Predictions sure to go wrong …

by Ben Catley

Yes, I wanted to make sure that no one else can be harassed over what you are about to read, so I will stick my name on this one and see what happens.

Today’s entry very simply is in response to questions that I do get asked from time to time. What is listed below is the three most common questions I get during the off-season, especially at this time of the year, with one of those questions getting split into two, only because it is suddenly needed to be.

I will also give what my thought was in January, and what it is today, as some of them have also changed.

1. Who is the next Osprey position player to make a Major League Baseball roster?January answer: Paul Goldschmidt
Answer Now: Taylor Harbin or Paul Goldschmidt

The main reason my answer has changed here is because of Harbin’s hot start. Back in January, I thought that if Goldy had a decent run the next TWO seasons, he would have a chance, somewhere. Then, he had a great Cactus League run, and now has seven home runs in the place where most power hitters go to get their careers derailed, the Southern League. But, again, I was thinking he would get a shot in 2013, not 2011.

And all of a sudden, Harbin is suddenly finding offense to go along with his solid defense. Harbin can now also play second, shortstop or third base, which makes him a versatile player who could spot-start in the Major Leagues.

Prediction: If Harbin continues to hit well over .300, he will possibly get a look in September. The Mobile BayBears are off to a great start, and unless there’s a pressing need to move people around, both Harbin and Goldy will be in Mobile until they are out of the post-season hunt. But, as of now, it will be one of these two players who will be the first former Osprey without MLB experience to get the call as a position player.

2. Who will be the next Osprey pitcher to make a MLB roster?
January answer: Evan Scribner
Answer now: Evan Scribner or Tom Layne

While it is still likely that Jarrod Parker will be in a D-backs’ uniform by September, I still think one of his 2007 teammates will get the call first. It will take an injury or two before Layne gets the call up, but he would be a solid lefty out of the bullpen. Scribner – who, like Layne, is at Triple-A, but with the Padres – has been given the closer’s role the past two seasons (he was at Double-A San Antonio in 2010), and if there is a need with the big club, he may very well be the closer-in-waiting.

3. Who is the most likely 2010 Osprey to return for 2011?
January Answer: Domingo Soriano
Answer Now: Robby Rowland

I think part of my answer is to help with Rowland’s karma and get him to a full-season club. But when I heard he was being kept in Extended Spring Training, I began to hope that Rowland would become the Opening Day starter for the Osprey. If Soriano ends up back in Missoula, which the chances are good of happening, he will be in the lineup more often than not, because he is a player that needs to get reps to get better.

Prediction: Rowland ends up in South Bend, Soriano heads to Yakima, and Ty Linton comes back and wins Pioneer League Player of the Year honors. OK, I know I am WAY out on a limb here, but why not? Remember the headline …

4. If you could choose the Opening Day lineup for the Osprey, what would it be?

Well … if you insist … if I could choose a lineup based on who is in Extended Spring Training, this is what I would wish to be on Hector De La Cruz’s lineup card on June 20:
Ender Inciarte CF
David Narodowski SS
Ty Linton LF
Eric Groff 3B
Wagner Mateo RF
Jae Yun Kim C
Stephen Cardullo 2B
Fidel Pena 1B
Antonio Sepulveda DH
Robby Rowland P

Of course, the chances are better for me to hit a Adonys Chapman fastball than for both Inciarte and Narodowski to come back to Missoula, but hey … I was just following the rules …

That said, would not be a bit surprised if the Osprey have an outfield led by Linton, Mateo and Soriano. If Groff ends up back here, it’s to play second base, which means Cardullo would be a shortstop. Kim and Pena will likely be together – whether it’s Missoula or Yakima – with Pena being a likely DH, since his bat is solid enough to have in the lineup every day.

So there you go. If I had to pick one of these I feel the most comfortable about – it’s actually two. I really do believe that, pending how things shake out, that Evan Scribner is the next former Osprey to make his MLB debut, and that Goldy is the next position player to make his debut.

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