All five National League West clubs have announced their non-roster spring training invitees. The lists are made up of equal parts familiar names, ranging from highly rated prospects to former effective big-league regulars and organizational guys, some of whom will get their lone shot to impress their team's brass enough to get a long look before the start of the 2014 season.
Here are just a few of the many familiar faces and up-and-comers to watch for from the NL West during Cactus League play over the next couple of months.
Familiar face: Daniel Hudson. Arizona will give Hudson a chance to show he can rebound from Tommy John surgery, which prematurely ended his 2012 season and cost him all of 2013. Hudson was one of the D-Backs' best pitchers in 2011, finishing with a 3.49 ERA in 222 innings while walking only two batters per nine innings. That followed an impressive rookie campaign in which Hudson won seven of his eight decisions and posted a 1.69 ERA after being acquired by the D-Backs from the White Sox in a midseason trade.
Keep an eye on: Archie Bradley. MLB.com's No. 5 overall prospect for 2014 is a serious candidate to crack Arizona's rotation out of spring training, general manager Kevin Towers told ArizonaSports.com's Vince Marotta last month. And for good reason; the 21-year-old right-hander struck out 162 batters in 152 innings while posting a 1.84 ERA at age-appropriate levels in 2013. Both Bradley and Hudson will be candidates to earn a spot in a rotation that could prove to be surprisingly deep.
Familiar face: Chone Figgins. In his last three big-league seasons, Figgins hit .227/.302/.283 in more than 1,200 plate appearances and was the subject of a chorus of boos from Mariners fans on a nightly basis. The 11-year veteran isn't getting any younger, so expecting a ton of production out of him is probably foolish. But now that the Dodgers know for sure that they won't have the services of recently retired Michael Young, infield depth -- particularly at third base -- is a team need. If Figgins somehow has a good showing in spring training, he might have a shot to crack the big-league club as an end-of-bench depth option.
Keep an eye on: Joc Pederson. With highly paid veterans such as Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford -- as well as a sophomore sensation by the name of Yasiel Puig -- manning the Dodgers' outfield, Pederson probably isn't going to make the cut out of camp. However, as the season wears on, other large market teams might find themselves in need of a bat and could come calling to the Dodgers, who might find themselves in the rare position of being buyers and sellers due to their current roster construction. Having a guy in the pipeline who enters the season ranked No. 36 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list and hit .278/.381/.497 as a 21-year-old in Double-A last year would make such a move possible.
Familiar face: Dan Runzler. The 28-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment in September after struggling at Triple-A Fresno last season. The Giants brought him back on a minor league deal, perhaps hoping to recapture the success Runzler had in 2010, when he posted a 3.03 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 32⅔ innings for the eventual World Series champions.
Keep an eye on: J.C. Gutierrez. Unlike the previous two players in this category, Gutierrez has been around for a while. However, the 30-year-old right-hander has flown under the radar in the majors despite boasting a decent strikeout rate and solid numbers against right-handed hitters. San Francisco's bullpen isn't projected to be very good, so the chances of a guy like Gutierrez cracking the roster don't look too shabby.
Familiar face: Xavier Nady. San Diego's second-round pick in 2000 is back in the organization after spending seven big-league seasons with seven different teams since being traded away following the 2005 campaign. He didn't play in the majors last year but hit .296/.360/.456 for the Royals' and Rockies' Triple-A squads. He faces an uphill battle in terms of cracking the Padres' roster; they currently have six outfielders -- Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Cameron Maybin and Kyle Blanks -- slated to make the big-league club, although several of those have dealt with numerous injury issues in recent seasons.
Keep an eye on: Leonel Campos. He's 26 years old and has registered only 30⅔ innings above A-ball, but Campos struck out batters at an eye-popping rate -- 14.2 per nine innings -- during his full-season debut in 2013 and could force the Padres to give him a long, hard look with a solid spring against better competition.
Familiar face: Michael McKenry. The man known as "Quadzilla" is back with the Rockies, with whom he made his big-league debut in 2010, after spending the last three seasons with the Pirates. McKenry was non-tendered following the 2013 campaign after slumping to a .217/.262/.348 line in backup duty. However, the 28-year-old backstop is only a year removed from a 109 OPS+ and could challenge for Colorado's backup catcher spot, which is currently held by light-hitting former utility infielder Jordan Pacheco.
Keep an eye on: Eddie Butler. Butler rapidly ascended through the Rockies' system in 2013, finishing at Double-A Tulsa after beginning the year in Low-A. In his first full professional season, Butler posted a 1.80 ERA and struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings across three stops and shot up to No. 41 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list. He possesses multiple offerings that are considered to be above-average or better, including a filthy change-up that baffled Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts at the 2013 Futures Game. Butler isn't going to break camp with the Rockies, but a midseason promotion to bolster what appears to be a below-average rotation is certainly possible.