Shortly after the Wingnuts signed former Wichita State players Nick Blasi and Joe Muich to bring their spring training roster to 28, I made my best educated guess as to which 22 would make up the opening day roster.
After a few days of camp and some more time to think, as well as talk to manager Kevin Hooper, general manager Josh Robertson and radio broadcaster Steve Schuster (who spelled my name wrong in the team’s media guide), I would like a do-over. So here we go:
There are several locks, namely the nine players who will make up the opening day roster. Those players are:
C - Joe Muich
1B - Kelly Hunt
2B - Josh Horn
3B - Michael Thompson
SS - Brenan Herrera
LF - Greg Porter
CF - Nick Blasi
RF - Dustan Mohr
DH - Steven Pearson
The pitching staff is not so clearly defined. There are several with a 99.9 percent chance to make the roster, but the only three that we know will absolutely, positively make it are returning left-handers Brad Davis and Richard Salazar and right-hander Amad Stephens. That brings the total to 12, with 10 spots remaining.
A question that goes a long way in determining the roster is whether Hooper will carry 10 or 11 pitchers. An 11-man staff means there can only be two bench players, and one of them has to be a backup catcher. That means the other will have to be quite versatile.
It makes sense to carry 11 pitchers because early in the season starters won’t be expected to pitch too deep into games, making a deep bullpen a necessity.
In that case, my pick for the second bench spot is Louie Curcio, a former Italian League player who is apparently on the radar of the Detroit Tigers and can play pretty much any position. He’ll join backup catcher Zach Goldberg as Wingnuts reserves.
The rest of the starting rotation, joining Davis and Salazar, features three of those 99.9 percent guys — right-handers Gabe Medina, Derek Blacksher and Will Savage, all newcomers. Hooper worked hard to acquire all three, so I don’t imagine they’ll be left off.
Now, the bullpen. We know Stephens will be the ninth-inning guy. My pick for long reliever is Doug Hurn, who had two stints with the Wingnuts last season. The bullpen lefty will be either Nathan Parker or another former Shocker, Ronnie Morales. I’ll go with Parker, who is more of a strikeout guy.
For the final three bullpen spots, I’ll pick Tyler Rhoden, Lance Odom and Jeff Reekers. That would mean returner Justin Young would be left off, but he has a good chance to beat out Hurn for the long reliever spot or even earn a spot in the rotation, though that’s a long shot.
Either way, I reserve the right to change my mind before the season starts on May 14.