When the Giants released their list of non-roster invitees last January, it was a bigger deal than usual. Joey Bart was on it, along with right-hander Sean Hjelle, and those were the guys who got the most attention early in spring training. Bart did end up making his debut during the regular season, and he was far from alone. The Giants had six non-roster invitees on their opening day roster.
Tyler Heineman and Chadwick Tromp were the other two catchers on the initial list, and both saw plenty of big-league time, with Heineman serving as the opening day catcher. Guys like Darin Ruf and Joey Rickard came to camp on non-roster deals and saw playing time. Pablo Sandoval technically was a non-roster invitee.
The Giants usually announce a big group in January and then tack on as spring training approaches, but it's unclear what the process will look like this time around with so much uncertainty about the start of spring training. The Giants did already announce 11 non-roster invitees, though, releasing an initial list in December when they re-signed Tromp. There are some familiar names, along with some newcomers we might see in 2021:
Download and subscribe to the Balk Talk Podcast
Melvin Adon, RHP: The 26-year-old was non-tendered on Dec. 2 but immediately re-signed, and in the process fell behind other hard-throwing relief candidates -- Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos, Kervin Castro -- who now are on the 40-man. Adon once was in their situation. He was a starter early on in the minors and was added to the roster before the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, with the Giants hoping he could get to the big leagues quickly with his triple-digit fastball and hard slider. But Adon struggled in Triple-A in 2019 and wasn't even brought to summer camp, which was a surprise. He recently got injured in winter ball, although the Giants haven't given an update on the severity.
Daniel Alvarez, RHP: The 24-year-old had a 2.31 ERA as a Double-A reliever in 2019, held opponents to a .195 average, and struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings, but in a loaded New York Yankees organization he spent the entire 2020 season at the alternate site. Alvarez has put up solid strikeout numbers in the minors with good command, and in 2019 he had 21 saves.
Anthony Banda, LHP: The Giants acquired Banda, a former top-100 prospect, from the Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline and it seemed he had a shot at debuting down the stretch. They were so deep from the left side that it never happened, but Banda will get a longer look in the spring. The 27-year-old can start or relieve, and with Andrew Suarez now in the KBO, there currently aren't that many lefties high in the system who can provide length, although the front office isn't done shopping. Banda has hit 97 mph in the past and was up to 94 before being DFA'd by the Rays. "It's a lefty who has got a good arm, has got a track record of success, and again, we're hoping with a couple of adjustments he can help us," Farhan Zaidi said when the Giants sent Banda to the alternate site.
Silvino Bracho, RHP: The Giants have seen plenty of Bracho, who made 92 appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks over five seasons, including seven against his new team. Bracho has a 4.82 ERA in the big leagues with 94 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings. He had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and missed the entire season, and he made just one appearance for the Diamondbacks last year. Bracho relies heavily on a 93-94 mph fastball and a good changeup.
Rico Garcia, RHP: The former Colorado Rockies minor leaguer went from non-roster invitee to the opening day roster last year and allowed six runs in 10 innings during the shortened season. Garcia's stuff ticked way up out of the bullpen and he topped out at 98 mph, but his four-seamer was hit hard in a small sample. The Giants had high hopes for Garcia last spring and will take another look.
Jason Krizan, IF/OF: If you're a left-handed hitter who can play multiple positions, San Francisco is a pretty solid landing spot right now. Krizan, 31, signed early in the offseason, although there's no path to a roster spot right now. The Giants already added Jason Vosler, have a crowded outfield, and hope to add one more big left-handed bat, but Krizan -- likely headed for Triple-A -- has a lot of traits that this front office seeks. He has made at least 50 minor league starts in all three outfield spots as well as first and second, and he has a .350 OBP in the minors.
Dominic Leone, RHP: A former Seattle Mariner, Diamondback, Toronto Blue Jay, St. Louis Cardinal and Cleveland Indian, the 29-year-old has more big-league experience than most of the current Giants bullpen combined. In 241 appearances, Leone has a 4.09 ERA and 4.06 FIP, with 9.6 K/9. Leone's best season was 2017, when he had a 2.56 ERA in 65 appearances for the Blue Jays, and while he allowed nine runs in 9 2/3 innings last season, he also struck out 16. The Giants have gone heavy on slider-happy pitchers this offseason, and Leone has a good one that hasn't been hit much the last two seasons. He should enter camp with a decent shot at winning a job in a bullpen lacking right-handed depth.
Sam Long, LHP: If the 25-year-old ends up with the River Cats it'll be a bit of a homecoming. Long is from Fair Oaks and attended Sacramento State before getting drafted by the Rays in 2016. He made 15 starts and 15 relief appearances in High-A for the Chicago White Sox in 2019, posting a 3.06 ERA with 112 strikeouts in 97 innings. Long lacks experience, but he has pitched well at the lower levels of the minors, with a 2.95 ERA and 10.2 K/9.
Yunior Marte, RHP: A 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic, Marte reached Triple-A with the Kansas City Royals in 2019 and then spent last summer at their alternate site. He struck out 72 in 60 1/3 innings in 2019, the highest rate of his minor league career. Marte has had command issues at times, but has a 3.86 ERA as a professional while primarily pitching in relief.
RELATED: Giants sign catcher Curt Casali
Raffi Vizcaino, RHP: Allow me to cheat for a moment here. Vizcaino was included in last year's initial roundup of non-roster invitees and, since nothing changed for most minor leaguers in 2020, here's the blurb from 12 months ago: "Signed out of the Dominican Republic, the (25-year-old) has been in the organization for seven years. Vizcaino pitched well out of the bullpen for San Jose and Richmond last season, although walks have always been an issue."
Sam Wolff, RHP: The right-hander is now part of the story for two lefties well-known to Giants fans. Wolff was the return when Matt Moore was sent to the Rangers in 2017, and last summer he was one of two late additions to camp as the Giants looked for relief help. The other, Caleb Baragar, won an opening day job and might be here to stay. Wolff is still looking to break through, and Kapler mentioned at one point that he was throwing well at the alternate site. Wolff had a 1.78 ERA in Richmond in 2019 with 10.7 strikeouts per nine. He'll turn 30 in April.