For 2013, the Kansas City Royals invited nine pitchers, four catchers, four infielders and four outfielders to Spring Training in Surprise, AZ. This year’s list of invitees are a mix of young prospects and veteran Minor and Major League players wanting a shot at the Majors.
It’s a long shot for any of these players to make the Opening Day roster. They need an extraordinary spring training and other regular players to succumb to injury or poor performance. And the Royals would need to add them to the 40-man roster. If the team has to rely on these players to win in 2013, they’re in trouble. I’ll list the players invited and who I think could make the Opening Day roster.
Most likely to make the roster: Ryan Verdugo, Dan Wheeler
The 25-year-old Ryan Verdugo spent most of 2012 with AAA Omaha, had a 12-4 record with a 3.75 ERA. He had a forgettable Major League debut last July, lasting 1.2 innings, giving up eight hits and six earned runs against the Seattle Mariners. He’ll need an impressive spring training to make the Royals Opening Day roster. And if he does make the Royals roster, it’s probably as a reliever.
Dan Wheeler is a 13-year veteran reliever with a career 3.98 ERA in 589 games with 640.2 innings pitched. He has a good 2.86 SO/BB ratio and does better against right-handed batters with a 4.04 SO/BB ratio compared to a 1.70 SO/BB ratio against left-handed batters. If he has a good spring, he could offer veteran leadership for a young bullpen.
Most likely to make the roster: Manuel (Manny) Pina
If it wasn’t for a knee injury during last year’s spring training, the 25-year-old Pina would be the backup to Brayan Pena after Salvador Perez‘s knee injury. Pena signed with the Detroit Tigers this offseason, so Pina could be the Royals backup catcher.
Most likely to make the roster: Christian Colon, Miguel Tejada
If Johnny Giavotella and Chris Getz falter, the Royals may give the 23-year-old Christian Colon a shot at second. Yes, he spent most of Minor League career as a shortstop, but Alcides Escobar is the starting shortstop and he’s not going anywhere. Second base is the best chance for Colon to make the big leagues, and the Royals should give him every chance to do so. The question is, will they?
If this was ten years ago, the Royals signing Miguel Tejada would be a big deal. But now it’s just a once great player trying to make it back to the Majors. For most of his career, Tajada played shortstop. If the six-time All-Star and 2002 MVP has any hope of making the club, he’ll have to do it at second base. He’s played a few games at second and it’s rumored the Royals may add him to the 40-man roster. It would be nice for the 38-year-old Tejada to make a comeback and have a good season, but not at the expense of a younger player like Colon.
Most likely to make the roster: Endy Chavez, Xavier Nady
Remember Endy Chavez making his Major League debut with the Royals in 2001? If not, it’s understandable, since he only played 29 games with a .208 batting average. After bouncing around with seven other teams, the 34-year-old Chavez is back with the Royals. He’s become a part-time outfielder, who only appeared in 64 games with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. He did play 21 games last season in right field, so fans can hope he supplants Jeff Francoeur this season. It’s not likely to happen. If Chavez isn’t on the Royals roster, he’ll probably be in Omaha.
The 34-year-old Xaiver Nady is an 11 year Major League veteran who’s spent the last few years as a backup outfielder/pinch hitter. A career .270 hitter, he’s got power potential and he hits well against left and right-handed pitching, but with players like Jarrod Dyson and David Lough ahead of him, Nady is probably Omaha bound.
A few years ago, many of these players would be seriously vying for roster spots. But today these players are organizational depth and “Plan B” players. And that’s a good thing.