Final Predictions for Prospects Making Every MLB Team's 25-Man Roster

Mike RosenbaumMLB Prospects Lead WriterMarch 21, 2013

Final Predictions for Prospects Making Every MLB Team's 25-Man Roster

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    With spring training gradually winding down, teams have been busily cutting players (mostly prospects) from big league camp as they come closer to finalizing a 25-man roster. As a result, battles for remaining roster spots have finally taken shape. And, surprisingly, there’s a decent-sized contingent of prospects who are seemingly still in the mix to break camp with their respective organizations.

    While players such as Adam Eaton and Julio Teheran have already established themselves as a lock for the Opening Day roster, there are other prospects, such as Christian Yelich, Yasiel Puig and Jackie Bradley Jr., who have survived camp longer than expected.

    But do they actually stand a chance at making the 25-man roster?

    Here are my predictions for every team’s prospects who will open the 2013 season in the major leagues.

     

    *All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

    *Some roster projections courtesy of MLBDepthCharts.com

Better Luck Next Year

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    Teams not expected to carry a prospect on their 25-man roster:

    Baltimore Orioles

    Tampa Bay Rays

    Toronto Blue Jays

    Chicago White Sox

    Kansas City Royals

    Los Angeles Angels

    New York Mets

    Washington Nationals

    Cincinnati Reds

Boston Red Sox

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    Jose Iglesias, SS

    With the chance of Stephen Drew opening the 2013 season on the disabled list (concussion), Iglesias could get another crack at the major leagues. Despite being only a .264/.313/.314 career hitter over three minor league seasons, the 23-year-old is still regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the game.

    The concern about his lack of offensive production is legitimate, though he has shown more pop this spring, with six of 10 hits going for extra-bases.

    If he does begin the season as Boston’s everyday shortstop, there will be additional pressure on his bat to keep him in the lineup. If not, it’s only matter of time until Stephen Drew returns to the field or the organization attempts to replace him.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting shortstop (if Stephen Drew is on the DL)

New York Yankees

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    Melky Mesa, OF

    Although he’s not much of a prospect at 26 years old, Melky Mesa has a chance to make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster as a result of Curtris Granderson’s injury this spring.

    A .244/.315/.436 career hitter with 102 stolen bases over seven minor league seasons, Mesa by no means profiles as a big league regular. However, as a center fielder capable of playing all three outfield positions, he does offer value as a reserve. And despite the fact that he’s batting just .196 this spring, his combination of above-average speed and power should warrant a spot on the 25-man roster.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Reserve outfielder

Cleveland Indians

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    Cody Allen, RHP

    After a rapid ascension through the Indians’ system over the last two seasons, Allen reached the major leagues for the first time in 2012 and registered a 3.72 ERA and 8.4 K/9 in 29 innings.

    Even though he’s struggled this spring, the hard-throwing right-hander has still fanned eight batters in 4.2 innings. And while Chris Perez is currently on the roster as the team’s closer, it’s possible that the Tribe may try move him at some point during the 2013 season, which, in turn, would open the door for Allen to assume the role.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

Detroit Tigers

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    Jeff Kobernus, IF/OF

    Selected in the Rule 5 draft in December (from the Nationals), Kobernus is a utility player in the same mold of Don Kelly—but with more speed.

    In his first season at Double-A in 2012, the 24-year-old batted .282/.325/.333 with 42 stolen bases in 82 games for the Nationals’ affiliate. The 25-year-old has seen time at multiple positions this spring, but has batted .220/.291/.300 with 7/5 K/BB in 21 games.

    Still, given his speed and defensive versatility, it’s likely that the Tigers will make room for him on their 25-man roster.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Reserve infielder/outfielder

     

    Bruce Rondon, RHP

    Since Rondon was labeled as the Tigers’ future closer, the organization decided not to re-sign free-agent closer Jose Valverde following his implosion during the 2012 postseason.

    After registering 29 saves across three levels last season, Rondon has all the makings of a future closer. Yes, he struggled early in the spring, but he has since righted the ship, highlighted by five consecutive scoreless appearances.

