The Colorado Rockies' spring training officially gets under way on Monday, Feb. 14. We'll take a look at each position as the week goes on, but let's first look at who among the list of non-roster invitees is more than just a warm body in camp for depth purposes. RockiesRoster.com has a complete list of the 24 NRIs.
Jason Giambi has the best chance of any of the guys to break camp with the team. He's been with the team since Sept. 2009 and has provided that "veteran leadership" teams like as well as being a good "clubhouse guy." If the Rockies decide they need to only carry four regular outfielders because Ty Wigginton can act as the emergency fifth outfielder, then Giambi will have spot on the roster as a pinch-hitter/bench player.
A trio of prospects will get a chance to prove their mettle in spring training. Outfielder Charlie Blackmon and left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich and Rex Brothers each received an invitation to big league camp. None of the three is expected to make the roster out of camp, but they all could see Coors Field later this season.
Blackmon, drafted in 2008, played in Double-A Tulsa in 2010, hitting .297/.360/.484 with 11 home runs despite missing the first two months of the season. Friedrich, the team's first round selection in 2008, played in Double-A Tulsa last season as well, but suffered a strained muscle that shut him down midway through August. Brothers has electrified many with his performance out of the bullpen, throwing a mid-90s fastball. With an impressive enough spring, he likely has the best chance to be on the Rockies' Opening Day team. However, the safer course of action would be to have him start the season with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox, where Blackmon and Friedrich will start their seasons.
Joe Crede, a third baseman who previously played for the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins, will be in the mix for a spot on the bench. He last played in the majors in 2009 and then missed all of 2010 to recover from back surgery. He is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster.
Like Crede, Alfredo Amezaga missed the 2010 season due to injury recovery (microfracture surgery). He will attempt to take the utility slot from front-runner Jonathan Herrera.
While Chris Iannetta is the starting catcher, his backup is unsettled. Jose Morales is the favorite, though he will fend off challenges from Michael McKenry and NRIs Chad Moeller and Matt Pagnozzi. Wilin Rosario will also be in camp with the Rockies, but his timetable has been altered slightly after he suffered an injury in July that cost him the rest of the 2010 season.
Other pitchers such as Billy Buckner Alan Johnson, Chris Sampson, Eric Stults and Claudio Vargas could turn into useful minor league depth.
Coming Monday, a full preview of the catchers.