Now that we are in a new year, spring training is right around the corner. The Boston Red Sox made some big moves this offseason but like all teams can never count on what will happen with injuries, player production and other factors that will impact their success in 2017. Although their roster is packed with stars they invite a number of non-roster players to camp each spring. While most end up being warm bodies, they are all worth a look and sometimes end up getting big league time before the year is over. Here is a look at the non-roster invites the Red Sox have lined up so far for this year.
Edgar Olmos, Pitcher: The 26-year old left-hander has minimal major league experience over two seasons (2013 and 2015) with the Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners. In 11 combined games (two starts), he has gone 1-1 with a 5.21 ERA. His major nemesis has been control, as his 6/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 innings is cringe-worthy.
Olmos looked good in 2016, appearing in 42 games as a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate. He posted a 2.88 ERA and struck out 76 batters in 68.2 innings (while walking just 28). Throwing in the low-90s, a strong spring could help him stick with the team in the minors and serve as an intriguing in-season option if needed.
Marcus Walden, Pitcher: The 28-year-old right-hander is about to enter his 10th professional season. Although he has pitched in Triple-A (with 3 different franchises) over the past three seasons he has yet to make the majors. He has had reasonable success during his career, with a combined record of 36-39 and a 3.83 ERA. Once a starter, he has pitched exclusively as a reliever the past two years. His ceiling appears to be organizational depth if he were to make it out of camp.
Dan Butler, Catcher: Entering his eighth year with the organization (he spent 2015 with the Washington Nationals’ minor league system), all but seven 2014 games have been spent in the minors. Now 30, he is not expected to compete for a roster spot but is a valuable presence because of his skills behind the plate and experience with so many of the pitchers, both veterans and youngsters, who will be in camp. He has all the markings of a future manager but is all but already ticketed for another trip to Pawtucket in 2017 because of the superior talent ahead of him on the depth chart.
Jake DePew, Catcher: With a .218 batting average and 16 home runs in seven minor league seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays, his one marketable skill is defense. Having thrown out 42 percent of runners in the past, the 24-year-old is being given a speculative look. He may also be a valuable addition to one of their minor league rosters as someone who knows what they are doing with a pitching staff.
Matt Dominguez, Third Baseman: A former first-round draft choice of the Marlins, he is still just 27 and has played parts of five seasons at the major league level. A right-handed batter, he is best known for his power, which has resulted in 143 home runs in 10 professional seasons, including 21 as recently as 2013 with the Houston Astros.
Dominguez is an established major league player who has been on the Triple-A/majors bubble the past two years after being a starter for the Astros in 2013-14. The Red Sox appear to be precariously thin with major league ready infielder depth and power bats who could step in if any of the projected 25-man roster players were out. He is an intriguing player to watch, who could well see time in Boston before the year is over if he remains with the organization out of spring.
Junior Lake, Outfielder: Another player with big league experience, the right-handed batter has played parts of four seasons with three different teams since 2013. In 659 combined at bats he has hit .235 with 17 home runs, 48 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. However, contact is a major Achilles Heel for him, as he has struck out 218 times and drawn just 35 walks. He is still 26 (soon to be 27), but entering his 11th professional season he should no longer be considered a prospect. At this point he is nothing more than roster filled who might win a spot at Pawtucket if things break just right.
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