Monday, March 27, 2023

THEY Made The Opening Day Roster?


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.

Astros: Hunter Brown, who will be the Astros' fifth starter off the bat, as Lance McCullers will once again begin the season on the IL. Brown will have big shoes to fill, in a year without Justin Verlander, but he's been efficient enough in spring competition. 

Athletics: Freddy Tarnok, who was sent over in the Sean Murphy trade and looks to be making the A's as a reliever. Seeing as Kyle Muller is getting the Opening Day start, Tarnok making the team is a good sign for how much room they have for prospects.

Blue Jays: Not a lot of truly out of the ordinary choices, so by default, Chad Green, who's finally suiting up for a team that isn't the Yankees.

Braves: TIE between Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster, two guys who made the rotation over Bryce Elder and Ian Anderson. I could have gone with Hoy Park, who made it over Vaughn Grissom or Braden Shewmake, but Dodd and Shuster I actually understand the promise of.

Brewers: Gus Varland, a longtime minor leaguer who's bounced around for a few years and is FINALLY making the majors this year after becoming a character as a spring training reliever. Could have gone with Brice Turang, but him making the team I could have guessed.

Cardinals: In lieu of Jordan Walker, I'm going with Taylor Motter, the longtime backup infielder who impressed enough to make Opening Day, something I did not think he was still capable of. 

Cubs: Wesneski, see above.

Diamondbacks: Nobody really, though I'll say Drey Jameson because I figured that if Ryne Nelson won the 5th slot then Jameson wouldn't make it himself, but there they both are.

Dodgers: James Outman, one of the few Opening Day rookies that might be overshadowed by some of the other ones. The Dodgers are starting Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson in the outfield this year, might also use David Peralta and Jason Heyward for starts, and are clearly lacking in respected outfield pop that isn't Mookie Betts. Outman being a young outfield guy will certainly help things along, especially if he's ready.

Giants: When I did the research for this post, the Giants roster was still a bit fatty, so I'll just assume Sean Hjelle made the team out of camp and wonder aloud how odd it is that a 6'11 starter might get some reps with the Giants this year. [EDIT, 4/30: The Giants were, in fact, not ready for this Hjelle].

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.

Nationals: N/A

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.

Rockies: Tulo, then Story, then a year of Iglesias, then, as it's looking, Ezequiel Tovar, who looks to start at shortstop this year for the Rox after getting a 9-game preview last year. Tovar has a lot of promise following him, and he does look sharp after a nice spring, with 14 hits in 18 games, so this guy might end up being THE guy going forward, which, no disrespect to Brendan Rodgers, would be very helpful.

Royals: Aroldis Chapman's beard. Look, in the last 7 years I'd forgotten he could grow one, man.

Tigers: Ryan Kreidler, a rookie who struggled offensively in 28 games last year yet has been handed the starting third base job this year. Of the rosters I looked up for this post, the Tigers' roster was the sparsest, and it seems to be Kreidler or bust, which is a bold strategy.

Twins: N/A, even Gallo I could have guessed

White Sox: Romy Gonzalez will be starting at 2nd base instead of Leury Garcia. That may be one of the biggest shockers of the spring.

Yankees: As much as I wanna say Volpe, through everything I saw from him this spring, I had a feeling. So I'll say this: the Yankees are going in with one rotation spot empty. One would assume, alongside Cole, Cortes, German and Schmidt, that they'd just give it to Michael King, who'd started games before. But as I write this post, it is looking like they will be bringing Jhony Brito with them to the Bronx after 5 perfect innings this weekend. Volpe starting in the majors seems like a foregone conclusion compared to Brito, even if he was looking pretty ready with Scranton last year. I'm still not sure if he's officially in, but if yesterday's anything to go by, what a surprise he could be.

I may update this as more cuts happen, but this alone is a pretty wild picture.


  1. Rich Hill continuing to beat father time. Love it.

  2. On the Mets, Almonte didn't, but Tim Locastro did. I can understand that Álvarez needs to work on his catching, and that it doesn't make sense to have both Baty and Escobar on the roster. But I have a hard time seeing how Tommy Pham or Locastro would be better as a right-handed DH than Vientos. Or even taking a flyer on Luke Voit.