After weeks of speculation, hordes of prospects, and lots of Cedric Hunter, the Phillies have announced who will be on their 25-man roster for Opening Day this season.
The Phillies placed two players, outfielder Cody Asche and reliever Michael Mariot, on the 15-day disabled list, while three players, starter Matt Harrison, reliever Mario Hollands and outfielder Aaron Altherr have been placed on the 60-day DL.
The placement of those three players on the 60-day DL opened up three roster spots on the team's 40-man, allowing them to select the contracts of left-handed reliever James Russell, infielder Emmanuel Burriss and Hunter.
Here's how it all breaks down:
Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez are the team's starters. The Phils announced Saturday that Eickhoff will pitch the team's fourth game of the season and Velasquez will pitch the fifth game, even though Eickhoff made only two official Grapefruit League starts.
The bullpen will consist of Jeanmar Gomez, the only pitcher left over from last year's Opening Day roster, David Hernandez, Dalier Hinojosa, Hector Neris, Brett Oberholtzer, Russell, and Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf.
The starters are no surprise, as Velasquez beat out Adam Morgan for the final starter's job last week. The bullpen features three left-handers, which is probably a good idea seeing as how the starting rotation consists of all right-handed pitchers.
Perhaps the most interesting selection is Stumpf, who beat out 2009 AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey for a roster spot. Stumpf must stay on the team's 25-man all season or else he must be returned back to his original team, per Rule 5 rules. Bailey has an opt-out clause in his contract that triggers on May 1 if he's not yet in the Majors. So the Phils have a little time before they have to make a decision on him.
Stumpf compiled the most innings of any reliever this spring, pitching 12 1/3 innings and giving up 13 hits, five earned runs with an impressive 14 strikeouts and four walks, posting an ERA of 3.65.
Bailey, who many thought had the closer's job locked up until he struggled late in spring, gave up five earned runs in 10 innings with eight strikeouts and one walk.
It's still unclear who the team's closer will be, although it's likely David Hernandez will get the first crack at it. He pitched only four innings this spring due to injury and gave up just one run. Hinojosa could also get some save opportunities as well.
No surprises here, as Cameron Rupp and Carlos Ruiz both made the team. Rupp had a very good spring, blasting three homers and slashing .343/.425/.714 in 35 ABs, while Ruiz hit .200/.294/.200 in 30 spring at bats. It remains to be seen who will start a majority of games.
Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf will open the season in a strict platoon at first base, with Howard starting against right-handers and Ruf against left-handers. However, don't expect that platoon to hold if either player struggles. Manager Pete Mackanin has said that if one guy isn't performing and the other is, that player will get the bulk of the playing time.
Ruf had a terrific spring, second on the team in homers with five in 56 ABs. He hit .286/.385/.643, walking eight times and striking out only 11. Howard hit three homers but struck out 16 times in 50 at bats.
Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis compose the team's middle infield. Hernandez had a magnificent spring, leading the team in hits. Galvis struggled, but there really are no other options for the team, as J.P. Crawford is starting the year in Double-A.
Third base will be manned by budding superstar Maikel Franco, who led all of baseball with nine dingers this spring, and had a 1.054 OPS in 68 spring at bats.
He was a monster, and could be an All-Star this year in the National League.
The other two infielders are Emmanuel Burriss (who also plays outfield) and Andres Blanco.
This is where the most intrigue was happening among position players. Odubel Herrera and Peter Bourjos were locks to make the team and will hold down center and left field, respectively.
The biggest surprise this spring was the play of Cedric Hunter, who will start the season as the team's third outfielder, with Rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel as the first outfielder off the bench. Goeddel will likely start against many left-handers, but looked overmatched most of the spring, understandable given he's never played above Double-A.
Meanwhile, Hunter is expected to get a lion's share of the starts.
Cedric is essentially a 28-year-old rookie, with just five career Major League plate appearances under his belt, all with the San Diego Padres in 2011. The Philles are his fifth pro organization, and while he hasn't been dynamic in 448 career games at the Triple-A level, his .717 OPS is respectable.
This spring, Hunter has done nothing but hit line drives and show good power from the left-hand side of the plate, hitting .262 in 65 ABs with three homers and a slugging percentage of .508. He certainly forced the Phillies' hands.
Not making the team was defensive specialist David Lough or the recently-signed Will Venable, both of whom were assigned to the minors.
This ain't a playoff roster, but it's one that should be about five-to-seven wins better than last year's group. And with reinforcements waiting in the wings in the high minors, this is a baseball team that is much more watchable than last year's squad.