On Saturday, the Houston Astros announced their non-roster invites for the 2022 spring training season. Nineteen prospects and a former major leaguer make up the non-40-man names joining major-league spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Infielder Edwin Diaz, a minor-league signee in December, was the first name on the non-roster invite list three months ago. On Saturday, a new addition to the system, outfielder Lewis Brinson, joined the company with five major-league seasons under his belt.
These two are depth at the Triple-A level, that the Astros need with departures, trades and promotions altering the 2021 roster. A similar transaction was Jose Siri’s signing last winter, which ended in a low-cost, high-reward option.
With 20 non-roster invites in the Astros dugout, who are some names to keep an eye on?
There are easily three names that everyone will be monitoring closely this spring — Korey Lee, Pedro Leon and Hunter Brown. But besides those top prospects, there are three players that could be building trade capital or résumés for late-season promotions.
The first is catcher Michael Papierski, who was a member of the Astros’ taxi squad late into the ’21 season and the postseason. The LSU graduate and close friend of Alex Bregman wasn’t added to the 40-man roster for prospection from the major-league Rule 5 Draft earlier this offseason, but with the Draft being unlikely, Papierski has a chance to replace the depth that was traded away in Garrett Stubbs.
The 40-man is filled, but that is a corresponding move to worry about later. This spring, it would behoove the Astros to get game experience with the major-league starters and Papierski, who rehab patients have raved about on assignments at Triple-A Sugar Land.
While a switch-hitter, Papierski slashed .246/.379/.375 in 103 games last season, bordering league averages. Defense and command of the field are what makes Papierski valuable, and if the Rule 5 Draft doesn’t happen, the Astros could be eyeing Papierski for depth or a trade piece by August.