SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yes, there are still three weeks left of Spring Training, and plenty of things can happen that will affect the 25-man roster.But here's a very early projection of the 25 players who will break camp with the Royals. Approximately 22 of the spots are locks.First baseman Eric
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Yes, there are still three weeks left of Spring Training, and plenty of things can happen that will affect the 25-man roster.
But here's a very early projection of the 25 players who will break camp with the Royals. Approximately 22 of the spots are locks.
First baseman Eric Hosmer: Coming off a big year in 2015, Hosmer could even be better in 2016.
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Second baseman Omar Infante: The Royals are saying the second-base job is open competition between Infante and Christian Colon, but it really seems it is Infante's to lose.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar: Your leadoff hitter. #EskyMagic
Third baseman Mike Moustakas: Moustakas broke out with a career season (.284, 22 homers, 82 RBIs) in 2015. Early favorite to grab the No. 2 spot in the order.
Backup infielder Colon: Even if he doesn't win the second-base job, Colon should get plenty of playing time. Infante, even if healthy, probably won't play more than 120-125 games. And Colon can spell Escobar and Moose on occasion. Valuable guy to have.
Designated hitter Kendrys Morales: The difference-maker in the middle of the order.
Catcher Salvador Perez: He signed a $52.5 million extension. Now it's up to the Royals to protect that investment and give Perez ample time off.
Catcher Drew Butera: Can't see him losing the battle for backup job, mainly because Tony Cruz has options. And Butera has one of the strongest arms in the game.
Left fielder Alex Gordon: He's back, he's healthy, he's happy and he's financially secure (four years, $72 million). The face of the franchise.
Center fielder Lorenzo Cain: You may see him get some starts in right field to protect his legs a bit.
Right fielder Paulo Orlando: Doing everything necessary to claim the full-time job in right until Jarrod Dyson (oblique strain) gets healthy.
Backup outfielder Reymond Fuentes: Has the skill set the Royals are looking for -- good speed, plays excellent defense, can bunt, and makes contact. Also left-handed, making him a nice replacement for Dyson.
Backup outfielder Jose Martinez: Aside from the fact he's a great story -- 28-year-old journeyman who won the Pacific Coast League batting title with a .384 average last year -- he's having a really nice camp, hitting .417. Hasn't been overmatched. Battling Travis Snider and Brett Eibner for the fifth outfielder spot, assuming Royals carry five outfielders.
Starter Edinson Volquez: Has said repeatedly that he doesn't really want to be the Opening Day starter, but it sure looks like he will be.
Starter Yordano Ventura: Has the hard-throwing right-hander matured enough to be a frontline starter?
Starter Ian Kennedy: Throws strikes and works quickly. Should benefit from the Royals' superb defense.
Starter Chris Young: The MVP of last year's staff starts this season in the rotation.
Starter Kris Medlen: Second year coming back from Tommy John surgery means he should be stronger.
Reliever Danny Duffy: Likely starts the season in the bullpen and provides another power arm there, as well as depth for the rotation if needed.
Reliever Dillon Gee: Royals like what they've seen so far and he can start out in long relief, as well as adding more depth to the rotation if needed.
Reliever Brian Flynn: Should have made the team out of camp last season. Pitching just as well this camp. Yes, he still has an option left, and that could hurt him again. But unless he really starts to struggle, he has the inside edge. Fits the Royals' reliever profile -- big (6-foot-7) with impressive stuff (92-94 mph this camp and a great slider). So far, the rest of his competition -- Brian Duensing, Ross Ohlendorf, Chien-Ming Wang, David Huff, Peter Moylan and John Lannan -- has not stood out, though that certainly can change.
Reliever Luke Hochevar: Part of the "Big Four" in the bullpen, also in his second year coming back from Tommy John surgery. Should be even stronger.
Reliever Kelvin Herrera: Not many teams have setup men who can throw 101-mph heat.
Reliever Joakim Soria: Welcome back, Jack. Should get some save opportunities when Wade Davis needs a rest.
Reliever Davis: Say no more. The best in the biz.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.