The Nationals have invited 18 non-roster players to participate in big-league camp this spring, a list that includes prospects A.J. Cole, Brian Goodwin and Matt Skole.
Cole, Goodwin and Skole are the organization’s second-, third- and fourth-ranked prospects, according to Baseball America. Though none has a reasonable shot at making the Opening Day roster, each will get a chance to play alongside big leaguers and work with new manager Matt Williams and his coaching staff.
Skole, the franchise’s top power-hitting prospect, is in big-league camp for the second straight spring and will be looking to prove he’s 100 percent healthy again after missing nearly the entire 2013 season following Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow. The 24-year-old first baseman figures to open the year at Class AA Harrisburg.
Cole and Goodwin are making their first appearances in big-league camp after strong minor-league seasons. Cole, who was traded to the Athletics in the Dec. 2011 deal for Gio Gonzalez but then was re-acquired in last winter’s three-team trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle, likely will open 2014 at Harrisburg but could move quickly to Class AAA Syracuse.
Goodwin, a late-first-round pick in the 2011 draft, should play at Syracuse this year and could be Denard Span’s successor as the Nationals’ center fielder by 2015.
The 15 others invited to big-league camp include recently signed veterans trying to compete for spots on the Opening Day roster (infielders Jamey Carroll, Mike Fontenot and Brock Peterson; right-handers Clay Hensley, Manny Delcarmen, Chris Young, Daniel Stange and Gabriel Alfaro; and catcher Chris Snyder) as well as those who played for the Nationals in the minors last season (infielders Will Rhymes and Josh Johnson; right-hander Blake Treinin; left-handers Danny Rosenbaum and Tyler Robertson; and catcher Brian Jeroloman).
With a full 40-man roster plus these 18 invited minor leaguers, the Nationals currently have 58 players scheduled to report to camp in Viera in three weeks. Williams has said he would like to have about 60 total players in big-league camp.