Twenty Top 100 Prospects and Their Chances of Making Opening Day Rosters at The Start of SpringTraining
Today is Friday, Feb. 15. In baseball terms, it is the “voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to Spring Training.” But most Major Leaguers, from the veterans to rookies, are already in camp. It is the rooks, or would-be rooks, that we focus on here and now. Turns out that 20 members of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects have at least a reasonable shot of cracking their first Opening Day roster. They are below. Let me know in the comment section what you think of my assessment regarding which ballplayers might/might not make their respective clubs.
A links advisory: Click on the bolded team name for the MLB depth chart; click on the player name for his bio and MiLB stats; and the number in parentheses listed after the player name is his overall ranking in our Top 100 list.
- Questions worth asking: Can Profar unseat veteran Elvis Andrus at shortstop, or do the Rangers shift him to another position (2B, CF) in order to get his dynamic talents into the Majors immediately? Still 19, doesn’t he need a full season at Triple-A to polish his tools? Speaking of positional changes, where does Olt play? He’s a very good third baseman, but isn’t Adrian Beltre, who is signed for three more years, outstanding on the hot corner? Can Olt slug his way into the starting right field spot, or should he join Profar at Triple-A Round Rock? Does Perez finally put it together in Texas’ fifth rotation slot? Can he hold off vet righty Colby Lewis to make his first April rotation?
- Chances worth guessing: Profar (50%), Olt (50%) and Perez (75%)
- Questions: At 20 and with just 23 Minor League starts under his belt, is Bundy ready? He could probably hold his own right now, sure, but would getting beat up early on hurt him down the road? How much better does he have to be than the Matusz-Arrieta-Britton types to convince Baltimore to hand him the No. 5 starter role?
- Chances: 25%
- Questions: With Matt Joyce stationed in left field and Desmond Jennings in center, why not start out with Myers in right? Does Tampa Bay want to delay initializing his arbitration clock, or would Andrew Friedman and Co. rather go with the proven Ben Zobrist out there? With perhaps the deepest starting rotation in baseball, do Odorizzi and Archer have much of a shot? Would a trade of ace David Price make sense, given the unbelievable depth in able arms? Will Odorizzi and Archer foster the Minors’ best 1-2 punch at Triple-A Durham?
- Chances: Myers (50%), Odorizzi (25%) and Archer (25%)
- Questions: Can Skaggs fight off fellow lefty Patrick Corbin and Brave-turned-D-back right-hander Randall Delgado for Arizona’s fifth spot? Were D-backs scouts accurate last fall when they said Skaggs was just tired — and not just plan ineffective — down the stretch? No matter the truth, what does he have left to prove at Triple-A? Same goes for Eaton — wouldn’t returning him to Reno be a truly unfair and unwarranted assignment? Eaton batted .375 in the Minors last year, so can he bat .300 in the Majors this year? How much did Arizona’s belief in his abilities affect the offseason trades of vet outfielders Justin Upton and Chris Young?
- Chances: Skaggs (75%) and Eaton (100%)
- Questions: Can Bauer crack a rotation that is strong up front (with Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez) but weak at the back? Will the eccentric right-hander’s philosophies on pitching (like pitching up in the zone) prove true? If they don’t, will he be willing to go to square one and accept change? Can he become a more efficient hurler, or is he destined to be a five-frames-and-I’m-done starter? How would he take a season-opening assignment to Triple-A Columbus, and what would he have left to prove in the Minors?
- Chances: 75%
- Questions: Can both Miller and Rosenthal squeeze into the rotation, or will Rosenthal, who was dominant in the Cards’ pen last season, return to relief or, worse, Triple-A Memphis? Does the injuries of vet Chris Carpenter open a spot for one or both? How does the potential return of Kyle Lohse affect their standing? By season’s end, will Miller be challenging Adam Wainwright for the role of ace? Will Rosenthal be challenging Jason Motte for the role of closer?
- Chances: Miller (100%), Rosenthal (75%)
- Questions: Like the Rangers’ Perez, can the blessed-with-stuff Teheran finally put it all together and become a to-of-the-rotation starter? Can he pitch so well this spring to cast either Brandon Beachy or Paul Maholm aside? Should Atlanta try Teheran in their already dominant bullpen?
- Chances: 50%
- Questions: Can Gyorko win his head-to-head camp battle with incumbent second baseman Logan Forsythe? If not, does he return to Triple-A Tucson? What would he do there — strengthen his defense at third base and eventually replace Chase Headley on the hot corner in San Diego? Can Kelly stay healthy? If so, will his injury history/general inexperience allow him to throw more than 150 innings in 2013? Could he by the Pads’ best starter by June?
- Chances: Gyorko (50%), Kelly (75%)
- Questions: Was Peralta’s 2.48 ERA during his six-start audition down the stretch last season a mirage? Or is he the real deal? Can he overcome spotty command with his explosive repertoire? Most importantly, can he help anchor a rotation that has one sure thing in Yovani Gallardo?
- Chances: 100%
- Questions: How poorly would Hechavarria have to hit in camp to lose his grasp on the Marlins’ starting job? His defense is outstanding, but will he hit enough to justify the quick trading of Yunel Escobar? How much better can Hechavarria get? More specifically, is he starter, or is he bound for the bench as a late-inning defensive and baserunning specialist?
- Chances: 100%
- Questions: Can Cosart hold off swingmen Alex White, John Ely and Dallas Keuchel to nail down the ‘Stros’ fifth rotation slot? With just six Triple-A outings in his career and still concerns about his command on the mound, is he ready for a full-time role in the Majors? Can his low longlong ball totals (just three homers allowed in 2012) continue at Minute Maid Park? Would he be better served spending most of 2013 at Oklahoma City, where the RedHawks could very well win more games than their parent club?
- Chances: 50%
- Questions: How bad would Rondon have to be in February and March for the Tigers to return him to the Minors? He was their major reason for not acquiring a proven closer like Rafael Soriano, wasn’t he? Is Rondon, who pitched at High-A, Double-A and Triple-A all for the first time in 2012, ready to be a big leaguer in 2013? And is he ready to close games for a club that is coming off a World Series appearance? It’s a lot to put on a 22-year-old, no?
- Chances: 100%
- Questions: Does Boston’s brass want Iglesias to play everyday in the Minors or back up free-agent acquisition Stephen Drew in the Majors? Do the Sox turn him into a super-utility guy, or let Pedro Ciriaco fill that role? And while Iglesias is an outstanding defender, will he, still just 23, ever develop a consistent hitting approach?
- Chances: 25%