The Cardinals have a few roster spots up for grabs this spring, but who will earn an opening day roster spot?
Starting off in the bullpen, the Cardinals stand with six locks for their Spring Training bullpen, with Giovanny Gallegos, Tyler Webb, Andrew Miller, John Brebbia, Ryan Helsley and John Gant earning those spots. However, with eight man bullpens, that leaves three open spots. One of those spots would have to be taken by Brett Cecil if he’s healthy, though that seems to be in question at this point in the spring. The final two spots would be left up to Daniel Ponce De Leon, Junior Fernandez, Alex Reyes, Kodi Whitley, Austin Gomber and Genesis Cabrera for the final roster spots.
Whitley has impressed this spring, pitching three scoreless innings, granted they’ve been late in games against mostly minor leaguers. The other knock on Whitley is that he’s not on the 40 man roster, and has never pitched in the majors. Ponce De Leon has worked heavily at Driveline in Seattle this offseason, and has shown well because of it in spring training, and would seemingly lead the group to earn one of the final spots. Gomber and Cabrera have both impressed this spring as well, but each are lefty, and carrying both would leave the Cardinals with four lefties in the pen, which is excessive. However, an injury to Andrew Miller, which seems increasingly likely, could open a spot for one of them. For Reyes, he’s had control issues throughout camp and seems ticketed to the minors to work on it. Fernandez has looked good as well, but struggled in his MLB time last season, which could prevent his opening day spot. The two likely answers will be Ponce De Leon and Reyes, as the team likes Reyes’ upside enough to give him a major chance.
The other roster spot comes on the bench. Matt Wieters, Lane Thomas, Tyler O’Neill and Brad Miller all have locked roster spots coming off the bench, leaving one spot. Competing for that spot is Rangel Ravelo, Edmundo Sosa and Andrew Knizner. Likely, Knizner will not make the team, as carrying three catchers is unconventional, and the team wants Knizner to see consistent playing time. Ravelo would give the team a big bat off the bench in a pinch hitting role, which the team desires. Sosa, on the other hand, gives them versatility in the infield, and a sure glove for defensive replacements late in games. However, the deciding factor will likely be the number of options remaining, and with Sosa having one, and Ravelo being out, Ravelo will likely make the team.
The Cardinals have three weeks remaining to evaluate their talent and decide who to take north into the regular season on their 26 man roster.