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Who's who among White Sox non-roster spring training invitees in 2015

Carlos Rodon headlines the list of prospects, while Geovany Soto is overqualified for the list of veterans

"Discreet adult services!"
"Discreet adult services!"

Given the White Sox's problems with depth last season, it's a little surprising that only one non-roster invitee cracked the 25-man roster at any point.

Consider it trading quantity for quality, because that one player is Zach Putnam. He posted a 1.98 ERA over 49 games and figures to be a big part of the 2015 bullpen, so he made the most of his climb.

Besides Putnam, Chris Bassitt, Scott Snodgress and Andy Wilkins logged service time as September call-ups, but there are usually at least a couple more players from the non-prospect portion of the list when stacking up the Class of 2014 against previous seasons:

  • 2013: Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien, Jake Petricka, Ramon Troncoso, David Purcey, Bryan Anderson.
  • 2012: Brian Bruney, Leyson Septimo, Eric Stults, Hector Gimenez, Ray Olmedo, Jordan Danks, Brian Omogrosso
  • 2011: Bruney, Donny Lucy, Jeff Gray (and his journal), Josh Kinney, Shane Lindsay, Dallas McPherson
  • 2010: Donny, Erick Threets

The White Sox finally announced this year's class of two dozen hopefuls, so let's break them down the way we usually do.

Give me back my arm!
  • Jesse Crain

While Jesse Crain fled the capsizing S.S. White Sox in 2012, his shoulder went down with the ship, and now he returns to salvage it. Since we last saw him, Crain belonged to the Rays and Astros and didn't throw a major-league pitch for either. The injury that cut his Sox career short required biceps tenodesis surgery after the 2013 season, and subsequent rotator inflammation kept him sidelined him 2014. That doesn't sound like a recipe for upside, and Crain says he hopes to be at full strength by April, so it's hard to lump him in with the "depth" group below, as much as I'd like to.

Baby's first spring
  • Carlos Rodon
  • Tyler Danish
  • Tim Anderson
  • Courtney Hawkins
  • Nolan Sanburn
  • Dan Black

We're all familiar with what's at stake for Rodon early in 2014, but his spring training performance won't change where he starts the season. A strong spring can make Rick Hahn sidestep questions about an Opening Day roster spot, and a dismal one can start a small panic, but that's about it.

There's less riding on Cactus League play for Danish and Anderson, who are there to get their feet wet. Hopefully we can get a couple looks at them on webcasts. Hawkins doesn't quite qualify as appointment viewing due to the swing-and-miss in his game.

Sanburn, acquired by the Sox from Oakland in the Adam Dunn trade, is a 23-year-old selected by the A's in the second round of the 2012 draft. A history of shoulder soreness stunted the start of his career, but after scrapping the starter plan, he adjusted well to the bullpen in his first crack at High-A Stockton last year.

Black is a 27-year-old organizational soldier who is buried on the depth chart at first base and DH.

Right-handed depth
  • Scott Carroll
  • Brad Penny
  • Logan Kensing
  • J.D. Martin
  • Jairo Asencio
  • Arcenio Leon

We've already gone through the whole relationship cycle with Carroll, who is following the Dylan Axelrod further by returning to White Sox spring training after getting a chance to explore opportunities elsewhere.

Penny was a similar depth move at Charlotte, bam ba-lam.

Kensing is a 32-year-old journeyman who has pitched in 135 MLB games with four National League teams, but he's only made one of those appearances since 2009. The limited Pitch f/x data says he throws his slider more than his 93-mph fastball.

Martin, 32, made 24 starts for the Nationals from 2009-10, including one against the Sox in his second season. He allowed just one run over six innings, but Jake Peavy threw a three-hitter, and I was there. He hasn't resurfaced, even after going 16-4 with a 2.75 ERA for Triple-A Durham in 2013. That's probably why he went to pitch in South Korea for Samsung last year.

Asencio, 31, has appeared in 43 games for four big-league teams over four seasons. He probably ran into Martin in the KBO last year while pitching for Kia.

Leon, 28, has never pitched in the big leagues, but he cut down his walk rate from "horrendous" to "so-so" last year.

LOOGY candidates
  • Zach Phillips
  • Joe Savery

Phillips, 28, pitched in 19 games over three seasons with Baltimore and Miami before pitching for my Hiroshima Carp in Japan last season, albeit just in nine games. He had a gaudy strikeout rate during his last stint in Triple-A back in 2013.

Savery was a former first-rounder for the Phillies whose control problems undermined his starter career, and so he's been trying to get by as a lefty reliever since. He has 44 MLB games to his credit, including three games with Oakland last season.

Catchers for those pitchers
  • Geovany Soto
  • George Kottaras

Soto is overqualified for this billing, but he's working on a minor league contract for the time being. Before Soto came aboard, the veteran Kottaras was expected to slug it out with Rob Brantly, Kevan Smith and Adrian Nieto for a chance to back up Tyler Flowers. That looks like a fight for third place now.

New organizational players
  • Andy LaRoche
  • Juan Diaz
  • Tony Campana

After playing with his brother in Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009, Andy LaRoche is back in the same organization as his brother. He was once a top-20 prospect, but outside of a respectable 2009 season with the Pirates, he's never been able to stick. He'll be part of the infield depth at Charlotte, although second base and third base seem to be spoken for.

Diaz, 26, gives Charlotte some backup at shortstop in case the Sox have plans for Tyler Saladino. He's spent the last two full seasons at Triple-A, but his troublesome strike-zone judgment hasn't improved.

Campana, 28, is stuck behind Adam Eaton and J.B. Shuck on the undersized Ohio-born left-handed outfielder depth chart.

Still around, not on the 40-man
  • Jared Mitchell
  • Michael Taylor

The White Sox outrighted Mitchell off the 40-man roster in November, but the Sox can't quite quit him. Taylor reached minor league free agency after being outrighted in October, but he returns with hopes of impressing the Sox again after earning the September call-up that Mitchell didn't last year.

Show something
  • Chris Beck
  • Micah Johnson

If you ignore the lack of strikeouts, Beck is cruising right along since the Sox took him in the second-round of the 2012 draft. He split a successful first full season between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, and his second between Birmingham and Charlotte. So he's in a good spot at 24 years old, especially with the White Sox lacking high-minors pitching depth. That inability to miss bats -- just 5.3 strikeouts per nine innings over his professional career -- is the only thing suppressing enthusiasm.

Johnson impressed during his first spring training last year, building on the excitement of his 84-steal season in 2013 by going 9-for-25 during Cactus League play. A nagging hamstring injury hamstrung him at Charlotte, though, and he's looking at the early shutdown as a reset button.