    Overall, the hard-throwing right-hander has registered a 3.12 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 8.2 innings. The Tigers may still choose to ease him into the role by offering save opportunities to other relievers like Phil Coke and Brayan Villarreal.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Part-time closer

Minnesota Twins

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    Aaron Hicks, OF

    After trading both Denard Span and Ben Revere over the offseason, the Twins are prepared to break camp with one of three in-house candidates in center field: Darin Mastroianni, Joe Benson or Aaron Hicks.

    Of the trio, Hicks has easily been the most impressive this spring and offers the most long-term upside. Plus, he's fresh off a breakout season at Double-A New Britain in 2012 in which he batted .286/.384/.460 with 45 extra-base hits and 32 stolen bases in 129 games.

    The 23-year-old has been equally impressive this spring, posting a .306/.352/.633 slash line with four doubles, four home runs (including a three-homer game last week) and three stolen bases in 15 games. Yes, he lacks experience above Double-A; however, could he really be a worse option than Mastroianni or Benson?

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting center fielder

Houston Astros

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    Brad Peacock, RHP

    Acquired during the offseason from the Oakland Athletics, Peacock is looking to get back to the major leagues after making a few starts for the Nationals in late 2011.

    And despite coming off a down year last season for Triple-A Sacramento in which he registered a 6.01 ERA in 134.2 innings, it seems as though the right-hander will break camp as the Astros’ fifth starter.

    He hasn’t been great this spring, with a 4.63 ERA in 11.2 innings. However, it’s still considerably better than his main competition, Jordan Lyles (17.74 ERA) and John Ely (9.90 ERA), who have already been cut.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

     

    Josh Fields, RHP

    Selected in the Rule 5 draft last December (from the Red Sox), Fields was once a first-round draft pick of the Mariners in 2008. Why? Nobody is exactly sure.

    But that’s besides the point. Following a trade to the Red Sox during the 2011 season, the 27-year-old right-hander finally turned in a breakout campaign in 2012, as he registered a 2.01 ERA, 12.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 58.1 innings across Double-A and Triple-A.

    Expected to win a spot in the Astros’ Opening Day bullpen, there’s a chance that Fields could emerge as the team’s closer by the end of the season.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

Oakland Athletics

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    Dan Straily, RHP

    Last year’s biggest pop-up prospect, Dan Straily opened the 2012 season in Double-A and finished it in the major leagues. After registering a 2.78 ERA with 190 strikeouts in 152 innings across Double-A and Triple-A, the 24-year-old right-hander was promoted to the major leagues, where he posted a 3.89 ERA over seven starts.

    Even though he’s struggled this spring—and is yet to miss bats at the rate he did as a minor leaguer—Straily stands to win the final spot in the A’s starting rotation, with Bartolo Colon scheduled to serve the remainder of his suspension dating back to last season.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

     

    Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS

    After losing Stephen Drew to the Red Sox via free agency, the A’s decided to fill the void at shortstop by signing 30-year-old Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal.

    While some pundits question how his skills would translate in the major leagues, the A’s seem confident that he can fill the void at the position.

    Following a very successful career in Japan, Nakajima has struggled this spring to the tune of .176/.300/.206 with a double and 10 strikeouts through 14 games. He’s a safe bet to make the A’s Opening Day roster—especially considering they’re paying him nearly $10 million over the next two seasons—but he may be spelled by Jed Lowrie at shortstop until he establishes rhythm at the dish.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Part-time shortstop

Seattle Mariners

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    Carter Capps, RHP

    Selected in the third round of the 2011 draft, it took Capps a little over a year to reach the major leagues. After registering a 2.47 ERA and 12.5 K/9 in 69.1 minor league innings, the 6’5” right-hander was promoted to majors in early August, where he posted a 3.96 ERA and 10.1 K/9 over 25 innings.

    With an unorthodox release point and plus-plus fastball that sits in the high 90s, the 22-year-old has the makings of a future closer.

    However, he’ll likely serve as the Mariners’ setup man to begin the season, with incumbent Tom Wilhelmsen expected to handle the ninth inning once again.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Setup man

     

    Stephen Pryor, RHP

    Much like Capps, Pryor is a flame-throwing right-hander who raced through the Mariners’ system to reach to the major leagues last season.

