Who’s who among 2024 White Sox spring training non-roster invitees

White Sox shortstop Danny Mendick
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire)

Over the previous 13 years I’d been keeping track of White Sox non-roster invitees, the White Sox had never called more than 10 NRIs to the active roster over the course of the season, and 2020 was an outlier in that regard.

Due to the pandemic, teams opened the season with expanded rosters over the first month of the season, along with taxi squads that traveled to provide replacements in case of illness, so there were naturally more opportunities for healthy players to make random appearances when anybody (or any body) was needed.

In years not so compromised by global circumstances, a successful crop of NRIs, combined with typically unsuccessful White Sox MLB product, would results in six or seven players being added to the roster over the course of the season.

Now that we’ve established the context for this metric, it should be sufficiently jarring to inform you that the White Sox used 12 non-roster invitees over the course of the 2023 season. Let’s update the unnecessarily big board so you can see it for yourself.

Given that the White Sox bullpen is accepting all applicants regardless of experience, the 2024 team could make a run at this record during the regular season. My guess is that they’ll come up a few players short, because the 40-man roster contains enough starting pitching options and potential right fielders to alleviate the need for reaching as far as they stretched last season.

That said, enough areas on the depth chart are sparse enough that the White Sox are supplementing their capacity-crowd 40-man with 26 non-roster invitees. These are their stories.

Presumed Opening Day White Sox roster member

Pillar will make a $3 million salary if he makes the 26-man roster, and guys who command that type of salary on a split contract usually only sign with a team that has plans for them. Now that Dominic Fletcher and Zach DeLoach are on board, Pillar fits the fourth outfielder mode by complementing those left-handed bats in right field while covering center when Luis Robert Jr. needs a day. If Detroit starts Tarik Skubal on Opening Day, Pillar could be a tough name to remember on a Sox Machine Sporle quiz years from now.

Baby’s first spring, hitters

All the other young hitters of note are either repeat visitors or already on the 40-man roster, which means they’ll automatically be a part of the big league camp. Elko hit 28 homers and drove in 106 runs acorss three levels, and he’s also well-regarded for his leadership. Although his performance in Birmingham hints at a ceiling (49 strikeouts against three walks over 34 games), this invite is, at the very least, a reward for a job well done last year.

Baby’s first spring, pitchers

It’s a little bit of a surprise that Bush wasn’t an NRI for the Angels last year, given that he came off a strong season for Double-A Rocket City, but the lat strain he suffered during the spring would’ve made it moot. The White Sox made some tweaks to his delivery last year, and they’ll get a long look at the progress he’s made. Cannon was at one point last season the system’s top healthy pitching prospect, but thankfully they’ve added insulation, because he’s still trying to figure out what kind of pitcher he is.

Right-handed pitching depth

Navarro, Padilla and Ramsey all spent time with the White Sox at various points during the 2023 season, and all cleared waivers at various points afterward.

Among the pitchers added from outside the organization, Chavez is the only one whose signing hadn’t been previously leaked, as it was reported shortly after the White Sox issued their press release Thursday. He’s nine days older than Chris Getz, and the White Sox would be his 10th team if he makes the roster. Elder millennials and Immaculate Grid players are rooting for him.

Cousins was one of those random late-blooming Milwaukee success stories, using a successful stint with the Schaumburg Boomers to propel himself back into affiliated ball. He posted 2.70 ERAs with excellent peripherals in part-time action in both 2021 and 2022, but elbow and shoulder injuries took their toll last year. When healthy, he throws his slider more than half the time, and sits 95-96 when he decides to use his fastball. He’s also a Park Ridge native who will probably help the Sox sell more tickets if he makes the team.

Anderson struck out 127 batters over 102⅓ innings with the Angels from 2018 through 2019. Then he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and hasn’t returned to the majors since, spending all of 2023 in the Kansas City organization. Barlow only spent the last two months in KC’s system, as he’d enjoyed two years of low-BABIP, high-leverage success for the Rangers before the wheels came off.

Woodford spent the last four seasons as a sixth starter/swingman with the Cardinals, but a useful run came crashing to a halt with a pair of shoulder issues that limited his availability and effectiveness. He’s a sinker-sweeper pitcher who gets grounders when things are going well. He and Kuhl are the best bets to offer length from this group. Kuhl has a 31-45 record with a 4.98 ERA over seven big-league seasons, but after a rough start to his 2023 with the Nationals, he stepped away from the game to assist his wife in her battle with breast cancer.

Left-handed pitching depth

The White Sox have shown an interest in Ellard more than his draft status would suggest. They signed him for $20,000 out of Liberty University in the eighth round, but this is his second consecutive non-roster invitation, and they also sent him to the Arizona Fall League last season, where he did the best pitching of his pro career. I talked to him about his AFL performance back in November, and I hope he savored his tour of the national parks on his drive back.

Catchers for those pitchers

Robinson is the only new addition, and I wonder how long he’ll be around. He signed with the White Sox back on Dec. 16, after the Sox traded for Max Stassi, but before they acquired Martín Maldonado. The Sox opened themselves to clearing one of their incumbent catchers by designating Pérez for assignment, but he cleared waivers and is still around. Between Pérez, Quero, Hackenberg and Korey Lee, the Sox would seem to have Charlotte and Birmingham taken care of, especially if Michael Turner is still in the mix coming up from Winston-Salem. Robinson had a nice season at Triple-A Louisville, but couldn’t get a second crack at the majors after scuffling in 2022.

