We all know the obvious candidates to have improved seasons and contribute in a meaningful way in 2014. Heck, just about anyone expected to be in the everyday line-up is a candidate. Sweeney, Olt, Lake. Bounce back seasons from Castro, Barney, Rizzo, etc, etc.
Today I'm looking at 5 guys who've been mostly written off at this point and whose roster spot is in jeopardy but who could break with the team with a good spring.
1. Alberto Cabrera. With Chris Rusin currently penciled in for the 5th spot in the rotation, a deep cast of potential characters for the bullpen and being out of options, now is the time for Cabrera to step it up. The FO must see something they like as they moved him back to the rotation from his premature spot in the bullpen a couple seasons ago. Some on the board like Kyle Hendricks and there seems to be a wide range of opinion (from "cut him now" to "yeah, he's got really good stuff") on him. But Hendricks doesn't have a roster spot and has never pitched at AAA. I don't see any reason not to give Cabrera 12-15 starts and see what he's got.
2. Brooks Raley. Raley seems particularly bubbleicious after pitching OK, not good but not terrible at Iowa in 2013. He's getting squeezed in every direction. Still, he's young and he's left handed.
3. Brett Jackson. He's still around. We all know the story: Tried to tinker with his swing to make more contact. Didn't work. Got injured. Ended the year cheering on his AA teammates. Still, he's just 25 and reminds me of former contact challenged Diamondback Eric Byrnes who broke through at 27 and put up a couple of 3+ WAR seasons.
4. Josh Vitters. Yeah, he's still around too, like that brown guac in the fridge you don't really want to eat the night after the party but can't find anything else. Could hit lefties. Might be good on crackers in a pinch.
5. Logan Watkins. Spent September as the 43rd guy on Sveum's bench Didn't hit great at Iowa. Grinder type who plays good D and can't out hit Darwin Barney. Also pushed in all directions by Barney, Valbuena, Donnie Murphy, and Arismendy Alcantara. Doesn't even have a starting spot at Iowa. Still too soon to write him off?
I predict one of these guys will contribute at least a 1 WAR to the big league club this year. Who do you think its most likely to be?