10 Washington Nationals Who Won’t Make it Through 2014 Spring Training
Nationals That Could Sent Packing in Spring Training
We’re just weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, which means it’s time to break down the Spring Training rosters for each and every team. For the Washington Nationals, you've got your obvious Opening Day favorites, but it gets somewhat fuzzy from there.
To start, you can expect nearly the same starting lineup they had last year. Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth will all be manning the outfield. Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche will be three of the four infielders.
In the infield, we find the best positional battle. Danny Espinosa will get a chance to steal his second base position away from Anthony Rendon. Last year, injuries hindered Espinosa’s ability to be productive at the plate, and it ultimately relegated him to the minors. This year, he’s back at 100 percent, so it should be interesting to see how he fares.
On the mound, expect Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and Ross Detwiler to be the starting pitchers. Wilson Ramos should start at catcher, but there should be an interesting three-way battle for the backup spot.
In the bullpen, Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano, Jerry Blevins and Craig Stammen are four names you need to know. Along with those four locks, Xavier Cedeno and Ryan Mattheus should be considered shoo-ins to make the Opening Day roster.
Currently, the Nationals are bring 58 players with them to Spring Training, and that number is expected to increase. Which of those players will be left off the Opening Day roster? On the following slides, you’ll find notable players (not fringe minor league invitees) that I believe will be on the outside looking in come Opening Day.
10. Danny Espinosa - Infielder
I think that Anthony Rendon will ultimately win this position battle. Even before he was supposedly injured, Danny Espinosa struggled as a hitter. They don't lose too much defensively by going with Rendon, but they would improve considerably on offense. Espinosa’s inability to hit will land him back in the minors.
9. Jhonatan - Solano - Catcher
Jhonatan Solano will ultimately lose out to the more experienced Sandy Leon. The Nationals can’t really go wrong with either of the two, but the experience and hitting ability of Leon will garner him the backup catcher role.
8. Chris Snyder - Catcher
Chris Snyder spent last season in the minor leagues for the Nationals. This year, he’ll be battling with Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano to be the backup catcher. Both Solano and Leon spent time at the MLB level last season. I just don't see Snyder playing well enough to beat either of the two.
7. Zach Walters - Infielder
Zach Walters had a short stint in the majors last year in which he went 3-for-8 with a triple and an RBI. The addition of Fontenot, as well as an up-and-coming minor leaguer named Matt Skole could be what gives him the boot at the end of Spring Training.
6. Jamey Carroll - Infielder
Jamey Carroll and Mike Fontenot were both signed to minor league deals with training camp invites. Carroll is pushing 40 and hasn't seen much MLB action in the last couple of years. The youth of Fontenot will win out and he’ll become a reserve infielder on the bench.
5. Nathan Karns - Relief Pitcher
Nathan Karns had three starts in 2013 in which he posted a 7.50 ERA over 12 innings of work. He struck out 11 batters while walking six, but was by no means stellar. Karns is a right-hander, something Washington has plenty of in the bullpen, so that makes him less appealing to waste a roster spot on. A little more work in the minor leagues could be in his future.
4. Christian Garcia - Relief Pitcher
Over 12.2 innings of work, Christian Garcia posted a 2.13 ERA with 15 strikeouts. He was a solid pitcher for the Nationals, and one that will be good in a couple of years. For now, he’s not crucial in the bullpen. Ross Ohlendorf and Taylor Jordan will both be available to work out of the bullpen, so that could leave Garcia the odd man out.
3. Brian Goodwin - Outfielder
Brian Goodwin is arguably the best positional prospect in the Nationals' farm system. In 2013 at double-A Harrisburg, he batted .252 with an on-base percentage of .355. Much like Perez, McLouth and Moore’s power will leave Goodwin in the minor leagues for another year.
2. Eury Perez - Outfielder
The addition of Nate McLouth this past offseason makes Eury Perez and expendable piece of the puzzle. Perez will likely be battling with Tyler Moore for the final spot on the bench, but I think that the power of Moore will be the deciding factor.
1. A.J. Cole - Pitcher
A.J. Cole joined Lucas Giolito as the only other Nationals player to find themselves in the MLB top 100 prospect list, and with good reason. In 25 starts across single-A and double-A last year, he posted a 10-5 record with a 3.60 ERA, including a 4-2 record and 2.18 ERA with double-A Harrisonburg. Cole is a pitcher of the future, but not the present.
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