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White Sox roster a mix of steadiness, upside

Vets Abreu, Castillo, Shields complement youngsters Moncada, Lopez, Engel
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The White Sox remain in the midst of a rapid rebuild that has many on the roster feeling optimistic about the club's competitiveness, but the churn of player development didn't cause much confusion in picking the 25-man roster that will open the 2018 regular season.

Our pre-Spring Training guess for the 25-man roster was almost perfect, minus two relievers. Here's a look at the final roster heading into Thursday afternoon's season opener in Kansas City.

CHICAGO -- The White Sox remain in the midst of a rapid rebuild that has many on the roster feeling optimistic about the club's competitiveness, but the churn of player development didn't cause much confusion in picking the 25-man roster that will open the 2018 regular season.

Our pre-Spring Training guess for the 25-man roster was almost perfect, minus two relievers. Here's a look at the final roster heading into Thursday afternoon's season opener in Kansas City.

Catcher (2): Welington Castillo, Omar Narvaez
Kevan Smith, who capably shared catching duties with Narvaez last season, also was in the mix. But he will start on the disabled list due to a left ankle sprain.

First base (1): Jose Abreu
Abreu is the clubhouse leader, the voice of the team and is trying to extend a streak of four straight seasons in which he's hit at least 25 home runs, 32 doubles, 100 RBIs, a .290 average and a .468 slugging percentage. Abreu also worked diligently in 2017 to improve defensively at first.

Video: ARI@CWS: Abreu launches a two-run homer in the 5th

Second base (1): Yoan Moncada
Moncada's 2017 was a valuable learning experience for the 22-year-old switch-hitter and former top prospect in baseball. His first true test comes in '18 as the team's everyday second baseman. Barring injury, Moncada will receive upwards of 600 plate appearances, and he will begin the season in the lineup's leadoff spot.

Video: Moncada discusses his different mindset this spring

Third base (1): Yolmer Sanchez
With career highs in games played (141) and plate appearances (534) last season, Sanchez produced personal bests in average (.267), triples (8), home runs (12), RBIs (59) and runs (63). Sanchez played at least one game in five positions last year, but he will settle in at third in 2018. Matt Davidson also will get action at the hot corner, as will Tyler Saladino.

Video: MIL@CWS: Sanchez jokes about his many talents

Shortstop (1): Tim Anderson
Anderson focused on family for the bulk of this offseason in order to help clear his mind for the 2018 season. The shortstop admirably dealt with personal struggles while playing his first full season in '17, finishing with 17 homers and 15 steals.

Video: Tim Anderson embracing leadership role with Sox

Utility/DH (3): Davidson (DH), Leury Garcia, Saladino
Saladino has the ability to play across the infield, while Garcia can play both infield and outfield, not to mention pitching, if needed. Davidson, who crushed the ball during Spring Training, and Nicky Delmonico could see time at designated hitter, with an outfield featuring Garcia in left when Delmonico is at DH.

Video: CWS@ARI: Davidson lifts a two-run homer in the 3rd

Outfield (3): Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia
Engel provides Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field and tinkered his swing over the offseason after a rough rookie season at the plate in 2017. He had strong results in Cactus League play, hitting .383/.453/.702 with four home runs. Garcia had a breakout All-Star campaign last year, hitting .330 with career highs in homers (18), runs (75) and RBIs (80).

Video: CWS@SEA: Engel belts a pair of homers vs. Mariners

Starting pitchers (5): James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez, Carson Fulmer
Fulmer struggled during Cactus League play, but the White Sox never appeared to move off the right-hander as a fifth starter. But this group will change with the eventual return from the disabled list of Carlos Rodon, who began a throwing program after SoxFest as part of his rehab for arthroscopic left shoulder surgery in September. The rotation could also change when the White Sox top pitching prospect, Michael Kopech, is deemed ready.

Video: TEX@CWS: Giolito tosses 6 1/3 scoreless, gets ovation

Bullpen (8): Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Danny Farquhar, Juan Minaya,  Hector Santiago, Aaron Bummer, Gregory Infante
Santiago wasn't with the team when the preseason predictions were made, or else he would have been a lock. The White Sox had veteran non-roster options such as Jeanmar Gomez, Bruce Rondon, Robbie Ross Jr. and Xavier Cedeno, not to mention Chris Volstad, who was nearly perfect all spring. But they opted to go with younger talent in Infante and Bummer, along with three southpaws in an eight-man bullpen.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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