Schlereth, Dickerson among Bucs' non-roster invitees

Schlereth, Dickerson among Bucs' non-roster invitees

In 2011, it was Jose Veras, the right-handed reliever who led the Pirates with 79 mostly solid appearances.

In 2012, it was Juan Cruz, another righty reliever who joined Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan in an effective end-game bullpen relay.

And last year, the theme continued with Vin Mazzaro, who became one of the most versatile cogs in the Bucs' lockdown bullpen.

All began as non-roster invitees to Spring Training, and in a couple of weeks, the Pirates will comb through 16 such camp guests, hoping to again unearth booty.

A first look at frontrunners to break out of the shadows of Pirate City into the limelight of Pittsburgh:

Daniel Schlereth, LHP: The forgotten part of the December 2009 three-team blockbuster in which he accompanied Max Scherzer from Arizona to Detroit, the 27-year-old former first-round Draft pick has had a checkered big league career, but he continues to put up enticing Minor League numbers -- 1.71 ERA in 101 games, including 0.82 ERA in a dozen appearances for Triple-A Norfolk last year.

Chris Dickerson, OF: At 31 and with only 314 games under his belt, he is joining his fifth big league club, six years after a pretty spectacular debut with the Reds (.304 average and 1.021 OPS in 2008). He is an extremely confident left-handed hitter who could figure in the right-field picture.

Travis Ishikawa, 1B: A big league veteran from Travis Snider's Washington neck of the woods, he has bounced around a lot the past decade, but as yet another lefty hitter, will get a long look as an alternative to Andrew Lambo as Gaby Sanchez's platoon partner at first.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.