Organizational players

As the photo above shows, Mendick was last seen in a White Sox uniform being helped off the field after a collision with Adam Haseley destroyed his knee and cut short what looked like a promising season. He couldn’t pick up where he left off with the Mets, although he returned to Upstate New York and practically replicated his career Triple-A line (.279/.364/.434) with Syracuse (.282/.369/.424). Remillard had a chance to usurp Mendick as the White Sox’s go-to New York native, but the Troy product couldn’t sustain his hot start and bunted every chance he got.

Payton is back after leaving the White Sox organization to sign with the Seibu Lions. It didn’t go well, but maybe he’s richer for the experience. Phillips is a tremendous defender with a bizarre laugh, so he’s well-suited to provide some depth in the event Pillar doesn’t work out, but Ortega‘s left-handedness no longer distinguishes him in the outfield picture.

Show something

It wouldn’t be the end of the world if these guys went 0-for-3 in posting strong springs, but there’d be unique benefits to each. With the bullpen so unsettled, Leasure has an opportunity for high-leverage auditions if he can hit the ground running. An oblique injury interrupted Montgomery‘s spring training before it got started, so a strong, healthy showing this time around would allay concerns about core issues. Chris Getz amassed enough arms allow Nastrini to start the season in Charlotte without issue, but it’d be cool to see the flashes of impact he could provide in the event the punishing environment at Truist Field makes that harder to do when the regular season rolls around.

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asinwreck

Look, if Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver remain banned from MLB for threatening competitive integrity, Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams should join them for all eternity.

Dirt

Sorry, Kenny. I’m going to need to ask you to stay out of White Sox business.

BillyKochFanClub

John

After putting 5 White Sox in his top 100 prospects, I’d wager Keith is a little higher on the Sox’ farm overall than the average compiler of such lists, but it’s still nice to see a respected draft and prospect writer give the Sox credit for improvement.

Matt

Which is pretty much the opposite of how Keith normally ranks the Sox farm

John

Maybe, but when I was on the Athletic, half of the comments on similar lists, both by him and other writers were some variant of, “Why do you hate my team? We have this guy (that I overvalue), that guy (that I overvalue), and this other guy (that I’m a completely ridiculous homer on).”

BenwithVen

The funny thing is that Law has stated Getz was his point of contact when doing these prospect write ups and that Getz shared a lot of his valuations on Sox minor leaguers. lol.

As Cirensica

Interesting

BillyKochFanClub

I agree. I think he’s higher than most and this seems more like a middle of road farm than top 10, but it is definitely encouraging to have a voice that I respect be rank it so high when it was a consensus bottom 3 farm not too long ago.

As Cirensica

Dodgers still somehow in 3rd. It is amazing how well run that organization is. The A’s being last is quite the opposite. That organization used to be good. Those were the days when Billy Beane was calling the shots. I am surprised to see the Tigers so high.

Last edited 11 days ago by As Cirensica
John

Having more money than Scrooge’s money bin sure helps, but you’re right that they deserve a lot of credit for seemingly always having a top 10 farm, despite where they usually draft. The biggest weakness that I can see is Dave Roberts. Just one title despite the talent he’s coached. The Dodgers are the 90’s Braves. If they don’t win this year for any reason other than being decimated by injuries, I’d be surprised if he’s back next year.

upnorthsox

Montgomery suffered an Oblique injury in ST not a back. He tweaked his back in rehab and it’s uncertain he missed any additional time because of it.

James Fegan

I meant to say it on the podcast, but Getz is 1-for-1 against Chavez all-time. He split the outfielders with a short liner to the left-center gap, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a hustle double. Josh Fields struck out after him to end the inning, and the seventh ended with the Sox still clinging to a 3-1 lead.

The missed opportunity would loom large when Octavio Dotel gave up a solo shot to Eric Hinske in the eighth, and Bobby Jenks went from two outs and bases empty in the ninth, to homer, double, go-ahead RBI single for an eventual 4-3 home loss to the Pirates.

If someone out there was hoping the NRI list would allow them to get annoyed about a loss from 2009, here you go.

Dirt

Sox Machine – Come for the fun, stay for James’ in-depth recap from a 15 year old game.

As Cirensica

That sounds like a game played in 2023

Drdoctor

If someone out there was hoping the NRI list would allow them to get annoyed about a loss from 2009, here you go.

I was! And I appreciate it!!

vanillablue

If someone out there was hoping the NRI list would allow them to get annoyed about a loss from 2009, here you go.

I think you’re new around here, James, so trust me on this one: we can and will get annoyed about anything Sox related.

Dirt

It’s in our DNA. It’s the way it is, the way it was, and the way it shall always be forevermore

Holland23

Soxmachine: “we remember all the loses, so you don’t have to”

As Cirensica

I will never forget when Robin Ventura lost a game (he lost it) that the White Sox entered the 9th inning up by 6 runs against the Royals. And we lost. I went to bed with a headache.

If you want to reminisce:

GrinnellSteve

I was coming back from a high school baseball game, and I almost drove off the road I was so angry.

FishSox

Ahh, the ole Eibner era….

Pointerbabe

I wish Danny Mendick lots of luck this season. I was sitting nearby when he got Haseleyed and the sound was unforgettable.

Joliet Orange Sox

That Brett Phillips video should come with a warning along the lines of “Contains content some viewers may find disturbing.”

katiesphil

I would think simply a TV-MA rating due to depictions of drug use.