3 underrated Cubs non-roster invitees to watch at Spring Training
Mesa, Arizona is calling once again for the Chicago Cubs and this year, they're bringing a staggering haul of non-roster invitees to big league camp to show off their skills and potentially compete for a roster spot. Of the 32 players coming in, there are plenty of much-hyped names like Pete Crow-Armstrong and Matt Mervis that are going to be worth watching as fans contemplate their future. Fans will also see a few other familiar faces like David Bote and Sergio Alcantara trying their luck for a bench spot on this year's team.
If you look underneath the big names, however, the Cubs have some intriguing players coming that, while not as likely to make the Opening Day roster, are candidates to show up at Wrigley by year's end. Moreover, some of them are coming off scorching hot performances in outside competitions like the Dominican Winter League.
These players could be key to the Cubs' depth as the year drags on and injuries crop up over time. Here are three names to watch for that could make a statement in Mesa this year.
#3 Nick Burdi
The fact that Nick Burdi received an invitation at all is encouraging for his prospects in Spring Training. Burdi was selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft from the Padres to give the team a potential power arm among their ranks. Fans might remember Burdi as an old enemy back with Pirates where he could dial it up into the triple digits. The rub, of course, is that Burdi hasn't pitched since joining the Padres system due to injuries.
Seeing him invited to Spring Training provides extra hope about his health. The Cubs seem to have confidence in him being well enough to throw which is intriguing considering that arm. His time in the majors has been sporadic, but there was still enough there with that velocity to dream of what he could be as a bullpen piece. If he's finally healthy, it will be intriguing to see what he can do and if any of the arsenal changes he's worked on bear fruit.