Padres major league invites

The San Diego Padres will invite several farmhands to MLB camp during Spring Training, giving many a chance to experience life in the majors. Here is a list of the invites, including those on the 40-man roster who have no big league experience, non-roster invites, and 40-man roster players with big league experience, and with how they stand to benefit:

Kyle Blanks

Blanks will get the majority of playing time as the sole first baseman in camp while Adrian Gonzalez is playing in the World Baseball Classic. After a positive Arizona Fall League (AFL) experience, Blanks has the most to gain by establishing a rapport with the Padres coaches and showing he can compete at the highest level.

Greg Burke

Burke had a phenomenal year in Double-A and followed it up with a solid AFL performance. A right-hander who works down in the zone and has seen his velocity and crispness increase, Burke figures to begin the year in Portland but could see a role in San Diego if he continues to succeed.

Matt Buschmann

A competitor and workaholic, Buschmann will benefit from seeing how things are done at the big league level. Already into charts and studying off-the-field, Buschmann will inevitably pick up a few pointers to bring back to Portland with him.

Matt Bush (40-man roster)

Coming off Tommy John surgery and on the 40-man, Bush's maturity will continue to prosper in major league camp. Whether he gets innings will be based upon his health, but this is a positive step for the former shortstop and could be a springboard for a solid season.

Mitch Canham

The backstop is a natural leader that takes command of the field. Learning from the other pitchers and catchers in camp will be invaluable, especially as he heads to Double-A. Considered a potential catcher of the future, he will be able to develop a rapport with the cast in case his time comes quickly.

Cesar Carrillo (40-man roster)

A year removed from Tommy John, Carrillo is looking towards a year with command. He was on his way to San Diego before the injury and this could be the tonic that sets him back on the path. Being around a staff that throws strikes will rub off on the talented right-hander.

Peter Ciofrone

A big power year from Ciofrone propelled the Padres to re-up him as a six-year free agent. With a solid foundation and great makeup, Ciofrone will learn a lot from being around players who have big league experience – something he can take back to Portland and work on.

Gabe DeHoyos

After a successful 2008 season in Double-A, DeHoyos is in a prime role to help out the big league bullpen, if injury or lack of consistency occurs. Learning the ropes before his name is called will make for an easier transition. Provided he duplicates the previous year, he could see time in San Diego before the end of the season.

Luis Durango (40-man roster)

A new addition to the 40-man, Durango will see tremendous value in working with current Padres. Seeing how hard they work to stay in peak condition could propel him to make the strides necessary to become more proficient defensively and on the base paths.

Ernesto Frieri (40-man roster)

Going into his second big league camp, Frieri continues to grow. He understands that consistency is the separator. That point will be pounded home again when he goes to spring – it could carry over to his season, as a result.

Chad Huffman

Huffman had a down year offensively with San Antonio's park (PETCO Park Light) getting inside his head. Going to big league camp will be a boost to his confidence and the starting point for a rebound season in Portland.

Will Inman

A different arm angle meant less command last year. He has solid stuff with deception and could be a big league performer if his strike throwing improves. Seeing it each day and breathing that life could help him reach his potential.

Mat Latos

From a maturity standpoint, no player will gain as much momentum as Latos. He has terrific stuff and frontline starter potential but also needs to see successful pitchers putting in the work to become as good as they are. This camp could propel him towards stardom by putting his ego in check and allowing to realize others work hard to get where they are.

Jose Lobaton (40-man roster)

The 40-man roster addition will be tutored by those with big league time and get to experience mingling with the pitching staff. The exposure will make him a better overall catcher, as he brings what he learns back to the minors to share the pitching staff he controls, possibly back in Double-A with the addition of Eliezer Alfonzo.

Arturo Lopez

Lopez is a bit of a wildcard. The Padres like his stuff and his slider in particular, but he spent most of last year on loan to Mexico. He could fill a variety of roles but needs to be seen stateside first in order to assure the Padres that he is the prospect they believe. Gaining experience in big league camp will help.

Wilton Lopez (40-man roster)

Hitting camp for the second time, Lopez is still raw in terms of pitching. Learning some of the nuances of the game and pitch sequencing from his peers will go a long way towards the hard-thrower meeting his potential as a late innings bridge.