    Despite spending some time on the disabled list following his call-up, the 23-year-old still registered a 3.91 ERA and 10.6 K/9 in 23 innings. He’ll likely also serve as a setup man to begin the season, but could see time as the team’s closer (along with Capps) if Wilhelmsen falters.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

Texas Rangers

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    Leonys Martin, OF

    After the Rangers failed to re-sign Josh Hamilton this offseason—and failed to acquire any other outfielder, for that matter—a path to everyday playing time in the major leagues is finally clear for Leonys Martin.

    Although he’s posted just a .643 OPS in 32 games with the Rangers over the last two seasons, the 25-year-old’s numbers in the minor leagues are far more encouraging, as he’s batted .323/.388/.503 with 16 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 128 games.

    If his performance this spring (.913 OPS in 18 games) is an indication of what’s to come, Martin should fit in nicely towards the top of the Rangers’ order.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting center fielder

     

    Leury Garcia, SS/2B

    Despite the fact that Jurickson Profar is ready to make his mark in the major leagues, it’s doubtful that the organization will relegate him to a bench role solely for the purpose of getting him on the Opening Day roster.

    Instead, it’s likely that middle infielder Leury Garcia, who batted .292/.337/.398 in 100 games last season as a 21-year-old in Double-A, will win a spot on the team’s bench. He doesn’t offer anything close to Profar's upside, but he’s a solid defender at both shortstop and second base and should hit for a respectable average.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Reserve infielder

     

    Coty Woods, RHP

    After notching 27 saves and registering a 3.20 ERA last season in 56.1 innings between the Rockies’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, Woods was left off the team’s 40-man roster and subsequently selected by the Rangers in December’s Rule 5 draft.

    Considering that he’s been groomed as a closer, as well as the fact that he’s posted a 1.93 ERA with 10/3 K/BB in 9.1 innings this spring, Woods is likely to break camp in the Rangers’ big-league bullpen.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

Atlanta Braves

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    Julio Teheran, RHP

    Coming off a massively disappointing 2011 season in which he posted a 5.08 ERA in 131 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett, Teheran once again looks like the heralded prospect he was.

    After reverting back to his original mechanics during the offseason, the 22-year-old right-hander has been one of the top pitchers in big league camp this spring. He currently owns a 1.35 ERA with seven hits allowed and 25/6 K/BB over 20 innings. At this point, he’s a lock to break camp as the Braves’ fifth starter.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

     

    Evan Gattis, C-LF

    Despite spending four years away from the game after high school, Gattis (and his powerful bat) is now on the verge of making the Braves’ Opening Day roster.

    Since entering the team’s system as a 23-year-old in 2010, the 6’4” right-handed hitter has batted .308/.374/.546 with 44 home runs over three seasons. With Brian McCann expected to open the 2013 season on the disabled list, Gattis has the potential to break camp as the team’s backup catcher and fourth (or fifth) outfielder. He's doing his part by batting .357/.378/.619 with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBI this spring.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Backup catcher/reserve outfielder

Miami Marlins

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    Rob Brantly, C

    After a trade from the Tigers to the Marlins last July, Brantly ultimately batted .290/.372/.460 with 11 extra-base hits and 16/13 K/BB over 31 games with the Marlins.

    Although he was expected to open the 2013 season as the team’s backup catcher, as well as a platoon option against right-handed pitching, the injury to Jeff Mathis (broken collarbone) means the 23-year-old will serve as the Opening Day catcher.

    While he shouldn’t be expected to showcase the power he did following his promotion last season, the left-handed hitter should have no problem holding his own in the more prominent role.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting catcher

     

    Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

    Acquired from the Blue Jays as part of the blockbuster deal that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson north of the border, Hechavarria has already been tabbed as the Marlins’ Opening Day shortstop.

    While his defense has always been excellent, the 24-year-old’s lack of consistency at the plate is concerning, as he batted .254/.280/.365 with 32/4 K/BB last season in 41 games with the Blue Jays. He still appears to be their guy, even though he’s batted just .167/.250/.238 through 16 games this spring.

