With Oakland Athletics pitchers and catchers due to report to camp today, let's meet all these pitchers.
Like last year, I'm going to take you through our spring training roster and give you a quick overview of the position battles and such. We start with pitchers. I have drawn up brief notes on each player invited to A's major league spring camp, and rated their chances of getting on the "25-man" as "Definite", "Probable", "In the mix", "Questionable", or "Doubtful."
A player is doubtful if there is practically no chance that player makes the opening day roster. I would guess the team would make a trade to acquire a better player than allow him to remain on the roster for very long in case injury forces the issue.
A player is questionable if there is a chance that a breakout improvement in the player's tools could allow the team to consider that player. On the flipside, a player is probable if there is a significant chance that a significant drop in the player's skills could cause the team to drop that player in favor of another.
Players are in the mix if there is an open competition for a spot with no clear frontrunner.
Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, and Rich Hill should be your top three, and Chris Bassitt is the frontrunner for the fourth spot in the rotation. It's the fifth spot that is wide open.
That fifth spot should be a competition between Kendall Graveman, Felix Doubront, Sean Nolin (if he clears waivers), Aaron Brooks, and Jarrod Parker. Felix Doubront will probably become the long reliever if he isn't named the fifth starter. Prospect Sean Manaea could break through, but I would guess all of those options for the fifth spot would have to fall through. The A's have already said they want to give him time in Triple-A.
Whoever wins the fifth spot will have to work hard to stay in the rotation whenever Henderson Alvarez returns from shoulder surgery. Alvarez tells reporters (incl. the SF Chronicle's Susan Slusser) that he's throwing out to 135 feet and, as players are wont to be, extremely optimistic about his return, going so far as to say he wants to be throwing for the A's in April. David Forst pinned a June 1 target date for Alvarez at FanFest.
Dillon Overton and Raul Alcantara are the other starting pitcher prospects in camp besides Manaea. Overton is the closest to the big leagues and will start the year in Triple-A, while Alcantara is probably slated for Double-A. Chris Smith will be a nice option for the Nashville Sounds to have.
|After finishing 3rd in the Cy Young, Gray will try to propel himself to undisputed ace status in 2016.|
|Reported no elbow issues at Fanfest, but can he make 30 starts this year?|
|Four spectacular September starts propelled him to his $6 million deal. Can he sustain it?|
|FanGraphs says he's got great "stuff", and he was doing well in 2015 before an injury shut him down.|
|49||Kendall Graveman||In the mix||25||R||MLB||Yes|
|Last year's Cactus League Cy Young was uneven in the regular season. Can he be more consistent?|
|53||Felix Doubront||In the mix||28||L||MLB||Yes|
|There's a long reliever spot waiting for him if the out-of-options lefty doesn't grab the 5th rotation spot.|
|47||Sean Nolin||In the mix||26||L||MLB||No|
|DFA'd, there's a chance he'll sneak through waivers as he's also out of options.|
|36||Aaron Brooks||In the mix||26||R||MLB||Yes|
|There's a lot of pitch-to-contact going on with Brooks, but the changeup is interesting.|
|11||Jarrod Parker||In the mix||27||R||Rehab||Yes|
|Big question is whether Parker can go back to starting after the broken elbow delayed his return from his 2nd TJS.|
|The A's front office says they want Manaea to start in Triple-A, but a mid-season callup seems likely.|
|37||Henderson Alvarez||DL (June 1?)||26||R||MLB||Yes|
|Alvarez is recovering from shoulder surgery, and it'll be interesting to see where the rotation is when he returns.|
|Overton is a bit of a sleeper. If his velocity comes back, he'll shoot up quickly.|
|Hasn't played in the majors since 2010. 3.60 ERA with El Paso in 2015. Nashville might compete for a title.|
|Two option years left for Alcantara, but he'll need to climb the ladder quickly.|
The bullpen got a complete overhaul during the offseason to the point that there are few questions who will be in the bullpen. Sean Doolittle returns as closer while Ryan Madson, Liam Hendriks, John Axford, and Marc Rzepczynski all were acquired in the offseason. There's a good chance a long relief spot is set aside for Felix Doubront if he doesn't crack the starting rotation. Of the remaining relievers on the 40-man roster, Fernando Rodriguez is the only one who is out of options, so he's a good bet for the last middle reliever spot.
Ryan Dull, R.J. Alvarez, and J.B. Wendelken will be competing for who will be the next right-hander called up in case the A's suffer a bullpen injury.
The A's don't have another LOOGY on the 40-man roster past Marc Rzepczynski, so the next lefty up is pretty wide open between Daniel Coulombe, Eric Surkamp, and Patrick Schuster. Coulombe and Surkamp both pitched in the majors last year, but Schuster has't gotten above Double-A.
|Doolittle spent most of 2015 on the disabled list, but he returns to the closer position ready to rock. He's learned a split-change!|
|Big part of the highly touted Royals bullpen that helped them win last year's World Series. Only question is age.|
|Aussie acquired for Jesse Chavez. He attributes his big jump in velo to Pilates.|
|Another flamethrower acquired in the offseason, should slot comfortably into the 7th inning.|
|The LOOGY had a 3.66 FIP last year, but a 5.66 ERA. Just bad timing?|
|Fernando Rodriguez is one of the few remaining members of the 2015 A's bullpen. Out of options, but that might save him.|
|Dull started his MLB career with a long scoreless innings streak before giving up a bunch of runs. Might be first reliever called up.|
|Alvarez has a lot of work to do on his control to have a shot at the MLB bullpen, but a breakthrough is possible.|
|Also in that "next guy up" discussion. What do the A's have out of the Lawrie trade?|
|Castro should squarely be in the competition for fourth right-hander called up to the A's bullpen.|
|Shoulder injury caused him to miss a lot of 2015, and he ended up off the 40-man roster in the end.|
|A's picked up him up from the Angels last June, but an elbow issue has severely limited his time.|
|One of the few new MiLB free agent signings for the A's this offseason. High strikeout rate (35%!) but high walk rate (14%!) in Double-A.|
|The A's were cool enough to let Ryan play in the exhibition Bay Bridge series last year, and he was a competent Double-A reliever in 2015.|
|Coulombe is in the "next lefty up" discussion with Eric Surkamp.|
|Surkamp is in the "next lefty up" discussion with Daniel Coulmobe.|
|Didn't get above Double-A with the Diamondbacks and Reds. Has to get walk rate down to merit discussion.|