-roster players at spring training this season (pitchers and catchers report Feb. 19, by the way). In 2020, they brought in 20 and five ended up playing in the regular season, including major contributors like catcher Ryan Jeffers and reliever Caleb Thielbar. Outfielder Alex Kirilloff made his MLB debut in the playoffs. The list of non-roster invites in camp this year includes prospects getting their first taste of the majors and veterans hoping for another chance.
Here’s a look at each of this year’s 19 invitees to Minnesota’s camp.
LHP Andrew Albers
This might be a familiar name to some as Albers made 10 starts for Minnesota in 2013 and returned in 2016, when he tossed 17 innings. After pitching for Seattle briefly in 2017, Albers headed overseas to Japan, where he played for the Orix Buffaloes for three seasons. In 2020, he had a 3.66 ERA, 1.271 WHIP and 6.6 K/9 over 96 innings.
C David Banuelos
A team always needs extra catchers in camp, so why not have one who can play defense. The 24-year-old Banuelos has never played above Single-A and owns a career .208 average in the minors. But he’s also thrown out 42% of attempted base stealers.
LHP Charlie Barnes
A seventh-round pick in 2017, Barnes was a non-roster invite last year as well and spent time at Minnesota’s alternate training site. The 25-year-old spent most of 2019 at Double-A, where he posted a 3.60 ERA, 1.360 WHIP and 8.8 K/9. He also made four Triple-A starts, but didn’t fare well, allowing 15 runs (14 earned) in 18 2/3 innings on 29 hits and 11 walks.
OF Keon Broxton
Broxton has plenty of major-league experience, appearing in 376 games over five seasons with Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, the New York Mets, Baltimore and Seattle. He has some pop in his bat (hitting 20 home runs in 2017 for the Brewers) and can run (back-to-back 20+ steal seasons in 2016-17) but doesn’t get on base much, as his career slash line of .209/.297/.388 attests. Broxton, who played for three teams in 2019 and was at Milwaukee’s alternate training site in 2020, does have a good glove and often has been used as a defensive replacement. He turns 31 in May.
LHP Danny Coulombe
Coulombe was in camp last season as well and made it into two games for the Twins, allowing two hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He’s pitched previously with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland from 2014-15 and sports a career 4.19 ERA, 1.336 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 over 146 innings.
RHP Luke Farrell
The son of former major-league pitcher John Farrell, Luke Farrell has pitched 63 major-league innings with Kansas City, Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs and Texas from 2017-20 and owns a career 5.00 ERA, 1.381 WHIP and 9.7 K/9. He’s been a starting pitcher in the minors but has come out of the bullpen in 39 of his 43 MLB appearances.
C Caleb Hamilton
A 26-year-old former 23rd-round pick by Minnesota, Hamilton hasn’t shown much of a stick in his minor-league career, owning a career .216/.319/.352 slash line. He finally made it to Triple-A in 2019, appearing in 11 games and going 8-for-39. It’s nice to reward organizational players.
RHP Ian Hamilton
Hamilton was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Feb. 5 then designated for assignment on Feb. 12 when the team officially signed Alex Colome. Hamilton was claimed by Philadelphia from Seattle back on Dec. 7 and DFA’d in late January. The Mariners had acquired him after the Chicago White Sox designated him for assignment on Sept. 18. He’s gotten a lot of attention likely because he has a 1.242 WHIP and 10.1 K/9 over 42 2/3 innings – but also a 4.85 ERA, which could also account for his frequent moves. Hamilton, 25, pitched in four innings for the White Sox in 2020, allowing two runs.
RHP Griffin Jax
The third-round pick in 2016 out of the Air Force was in camp last season as well. Jax has steadily climbed up the chain, reaching Triple-A in 2019, where he made three starts, allowing 10 runs (eight earned) in 16 innings. He also made 20 Double-A starts that season with a 2.67 ERA, 1.131 WHIP and 6.6 K/9. Jax, who is 26 years old, has started in 42 of his 47 minor-league appearances.