    At the same time, don’t expect the Marlins to keep him on a long leash if he continues to struggle.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting shortstop

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Darin Ruf, 1B-LF

    After pacing the minors with 38 home runs last season, and adding three more over 12 games as a September call-up, Ruf is in the midst of a battle for a spot in the Phillies’ outfield.

    Unfortunately, the same can be said about Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr.

    Still, the 26-year-old slugger should at least earn a spot on the team’s bench given his knack for crushing right-handed pitching.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Reserve first baseman/outfielder

Chicago Cubs

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    Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP

    Fujikawa joins the Cubs after signing to a two-year, $9.5 million contract over the offseason. He recorded 202 saves and a 12.4 K/9 over his last six seasons in Japan. Even though he’s already 32 years old (and not much of a prospect, in theory), the organization believes the right-hander will eventually supplant Carlos Marmol as closer.

    Despite his success in Japan’s Pacific Coast League, Fujikawa has yet to prove himself against big league hitters.

    Either way, he should spend a majority of the 2013 season as the Cubs’ closer once Marmol inevitably falters.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Wily Peralta, RHP

    Regarded as the Brewers’ top prospect headed into the 2012 season, Peralta was touched up in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (Triple-A) to the tune of a 4.66 ERA and 4.8 BB/9 in 146.2 innings. However, his stuff was still impressive and he was able to make adjustments over the course of the season.

    As a result, the 24-year-old right-hander was awarded his first crack at the big league rotation in September, and he responded favorably with a 2.48 ERA and 23/11 K/BB in 29 innings. Peralta has pitched equally as well this spring, and although it hasn’t been announced, he should open the 2013 season as the team’s fifth starter.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Kyle McPherson, RHP

    McPherson finally reached the majors last season as a 24-year-old, after six seasons in the minor leagues and several arm injuries. Appearing in 10 games, including three starts, the right-hander registered a 2.73 ERA with 21/7 K/BB over 26.1 innings.

    Even though he’s struggled this spring (8.31 ERA in 17.1 IP), I still think he’s the favorite to break camp as the Pirates’ fifth starter.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

     

    Justin Wilson, LHP

    Over the last two seasons as a starter in the Triple-A Indianapolis rotation, Wilson, 25, registered a 3.95 ERA over 260 innings, but also walked 133 batters. Although he was decent as a starter in the minor leagues, his ongoing control problems prompted a move to the bullpen late last season, followed by a promotion to major leagues.

    The left-hander registered a 1.93 ERA with seven strikeouts over 4.2 innings in eight appearances with the Pirates.

    His control and command still are still far from ideal, but Wilson has pitched well enough this spring (0.90 ERA, 13/6 K/BB in 10 IP) to earn a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

     

    Bryan Morris, RHP

    Developed as a starter, like Wilson, until the 2011 season, Morris has found his niche as a late-inning reliever.

    Morris registered a 2.67 ERA over 81 innings last season for Triple-A Indianapolis. He was a September call-up and pitched well in his limited opportunities out of the Pirates’ bullpen, posting a 1.80 ERA with six strikeouts in five innings.

    He’s struggled with his usually solid command this spring, but I still think he makes the 25-man roster. He's also a candidate to receive save opportunities if Jason Grilli falters or lands on the disabled list.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Matt Adams, 1B

    In his first season in Double-A with the Cardinals in 2011, Adams, a physically strong left-handed hitter, batted .300/.357/.566 with 32 home runs in 115 games.

    The 24-year-old followed his monster campaign by posting a .986 OPS with 18 home runs in 67 games for Triple-A Memphis last season before ultimately receiving a promotion to the major leagues. Seeing occasional playing time with Cardinals, Adams batted .244/.286/.384 with two home runs in 27 games before season-ending surgery was required to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow.

    Finally healthy, the 24-year-old has posted an .899 OPS this spring with three bombs. He appears to have secured a spot on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster, albeit on the bench.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Bench/pinch-hitter

     

    Shelby Miller, RHP

    Miller entered spring training as one of three in-house candidates vying for the final spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation after a strong showing in the major leagues as a September call-up. Although he’s been up-and-down this spring, the 22-year-old right-hander has pitched well overall, highlighted by a one-hitter over four innings in his latest start against the Marlins.

