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White Sox have roster battles in bullpen

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Luis Robert hit a game-winning grand slam. Eloy Jimenez homered in back-to-back March at-bats, including a two-run blast against the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. Right-hander Michael Kopech reinforced the point of being close to Major League-ready.

But those top-ranked White Sox prospects are more part of the franchise's exciting future than the present, beginning this campaign in the Minors. Here's a look at how the White Sox 2018 Opening Day roster could shape up.

CHICAGO -- Luis Robert hit a game-winning grand slam. Eloy Jimenez homered in back-to-back March at-bats, including a two-run blast against the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz. Right-hander Michael Kopech reinforced the point of being close to Major League-ready.

But those top-ranked White Sox prospects are more part of the franchise's exciting future than the present, beginning this campaign in the Minors. Here's a look at how the White Sox 2018 Opening Day roster could shape up.

Spring Training info

Catcher (2): Welington Castillo, Omar Narvaez
Castillo has spent Spring Training learning about and working with the pitchers, entrenching himself as the No. 1 behind the plate. The backup spot remains a tossup between Narvaez and Kevan Smith, with the left-handed-hitting Narvaez still holding the edge.

First base (1): Jose Abreu
Here's something qualifying as less than a stunner. Abreu will start at first base for the White Sox and continue to perform as one of the game's steadier middle-of-the-order presences as well as a clubhouse leader.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Second base (1): Yoan Moncada
Moncada started Spring Training in a 1-for-16 funk, not that great Cactus League statistics portend a Hall of Fame career. But Moncada was 6-for-16 over his past five games entering Tuesday's off-day, and he seems to have settled atop the lineup.

Shortstop (1): Tim Anderson
Anderson looks to be enjoying pretty much every moment of Spring Training. That aspect is good to see for a player who dealt with a tough personal loss in 2017. He's also one season removed from his six-year, $25 million extension, and he now has the ability to settle in and play.

Video: CWS@CHC: Sanchez plates Abreu with a single to right

Third base (1): Yolmer Sanchez
Matt Davidson has produced stellar Cactus League results and will get a fair share of time at third base. Sanchez, the original life of the party in the White Sox clubhouse, had a breakout season in 2017 and figures to build on that in '18. The club is more than comfortable with this duo at third this season over any outside option.

Outfield (3): Nicky Delmonico, Adam Engel, Avisail Garcia
Engel and Ryan Cordell turned in strong Cactus League performances, but Engel established himself as a Gold Glove Award-caliber defensive player at the big league level in 2017 and retained the starting center-field spot. Delmonico also figures to see time at DH, with Leury Garcia available to play the outfield.

Video: Delmonico on his shoulder injury after hard collision

Utility/designated hitter (3): Davidson (DH), Leury Garcia, Saladino
Matt Skole was reassigned to Minor League camp on Friday despite making his presence known with two homers, nine RBIs and a 1.054 OPS this spring. But Saladino and Leury Garcia provide more flexibility defensively.

Rotation (5): James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez, Carson Fulmer
Fulmer overcame a shaky Spring Training with four no-hit innings in his last outing. But it looks as though the White Sox aren't moving Fulmer from the starting five, although they have Hector Santiago waiting in the bullpen in long relief.

Video: Shields ready to take the mound on Opening Day

Bullpen (8): Nate Jones, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Santiago, Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Danny Farquhar, Aaron Bummer
Santiago, a southpaw, will play a valuable part on this staff. If the White Sox intend to go with three southpaw relievers, then Aaron Bummer has made the team, with left-handers Robbie Ross Jr. and Xavier Cedeno being reassigned Friday. Those moves leave right-handers Gregory Infante, Danny Farquhar, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon competing for two spots.

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.

Chicago White Sox