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Behind the Backstop: Roster Shuffle Review

Tory Hernandez

Tory's experience in the baseball industry includes a four-year stint as the Manager of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, where his responsibilities were comprised of contract negotiation, advance scouting, and the development and implementation of the organization's statistical research methods and use of analytics. Most recently, Tory served as the Director of Pro Scouting & Recruiting for Boras Corporation.

A major deadline in Major League Baseball passed on November 20th when clubs had to add players to their 40-man rosters, or risk exposing prospects to the Rule 5 draft in December. There were 108 players added on the 20th, which doesn't include those that were added back in October. Let's take a team by team look at some of the better names who are now one step closer to the show.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Bo Schultz is a 27-year-old right-handed sinker baller who is not much of a prospect but he throws strikes and should have a chance to help out as a long reliever. ETA: 2015

Atlanta Braves
Shortstop Elmer Reyes was written up in one of my earlier columns and emerged this year in the Braves' farm system. Ultimately, I think he's a reserve middle infielder, but the Braves thought he truly came in to his own this year, and he's someone that they see playing a role with their major league club. ETA: 2016

Baltimore Orioles
Catcher Michael Ohlman had a huge year in High-A ball this year. He hit for power for the first time in his career and while he's not a big time prospect, he should now be on your radar. ETA: 2016

Boston Red Sox
The Sox have two prospects they added that should be impact players at Fenway. RHP Anthony Ranaudo re-emerged last year after an injury plagued 2012. He has the chance to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the rotation. ETA: 2014

Third baseman Garin Cecchini is someone I have written up in earlier columns and he looks like a solid doubles machines who should hit .290 or better. ETA: 2015

Chicago Cubs
Shortstop Arismendy Alcantara was in the Futures Game this year and he was one of the more surprising players I saw. He's little but he has some pop. His arm will play on the left side of the infield and he could push Starlin Castro out of the starting shortstop role in two years. ETA: 2015

Chicago White Sox
The south-siders added Carlos Sanchez and Trayce Thompson. Sanchez was very young for Triple-A, playing shortstop and second base as a 21-year-old. The Sox stunted his growth by pushing him as he was probably better suited for Double-A. He has the chance to hit though and could emerge as a solid every day second baseman. ETA: 2014

Outfielder Trayce Thompson has big time power potential, but he has trouble putting wood on the ball. A repeat is probably in store in Double-A next year. ETA: 2016

Cincinnati Reds
I've written up right-handed pitcher Chad Rogers before and see him as a solid No. 4 starter. ETA: 2014

Outfielder Juan Duran was a big bonus baby out of the Dominican and he hasn't lived up to the hype. He has power potential, but he has a lot of holes in his swing. ETA: 2016

Cleveland Indians
Right-handed pitcher Austin Adams is a short, power armed reliever that should emerge in the late innings in the Indians' pen. He throws hard, but he has trouble controlling the strike zone. ETA: 2014

Colorado Rockies
The Rox added some nice pieces in OF/1B Kyle Parker and left-handed pitcher Jayson Aquino, but the real prize is shortstop Rosell Herrera. Herrera flies under the radar a bit but his body oozes potential and he is beginning to play under control. His bat should play at the upper levels and while he may not stick at shortstop, he's a potential impact player. Keep a watchful eye on this one. ETA: late summer 2016

Detroit Tigers
Detroit added quite a few names, but none that scream quality prospect. Shortstop Eugenio Suarez has the best tools, but his bat screams more reserve right now. ETA: 2015

Right-hander Jose Valdez has a chance to pitch at the back of Detroit's bullpen, but he doesn't look like closer material. ETA: 2015

Houston Astros
Outfielder Domingo Santana has all kinds of tools and is coming off a solid year. The Astros have him lined up to be their future right fielder and he should hit in the middle of the order. ETA: he might get a look in the summer of 2014

First baseman Jonathan Singleton was added back on October 2nd and is coming off a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana for a second time. It's difficult to evaluate his 2013 season, but he should be the 'Stros future first baseman. ETA: 2014

Kansas City Royals
There isn't a lot to get excited about here. Infielder Christian Colon hasn't lived up to his first-round selection and looks like a future utility infielder. ETA: 2014

Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert has big upside, but his bat hasn't come around. He is probably getting pushed a bit too hard and I'd like to see him spend an entire year at Double-A as a 21-year-old next year. He has a chance to unseat incumbent Mike Moustakas. ETA: late summer 2015

Los Angeles Angels
The Angels added outfielder Randal Grichuk and then traded him to St. Louis in the Peter Bourjos/David Freese/Fernando Salas trade. Grichuk has tons of power but can't adjust to good breaking balls. He'll hit poor pitching and would make a nice complement as a sixth hitter in the bigs. He might have a difficult time breaking into the Cards' outfield, but don't give up on him just yet. There is still impact potential there if he can ever pick up the spin. ETA: 2015

Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers added some power arms but nobody with impact potential. Right-hander Pedro Baez is a converted third baseman, and left-handed pitcher Jarret Martin throws hard. Righty Yimi Garcia was in the Fall League this year and should have success in the late innings in the Dodgers' bullpen. ETA's: 2015

Miami Marlins
Right-handed pitcher Jose Urena is the most intriguing add for the fish and looks like a strike-throwing, innings eating No. 3-4 starter. He doesn't have plus stuff, but he can run his fastball up in the mid-90s. ETA: 2016

I also like Brent Keys a bit. He has shown that he can hit and I'd like to see him given a chance to play every day in left field and bat second. ETA: late summer 2016

