Commentary

Rookies who could break through

Forget the wait -- here are 10 rookies who may not wait for a call-up to become starters

Updated: March 7, 2011, 5:26 PM ET
By Jason A. Churchill & Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider
Brandon Belt, Andy OliverGetty ImagesIt might be difficult for the Giants to wait on Belt; Oliver could help the Detroit rotation.

Each week during spring training, we'll take a look at how position battles are playing out. This week, we take a look at which rookies have a chance to break through as starters to start the season.

American League

Hank Conger, C, Los Angeles Angels
Conger began the spring with a chance to break camp with the Halos, but is 1-for-14 to start Cactus League play. The good news for Conger is, neither Jeff Mathis nor Bobby Wilson has run away with the contest just yet. Conger still has time to show manager Mike Scioscia that he's the best choice for the job, but if the skipper isn't sure Conger is ready to play regularly, he's likely to head back to Triple-A Salt Lake to start the season, rather than serve as the part-time backup.

Hunch: Conger has options left so starting him back in Triple-A doesn't hinder his opportunities later in the season and for the future. Unless there's an injury or Conger heats up at the plate some, the veterans will take the gig to start the season.

Michael Pineda, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Pineda is the best arm of the crop the M's will choose from for their No. 5 spot in the rotation, but he's also the most inexperienced. He has three options remaining, too, and could use time in the minors to shore up his secondary stuff and for the club to much more delicately monitor his workload. Luke French, Nate Robertson and David Pauley are Pineda's main competition.

Hunch: Unless Pineda's service time is an issue for Seattle, he has a great chance to head north with a major league job come April 1.

Kyle Drabek, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays