Despite some strong starts during the last half of the 2022 season, Hayden Wesneski was a long shot to make the Cubs' 2023 Opening Day roster. As promising of a prospect that he was, he was going against not only trusted MLB options like Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks, Drew Smyly, and Jameson Taillon, but in-team options like Adrian Sampson, Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele, and lower-rotation guys like Javier Assad and Adbert Alzolay. But Wesneski had an INCREDIBLE spring, and thanks to Hendricks getting injured and Sampson and Alzolay struggling, was handed a crucial spot in the 5-man rotation, alongside Stroman, Taillon, Smyly and Steele.
Wesneski was the kind of underdog that you wanted to succeed, and the kind of young player that deserves opportunities like this. Thankfully, Wesneski is one of many guys like that who are succeeding out of camp and making the majors. As per a lot of these spring training posts, let's go down and cover all 30 teams and pick one player that I'm glad is making the Opening Day roster.
Angels: Logan O'Hoppe, the catching prospect who came over from Philly for Brandon Marsh, who's looking like he'll be backing up Max Stassi, and therefore potentially taking the position if he's good enough, this season. For O'Hoppe to make the team and people like Jo Adell, Mickey Moniak and Andrew Velasquez to NOT make the team is pretty huge, and means they're seeing good things from O'Hoppe.
Guardians: Roman Quinn, who will likely make the team after having one of the best offensive springs of his lifetime. Dude hit 4 homers this spring, he's only hit as many as 4 homers IN A SEASON.
Mariners: The whole roster is pretty sensible at the moment, so how about Jack Larsen, the backup-to-the-backup outfielder who's mostly being used for his defense. Really the only eyebrow-raiser we have here.
Marlins: N/A, they're all too sensible.
Mets: Tommy Pham, who gets like a third or fourth chance since leaving his peak while Mark Vientos, Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez all have to sit in Syracuse and wait for roster space. You can play the 'but they're not ready yet' game but a lot of people in this post, like Walker, Henderson and Outman, are proving that the only people talking about readiness are really concerned about player control.
Orioles: I suppose Gunnar Henderson, considering that, as evidenced by Grayson Rodriguez not making Opening Day, even the biggest rookies may not have been guaranteed. Henderson's gonna be the starting 3rd baseman this year, and it's well-deserved.
Padres: Another one where the deepest roster cuts hadn't been made as I prepped this. I'd really like it for Jay Groome to somehow squeak onto the roster, after years of being as top prospect for Boston, as well as being a local hero for me. [UPDATE 4 HOURS LATER] Well, so much for that. There's not really any stretches left after Groome, so I guess they're an N/A too.
Phillies: Darick Hall was probably thinking he'd start the year in the minors, then Rhys Hoskins got hurt and all of the sudden he's the starting 1st baseman for the defending NL champs. I sincerely hope he has a decent enough year.
Pirates: Guys, Rich Hill is 43 and he's a prized starter for the Pirates. What the hell is going on? I love this!
Rangers: It is looking very likely that Yoshi Tsustugo might make this team, and that'd be really cool, because after he flamed out with the Rays I thought he was cooked, and he's kinda become an unsung favorite wherever he's played.
Rays: Christian Bethancourt might actually be the starting catcher for the Rays this year. Some people can call that an inspiring comeback story, I still file it away with the other 'the Rays are too cheap' stuff. Bethancourt returned from MLB obscurity with the A's and now gets to start for the Rays, so that is kinda cool.
Red Sox: Brayan Bello making the roster isn't surprising, but him being a major candidate to start games is surprising to me. Just proves how much the Sox have lost in the last few years.
Reds: The bad news is that Michael Siani and Elly de la Cruz were both cut so the Reds can eventually control them for a little longer. The good news is that at least Spencer Steer is here, and looking to start the year at third. He's a decent prospect, maybe a full year will illuminate his promise.
I may update this as more cuts happen, but this alone is a pretty wild picture.