Edwin Moreno

Moreno took a big hit to his confidence when he blew three straight saves in July and seven of his final 18 chances. He had a great winter leagues and going to the big league side should provide a boost to his confidence. He can be unhittable, at times, and may blossom from this experience.

Colt Morton

Coming off a disappointing campaign, Morton has a chance to reclaim some magic. The catcher was added and deleted from the Padres active roster in 2008 and has a familiarity with the pitching staff. This could allow him to reclaim some of the momentum he had as a big bat off the bench with incredible power and a stable catcher with solid defense.

Jackson Quezada (40-man roster)

Recently added to the 40-man, Quezada had a breakthrough campaign last year. Building upon it with a big league invite will keep his confidence high and allow him to continue to pound the ball low in the zone with authority. He might be two years away but has the talent to help the big league tem in the future.

Nick Schmidt

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Schmidt has yet to pitch much in competitive action. A former first-round pick, the left-hander will get a chance to continue soaking up knowledge he can take back with him to the minors. Just sitting in with other members of the staff and watching will be valuable to his development process.

Others to Watch:

The following 40-man roster players will also be in camp – some with a chance to win a job and all with major league experience:

Matt Antonelli

Antonelli gained experience last year, despite a season of struggles. With great makeup and a solid batting eye, Antonelli has to prove last year was a fluke to reclaim his mantle as a top prospect. Triple-A Portland will be his destination.

Mike Ekstrom

Ekstrom had a bounce-back season after moving to the pen and earned a September call-up. He has to prove he can maintain the consistency at Triple-A before the Padres can consider counting on him for a role in the big league pen.

Josh Geer

If his arm is healthy, Geer has the inside track on the fifth spot in the rotation. He is a strike thrower that hits his spots and works ahead in the count. He also did well in during his time with the Padres late in the season.

Wade LeBlanc

LeBlanc is the only left-hander currently in the mix and his candidacy increases if Geer is not healthy. LeBlanc made significant strides adjusting in the second half of last year but did not do well in a cameo appearance in San Diego. Still, he has a plus changeup, and if his fastball control is better than it was last year, he could find a regular starting gig.

Drew Macias

An excellent defender that can play all three outfield positions, Macias made strides with the bat last year, specifically with pitch selection. He has power and can come off the bench and have quality at-bats or come in as a defensive replacement. His versatility is a plus.

Will Venable

Venable has been a steady progressor through his time in the minors and continues to learn at a rapid pace. A tad older because he started his career late, Venable proved he could hit big league pitching in 28 games a season ago. He has the inside track on the fourth outfielder spot if Kevin Kouzmanoff begins the year on the disabled list.

Non-roster invites:

The following players were signed to minor league deals with an invite to spring training this off-season:

Eliezer Alfonzo

The catcher has big league experience with the San Francisco Giants and has proven he can hit for a solid average along the way. A positive showing could make him first on the list of eligible catchers should injury arise.

Christopher Britton

Armed with a plus fastball and command of his breaking pitch, Britton is an interesting arm that the Padres added. He has more strikeouts than innings pitched in the minors and a 3.83 ERA across 78 appearances in the American League. He could be a frontrunner for the seventh inning role. His weight and conditioning could be an issue.

Chris Burke

A former first-round pick, Burke struggled mightily in 2008 with Arizona, hitting just .194 across 165 at-bats. He has shown doubles power in the past with some speed and is a quality defender at second base and the outfield. He may land a bench spot, especially since the Padres think he is better than the numbers suggest.

Kevin Correia

With a 14-22 record in the majors, Correia has a shot at the fifth spot in the Padres rotation. He has a plus fastball with late life and pitches to contact – features the Padres like. Plus, he has major league experience whereas others vying for the same spot do not have nearly the credentials.

Oneli Perez

Once a Padres farmhand where he was converted from a first baseman to a pitcher, Perez is back with a system he last saw in 2003. Armed with a low-90s fastball and solid slider, Perez uses a three-quarters delivery that makes it tough on righties. He has an outside shot at a bullpen spot but figures to need more seasoning.

Mark Prior

A no-brainer signing by the Padres, Prior will not be healthy enough to compete at the start of the seasn but his upside far outweighs any critics. He has plus stuff across the board and, if healthy, could be a key component in the second half. They are big ifs, but the Padres have to take the chance, especially since he has rehabbed at their facility since last year.

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