I first saw Nick Neidert in the 2015 AZL after he was selected in the second round by the Seattle Mariners. He absolutely dominated in his 11 starts that season and was eventually traded to the Miami Marlins along with Christopher Torres and Robert Dugger in exchange for Dee Gordon. He has only pitched as a starter as a pro but will likely see his debut come as a reliever, although moving back to the rotation is a definite possibility. He has a good fastball, but it is made even better by the fact he has a changeup that flashes the potential of a plus offering. When in the pen, he will rely heavily on these two offerings, both of which he can put right where he wants, but he can also mix in a solid slider and a get-me-over curve as well.
Jordan Holloway’s draft round is misleading, as he slipped to the 20th round due to signability concerns, but eventually opted to turn pro. At 6’6” and 230 lbs. with a fastball that has touched triple digits, he has the chance to be an impact reliever for the Marlins. He has worked almost exclusively as a starter in the minors, but his lack of command and a change that is incredibly inconsistent has long made it a long shot for him to be a viable rotation option at the big league level, but the big curve and power fastball to go with excellent length and extension are tailor-made to be a high-leverage reliever.
After four years at D-II Cal State East Bay, the Miami Marlins got a clear steal in the 17th round when they took Alex Vesia in 2018. He pitched at two levels that season and put up an ERA of 1.35 over 14 outings and 33.1 innings. In 2019 he managed to see time at three levels, threw exactly double the innings as the year before, and put up an ERA of 1.76, including a cool 0.00 in 16.1 innings at Double-A. he capped off the year with over ten scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League. He brings a fastball that sits up to 95, a change that has plenty of fade, and a curve that is quite effective against fellow lefties. He should settle in well as a middle reliever, which is a fantastic return on the Marlins $25k investment coming out of the draft.
The final piece to make the Marlins bullpen is one of the best young personalities in the game, Rule 5 pick Sterling Sharp. He was another low round selection, going in the 22nd out of Drury University, a D-II school he transferred to from Eastern Michigan, to the Washington Nationals. Sharp impressed in the AFL this Fall after seeing time in Double-A each of the past two seasons. He has an outside shot at eventually finding his way into a rotation thanks to a three-pitch mix that features an above-average fastball and change to go with a slider that is still below-average at this point. He has walked less than 2.5 per nine innings in his minor league career, so he knows how to pound the zone.
Top prospect Alec Bohm will likely be joining the Philadelphia Phillies soon after the first week of the season to gain a year of team control, so the only player on the roster yet to debut in the bigs is Ramon Rosso.
Rosso will likely be a multi-inning reliever in low-leverage situations for the Phillies. He has a career ERA in the minors of 2.80, but had a rough 2019, his first above A ball, with an ERA of 4.46. He made just a single appearance in Spring Training, going 5.2 innings and giving up two runs, so he was a bit of a surprise to make the club.
He has a fastball that sits in the low-90s with some cut to it along with a two-plane slider and a serviceable change. Until last season, he has always put up more than three strikeouts per walk, so he has demonstrated he has the ability to strike guys out and avoid too many walks. He is a low ceiling but relatively high floor arm to round out the bullpen.
It appears the Toronto Blue Jays are officially calling Buffalo home for 2020, a place Santiago Espinal finished the season a year ago. He is the super utility man for the Blue Jays this year as he has seen a dozen games in center, nearly twenty at third, over 120 at second, and more than 220 at short in his minor league career. The first two sections of his career triple slash line are solid (.285/.345) but the slugging is telling in regards to the hole in his game, just .390.
Thomas Hatch was drafted by the Chicago Cubs out of Oklahoma State in the third round of the 2016 draft and traded to the Blue Jays for David Phelps at the deadline last season. He has only appeared as a starter in his pro career, but the Blue Jays will likely be rolling him out as a multi-inning reliever. He has a good fastball and above-average slider to go with a changeup that works well in getting lefties out. Expect him to be the long man this season with a chance to get more high-leverage innings in the future, but there is little chance he has a future as a starter.
A third member of the Blue Jays who will be making his MLB debut is Shun Yamaguchi. He is another guy who can throw multiple innings but has also been an effective closer in Japan. The 33-year old has spend 14 seasons in the NPB with 50 starts (16 of those complete games) and 112 saves. His career ERA in Japan is 3.35 with a K/BB ratio just over 2.50. He has a four-pitch mix and can command each of them, fastball, slider, curve, and fork/change. He could quickly become the eighth inning man to set up Ken Giles.
Another Japanese veteran will be making his MLB debut on Friday, this time Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, better known as Yoshi. He signed for just two years, which will make him a free agent again right around his 31st birthday. Tsutsugo is a power bat, hitting 45 home runs in 2016 and 38 in 2018, while hitting for .284 or better five consecutive seasons until dipping to .272 in 2019.
He is a true left fielder, and could see plenty of time as DH once the Rays get their outfield healthy. He is listed at 6’1” and 225 lbs., but he is probably a bit heavier than that. He has yet to find his swing with the Rays after just one home run in 12 Spring Training games, but the bat stays in the zone a long time, allowing him to barrel up the ball quite often.
He is not a traditional Japanese bat who is focused on spraying the ball all over the field, instead his approach will fit in very will to MLB as he is a pull hitting, launch angle, power bat. The average will likely be an issue in MLB, and there will be plenty of strike outs, but he will provide plenty of home runs in a very good Rays lineup.