2014 Roster Predictions: Augusta Green Jackets

I’ve got to admit something here. I’ve been feeling a little lost since finishing the Cove Chatter 100 profiles. Believe it or not, I started working on those posts in October before the postseason had even finished. I think I released the first one right after Thanksgiving, so that project has literally held my focus for the majority of the offseason. Now that it’s finished, well, I guess I’m having a more difficult time transitioning into other topics than I’d anticipated. I do have a couple of pre-Spring Training pieces I’m working on at the moment, but I’m asking for a little patience for the next couple of weeks as we inch closer to Cactus League play.

These are long, slow days for us baseball die-hards (and especially those of us whose 10-day forecasts call for nothing but sub-freezing temperatures… and 72 straight hours of negative temps beginning tomorrow). Is “dog days” of winter a thing? If so, I’ve hit that point folks. So just know that the wheels are still turning, even if the activity slows down a little bit around here for a couple weeks. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

If you missed it, l sent out a series of roster projection posts for each of the Giants’ full-season affiliates last week. In the bullpen piece, I had said that I would compile each of the lists into a full 25-man Opening Day roster. After putting the rosters together, I thought it more beneficial to break them up as individual posts, that way I can focus on one team at a time.

I also did up a quick Cove Chatter 100 breakdown this weekend, looking at how each of the players in the top 50 came to the organization. Having done that, I thought it might also behoove us to incorporate the CC 100 rankings into these rosters. Obviously, the actual rosters could (probably will?) look completely different than my projections, but it’s still interesting to see how the organization may spread its top prospects around on Opening Day. Can’t hurt, right? So, you’ll find that I’ve indicated the CC 100 Honorable Mention players, as well as the top 50.

(#) CC 100 Ranking

*CC 100 Honorable Mention

Augusta (25)

C: *Ty Ross

1B: *Blake Miller

2B: *Alberto Robles

3B: (17) Ryder Jones

SS: (7) Christian Arroyo

LF: (34) Shilo McCall

CF: (38) Tyler Hollick

RF: Randy Ortiz

DH: (49) Rando Moreno

Bench: *Geno Escalante

Bench: *Ryan Jones

Bench: Rafael Rodriguez

SP: (23) Chase Johnson

SP: *Luis Ysla

SP: (10) Keury Mella

SP: *Joe Kurrasch

SP: *Chris Johnson

SP: *Drew Leenhouts

RP: *Matt Lujan

RP: *Tyler Rogers

RP: Steven Neff

RP: *Raymundo Montero

RP: *Cameron McVey

RP: *Christian Jones

RP: (41) EJ Encinosa

CC 100 Top 50: 8

CC 100 Honorable Mention: 14

Thoughts: I’ve commented on a lot of these guys already with my posts last week, but we haven’t really looked at each of these rosters as a whole to this point. Augusta was one of the biggest surprises in the minors last year, taking down the 2nd half SAL Southern division with a big late-season surge. That was a group led by dominant pitching, guys like Kendry Flores, Chris Stratton and Stephen Johnson. On the offensive side, it was basically Matt Duffy and everyone else for the majority of the season.

While I don’t know if this year’s Greenjackets will log an 82-win season like the 2013 team did, I do think they could be a pretty competitive squad. Twenty-two CC 100 guys here; that probably runs more to the theory that guys in Low-A haven’t had much of a chance to ruin their prospect shine. But if Arroyo, Ryder Jones and McCall all make the Opening Day squad, there’ll be some serious youth upside in that lineup. Maybe it’s more of a sleeper group overall on the positional side, but that’s a lineup with a lot of potential. Along with the possible prep guys, Ross, Escalante, Hollick, Ryan Jones and Miller add a nice group of college bats, with the international guys Robles and Moreno fighting for time at 2B. Could be a nice mixture of talent, but one that could see some struggles with its youth and the pitching-heavy environment of the Sally.

The pitching here may not be as deep as last year’s squad, but it certainly has the potential to dominate some fools if Chase Johnson, Ysla and Mella all get rotation spots. I’m curious to see if the organization takes the reigns off Mella after he only pitched 36 innings last summer. He may end up in Salem-Keizer, but he’s got the stuff to pitch in Augusta. That could be a fine rotation with those three potentially hurling mid-90’s heat at the opposition. At this point, there’s really no public reports on Ysla’s stuff, but I’ve heard a few folks say he was touching 97 last year in Arizona. And you’re telling me he’s a lefty? I can get on board with that.

There’s really no telling how this Augusta roster will shake out, but the coaching staff sure could throw a lot of different looks out there if some of these pitchers make it. There are six southpaws on the list above – three starters, three relievers… and that’s without including some of the recent draftees like DJ Snelten, Nick Jones, Garrett Hughes and Nick Gonzalez. That almost never happens on a 13-man pitching staff, but there’s a real possibility it could with this group. Sweet stuff, lefties galore.

We’ll definitely revisit these predictions when real assignments come out in late March, but this a team I can get behind. A young team, but a group that might surprise you by September.

(Matt Lujan, MiLB.com)

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