Defense or Offense?
With two or three bench spots open for position players, there will be competition. There are five guys overall competing for middle infield spots. Ketel Marte, Nick Ahmed, and Phil Gosselin will fight for just two open spots as backups.
Marte and Gosselin are clearly superior to Ahmed offensively, but defensively Ahmed is on a different planet. Marte has speed and everyday experience while Gosselin has pinch hitting experience. In 75 pinch hit appearances last season, he hit .253/.288/.347.
The One Year Wonder?
The one outfield bench position will go to either Jeremy Hazelbaker, Oswaldo Arcia, or Gregor Blanco. Jeremy Hazelbaker, at age 29, had an incredible start to the year in 2016, but he cooled quickly for the Cardinals. He still hit 12 homers, and 28 RBI’s in 200 at-bats. Twenty percent of his at-bats came as a pinch hitter where he hit .275 with four homers.
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Model of Consistency
Gregor Blanco, at age 33, has the most experience of any outfielder on the roster. As a division rival for five years, Gregor started in the Giants outfield for about three years. He is a career .258/.344/.350 hitter with speed and the ability to get on base. His role diminished in 2016 with the arrival of Denard Span, but he could be a nice contact bat off the bench. His strong suit is his defense, preferably left field, where he has only made seven errors in the past five years.
The Flop Prospect
A former top prospect for the Minnesota Twins, Oswaldo Arcia, played on four teams in 2016. He played well for the Twins in 2012 and 2013 in 200 games with 34 homers. In 2015, he struggled mightily at the beginning of the season and got hurt within 19 games. He was sent to Triple-A immediately after DL activation where he hit .197/.257/.372.
Arcia went from an Opening Day franchise building outfielder to a struggling Triple-A guy in just one season. He has proved he can hit for power at the big league level, but his swing and miss potential has cursed him. Arcia needs a strong Spring to make the Opening Day roster. The D-Backs would love to see this 25-year-old figure it out though.