Five Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Roster

Tyler DumaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Five Non-Roster Invitees Who Could Make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Roster

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    Spring training 2013 is just around the corner.

    With pitchers and catchers reporting to the Cincinnati Reds camp on February 11th, spring training rosters are being finalized.

    15 non-roster invitees will partake in spring training this season. A couple of them have a chance at making this year's Opening Day roster.

    These five players, ranked from least likely to most likely, all have a chance to join the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto as members of the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.

    Let's kick off the list, starting at number five.

5. Ryan LaMarre

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    The Reds have been looking for a left-handed bat to solidify their bench. This offseason, they added Jack Hannahan to help fill that void and Xavier Paul performed well last season when he occupied the role last season.

    Paul was called up in mid-July. He played well in his 55 games with the Reds, slashing .314/.379/.465 with two home runs, five doubles, seven RBI, eight runs scored and four stolen bases.

    Unfortunately for Ryan LaMarre, he doesn't bat left-handed. However, there's no denying that LaMarre will be a part of the Cincinnati Reds organization in the very near future.

    LaMarre has great speed and has exhibited the ability to get on base at a consistent clip (.355 OBP in the minors).

    The 24-year-old has put together a solid .272/.355/.369 slash line in 323 career minor league games between Low-A and Double-A ball.

    In that same time, LaMarre has worked to 162 game averages of eight home runs, 27 doubles, 56 RBI, 98 runs scored and 52 stolen bases.

    Its somewhat troubling that LaMarre's strikeout rate has increased to 24.7 percent in his most recent season at Double-A Pensacola.

    However, his high strikeout rate has yet to take his OBP to an unacceptably low rate and it looks as if he could compete for a spot on the Reds' Opening Day roster.

    For an in-depth look at LaMarre, check out my previous article.

4. Denis Phipps

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    If Denis Phipps weren't right-handed, he'd probably top this list and make the Reds' Opening Day roster.

    The Reds probably won't add another right-handed outfielder to the mix since they already have Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey on the 25-man roster.

    However, in the event of an injury to either of those two players Phipps would certainly be the next in line.

    The 27-year-old outfielder has spent the past seven seasons in the minors and worked to a .262/.321/.406 slash line with 162 game averages of 14 home runs, five triples, 33 doubles, 75 RBI, 83 runs and 18 steals.

    Phipps got a call to the bigs last year and played in eight games. Phipps had only 10 at-bats, but was able to collect three hits including a double and a home run to go along with two RBI.

    Unfortunately for Phipps, there's no current need in Cincinnati for another right-handed hitting outfielder.

    However, given another year in the minors, with another late season call-up Phipps will certainly make the team out of Spring Training in 2014.

3. Wilkin De La Rosa

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    If the Reds are looking to add a lefty reliever to their already solid bullpen, they could look to add from within.

    Wilkin De La Rosa has been a bit of a journeyman, playing for the minor league affiliates of the Yankees, Dodgers and Reds.

    De La Rosa also pitched a season for the Camden Riversharks, an independent team and member of the ALPB.

    Including his time with the Riversharks, De La Rosa has pitched in 181 games. In those 181 games, De La Rosa has pitched 417.1 innings pitched and worked to a 25-18 record with a 3.04 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP and ratios of 8.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and 1.98 K/BB.

    If De La Rosa is able to exhibit any kind of increased control that would lead to a lower walk rate, then he'll have a real chance of making the Reds roster in 2013.

2. Emmanuel Burriss

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    Emmanuel Burriss really only has a chance to make this team because he, like Cesar Izturis, is a switch-hitter with the ability to play multiple positions.

    Burriss played shortstop, second, third and even a handful of games in the outfield during his five-year tenure with the San Francisco Giants (per Baseball-reference.com).

    Burriss will offer a little more speed than Izturis, but that's to be expected when you're comparing a 28-year-old (Burriss) with a soon-to-be 33-year-old (Izturis).

    Like Izturis, Burris will never offer anything in the way of power or a high batting average. But he can offer decent defense and a serviceable bat in the event of an off day for a middle infielder or corner outfielder.

    Burriss will have to out-perform Izturis to make the team.

    Additionally, Burriss will have to beat out Jason Donald this spring as his spot seems to be the only one up for grabs.

1. Cesar Izturis

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    The Reds signed Cesar Izturis to a minor-league deal and invited him to partake in spring training this year.

    Of the 15 players invited to the Reds' complex in Goodyear, Izturis has the best chance to make the trip back to Cincinnati.

    Izturis is a veteran shortstop who, as evidenced by his career statistics, possesses the ability to play both third and second base.

    A 13-year veteran, Izturis is both a former All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner. However, those days seem to be behind Izturis as he was relegated to a backup role last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Washington Nationals.

    Izturis has a career slash line of .255/.294/.323, so don't expect much power from the soon to be 33-year-old infielder.

    Izturis has made his way through the majors with his speed and above average defensive ability.

    His positional flexibility, coupled with the fact that he switch-hits makes him a prime candidate to earn one of the final spots on the Reds' Opening Day roster.

    With the Reds, Izturis would be no more than a bench player who could pinch hit occasionally, or spell Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier on off days.