Rockies announce non-roster invitations

Rockies announce non-roster invitations

DENVER -- Highly regarded Rockies pitching prospects Christian Friedrich and Rex Brothers and outfield prospect Charlie Blackmon are among the 23 non-roster invitees to Major League camp at the team's new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick complex near Scottsdale, Ariz.

Several veteran non-roster players, such as first baseman and pinch-hit threat Jason Giambi, have been announced previously, but the Rockies released the complete list of invitees Tuesday. For many of the younger prospects, it will be their first experience among Major Leaguers and will represent a chance to impress manager Jim Tracy and the Major League staff.

The non-roster invitees will join the 40-man Major League roster at camp. Pitchers and catchers are due to report Monday, with their first workout the following day. The rest of the squad will begin workouts Feb. 22.

Friedrich, a left-handed starter; Brothers, a lefty reliever; and Blackmon, an outfielder, are expected to be listed on MLB.com's list of the top 10 Rockies prospects, to be released in March.

Friedrich, the team's No. 1 pick in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Eastern Kentucky, ranked 50th on the MLB.com Top 50 Prospects list going into 2011. Friedrich battled elbow and back-muscle problems while going 3-6 with a 5.05 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A Tulsa last year, but was invited to the Futures Game during All-Star Weekend.

Brothers, a supplemental first-round choice in 2009 out of Lipscomb University, went 2-3 with seven saves and a 3.15 ERA in 57 games at Class A Modesto and Tulsa. During the Arizona Fall League, Brothers was 1-0 with 16 strikeouts vs. three walks and a 4.09 ERA in nine appearances.

Blackmon, a second-round choice in 2008 out of Georgia Tech, hit .297 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs for Double-A Tulsa and followed that up with a .264 average and .372 on-base percentage in Arizona Fall League play.

Also among organizational players invited is infielder Thomas Field, a 24th-round choice in 2008 who broke through with a .284 batting average and .397 on-base percentage at Modesto last season. Field hit .209 in the Arizona Fall League but made two standout plays as a defensive replacement to help the Scottsdale Scorpions to a 3-2 victory over the Peoria Javelinas in the championship game.

Friedrich and right-hander Andrew Johnston are among homegrown players who haven't appeared in a Major League game and are attending big league camp for the second time. Brothers, Blackmon, Field, right-handed pitchers Alan Johnson and Adam Jorgenson, left-hander Keith Weiser, first baseman Ben Paulsen and outfielder Tim Wheeler will be making their first camp appearances.

Also in camp, expect to see a familiar number on left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales. Due to a miscommunication, it was reported last week that Morales will switch to No. 26 this season. However, he will stay No. 56. Catcher Jose Morales, obtained from the Twins in a trade, will receive 26.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.