Padres extend 18 non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training
Club signs eight minor league free agents to 2015 contracts with invitations to Spring Training
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Padres today announced that they have extended Major League Spring Training invitations to 18 players. Among those 18 players are eight minor league free agents whom the Padres have signed to 2015 contracts, including right-handed pitchers Marcos Mateo, Jay Jackson and Jose Valverde, left-handed pitchers Scott Elbert and Jason Lane, catcher Griff Erickson and infielders Ramiro Pena and Brett Wallace. Executive Vice President/General Manager A.J. Preller made the announcement.
Elbert, 29, enters his 12th season in professional baseball, six of which have been spent at the Major League level. The 6-2, 225 pound southpaw has spent his entire 11-year career with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, signing as a first-round selection (17th overall) in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of Seneca High School (MO). Over parts of six big league seasons, the Joplin, MO, native owns a 4-3 record with a 3.54 ERA and 94 strikeouts vs. 42 walks in 127 games, all out of the bullpen. Since the start of 2011, Elbert owns a 2.30 ERA (18 ER, 70.1 IP) in 97 games, the second-best mark among left-handed Major League relievers with at least 75 appearances in that time. Over parts of 11 seasons in the minors, Elbert owns a career 34-27 record with a 3.53 ERA and 634 strikeouts against 300 walks in 170 games, 96 starts, and was named by Baseball America as a top-100 prospect three times, including 55th pre-2006, 31st pre-2007 and 88th pre-2008.
Erickson, 26, enters his ninth professional season, having spent the previous eight also with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. The 6-4, 220 pound backstop owns a lifetime .254 average with 95 doubles, 11 triples, 42 home runs and 216 RBI in 511 career minor league games. He has been selected to a pair of All-Star teams, including the Single-A California League in 2011 and the Rookie-Level Pioneer League in 2009. The 15th-round draft selection in 2006, Erickson spent the entire 2014 campaign with Triple-A Albuquerque, hitting .297 with 10 doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 29 RBI in 60 games. A native of San Diego, Erickson attended Westview High School and San Diego Mesa College before being drafted by the Dodgers.
Jackson, 27, enters his eighth professional season, having split the 2014 campaign between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers' Triple-A affiliates where he went a combined 5-7 with a 4.93 ERA and 115 strikeouts vs. 52 walks in 31 games, 18 starts. The 6-1, 195 pound right-hander owns a lifetime 43-52 record with a 4.49 ERA and 699 strikeouts vs. 281 walks in 184 games, 125 starts, over parts of seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2008-12), Miami Marlins (2013), Pirates (2014) and Brewers (2014) organizations. A native of Greenville, SC, Jackson has twice been named to an All-Star team during his minor league career: 2009 with Double-A Tennessee (CHC) and 2013 with Double-A Jacksonville (MIA), both of the Southern League.
Lane, 38, enters his 17th season in professional baseball, his third with the Padres organization and his fourth as a pitcher. The 6-2, 225 pound southpaw spent his first 13 professional seasons, including six at the Major League level with the Houston Astros, as an outfielder before making the transition to the mound prior to 2012. A native of Santa Rosa, CA, Lane made his big league debut on the mound for the Padres on June 3 last season and later made his first career start as a pitcher on July 28 at Atlanta, making him one of two pitchers during the expansion era (since 1969) to start his first game as a pitcher after logging more than 1,000 career at-bats prior to the start. In three appearances, one start, for San Diego last year, Lane pitched to a 0-1 record with a 0.87 ERA (1 ER, 10.1 IP) with six strikeouts and no walks. Over the course of his Minor League pitching career, the University of Southern California product has pitched to a 30-20 record with a 4.02 ERA and 275 strikeouts against 74 walks in 98 career appearances.
Mateo, 30, has spent the last seven seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization, including parts of the 2010 season and the entire 2011 campaign with the big league club. The 6-1, 220 pound right-hander spent the entire 2014 season with Triple-A Iowa, where he posted a 3-0 record with a 3.86 ERA (16 ER, 37.1 IP) with 43 strikeouts against 17 walks in 33 games out of the bullpen for the I-Cubs. Originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Cincinnati Reds in 2005, Mateo owns a lifetime 23-21 record with 17 saves, a 3.55 ERA and 414 strikeouts against 182 walks in 241 games over parts of nine minor league seasons, compared to a 1-3 record with a 5.04 ERA and 51 strikeouts against 19 walks in 44 games over parts of two Major League seasons. A native of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, Mateo was named the 2014 Dominican Winter League Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year after he recorded a league-record 21 saves and posted a 1.75 ERA (5 ER, 25.2 IP) with 45 strikeouts against five walks for La Estrellas de Oriente.
Pena, 29, enters his 11th professional season, six of which have been spent at the Major League level, having spent the last two seasons with the Atlanta Braves and the previous eight with the New York Yankees organization. The 5-11, 200 pound switch-hitting infielder hit .245 with six doubles, three home runs, nine RBI and nine runs scored in 81 games for the Braves last season. Over the course of his six Major League seasons, the Monterrey, Mexico, native owns a lifetime .244 batting average with 18 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 53 RBI in 311 games.
Valverde, 36, enters his 17th season in professional baseball, 12 of which have been spent at the Major League level. The 6-4, 265 pound right-hander owns a lifetime 27-33 record with 288 saves, 3.27 ERA and 692 strikeouts against 264 walks in 626 career games, the third-highest save total and ninth-most games of any active big league pitcher. Valverde has received several accolades throughout his career, including three All-Star Game selections (2007, 2010 and 2011), two Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Awards (2007 and 2011) and Major League Baseball's Delivery Man of the Year (2011), an honor that recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher during the regular season. The San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, native appeared in 21 games for the New York Mets last year, going 1-1 with two saves and 23 strikeouts against 10 walks.
Wallace, 28, enters his eighth season in professional baseball, parts of four of which have been spent at the Major League level. The 6-3, 235 pound, left-handed hitting corner infielder split the 2014 season between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays' Triple-A squads, hitting a combined .282 with 17 doubles, 17 home runs, 58 RBI and 62 runs scored in 128 games. Wallace owns a career .242 batting average with 52 doubles, three triples, 29 home runs and 102 RBI in 311 games over parts of four Major League seasons. Over parts of seven minor league seasons, the Arizona State product owns a lifetime .303 batting average with 122 doubles, four triples, 91 home runs and 336 RBI in 589 games for the St. Louis Cardinals (2008-09), Oakland Athletics (2009), Toronto Blue Jays (2010, 2014), Houston Astros (2011-13) and Baltimore Orioles (2014) organizations. Wallace was twice rated by Baseball America as being a top-40 prospect in baseball (No. 40 in 2009, No. 27 in 2010) and was selected to the United States' roster at the 2009 SiriusXM Futures Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The list of non-roster invitees includes five right-handed pitchers, three left-handers, four catchers, four infielders and two outfielders. Seven of the invitees have Major League experience. Additionally, seven of the 18 were either drafted by the Padres or were originally signed as non-drafted free agents by the club.