OF Trevor Larnach
Minnesota’s top pick in 2018 made it to Double-A in 2019, then was in spring camp and at the Twins’ alternate training site in 2020. The former Oregon State star hit .295/.387/.455 in 43 Double-A games in ’19. He’ll be 24 at the end of February and likely doesn’t need much more seasoning. But are there any openings for him in the lineup?
RHP Derek Law
After a good rookie season in 2016 with San Francisco (2.13 ERA, 0.964 WHIP, 8.2 K/9), Law has struggled in the majors since. Pitching for the Giants (2017-18) and Toronto (2019) in the three following seasons, Law has a 5.25 ERA, 1.653 WHIP and 9.2 K/9 in 111 1/3 innings over that span. He’s been strictly a reliever in his career (Law made five starts for the Blue Jays in 2019, but all were as an opener). Law spent 2020 at Texas’ alternate training site but was never recalled.
IF Royce Lewis
The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 struggled at High-A in 2019, batting just .238/.289/376. But in the Arizona Fall League that year he slashed .353/.411/.565 over 95 plate appearances. Minnesota brought Lewis to its alternate training site last year. He’ll turn 22 in June.
IF Tzu-Wei Lin
A native of Taiwan, Lin had been with the Red Sox organization since 2012 when he was 18 years old. He played in 101 games with 218 plate appearances for Boston from 2017-20, slashing .220/.298/.316. Lin has played all over the diamond – even pitching an inning and catching part of an inning – but shortstop and second base have been his primary positions.
RHP Juan Minaya
Minaya signed with Minnesota in January 2020 and was at the alternate training site. He elected free agency in October but re-signed with the Twins on a minor-league deal. Minaya spent 2016-19 with the Chicago White Sox. In 128 career innings he owns a 3.98 ERA, 1.434 WHIP and 10.0 K/9.
OF Rob Refsnyder
Refsnyder is listed an outfielder by the Twins but he’s also played a good amount of games at second base and first base in his five-year MLB career (and one inning at third base for good measure). He’s played for the New York Yankees, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Texas. In 2020, Refsnyder got into 15 games with 34 plate appearances, going 6-for-30. He’s a lifetime .217/.305/.297 hitter over 457 MLB plate appearances.
IF JT Riddle
Minnesota won’t have Marwin Gonzalez in 2021. Might Riddle be his replacement? He’s played every position but pitcher and catcher during his four-year major-league career. However – and stop us if you’ve heard this before – he doesn’t have the best bat. Riddle has slashed just .222/.261/.355 in his career with 19 homers in 787 plate appearances. He hit just .149 in 23 games for Pittsburgh in 2020.
RHP Glenn Sparkman
Sparkman knows the AL Central having spent the past three seasons with Kansas City, where he posted a 5.67 ERA, 1.545 WHIP and 5.5 K/9 in 50 games with 26 starts. The 28-year-old owns a career 3.53 ERA, 1.224 WHIP and 6.1 K/9 in 18 Triple-A game, with 14 starts. If you’re underwhelmed by what you’ve read so far, Sparkman does have good control, allowing 1.8 BB/9 over seven minor-league seasons.
C Tomas Telis
This is Telis’ third straight year in spring camp as a non-roster invite. He also was in Minnesota’s alternate camp last season. Telis, who turns 30 in June, hit .330/.364/.490 in Triple-A in 2019 and has a career .297/.335/.408 slash line in the minors. He’s played in 122 MLB games with Texas and Miami from 2014-18, batting .230/.267/.298. Telis played in the Venezuelan Winter League this past offseason and batted .325/.397/.419 in 32 games.
LHP Brandon Waddell
The Twins claimed Waddell off waivers from Pittsburgh in October, designated him for assignment in February then re-signed him to a minor-league contract with a spring invite. A fifth-round pick in 2015, Waddell worked his way up the Pirates’ system, making his major-league debut last season. He appeared in two games with Pittsburgh, allowing one run in 3 1/3 innings.