With only three spring training games left after today, the Royals are holding meetings this weekend to finalize their 25-man roster. Right now, the Royals have 36 players in camp, so they’ll need to cut 11 to get down to 25. One of those 11 will be Vin Mazzaro, who will begin the year in extended spring training until the Royals need a fifth starter, on April 16th. Another one of the 11 will be catcher Jason Kendall, who will begin the year on the disabled list. Here’s a look at who I think will make the club.
Catchers (2) – Brayan Pena, Lucas May
No surprises here, since they’re the only two catchers (other than Kendall) left in camp. It could get interesting when Kendall returns (mid-April at the earliest) since the Royals are loath to carry three catchers and neither Pena nor May has options remaining. Manny Pina will be lurking at AAA Omaha as a backup possibility.
Infielders (6) – Billy Butler, Kila Ka’aihue, Chris Getz, Alcides Escobar, Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit
Butler and Ka’aihue will alternate between first base and DH with Getz, Escobar and Aviles starting at second base, shortstop and third base, respectively. Betemit will back up third and first. I think non-roster invite Lance Zawadzki just misses making the club, but he’ll probably find his way to Kansas City at some point during the year. Pedro Feliz started hitting late in camp, but I’d be shocked if he goes north with the club. Feliz will probably exercise the out in his contract and become a free agent. I don’t think Irving Falu had a realistic chance to make this team, even though he’s still in camp. If Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas perform well at Omaha, they’ll find their way to Kansas City by June, at the earliest.
Outfielders (5) – Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Mitch Maier, Gregor Blanco
No surprises here, either. Gordon will play leftfield and Cabrera and Francoeur were signed to play centerfield and rightfield, respectively. Maier and Blanco are out of options, so they’ll be on the club. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Royals opt to take Jerrod Dyson over Blanco and designate the latter for assignment. I could also see Maier or Blanco being involved in a trade right before the season starts.
Starting Pitchers (4 – 5 by 4/16) – Luke Hochevar, Jeff Francis, Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen, Vin Mazzaro
The only question coming into camp was whether Mazzaro or Sean O’Sullivan would win a fifth-starter spot. O’Sullivan looms as an option here and Mike Montgomery could find his way to Kansas City this season with a strong showing at Omaha.
Relief Pitchers (8) – Joakim Soria, Robinson Tejeda, Jeremy Jeffress, Sean O’Sullivan, Tim Collins, Kanekoa Texeira, Louis Coleman, Nate Adcock
The biggest battle of camp was in the bullpen. The lack of a fifth starter for the first couple of weeks allows the Royals to start the year with eight relievers. Soria and Tejeda were the only bullpen locks entering camp, with Jeffress’ job fairly safe. O’Sullivan becomes the long man/spot starter after losing the fifth-starter battle. Collins was the most impressive of the lefty bullpen candidates. Texeira and Coleman both have been fantastic all spring. I think Adcock wins the final spot, in part because he is a Rule 5 pick. However, there’s some duplication there with he and O’Sullivan both being capable of going long, so it’s possible Luis Mendoza grabs this final spot. Lefty Robert Fish, another Rule 5 pick acquired late in camp from the Yankees, will be on the outside looking in. I also think Aaron Crow begins the year in the minors and I’m curious as to whether the Royals keep him in the ‘pen (giving them more depth this season), or move him back into the rotation (the long-term plan). If Crow stays a reliever, he’ll probably go to Omaha. I see him going to AA Northwest Arkansas if they want him to start.