    Considering Joe Kelly’s struggles and the fact that the organization has already relegated Trevor Rosenthal to the bullpen, Miller is poised to break camp as Cardinals’ fifth starter.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Fifth starter

     

    Trevor Rosenthal, RHP

    Although he hasn’t come with the hype of Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal has the chance to be every bit as good.

    The 22-year-old entered camp in competition for the final spot in the team’s starting rotation after dominating out of the bullpen during the second half of the 2012 season—especially during both the NLDS and NLCS, when he was virtually unhittable.

    However, after some early struggles, the organization recently decided to move him back to the bullpen. Since then, the hard-throwing right-hander has resumed his domination of opposing hitters, as he’s allowed only one baserunner with seven strikeouts over his last 5.1 frames.

    Rosenthal will likely serve as the Cardinals' seventh- or eighth-inning option this season. But expect him to receive his share of save opportunities when Jason Motte needs a day off.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Late-inning reliever/occasional closer

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Adam Eaton, OF

    Eaton's one of my favorite prospects headed into the 2013 season. I firmly believe that he's poised for a monster offensive campaign at the top of the Diamondbacks' lineup.

    Since his selection in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft, the diminutive left-handed hitter has batted .355/.456/.510 with 123 extra-base hits, 98 stolen bases and 166 walks over three minor league seasons.

    After batting .381/.456/.539 in 119 games for Triple-A Reno last season, Eaton reached the major leagues as a September call-up, where he batted .259/.382/.412 with 19 runs scored and 14 walks in 22 games.

    So far this spring, Eaton has picked up right where he left off last season. He’s currently batting .375/.390/.536 with four extra-base hits through 19 games.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Potential. Fantasy. Beast.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting center fielder/leadoff hitter

Colorado Rockies

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    Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP

    Another Rule 5 draft pick, the Rockies snatched Rosenbaum from the Nationals in December. After a lights-out start to the 2012 season at Double-A Harrisburg, the left-hander ultimately finished the year with a 3.94 ERA over 155.1 innings.

    With the Rockies, Rosenbaum—who happens to own the best last name in baseball—is likely to serve as a long reliever to open the 2013 season. However, if he’s even moderately successful in that role, then there’s a strong chance that the 25-year-old pitches his way into the team’s starting rotation.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Long-reliever

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP

    Signed to a six-year, $36 million contract this offseason—in addition to a nearly $26 million bid to win negotiating rights—Ryu is expected to serve as the Dodgers’ third starter behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

    However, so far this spring the 25-year-old left-hander has been uninspiring with a 4.41 ERA and 18/6 K/BB over 16.1 innings.

    He’s still a lock to open the 2013 season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, but the left-hander’s acclimation period may not go as smoothly as anticipated.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Third starter

San Diego Padres

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    Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B

    Many expected Gyorko to serve as a September call-up after he batted .311/.373/.547 with 30 home runs last season in 126 games between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. However, due to a lack of available roster spots, the Padres decided to hold him in the minors for the entire year.

    This season, though, should be much different. As of now, the 24-year-old is batting .283/.309/.547 with five doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI this spring while flashing improved defense at the keystone.

    Gyorko’s chances of making the Opening Day roster drastically improved with the news that Chase Headley (thumb) will open the 2013 season on the disabled list. Regardless of what position he plays, it’s looking more and more likely that Gyorko will open the season on the Padres' infield.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Starting second baseman/third baseman

San Francisco Giants

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    Francisco Peguero, OF

    Due to a knee injury that limited him to 87 games in 2011 and 122 games in 2012, Peguero is yet to evolve into the player who batted .329/.358/.488 with 10 home runs and 40 stolen bases for High-A San Jose in 2010. However, despite his across-the-board regression, the 25-year-old still reached the major leagues late last season, where he batted .188 over 17 games off the Giants’ bench.

    He’s swung the bat much better this spring, as evidenced by his .364/.378/.477 slash line with four extra-base hits and two stolen bases through 18 games. It’s likely that Peguero will open the season on the team’s bench as a reserve outfielder, while an injury to one of the team’s starters could open the door for more consistent playing time.

     

    Projected Opening Day Role: Reserve outfielder