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Predicting 25-man roster with battles ongoing

MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The roster battles in Padres camp have taken a decidedly different tone this spring than they have in years past.

There are no Rule 5 Draft selections to work around. There are few out-of-options veterans who might present logistical challenges. Instead, there's a host of young talent in camp, and those youngsters have been given every opportunity to compete for a job.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The roster battles in Padres camp have taken a decidedly different tone this spring than they have in years past.

There are no Rule 5 Draft selections to work around. There are few out-of-options veterans who might present logistical challenges. Instead, there's a host of young talent in camp, and those youngsters have been given every opportunity to compete for a job.

"This time you're looking at the bottom part of the roster, and you're talking about baseball players that have earned their way to the big leagues, have hit at Triple-A," Padres manager Andy Green said. "Those are problems championship organizations have, and you're starting to see that in a few areas."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

With one week until Green and Co. must settle on an Opening Day roster, here's an early projection of what that 25-man squad might look like.

Catcher (2): Austin Hedges, A.J. Ellis
Raffy Lopez is doing everything he can to supplant Ellis from the No. 2 job behind Hedges. Lopez's lefty bat would also serve as a nice complement to Hedges, specifically against tricky right-handed pitchers.

But Ellis has one thing Lopez does not: years of big league experience. That could prove decisive in a tight backup-catcher race. Ellis brings a wealth of knowledge, which could help nurture both Hedges and a young pitching staff.

First base (1): Eric Hosmer
Wil Myers entered camp as the Padres' first baseman, but he was more than happy to concede his place to Hosmer, who inked an eight-year, $144 million deal last month. Myers has since moved to right field, and it's unlikely he returns to first base, even in a backup capacity.

Video: OAK@SD: Hosmer slugs his first homer of Spring

The Padres almost certainly won't carry a backup who can play first base exclusively. Instead, third basemen Chase Headley and Christian Villanueva would spell Hosmer as necessary.

Second base (1): Carlos Asuaje
The stakes are especially high in the second-base race, where the winner will play regularly and the loser probably won't have a place on the Opening Day roster. There might not be a tighter race in baseball than the one between Asuaje and Cory Spangenberg.

Their skill sets differ slightly, with Asuaje better defensively and OBP-wise, while Spangenberg holds the edge in speed and slugging. But there probably isn't much room for two left-handed-hitting second basemen, especially with Jose Pirela likely to see time there as a backup. Asuaje gets the ever-so-slight edge because of his ever-so-slightly better numbers this spring.

Video: CHC@SD: Asuaje smacks a solo homer to left field

Third base (2): Headley, Villanueva
Villanueva started Spring Training on an absolute tear, mashing three homers in a four-game span. His early success led some to call for Villanueva to earn the starting job on Opening Day.

That's not going to happen. Headley is precisely the type of patient on-base threat the Padres have lacked over the past two seasons. Still, Villanueva's hot start secured him a spot on the roster. He'll serve as a powerful bench bat, starting sporadically against left-handers.

Shortstop (1): Freddy Galvis
Galvis was assured the everyday job at short when the Padres acquired him in a December trade with Philadelphia. Apparently "every day" means "every day."

Galvis played 162 games for the Phillies last season, and that durability means the Padres might not carry a traditional backup. That's bad news for Dusty Coleman. Villanueva could be used in an emergency capacity.

Video: ARI@SD: Galvis grounds RBI single to right field

Outfield (5): Myers, Pirela, Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero
No positional race has drawn more attention in Padres camp than the outfield battle, which was given an entirely new complexion by Myers' move to right field. He's a lock, so is Margot in center, and Pirela is pretty darn close.

It's likeliest the Padres carry five outfielders, and that leaves four players fighting for two spots -- Renfroe, Cordero, Travis Jankowski and Matt Szczur. Carrying both Cordero and Jankowski might be redundant, given their similar skill sets. Cordero's upside gives him a slight advantage, though he is nursing groin tightness. Meanwhile, Renfroe's power bat seems too potent to leave out.

Rotation (5): Clayton Richard, Bryan Mitchell, Dinelson Lamet, Luis Perdomo, Tyson Ross
Entering camp, this seemed like an eight-man race for three spots. It's developed into something of a five-man race for two. Richard and Mitchell were always in, and Lamet joined them. Matt Strahm, meanwhile, would need further time in the Minors if he were to stretch back into a starter. Right-hander Colin Rea is also out of the mix with a right lat strain.

So it's Perdomo, Ross, Chris Young, Jordan Lyles and Robbie Erlin. Perdomo impressed in his most recent start, and he has a small edge given his past two seasons and his potential role in the club's future. After that, it's down to four, and Ross' upside might win out.

Video: SD@SF: Perdomo strikes out Tomlinson swinging

Bullpen (8): Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, Kazuhisa Makita, Colten Brewer, Buddy Baumann, Young, Lyles
Hand, Yates, Stammen and Makita are destined to pitch the highest leverage innings early in the season. The Padres are also going to carry at least one long man, and possibly two as a means of keeping Young and Lyles on board.

That would leave two spots open, and one probably goes to a left-hander. Baumann and Kyle McGrath are locked into a tight race there. Half a dozen options will vie for that final spot, but Brewer signed a big league deal during the offseason and has looked sharp early this spring.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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