Non-Roster Invites Preview : Pitchers

The Angels will be sending 11 extra pitchers to the big league club during Spring Training, with some having the opportunity at making their way on to the regular roster by Opening Day. Here is a full preview of those 11 pitchers, and what to expect.

When the Angels announced their non-roster invites, no surprises came in the 11 pitchers being shipped to big league camp. All but three are new to the Halos organization as of the final game of the 2016 season, with some being brought in to potentially resurrect their careers while adding depth to the system.

Below are quick notes on all 11 pitchers with Spring Training invitations, with notes as to where they should land over the course of the 2017 season.

  • Manny Banuelos, LHP

Once recognized as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, a pair of elbow injuries limited the 25-year-old to just over 200 innings since 2013. The injuries also cost a major part of Banuelos' development, and halted his potentially high-rising career. His fastball velocity dropped, which forced him to improve his other offerings. The Yankees sent him to the Braves, where he saw just 26.1 Major League innings and a 5.13 ERA. The Braves waived the southpaw and released him after clearing, which became the Angels' benefit, signing him to a minor-league deal in August.

Though he didn't throw any pitches in the Angels' organization in 2016 - due to elbow soreness - the Halos saw him as one of their multiple options to fill the back end of the rotation and provide depth for what has been an ailing starting pitching core. There's still a chance Banuelos breaks through and retains his prospect status as either a swing-man or back end starter. It's likely he'll begin the year in Triple-A Salt Lake, and continue his development, with hopes he can help in the future.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Starter in Triple-A

  • John Lamb, LHP

Another former top prospect from the Royals and Reds organization, Lamb has battled similar issues to Banuelos. Another victim of Tommy John surgery in 2011, innings and development have limited the 26-year-old. With the ability to throw in the low-to-mid 90's, he had the makings of a true star in the early stages of his career. Throwing strikes was a problem, and poor patterns led to his falter of top prospect, to just another hard-throwing guy in the Reds system.

Never being able to crack the rotation in Kansas City, a trade for Johnny Cueto opened the door for Lamb, who was able to put together 119 innings with the Reds, including 14 starts in 2017. The statistics didn't come in a friendly manner for the southpaw, seeing a 6.17 ERA. With an opportunity again to break the rotation, it's likely the Angels will take the safe route with Lamb, and place him in their Triple-A rotation to continue development as a starter and get him ready for a role in the future - very similar to Banuelos - with a hard-throwing lefty relief option as the fall back.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Starter in Triple-A

  • Osmer Morales, RHP

Sometimes teams just hit on the right minor-league free agents. Morales will be 24-years-old through the 2017 season, and yet to see any time beyond High-A. Mixing time between relief and the rotation, it seems Morales is best suited in short stints despite success in his short time as a starter. Over seven minor league seasons, Morales has a 2.96 ERA, while striking out 10.2 per-nine and walking just 2.4. Equipped with a low 90's fastball and pair of quality off-speed offerings, Morales could be a quality strikeout arm in relief, but it will take some time.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Swing-man in Double-A

  • Bud Norris, RHP

The most well-regarded non-roster invite, Norris has had a decent career in the Majors. Collecting over 1,000 innings at the MLB level, Norris has always been a high-quality innings eater in the middle to back of rotation arm through the entirety of his career. The Angels were willing to take a chance on Norris, giving him a minor-league deal, with $1.75 million and incentives if he cracks the rotation.

Still among the top 25% of regular starters in fastball velocity, Norris has not been the same pitcher he was in the early stages of his career, holding a 4.91 ERA and 3.3 walks-per-nine rate since 2014. However, his best work came with the Astros in the AL West, where he holds a 3.49 division ERA. In his career against the Angels, he's 4-0 with a 0.43 ERA. The batter he's faced most in his career in Albert Pujols, who he's only allowed to go 8-for-43 with no home runs.

2017 Expected Starting Point: MLB Rotation, MLB Bullpen, or Free Agent

  • Abel De Los Santos, RHP

A two-pitch artist, De Los Santos came to the Angels in one of multiple waiver claims from the Reds. Despite allowing eight runs in seven MLB games, the expectations are still relatively high on the 24-year-old becoming a quality reliever at the highest level. In a seven-year minor league career, De Los Santos has struck out over a batter per inning, while walking near two-per-nine, and holding down a 3.31 ERA.

