3 prospects who could make the OD roster
This story was excerpted from Jason Beck's Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.
In case you’ve been distracted by March Madness (hey, it happens), Opening Day is less than two weeks away, and the Tigers are entering their final week of Spring Training.
In many cases, this is the time when prospects head down the hall to Minor League camp, while the Major Leaguers focus on competing for Opening Day roster spots. However, Detroit is trying to create opportunities for younger players and still has a few prospects left in camp battles.
Here are three players on MLB Pipeline’s Tigers prospects list still in Major League camp competing for roster spots:
LHP Joey Wentz (No. 8)
Wentz has made a strong bid for a rotation spot where there wasn’t expected to even be a competition. In the process, the big left-hander has built upon the momentum he had down the stretch in a solid September stint, as well as a dominant stint in the Arizona Fall League.
He’ll likely fall short in his bid after a rough outing Friday against the Yankees, a game in which Matt Manning recaptured momentum with a strong start.
Wentz will likely open the season at Triple-A Toledo, but the Tigers need to look no further than last season to see how quickly starting pitching depth can be needed. Beau Brieske opened last season in Toledo and debuted in Detroit two weeks into the season.
IF Ryan Kreidler (No. 11)
Kreidler has played at second base, third base, shortstop and center field this spring, sometimes at multiple spots in the same game. He has two potential routes to the Opening Day roster: He could join Nick Maton in a timeshare at third base (he’s competing with Andy Ibáñez there), or he could make the roster in a super utility role (likely competing with César Hernández there, although Hernández has mainly played at second base this spring).
Kreidler, who has a history of strong Spring Trainings, actually got off to a slow start this time around, batting 2-for-15 with six strikeouts in his first seven games.
He has heated up in the past couple of weeks, batting 7-for-21 with two doubles, a triple, a home run, three walks and just one strikeout ahead of Sunday's game. Kreidler could well open the season in Toledo to get regular at-bats, but if manager A.J. Hinch opts for versatility, he has built a pretty good case.
RHP Mason Englert (No. 27)
Englert is in a unique situation for a couple reasons: He’s a Rule 5 Draft pick, so he has to either make the Major League roster or be offered back to the Rangers.
Unlike Wentz and Kreidler, Englert has yet to appear in the Majors, or even Triple-A. His inexperience is hard to find in his performance so far this spring, with nine innings of three-run ball, two walks and 11 strikeouts.
He arguably has the best chance of the three of making the Opening Day roster, not just for his Rule 5 status but also because he fits as a multi-inning reliever with a solid arsenal.