SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller has never been one to shy away from challenging his best prospects. He made that much clear once again on Thursday, when the club announced its non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training.The list features 24 players, including four highly touted pitching
SAN DIEGO -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller has never been one to shy away from challenging his best prospects. He made that much clear once again on Thursday, when the club announced its non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training.
The list features 24 players, including four highly touted pitching prospects and top middle infielders Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias. In total, eight of San Diego's 14 top prospects will take part in big league camp.
Among the veterans included are shortstop Dusty Coleman and right-handers Tyson Ross and Christopher Young. Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Peoria, Ariz., on Feb. 14, with the first full-squad workout slated for Feb. 19.
"We talk a lot about accelerating the progress of the gifted," Preller said. "Big league Spring Training, for a lot of these [young] guys, is the next part of that process."
Tatis might be the most intriguing inclusion, even though there's almost no chance he will earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. The 19-year-old is believed to be the Padres' long-term answer at shortstop, and he turned heads across the sport last season, setting a franchise record with 21 homers at Class A Fort Wayne before his promotion to Double-A.
Tatis should pair with Urias to form what some believe will be the club's double-play duo of the future. Urias, of course, is a bit further along in his progression. He's in big league camp for the second time, and he has an outside shot at a roster spot. (At the very least, Urias will be looking to impress for a potential midseason callup.)
On the mound, top prospects Cal Quantrill (No. 2), Eric Lauer (No. 8), Joey Lucchesi (No. 9) and Jacob Nix (No. 14) are all with the big league club for the first time. None are likely to contend for a rotation place, however, and with 10 other starters in big league camp, their stay might not last long.
That said, they'll each get to pitch early in camp while innings are still available. Those appearances will be viewed as auditions for a possible midseason callup.
"It's a chance for them to get acclimated to the big league level, show what they can do," Preller said. "Some of those guys in that group have shown they're advanced for Minor League pitchers. We want to challenge them to show that they're Major League pitchers."
As for the veterans -- the ones with a realistic shot of cracking the Opening Day squad -- Coleman finds himself on solid footing. On paper, he's the best available option to win the backup shortstop job.
Ross and Young, meanwhile, are among 10 legitimate contenders for the five available rotation places. Three of those spots are likely to go to Clayton Richard, Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo.
Here's the full list of San Diego's NRIs:
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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.