Mixing a low-to-mid 90's fastball with solid command, and a hammer curve utilized in two-strike counts, De Los Santos should be a strong asset in the minors for the Angels. Development will be the key, trying to make his slider or changeup an offering worthy of using at the Major League level, helping him become more crafty. Give it time, but De Los Santos could be a nice asset down the road.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Double-A or Triple-A Bullpen

  • Cody Ege, LHP

Returning to the Angels organization is Cody Ege on a minor-league deal. It truly is, "what you see is what you get," when it comes to the 25-year-old. A waiver claim in August, Ege was stellar as a lefty specialist, keeping left-handed hitters to a .208 average and .417 OPS, allowing just one run in 8.2 innings with the Angels. Ege was non-tendered in November, and granted free agency soon after. The Angels brought him back on a minor-league deal, and are hoping to use the sidearm lefty in key moments, using him as depth at the LOOGY position.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Triple-A Bullpen

  • Drew Gagnon, RHP

In a trade that brought Martin Maldonado to Anaheim, and sent Jett Bandy to Milwaukee, Gagnon fell under the "throw in" category. A swing-man in his minor-league career, the 26-year-old has repeated Triple-A over the last two seasons, and it may be the same case again in 2017. Whether he was the piece that simply completed the trade, or was someone of interest of the Angels is yet to be seen or heard of, but regardless, he'll be in Tempe come Spring.

Working in the low-to-mid 90's with his fastball, he's a two-weapon man. His changeup is regarded as his best offering, with his off-speed pitch being nothing above fringe. It's believed he'll be used as a starter in the Angels organization, so the innings may allow him to continue the progress of his slider, and fixate the command of his fastball to flawless levels.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Double-A or Triple-A Rotation; Swingman

  • Kevin Grendell, LHP

The buzz around Kevin Grendell isn't just noise, he's the real deal. Between some struggles in his early career, Grendell came to the Angels on a minor-league deal and has done nothing but produce. Maneuvering between both Single-A affiliates to Double-A in 2016, the 23-year-old held bats to a .170 average, striking out nearly 14-per-nine, and seeing a 2.64 ERA. The numbers are only promoted by his pure stuff.

A lefty who works in the mid 90's regularly, Grendell is as nasty as it gets in the Angels' system. Working from a three/quarter angle, the balls jumps out of his hand on left-handed hitters. He backs his fastball up with a big looping curve from the same angle, dropping from 93-96 all the way to the mid 70's, making guys look silly. The relief crop in the Halos system is decent, and once Grendell throws strikes consistently, he'll benear making a Major League impact.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Double-A or Triple-A Bullpen

  • Justin Miller, RHP

One of the first arms brought in over the off-season, Miller adds needed depth to the bullpen. His career has been lack luster, but has showed short stints of brilliance at the Major League level. Most promising was his 2015 campaign with the Rockies, where he posted a 115 ERA+ and struck out over 10-per-nine. If anything, he adds depth and should be ready if needed in the bullpen. Nothing more, nothing less.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Triple-A Bullpen

  • Blake Parker, RHP

The wheels on the bus go round-and-round, round-and-round, round-and-round. Blake Parker's off-season has been like the child's bus sing along. Beginning in August, Parker was DFA'd by Seattle and claimed by the Yankees. In October, DFA'd, claimed by the Angels. In November, DFA'd, claimed by the Brewers. In December, flip-flop. It's been a whirlwind for Parker, but it seems the Angels have finally been able to attain him, after he was DFA'd (again), and cleared waivers finally. At least teams have a desire to put this guy on their 40-man, right?

In his four-year career, Parker has a combined 3.87 ERA and 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine rate. He's beyond his best years, when he a 2.72 ERA and 143 ERA+ with the Cubs in 2013. The 31-year-old is another depth piece, and should be an asset at some point during the season. For his sake, let's hope he's not DFA'd again.

2017 Expected Starting Point: Triple-A Bullpen

  • Jose Valdez, RHP

The Angels saw something in Valdez they liked, and bought his contract from the Tigers in June. Though the designated him for assignment and he cleared, he's still a valuable depth piece in the Angels' eyes. In continued struggles to throw strikes, Salt Lake pitching coach, Erik Bennett, took a mixture of complex deliveries and turned it into one. The strikes came at no expense to Valdez's high 90's fastball, and the results showed - two runs in 26 innings.

The Major League results weren't stellar, as Valdez still had his ERA above four in 23.1 innings, so there's still work to be done. There's no argument though, that Valdez is another strong depth addition for the Angels, and he easily could be used over the course of the 2017. season

2017 Expected Starting Point: MLB or Triple-A Bullpen


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