First-rounders earn non-roster invites

First-rounders earn non-roster invites

CHICAGO -- Two potential on-field standouts of the not-too-distant future for the White Sox officially will be on display during the team's first Spring Training in Glendale, Ariz., when pitchers and catchers report for physicals and the opening workout on Sunday, Feb. 15.

That piece of news came on Monday, when the White Sox announced 18 non-roster invitees, which included left-handed pitcher Aaron Poreda and infielder Gordon Beckham. Poreda was the team's top pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, and Beckham was the White Sox first-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Poreda, 22, has the better present chance of this duo to break camp as a Major Leaguer. The hard-throwing southpaw has impressed at every stop made during his two seasons in the organization, with a 2.69 ERA in 39 games overall, along with 166 strikeouts and 177 hits allowed over 207 1/3 innings. Poreda's strong work out of the bullpen during 2008 Arizona Fall League action put him into play for an '09 roster spot.

Although Clayton Richard and Jeff Marquez appear to have the edge for the rotation's final two slots as of Monday, Poreda and fellow first-round pick Lance Broadway (2005) also will be part of the battle. Poreda still could make the team as a reliever, with his fastball clocked in the high 90s, but is clearly targeted for an eventual spot in the starting rotation.

As expressed during a conference call earlier this offseason, Poreda prefers to start but wants to reach the Majors in any way possible.

"I've heard different things from different people," said Poreda of his potential job opportunities. "If I had my preference, I would like to be a starter. But if it's out of the bullpen, I would do whatever I had to do to fulfill my role."

Beckham, 22, hit .394 over 66 at-bats for the Peoria Saguaros during AFL competition. Having had just 58 at-bats for Class A Kannapolis as his sum total of 2008 experience, Beckham probably will begin '09 at Double-A Birmingham.

Catchers Tyler Flowers and Donny Lucey and right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal join fellow White Sox Minor Leaguers Poreda and Beckham as non-roster invitees. Flowers has been signaled out as a key player coming over from Atlanta in the Javier Vazquez trade. MacDougal is owed $2.65 million in 2009, with a $3.75 million team option for 2010, but doesn't figure to challenge for a bullpen spot with the White Sox barring an impressive Cactus League showing.

Hot Stove

Thirteen other players agreed to Minor League deals with the White Sox and received non-roster invites. They are infielders Javier Castillo, Bryan Myrow, Sergio Santos and Eider Torres, catchers Corky Miller and Chris Stewart, outfielders Josh Kroeger and Michael Restovich, right-handed pitchers Ryan Braun, Franklyn German, Brad Salmon and Jon Van Benschoten and left-handed pitcher Randy Williams.

As the roster currently stands, Stewart, Miller and possibly Lucey will compete to earn the backup catcher's job behind A.J. Pierzynski. All three are right-handed hitters, giving them an edge over left-handed-hitting prospect Cole Armstrong, who already is on the 40-man roster with the left-handed-hitting Pierzynski.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.