Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer are Among Non-Roster Spring Training Invites for Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t announced their list of non-roster invites to Spring Training yet because the list is still incomplete, but Pirates Prospects has learned the names of those players who have already received invitations.

Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, Tyler Eppler, Yeudy Garcia, Alex McRae, Erich Weiss, Eric Wood, Casey Sadler, Christian Kelley, Montana DuRapau, John Stilson and Bo Schultz have all been confirmed as receiving invites to Spring Training. Newman, Eppler, Weiss, Wood, Sadler and Kelley were all invites last year.

Minor league free agent signings Todd Cunningham and Richard Rodriguez were announced as receiving invites last month, giving you 14 names in addition to the 40 players on the 40-man roster who receive automatic invites. The Pirates still haven’t announced the minor league deals of Sadler, Stilson or Schultz yet, but they are all at the winter mini-camp this week.

Jackson Williams, Tyler Jones, Bralin Jackson and Jin-De Jhang also received minor league deals this off-season and could be invited once their deals are announced. Williams and Jhang were invites last year, but Jhang suffered an elbow injury this winter, so his status is still questionable. Braylin Jackson only has High-A experience, so he may not receive an invite.

Any remaining non-roster invites will depend on the remaining off-season moves that the Pirates make over the next month. You could also possibly see players like Mitch Keller or Cole Tucker get invites, since the Pirates usually bring bigger prospects over for a taste of MLB Spring Training around the same time they reach Double-A.

The invite of Montana DuRapau isn’t a surprise since he has Triple-A experience and you need a lot of pitchers early on in Spring Training. It is however a nice jump for a pitcher who has been in the worst Spring Training role each of the last two years.

He has been a minor league extra the last two years. Those spots are usually saved for non-prospects due to the fact they are only used if needed and will end up not being used more often than they get used. They could be used for one batter or to fill multiple innings, or just sit in the bullpen for 3-4 games in a row if they aren’t needed. Since you want to make sure prospects always get their throwing in each day, they are rarely invited as an extra and if they do go, they get into the game. DuRapau was being used in that mop-up role a lot during the last two seasons, which is usually a bad sign. He has now made the leap to a Major League invite, which is a nice reward for his progress.

  • Of all the invites, Christian Kelley stands out to me as the one with the most to gain out of the experience. With the need for extra catchers in Spring Training and the potential to not have Jhang fully ready to go, Kelley has a great opportunity to learn a lot from the coaches and MLB/upper levels pitchers about calling and managing a game from behind the plate in a short period of time.

  • Thanks for reporting truthful news, and breaking the story first

  • With the weather feeling like a spring day in Pittsburgh today, it’s really got me Jonesing for Spring Training baseball! One of my favorite articles of the spring is Tim’s suggestions for beer and food in and around the Bradenton area. Maybe, just maybe I’ll make a trip down and spend a couple days at Pirate City. Perhaps, Tim can include a list of recommended hotels in the area.

    • After years of wanting to, I have done that a few times lately and Pirate City is golden, especially early morning when the guys are taking infield, hitting, bullpens, etc. As far as the local hotels, I tried it once, but the next time I stayed in Tampa on the Riverwalk – only 45 minutes from Pirate City, and my wife and I enjoyed the Casino at the Hard Rock in Tampa at night.

      This year we are considering Orlando to catch the Bucs/Braves on 03/05 at Champion Field, then to Dunedin on the 7th for the Bucs/BJ’s, Then a few nights in Tampa and 2 days at Pirate City, and possibly McKechnie.

      Just some different options to consider

  • Are these guys more utility guys, or can they be above average at SS & 2b?

    • Definitely more utility oriented at 2b imo. With Newman’s lack of walk and pop gun approach I’m guessing a bullish forecast would be for him to duplicate Mercer’s production.

      Hopefully tucker reached his ceiling because this team needs an influx of high ceiling talent.

      • I think Newman’s hit tool is better than Mercer. Power I would give the edge to Mercer. Speed I would give to Newman. Defensive ability is probably a wash, but maybe the slightest of edge to Newman as he seems a bit more athletic. I’m hearing poor man Walker comps on Kramer. Obviously, Tucker is the high-end guy. Anyone else got anything? I’m just going off scouting reports and video I’ve seen…Love to hear what John, Tim or anyone that has seen these guys live.

        • I’m excited about Tucker. Just have a hunch he breaks the streak of recent prospects and actually meets his ceiling and surprises a lot of people.

    • Newman has the upside of an average starter at shortstop. Kramer has the upside of an average starter at second base.

  • This is not the Kevin Newman article I was hoping for, by the way. But I know Tim will oblige me shortly.

    • He has talked to, and continue to talks to a lot of the players at the mini-camp, so expect articles from the camp for the next few weeks leading up to Spring Training on Feb 14th

      • I know. I saw his tweet saying he was talking to Newman, and there would be an article shortly. As a ranking member of the Kevin Newman Fan Club, I’ve been eagerly awaiting that article since.

        And I’m just giving yinz a hard time.

  • I think the Pirates are not doing well if this is the group they are inviting to Spring training. Other then the Kevins and Garcia and I like DuRapu there is not much there.

  • Considering the Pirates have Newman it seems they could use Cole Tucker in a trade to even out the prospects they get.

    • No…move Newman…Cole is the better prospect

    • Keep them both. There’s no guarantee either works, out, but having them both gives you the best chance. Plus, if they end up being the two best middle infielders out of our prospect group, one of them could always move to second.

      EDIT: To clarify, I’m generalizing about there being no guarantee either works out. My boy Newman is obviously going to work out.

      • If it helps get a better prospect they would have more value in a trade than just increasing the odds one turns out ok.

        • When you are talking about getting one of the top prospects in MLB I don’t think it works that way. It’s more about quality and years of control. And the bar has gone up for top prospects. Thanks to the luxury tax. Ironic.

      • Tucker at SS/Newman at 2B. We keep putzing around with trying to cultivate multiple MI’s as sort of a “musical chairs” exercise. Newman is ready and he needs to play ASAP. Tucker had an excellent year at A+ and made the initial move to AA very smooth. He could be in AAA by May/Jun

        • My point was more about adding them to a trade to get an upgrade. If adding one of those shortstops got the Yankees to include Torres it would be a major upgrade.

          • I’m hoping/thinking the gap between Tucker and Torres isn’t that big. Give it a year.

        • Don’t rule out Kramer at 2nd. Nice power last year in Altoona.

  • It’s always exciting to read about minor league players in the dead of winter. The grass will be green again before you know it.

  • is Jhang injury prone? Seems he is always hurt.

    • The oblique injury last year was his first injury of note. He’s actually never been on the disabled list. We have no word on his winter injury other than it was an elbow issue and they brought him to Pittsburgh to get it checked. Could be just the Pirates being very cautious.

  • Good for Montana. I’ve been rooting for that name for years now.