14 pitchers: Sandy Alcantara, Pedro Echemendia, Chris Ellis, Jack Flaherty, Kendry Flores, Austin Gomber, Mitch Harris, Dakota Hudson, Corey Littrell, Trey Nielsen, Zach Phillips, Daniel Poncedeleon, Jordan Schafer (LHP/OF), Ryan Sherriff
Since three Cardinals pitchers (Carlos Martinez, Seung-Hwan Oh, and Alex Reyes) are expected to pitch in the World Baseball Classic while two others on the 40-man (Zach Duke and Tyler Lyons) will be unavailable for spring training, there will be able opportunities for non-roster pitchers to get experience with the big-league club in exhibition games.
This will likely be the group where a non-roster invitee has the best chance to crack the major-league roster out of spring training. The Cardinals do have quite a few viable bullpen options on their 40-man roster, but if there’s an injury or a pitcher like Matt Bowman or Miguel Socolovich underperforms during the spring, it’s easy to see how a big-league vet such as Zach Phillips or Kendry Flores could make a case for a spot. Former big-league outfielder Jordan Schafer could also push for a spot on the 25-man roster as a dual-threat lefty specialist and fifth outfielder.
The biggest surprise among the Cardinals’ spring invites this year could be righty Dakota Hudson, a first-rounder out of Mississippi State last June. Hudson appears to be on the Michael Wacha track, having posted a 0.96 ERA in eight relief appearances at High A Palm Beach last summer, then going up to Double-A Springfield for two scoreless appearances out of the bullpen during the postseason. It’s possible that he could push for a spot in the Springfield rotation this spring, and a positive showing in big-league spring training games could certainly help his cause.