Milwaukee Brewers
The crew didn't add any impact players, but first baseman Hunter Morris still has the upside to be an everyday player. I would suspect more Lyle Overbay type numbers though if he ever hits his ceiling. ETA: 2014

Minnesota Twins
The Twins have their future second baseman in Jorge Polanco. He will be a plus defender at the keystone and he's going to hit. Polanco should be a solid on-base guy that hits second in a championship caliber lineup. ETA: late summer 2016

New York Mets
Not a lot to be excited about here although lefty Jake DeGrom should help the big league club in 2014. The most interesting name is left-handed pitcher Steve Matz. He's been unhealthy throughout his minor league career, but he had a real nice season last year in Low-A. The Mets need to try and push him and get him to Double-A by the end of 2014. I see upside as a real solid No. 3 starter. ETA: 2016

New York Yankees
That team from the Bronx added a few interesting names. The most likely impact guy is catcher Gary Sanchez. I saw this kid work out when he was 15 years old and he had one of the best arms I've ever seen for someone at that age. Sanchez has tons of power and good catch and throw skills. Don't be thrown off by the Brian McCann signing. By the time Sanchez is ready for the big leagues in two years, he'll be eased in like Jorge Posada was. McCann could be ready to play some first base and DH in three to four years when Sanchez might just be about ready to be a full-time starter. ETA: 2016

Oakland Athletics
They only added one player to the roster this year in right-hander Raul Alcantara. I have written up Alcantara before and I see him as a strike throwing No. 3 starter in the major leagues. ETA: 2016

Philadelphia Phillies
Outfielder Aaron Altherr is oozing with tools, but the bat probably only plays as a fourth outfielder. Catcher Tommy Joseph has the most upside and could be a nice complement to Carlos Ruiz in a couple of years. He missed most of 2013 because of a concussion but when he's healthy, he's a plus defender behind the plate. He should be at least an average hitter in the big leagues as well. Ruiz is signed for three years so I would suspect the transition to begin right around that time when Joseph should be fully ready for the show. ETA: 2016

Pittsburgh Pirates
Everybody should know outfielder Gregory Polanco and infielder Alen Hanson by now. Polanco is one of the best prospects in the minors right now and could be the heir apparent to Andrew McCutchen as the best all-around player on the Pirates. ETA: 2014

Hanson has huge upside as well and should be in line to be the starting shortstop in Pittsburgh for years to come. He's very exciting with a lot of tools. ETA: 2015

St. Louis Cardinals
Despite a banged up year Oscar Taveras might just be the best prospect in baseball, still. He won't have an everyday job in St. Louis in 2014, but depending on how Peter Bourjos and Matt Adams do, he may find himself getting full-time at-bats by the end of the season. ETA: 2014

Keep your eye on Mike O'Neill. Scouts I've spoken to don't like the tools much but he could be a poor man's Adam Eaton of the D-Backs.

San Diego Padres
Right-hander Donn Roach is a groundball machine and could be a great middle man who adds length to a bullpen or a solid third or fourth starter if he ever develops a secondary pitch. He has plus command of the strike zone and he'll dominate some nights with one pitch, but there are questions about whether he can get through a big league lineup three times. ETA: late summer 2015

Righty Keyvius Sampson had a bounce back year and dominated Double-A before he faltered in the rare air in the PCL. Sampson is hit or miss on some nights. I'd like to see some more consistency out of him before I anoint him a sure-fire big league starter. The arsenal is there though with a plus curveball and changeup. If he learns to locate with his fastball, he can be a real solid No. 3, and perhaps even a No. 2 starter in some years. ETA: 2014

San Francisco Giants
RHP Kendry Flores has the highest upside amongst those added by the Giants. He's a ways away from San Francisco but the Giants should start to push him and try and get him to double-A by the end of the 2014 season. There is still a lot to learn about Flores but he's someone to monitor on your prospect radar in 2014. ETA: 2016

Seattle Mariners
First baseman Ji-Man Choi is an interesting name, but scouts aren't sure he'll hit for enough power at his position. He has flown under the radar and the Mariners will probably give him a look soon. ETA: 2014

Outfielder James Jones has had some success in the minor leagues and he has the arm for right field, but I ultimately see him as a nice fourth outfielder. ETA: 2014

Tampa Bay Rays
Jesse Hahn could be the next best Rays' pitching prospect. One scout I spoke to this year thinks he's the best arm in their system right now and recently at the First Pitch Arizona convention put on by Baseball Headquarters, I heard some similar reports from a source who saw him a lot this year.

Texas Rangers
Shortstop Luis Sardinas is the best prospect added by the Rangers and has great tools. He's a great defensive player and he along with Jurickson Profar could help push Elvis Andrus out of north Texas. ETA: 2016

Toronto Blue Jays
Nothing exciting here but some still think right-hander Deck McGuire, a former first rounder has a chance to re-emerge as a prospect. I'm not one of those and ultimately I see him as an up and down emergency arm. ETA: 2015

Outfielder Kenny Wilson has fifth outfielder written all over him. He has great defensive skills and is a plus runner. He has value, but really only to a major league club as a 25th man on the roster.

Washington Nationals
Lefty Sammy Solis is someone I have written about here on this column. He is finally getting healthy and his quality stuff is returning. He profiles as a reliever down the road and the Nationals will probably try him out this spring to see if he makes the club as one of their lefties in the pen. Long term, he still has upside as a potential No. 3 or No. 4 starter.