Projecting Top 15 Prospects Who Will Make Opening Day Rosters

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterFebruary 26, 2013

Projecting Top 15 Prospects Who Will Make Opening Day Rosters

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    Granted, the exhibition schedule has only just begun and nobody has been cut from camp, but prospects have been the talk of spring training thus far.

    Whether it was Nick Castellanos taking Jonathon Papelbon yard to right-center or Zack Wheeler tossing two scoreless innings or Addison Russell burning the right fielder for a double or Kevin Gausman popping 97-98 mph or Jedd Gyorko launching a grand slam, many of the game’s top prospects have made the most of their playing time this spring.

    However, just because they fare well in the early going doesn’t mean they’ll make the Opening Day roster, or, for that matter, appear in the major leagues this season.

    But among the long, long list of prospects in big-league camp, here’s a look at 15 who stand the best chance of making the team.

    *All roster projections courtesy of

    *Some player's scouting reports were previously featured as part of their team's top-10 prospects.

Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter; long reliever

    Scouting Report: 6’3” right-hander with a lightning-quick arm and overall explosiveness; has always missed plenty of bats thanks to three-pitch mix that’s filthy when he’s around the plate; fastball jumps out of his hand and registers anywhere from 93 to 97 mph; sits 95 to 98 mph in shorter stints; Archer’s slider is a legitimate plus out-pitch thrown with fastball-like velocity and featuring exceptional tilt and two-plane break; ongoing development of changeup will ultimately determine his success as a starting pitcher; throws the pitch with deceptive arm speed but lacks a natural feel for it.

Bruce Rondon, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Closer (part-time)

    Scouting Report: Rondon boasts one of the best fastballs in the game, sitting at 99-100 mph and routinely touching 102-103 mph; didn’t throw a pitch below 100 mph in the XM Futures Game; heavy pitch that’s thrown on a consistent downward plane; pitch explodes with late life to his arm side; slider is decent when he throws it correctly with tight spin; also features a fading changeup, though he understandably lacks a feel for it; command was vastly improved this past season but can still fall into funks where he’s missing the strike zone; Tigers offered the right-hander a vote of confidence by not re-signing Jose Valverde; it looks like he’ll be closing games for the Tigers, at least part-time, to open the 2013 season.

Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 4 or 5 starter

    Scouting Report: The 6’6” right-hander’s fastball works in the 88-94 mph range; will sometimes scrape a few ticks higher earlier in starts; size allows him to throw on a solid downhill plane; commands the pitch to both sides of the plate; needs to live down in the zone to be successful; throws his slider with consistent tilt; an above-average offering; changeup gives him another secondary weapon; speed separation; sells it with arm speed.

Dan Straily, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter

    Scouting Report: 6’2”, 215-pound right-handed boasts an impressive four-pitch mix that he commands well throughout the strike zone; fastball works in the low-90s with some late life to the arm side; slider and changeup both grade as above-average secondary offerings and help him pile up strikeouts; both pitches are used to neutralize right- and left-handed hitters; will mix in a curveball that’s a fringe-average pitch, but still effective when thrown at the right time; projects to be a durable mid-rotation starter.

Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Center fielder; leadoff hitter

    Scouting Report: Left-handed hitter has a plus hit tool; adept at working deep counts in a leadoff role; makes loud contact to all fields; below-average power potential; could conceivably amass 50 doubles in a given season; puts ball in play and utilizes top-of-the-line speed; smart base-stealer; always looks to take an extra base; advanced secondary skills; polished plate discipline; understands limitations as a hitter; should always score a ton of runs.

    Plus speed is apparent in all his actions on the field; excellent instincts, speed and all-out mentality in center field; accurate, plus arm that plays anywhere in the outfield; above-average range; solid closing speed; sacrifices body.

Carter Capps, RHP, Seattle Mariners

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Reliever

    Scouting Report: Capps boasts a plus-plus fastball that averaged the second-highest velocity (99.02 mph) among all big-league relievers; routinely hits triple-digits despite jerky, unorthodox arm action; slider gives him a second plus offering that registers in the mid-to-upper-80s with a late, wipeout break; also has a changeup, though it’s rather unnecessary given fastball-slider combo; deceptive delivery allows him to hide the ball well as it absolutely jumps out of his hand on opposing hitters; command still needs refinement, especially against more advanced hitters in the majors.

Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter

    Scouting Report: Even though the left-hander had a pretty turbulent year between Triple-A and the major leagues, it’s important to remember that he’s still only 21 years old; command has faltered over last two seasons, as his strikeout and walk ratios have trended in opposite directions; still love his repeatable mechanics and clean arm action; will need to work ahead in the count with more consistency to return to pre-2011 form

    6’0" left-hander’s fastball consistently sits in the low-90s, and he’s shown the ability to scrape mid-90s in the past; his curveball has lost some of the shape and effectiveness that previously made it one of the best in the minors; changeup has come a long way and grades as an easy above-average pitch thrown with deception and arm-side fade; two-seam fastball and slider are recent additions to his arsenal and should steadily improve as he gains a feel for each offering.

Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter

    Scouting Report: Organization tinkered with his mechanics throughout the 2012 season; reverted back to original mechanics this winter and pitched well in the Dominican Winter League; outstanding arm speed; clean arm action; loose body; can open up with his front side at times.

    Fastball was flatter last season; still in the 91-95 mph range to both sides of the plate; left up in the zone too often; changeup is still a plus pitch; speed differential; deceptive arm speed; lack of a third legitimate pitch continues to impede the final stages of development; both curveball and slider are fringey.

Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter

    Scouting Report: Rhythmic and repeatable delivery; power pitcher who pounds the zone with fastballs; explodes toward the plate following a modest foot strike; still needs to work down in the zone with more consistency; good finish; loose arm action.

    Fastball is actually pretty straight, but it’s one of those rare swing-and-miss heaters that draws whiffs at 92-95 mph; commands the pitch well throughout the strike zone; works inside to both right- and left-handed hitters; curveball will need to get sharper, but offers a difficult look when thrown off his well-located fastball; with more refinement, his low-to-mid-80s changeup could emerge as a viable weapon next season.

Rob Brantly, C, Miami Marlins

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting catcher

    Scouting Report: Left-handed hitter who works counts; bat path is short and consistent; drives the ball to all fields; won’t hit for much power, but enough to make him more valuable behind the plate; more power to his pull side; advanced approach gives him the chance for average hit tool; track record of mashing right-handed pitching.

    Has improved defensively since turning pro in 2010; possesses some agility behind the plate and always works hard; doesn’t have a great arm and needs to streamline his throws; solid catch-and-throw skill set; has been lauded for game-calling and knowledge of pitching staff; hard-nosed intelligent player who could have a solid career behind the plate.

Wily Peralta, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 4 or 5 starter

    Scouting Report: He throws a weighted fastball in the low-to-mid-90s that generates lots of ground-ball outs; slider and changeup are both solid-average secondary offerings that play up when he’s locating his heater down in the zone; both can still be inconsistent and need further refinement.

Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Reliever

    Scouting Report: As a starter, the right-hander’s fastball sits in the mid-to-upper-90s with lots of sink and arm-side movement; delivery is rather stress-free relative to his power arm; will sit in the high-90s and routinely hit triple-digits in shorter, bullpen stints; breaking ball is a second plus pitch with late, wipeout break out of the zone; changeup is an average offering that he’ll need as a starter, but somewhat unnecessary as a late-inning reliever.

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres

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    Projected Opening Day Role: Second baseman

    Scouting Report: Possesses excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to barrel the ball with consistency; a 5’11”, right-handed hitter, he does an excellent job keeping his hands inside the ball and adjusting to various pitches throughout the strike zone; balanced and effortless swing yields hard contact to all fields; mashes left-handed pitching; hit tool projects to be above-average; Gyorko’s power may not translate in the major leagues as it did last season in the Pacific Coast League, which, as a result, hurts his projection as a third baseman.

    Despite shifting to second base last season, he lacks the up-the-middle tools and skills to project long-term at the position; bat will make him tolerable in the interim; footwork and turns are a big work-in-progress; faster path to the major leagues; hit tool potential should outweigh any defensive shortcomings.

Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 5 starter

    Scouting Report: 6’3”, 195-pounder has a lanky and projectable frame; clean, repeatable mechanics; has bouts of inconsistency like any young pitcher; struggles usually stem from flying open with front shoulder; hips and core don’t explode and arms drag; stuff gets flat as a result; will lose too many fastballs to arm side; natural deception in delivery.

    Fastball isn’t overpowering in the high-80s/low-90s, but it has some late life to the arm side; needs to spot it more aggressively; does a nice job throwing on a downhill plane; curveball is a hammer and one of my favorites among all minor-league pitchers; features a tall shape with deceptive pace; legitimate 12-to-6 downer that should always draw tons of swing-and-misses; changeup is fringey at the moment, but has the potential to be a third above-average offering with further refinement; lacks feel for all three pitches at one time; consistency will come from experience.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Projected Opening Day Role: No. 3 or 4 starter

    Scouting Report: 6’2”, 215-pound frame leaves little room for physical projection; four-pitch mix of average-to-above-average offerings; manipulates for movement; knows when to add and subtract; slow, looping curveball; used early in the count rather than as an out pitch; slider has tight rotation and late break; excellent feel for changeup, sells with arm speed; everything looks the same from his release point; command-oriented; mature arsenal and command; will likely go through some sort of acclimation period.