DETROIT -- Tigers pitching prospects Casey Mize will get his first taste of Major League camp this Spring Training. So will outfield prospects Daz Cameron, Jake Robson and Daniel Woodrow.On the flip side, former first-round Draft pick James Beckham will get a chance to rekindle his career and compete for
DETROIT -- Tigers pitching prospects Casey Mize will get his first taste of Major League camp this Spring Training. So will outfield prospects Daz Cameron, Jake Robson and Daniel Woodrow.
On the flip side, former first-round Draft pick James Beckham will get a chance to rekindle his career and compete for an infield job in Tigers camp.
The Tigers announced 20 non-roster invites to Spring Training on Tuesday. The list ranges from highly-touted prospects who represent critical cogs in Detroit's future to veterans looking for new opportunities amidst the Tigers' rebuild.
Three members of the organization's top 10 prospects per MLB Pipeline received non-roster invites, led by the top-ranked Mize along with Cameron (eighth) and right-hander Kyle Funkhouser (ninth). Add in Robson (18th) and catcher Jake Rogers (12th), along with 40-man roster spots for right-hander Franklin Perez (third), left fielder Christin Stewart (sixth), shortstop Willi Castro (10th), outfielder Dustin Peterson (11th), pitcher Gregory Soto (14th), second baseman Dawel Lugo (15th), shortstop Sergio Alcantara (21st) and pitchers Matt Hall (23rd) and Spencer Turnbull (30th), and nearly half the top 30 Tigers prospects will be in big league camp with the club.
Non-ranked relief prospects Zac Houston and Paul Voelker, both of whom ended last season providing meaningful innings at Triple-A Toledo, also received non-roster invites. The right-handers could put themselves in position for a callup during the season.
For Mize, the non-roster invitation had been expected ever since Detroit selected the right-hander with the top pick in last year's MLB Draft. The Tigers had invited Alex Faedo, their top selection in 2017, to Major League camp last year under similar circumstances. The club didn't bring in Faedo to compete for an Opening Day roster spot, but to experience how Major League players prepare for a start and for the season. Faedo ended up pitching in a Spring Training game before heading to Minor League camp.
Likewise, though Mize is expected to begin the season at Class A Advanced Lakeland or Double-A Erie, the Tigers want the 21-year-old to get a taste of Major League camp while also allowing him to work with pitching coach Rick Anderson. Unlike Faedo, Mize already has a taste of pro ball before camp, having pitched 13 2/3 innings over five starts last summer between Lakeland and the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
Mize ranks as the top prospect in the Tigers' organization and the No. 18 prospect in baseball overall, according to MLB Pipeline's most recent rankings. The latter ranking could improve when the list is updated this offseason. He ranked second on MLB Pipeline's list of right-handed pitching prospects, released this month, trailing only the Astros' Forrest Whitley.
The Tigers are expected to take their time with Mize as he climbs the organizational ladder, giving him room to develop while the Major League club continues its rebuild. A Major League debut in a regular-season game isn't expected until 2020, though a strong first half in '19 could give Mize a push.
When Mize talked in Detroit during an autograph signing last month, he said he's keeping his goals simple this season.
"Not any destination goals or anything like that," he said. "I think it's just more personal: Just having a long, healthy season that I'm satisfied with. I think that would be my goal."
Cameron, on the other hand, could work his way in the Tigers outfield at some point during the season if the multi-faceted center fielder can carry the momentum he built last season. His 2018 campaign began at Lakeland and ended at Triple-A Toledo. He batted .264 with 25 doubles, nine triples, eight homers, 61 RBIs and a .749 OPS along the way.
Cameron followed that up with an impressive stint in the Arizona Fall League, batting .342 (27-for-79) with three doubles, two triples, a home run, five RBIs and nine stolen bases. Woodrow, too, tore up the AFL, batting .371 (23-for-62) with six RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 13 attempts after splitting the regular season between Lakeland and Erie.
On the other side of the career spectrum is Beckham, who signed a Minor League contract in the past couple of days. Beckham, the eighth overall pick in the 2008 Draft, started at second base for the White Sox from 2009-14, but has bounced around since. He spent the last two years in the Mariners' system, including 33 games in Seattle.
His opportunity for more significant time could come in Lakeland. The Tigers have been looking to add a second baseman for most of the offseason, at least to compete with Niko Goodrum for a starting role and allow more development time for Lugo at Triple-A Toledo.
The Tigers also signed catcher Hector Sanchez this week to a Minor League deal with a non-roster invite. The 29-year-old grew up in Maracay, Venezuela, the same hometown as Jose Cabrera, and served as a backup catcher with the Giants, Padres and White Sox from 2011-17. He joins fellow non-roster invite Bobby Wilson as veteran depth behind Tigers starting catcher Grayson Greiner and John Hicks.
Most of the other non-roster invites had already been reported. Here's the full list:
Pitchers: Jose Cisnero, Louis Coleman, Kyle Funkhouser, Zac Houston, Casey Mize, Eduardo Paredes, Chris Smith, Paul Voelker
Catchers: Brad Policelli, Jake Rogers, Hector Sanchez, Kade Scivicque, Bobby Wilson
Infielders: Gordon Beckham, Harold Castro, Kody Eaves, Pete Kozma
Outfielders: Daz Cameron, Jacob Robson, Danny Woodrow
Spring Training in Lakeland begins with pitchers and catchers holding their first formal workout on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The Tigers' first full-squad workout is Monday, Feb. 18.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.