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Early Predictions for Each MLB Team's Top Spring Training Position Battles

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Early Predictions for Each MLB Team's Top Spring Training Position Battles
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Top prospect George Springer will compete for a starting outfield job with the Astros this spring.

While many established players already have a defined role on their team's Opening Day roster and will utilize spring training as a time to fine tune their swings or build up arm strength, several others will be battling for a job. 

That job could be as a regular third baseman, No. 5 starter or last man on the bench. Regardless of the role, it's better than the minor leagues, or even worse, being out of a job if a player fails to earn a big league gig. 

Scott Kazmir, who had been out of the majors and pitching in an Independent League in 2012, was the surprise winner of the Cleveland Indians' No. 5 starter job. He cashed in on a very good season by signing a two-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland A's this offseason. 

The leading candidate to be the A's starting third baseman in 2013, Josh Donaldson held off his competition with a strong spring (.884 OPS, 3 HR) on his way to a breakout season in which he was 4th in AL MVP voting. 

Aaron Hicks was so impressive last spring, hitting .370 (27-for-73) with four homers, six doubles and three stolen bases, that the Minnesota Twins made him their Opening Day center fielder despite the 23-year-old having no experience above the Double-A level.

It turned out that the rookie was in over his head, finishing the season with a .597 OPS in 81 games. But it was hard to argue with what he did in the spring. Numbers can be deceiving, but it's hard to send a player back to the minors after putting up those kinds of numbers. 

There are plenty of interesting position battles heading into this spring. Who will be the next Kazmir? Is there a player without a guarantee of starting gig that will emerge as a big league star in 2014? Which prospect will force his way onto a roster as Hicks did? 

Here's a close look at each team's top spring training position battle.

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