Prognosticating: 2014 Rock Cats Opening Day Lineup
by, 01-26-2014 at 10:22 PM (746 Views)
[Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]
It's one thing to predict an Opening Day lineup after things begin to shake out in Spring Training. It's another to do it a full month before pitchers and catchers arrive. So in the spirit of good fun, what follows is my January 26, 2014 prediction for the New Britain Rock Cats' Opening Day lineup. As you can see, the first several spots in my batting order pack a little punch. Between guys like Byron Buxton and Danny Santana that hit and have speed, and guys like Miguel Sano and Kennys Vargas (throw in C.J. Ziegler, too) with power, this is an offense that should score some runs. Danny Ortiz and Matt Koch are no slouches, either!
Predicting the Opening Day starter is more or less impossible. Part of me wants to say Alex Meyer. I don't think there's any way he's joining the Twins to begin 2014, but the real question is whether his injury-plagued 2013 regular season temporarily stunted him. In other words, I tend to think that both Meyer and Miguel Sano could start in New Britain, but would be eligible to be promoted after just a month or so. If he's in New Britain, Meyer should be the Opening Day starter. But I'm going to predict that Meyer will join Trevor May and start 2014 at AAA Rochester. Instead, I think D.J. Baxendale, who was unstoppable at High-A Ft. Myers, but struggled considerably in New Britain, will get the nod. This is a big year for him.
1. Byron Buxton (CF)
2. Danny Santana (SS)
3. Miguel Sano (3B)**
4. Kennys Vargas (DH)
5. C.J. Ziegler (1B)
6. Daniel Ortiz (LF)
7. Mike Kvasnicka (RF)
7. Matt Koch (C)
9. Levi Michael (2B)
Pitcher: D.J. Baxendale
**This particular pick involves a little of my own personal bias. Let me explain. Part of the bias is because I want to see him play a few more games at AA because, well, that's where I go see baseball games. The other part is my opinion (admittedly, not a scout's opinion) of his play last summer. There was still work to be done on defense, and I really want to see him become even more willing to take a walk (I recall several at-bats where he'd swing at a questionable -- not hitters -- 3-and-1 pitch, when it very likely would have been ball 4). Can he make those improvements during Spring Training and at AAA? Certainly. Is there a little less stress for him to do it in New Britain? Perhaps. Finally, his health is still a question. Yes, all indications are that his elbow is in much better shape, but I'm not ready to believe that until I see him in the field throwing bullets to first base without effort. I'll be happy with any decision, aside from sending him to Minnesota to begin the season.
In the end, I bet I'm about half right on the players. Buxton, Vargas, Ziegler, Ortiz, Koch, Michael, seem locks.
So, where do you think I was right, and where'd I go wrong?