With the World Baseball Classic getting underway this weekend and Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mike Aviles, and Giovanni Soto are all leaving Goodyear to play for their respective countries. So naturally this opens up a few innings and at bats for guys on the cusp of the roster and some prospects. Which of them stands to gain the most of the opportunity?
C Yan Gomes- Gomes helped Brazil get into the WBC over the winter, but realizing time in camp, with Santana gone, there would be some at bats for him at catcher, as well as working with a new pitching staff. Gomes can play a little first base, and supposedly a little third, which is a boost for him. But what will earn him a roster spot, is his bat and work behind the plate. It seems unlikely that Lou Marson would lose his roster spot, being the backup catcher the last two seasons and now making a cool million, but manager Terry Francona could possible go with Gomes if he out plays Marson. Francona has already said he likes Gomes and is going to want to see what he can behind the plate. It appears they are already satisfied with what his bat can do.
INF/OF Ryan Rabun- he’s already off to a sizzling start and with Aviles headed to Puerto Rico soon, he can really distance himself from any other bench candidates if he continues to play well. He can play 3B, 2B, LF, RF and provides a nice amount of pop, some good qualities in a bench player. It also wouldn’t hurt that he’s a former Tiger and might be able to provide some insight into scouting their team.
INF Cord Phelps- count me in as one of the probable few left who still believes Phelps can be a solid everyday player or at least deserves a shot on a 25 man roster. Cabrera and Aviles being gone should give him some extra at bats and innings and multiple positions. He seems like a long shot to make this roster, and given his age (26) and his time at AAA, he has nothing left to prove in the minors. He has a good swing from both sides of the plate, always makes solid contact. It would be beneficial for him to at least be showcased for another team who could use an infielder with some pop.
SS Francisco Lindor, Ronny Rodriguez, and Juan Diaz You’ve heard a lot about both Lindor and Rodriguez and have seen Diaz in a small window, but this is Francona’s first look at the guys who will play a lot of shortstop for him while Cabrera and Aviles are away. Listening to Francona talk about Lindor, it’s very easy to tell how excited he is to see the phenom shortstop. Rodriguez is going to get some at bats as well. He’s considered more advanced than Lindor because of age and playing at Carolina last season, but it’s not unfathomable for Lindor to pass him this season. But a good spring from Rodriguez while he has the some opportunities, would do a lot for his exposure to other teams to see if the Indians could drum up his trade value later in the season, depending on how he does at AA Akron.
Diaz played pretty solidly in emergency duty last season. At this point Diaz is what he is, more glove than bat, but provides a little pop. He’s probably falling off the radar a bit more now with Aviles around and with Raburn as well, but nonetheless, he’ll see some at bats.
RHP Preston Guilmet – not yet on the 40 man roster, Guilmet was invited to camp, mixed in with a lot of other arms who are currently fighting for bullpen spots. While he’s not fighting for a spot in the big league bullpen, there should be some innings more than available for Guilmet with Pestano and Perez gone. Pitching coach, Mickey Callaway is extremely familiar with the 25 year old right hander, having coached him in 2010 at Lake County and as the pitching coordinator last season. It’s unclear when Guilmet and his quirky, over the top delivery and his fall-off-the-table splitter will have a chance to appear in the big leagues, but he’s going to get some looks this spring. Guilmet would probably trade in either of his championship rings from Lake County or Akron, both of which he got the last out in the final game with, for a big league job, somewhere in the near future.