There will be plenty of former Missoula Osprey players for baseball fans to follow as Spring Training gets started in both Arizona and Florida later this month.
A total of 27 former Osprey will be in Major League camps as early as mid-February, looking to earn a 25-man roster spot, keep the one they have or open enough eyes to be in the front of a General Manager's mind when the time comes to promote a player. Fifteen of those former O's are currently on 40-man rosters, spread over eight Major League teams.
The bulk of players with Missoula ties will be in the parent club's camp in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks will have 11 former Osprey in Spring Training. Six of them are on the club's 40-man roster - pitchers Bryan Shaw (2008 Osprey) and Yonata Ortega (2007), catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03), first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (2009) and Lyle Overbay (1999), and outfielder Gerardo Parra (2006).
Former Osprey who have been invited to Spring Training who are not on the 40-man roster include pitcher Charles Brewer (2009), catcher Rossmel Perez (2007), infielders Chris Owings (2009) and Rusty Ryal (2005), and outfielder Adam Eaton (2010).
The Colorado Rockies - who are also at the Salt River complex where the D-backs host their Spring Training - will have three former Osprey in camp. Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (1999) is on the way back from Tommy John surgery, while outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (2003) looks to regain his 2010 form and be an MVP candidate once again. Also in camp as a non-roster invitee is catcher Wilkin Castillo (2004), who spent last season in the Atlanta Braves' organization.
There will also be three players in Major League camp for the Oakland A's, and all three are pitchers. Right-handed starter Jarrod Parker (2007) could contend not only for a roster spot, but for a rotation spot as well. Left-hander Jordan Norberto (2006) will vie for a spot in the bullpen, as will non-roster invitee, right-hander Evan Scribner (2007).
Two other pitchers from the last Osprey squad to win a Pioneer League title are non-roster invitees to Spring Training for clubs who train in Arizona. Hector Ambriz (Cleveland) and Clay Zavada (Cincinnati) will be in the same facility to boot, in Goodyear, Ariz., as they try to work their way back to a Major League roster. Both were on the Missoula staff in 2006, the last time the Osprey took home the hardware.
Meanwhile, in Florida, there will be several former Osprey who will be looking to battle for roster spots on six different clubs.
Six of those nine players are on 40-man rosters, including Detroit Tigers pitchers Jose Valverde (2000) and Daniel Schlereth (2008). Valverde is coming off of a 49-save season in 2011, while Schlereth continues to improve and looks to lock down a spot in the Tigers' bullpen.
Two other pitchers will look to secure spots in bullpens - Sergio Santos (2003) made his conversion complete from infielder to pitcher last season, when he became the closer for the Chicago White Sox. Santos was a free agent, and signed a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays during the off-season, and looks to be their closer in 2011. Also in Blue Jays camp is Jerry Gil (2000), another former Osprey who is trying to make the transition from infielder to pitcher.
Esmerling Vasquez (2004) will start the 2012 season in Spring Training with the Minnesota Twins. Vasquez made his Major League debut with the D-backs in 2010.
There are also three former Osprey position players whom are headed to Major League Spring Training camps, including utility man Emilio Bonifacio (2003) with Miami, infielder Pedro Ciriaco (2005) with Boston, and outfielder Scott Hairston (2001) with the New York Mets.
The Osprey will open the 2012 season on June 18 in Billings, and open the home schedule on June 22 against Great Falls. Season tickets are available now at the MSO Hub Box Office, located at 140 North Higgins in Downtown Missoula, online at MissoulaOsprey.com and by phone (406) 543-3300.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.