DENVER -- Two fast-rising pitching prospects, right-hander Ryan Castellani and lefty Sam Howard, will make their first appearances in Major League camp this spring for the Rockies, who announced their non-roster invitees on Thursday.The group includes veterans Chris Denorfia, a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and Mark Reynolds, who was the Rockies' primary
DENVER -- Two fast-rising pitching prospects, right-hander Ryan Castellani and lefty Sam Howard, will make their first appearances in Major League camp this spring for the Rockies, who announced their non-roster invitees on Thursday.
The group includes veterans Chris Denorfia, a right-handed-hitting outfielder, and Mark Reynolds, who was the Rockies' primary first baseman last year.
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In all, the Rockies invited 22 players, including nine pitchers, to bring the total number to 62. Pitchers and catchers will have their first workout on Feb. 14, and the initial full-squad workout is Feb. 20.
Castellani, who turns 21 on April 1, is a 2014 second-round pick out of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix. He went 7-8 with a 3.81 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings last season at Class A Advanced Modesto against older competition in the California League.
Howard, who turns 24 on March 5, was drafted a round after Castellani out of Georgia Southern. Howard went 9-9 with a 3.35 ERA, and fanned 140 in 156 innings.
In the latest ranking of top 30 Rockies prospects by MLBPipeline.com, Castellani was No. 12 and Howard was 20th.
While non-roster invitations give the Rockies a chance to look at highly touted prospects before the Minor League season, this group also includes players who could help the big squad beginning on Opening Day -- especially pitchers.
Lefty Kyle Freeland, the No. 8 overall pick in 2014, is considered a prime prospect for a spot in the Major League rotation. He was ranked as the Rockies' 7th-best prospect.
It will be Freeland's second Major League camp. A Denver native, Freeland appeared in two games (one start) last spring and posted a 3.52 ERA with four strikeouts and nine hits allowed in 7 2/3 innings before spending the season with Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque (11-10, 3.89 ERA, 108 strikeouts in 162 innings).
Three others who could be close to their Major League debuts are making second camp appearances:
• Left-handed-hitting corner-infield prospect Ryan McMahon, 22, hit .242 with 12 home runs and 75 RBIs at Hartford and appeared in the Arizona Fall League.
• Lefty starter Harrison Musgrave was in big league camp last year, and spent the year at Hartford and Albuquerque (combined 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 25 starts)
• Lefty-hitting outfielder Michael Tauchman hit .286 last year at Albuquerque in his first Triple-A season.
Righty reliever James Farris, obtained from the Cubs on Wednesday for right-hander Eddie Butler, also received an invite.
First baseman outfielder Stephen Cardullo and infielder/outfielder Rafael Ynoa will be in camp this year after making Major League appearances last year.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.