Catching prospect Ward among Angels' NRIs

Catching prospect Ward among Angels' NRIs

ANAHEIM -- The Angels' first-round pick in 2015, Taylor Ward, and No. 3-ranked prospect Nate Smith are among the Angels' 20 non-roster invites for Spring Training, the team announced Tuesday.

Ward, a 22-year-old catcher, was drafted 26th overall last June and batted .348/.457/.438 for Rookie-level Orem and Class A Burlington the rest of the summer. Ward ranks fifth in the Angels' system, according to He's still at least a couple years away, but first-round picks are typically invited to the ensuing Spring Training to allow the Major League coaches an up-close look.

Smith, a 24-year-old left-hander, could factor into the Major League staff at some point this season. Smith posted a 2.48 ERA in 17 Double-A starts to begin the 2015 season, then got promoted to Triple-A and struggled to a 7.75 ERA in 36 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Smith is one of eight non-roster pitchers who will initially work out with the Major League club in Tempe, Ariz. Right-handed reliever A.J. Achter (claimed off waivers), left-handed starter Tyler DeLoach (drafted in the 26th round in 2012), lefty reliever Lucas Luetge (signed to a Minor League deal), lefty reliever Greg Mahle (ranked 12th in the Angels' system), right-handed starter Yunesky Maya (Minor League deal), right-handed starter Kyle McGowin (fifth round in 2013) and right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez (Minor League deal) will join Smith.

Ward is among five non-roster catchers, in addition to Juan Graterol (Minor League deal), Stephen McGee (ninth round in 2013), Michael Strentz (amateur free agent in 2014) and Wade Wass (amateur free agent in 2014).

Second baseman/third baseman Sherman Johnson (14th round in 2012), utility infielder Gregorio Petit (Minor League deal) and second baseman Alex Yarbrough (fourth round in 2012) make up the non-roster infielders. Quintin Berry (Minor League deal), Andrew Brown (Minor League deal), Nick Buss (Minor League deal) and Chad Hinshaw (15th round in 2013) make up the outfielders.

Brown, a 31-year-old right-handed hitter, batted .220/.281/.390 in 144 Major League games with the Cardinals, Rockies and Mets from 2011-14. He spent last season playing professionally in Korea, batting .261 with 28 homers and 76 RBIs in 137 games.

Angels pitchers and catchers will have their first workout on Feb. 19, with the rest of the position players joining on Feb. 24. The first Cactus League game is March 2, against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.