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Isotopes roster looks almost set for season

The Dodgers' top prospect Joc Pederson will play for the Albuquerque Isotopes this season.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Albuquerque Isotopes will hold their annual media day Tuesday afternoon, at which point the final mystery of who will play for the team this year will be revealed.

Still, it never hurts to have a last little bit of fun and guess who will be on the 25-man roster that will open the season Thursday at Tacoma.

It should be noted that the roster for Thursday could change quickly as the Los Angeles Dodgers could activate center fielder Matt Kemp and right-hander Josh Beckett from the disabled list sooner than later, which in turn would likely mean two more players would be sent to Albuquerque.

Until then, there are a few players who seem like locks to be Isotopes. Among them are three of the organization's top prospects — center fielder Joc Pederson (No. 1 according to Baseball America), right-hander Zach Lee (No. 4) and second baseman Alex Guerrero (No. 7).

There will be some familiar faces back as well, including last year's MVP, outfielder Chili Buss, as well as right-handers Stephen Fife, Matt Magill and Red Patterson, plus catcher Tim Federowicz.

So who will be joining them? Time for one last educated guess in the slideshow.

The Isotopes will play their first home game April 11 against Tacoma.

Isotopes rotation
Isotopes rotation Getty Images

Isotopes rotation

Starting rotation: Right-hander Zach Lee, pictured, will by all accounts make the jump from Double-A Chattanooga to Albuquerque this season. This is a good sign as it means the Dodgers are not afraid to send their top pitching prospects to such a hitter-friendly ballpark. Lee (10-10, 3.22 ERA) will come with plenty of high expectations.

Joining him in the rotation will be returning right-handers Stephen Fife (2-4, 6.03) and Matt Magill (6-2, 3.47), who are both looking for a little stability after bouncing back and forth between Albuquerque and Los Angeles last season.

The final two rotation spots are still uncertain. The top candidates appear to be three free-agent signees in right-handers Drew Carpenter, Ryan Sadowski and Henry Sosa. Sadowski, a former San Francisco Giant, has not pitched since 2012 when he was in South Korea.

Final picks: Lee, Fife, Magill, Carpenter, Sosa

Isotopes bullpen
Isotopes bullpen Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes

Isotopes bullpen

Bullpen: Swingman Red Patterson (7-4, 3.03, 1 save) is the most notable returning face among the projected Isotopes relievers. Patterson excelled when it came to switching back and forth between starting and relieving as needed, which is crucial for a Triple-A team with all the call-ups and injuries over the course of a season.

Hard-throwing righty Jose Dominguez tossed eight scoreless innings for the Isotopes last year. He and his 100 mph-plus fastball will be back. Another right-hander on the 40-man who should be here is Yimi Garcia, who was quite good (4-6, 2.54, 19 saves, 85 strikeouts in 60 innings) at Chattanooga last year.

The rest of the bullpen, which should again be eight pitchers deep, is anyone's guess. Right-handed candidates include Pedro Baez, Hector Nelo, former UNM Lobo Steve Smith, plus free-agent signees Sam Demel, Juan Gonzalez, Josh Judy, Josh Ravin and Justin Souza. As for lefties, there are Jarret Martin, Daniel Moskos, Fu-Te Ni and Michael Thomas.

Final picks: Patterson, Garcia, Dominguez, Nelo, Demel, Moskos, Thomas, Smith

Isotopes catching
Isotopes catching Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes

Isotopes catching

Catching: In a surprise, the Dodgers opted to keep all-field/no-hit Drew Butera (who is out of options) as their backup catcher instead of Tim Federowicz, pictured. With an option remaining, FedEx was sent back down and will again start behind the plate for the Isotopes. He hit a ridiculous .418/.500/.848 in 21 games for Albuquerque before the Dodgers came to their senses and called him up for good.

There are four main candidates to be Federowicz's backup. Gorman Erickson struggled (.199/.324/.414) at Chattanooga last season and seems like a longshot. Alberto Rosario (.214/.286/.286) did even less with the bat in the Red Sox farm system last year. Veteran J.C. Boscan (.232/.297/.270 at Iowa) has long had a good defensive reputation, but not much bat. Another veteran, Miguel Olivo, has already asked the Dodgers for his release as he does not want to play at Triple-A.

Final picks: Federowicz, Boscan

Isotopes infield
Isotopes infield Getty Images

Isotopes infield

Infielders: Second baseman Alex Guerrero, pictured, will try to shake off the rust with Albuquerque after he lost out to former Isotope Dee Gordon for the starting job in Los Angeles. Guerrero, who defected from Cuba, did not play in 2013, and even then he was a shortstop. The combination of all that time off and a position change means he still needs a lot of work.

Joining him on the infield figures to be a rotation cast of versatile veterans. First base will fall primarily to Clint Robinson (.254/.353/.421, 13 HR, 55 RBI), who had an up-and-down year between the Blue Jays' Triple-A and Double-A teams. Slugger Jamie Romak (.242/.322/.461, 22 HR, 74 RBI) comes over from Memphis and should see time at first, third and in the outfield.

Defensive wizard Miguel Rojas (.233/.303/.307, 5 HR, 32 RBI) moves up from Chattanooga to handle shortstop. He will also back up Guerrero at second. Ozzie Martinez (.249/.307/.340, 4 HR, 19 RBI), who appeared in 13 games last year with Albuquerque, will serve as the backup at shortstop and can also play second and third.

Veteran Brendan Harris (.206/.252/.355) played sparingly in the Majors with the Angels last year. He will primarily play third but can also play short and second.

Other infielders who were still with the Dodgers at the end of spring training included first basemen Aaron Bates and J.T. Wise, plus utility players Daniel Mayora and Evelys Gonzalez.

Final picks: Robinson, Romak, Guerrero, Rojas, Martinez, Harris

Isotopes outfield
Isotopes outfield Courtesy of the Albuquerque Isotopes

Isotopes outfield

Outfielders: Three of the four projected outfield spots seem to be set, starting with returning Isotopes MVP Chili Buss, pictured. Buss showed he could hit (.303/.363/.525, 17 HR, 100 RBI, 21 stolen bases) last year and is capable of playing all three positions. That versatility is something the Dodgers cherish in their Triple-A players.

As mentioned in the intro, top prospect Joc Pederson (.278/.381/.497, 22 HR, 58 RBI, 31 stolen bases) moves up from Double-A, where he was primarily a center fielder last year. He should likewise see time on the corners.

The final all-but-lock is Jeremy Hazelbaker (.257/.313/.374, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 37 stolen bases at Pawtucket), who was acquired from the Red Sox this offseason in a trade for former Isotope Alex Castellanos. Just like Buss and Pederson, he can play all three positions.

With Mike Baxter in the big leagues to start the year, the final spot will come down to a pair of former Isotopes who hope to return to Albuquerque. Native son Brian Cavazos-Galvez (.263/.303/.366, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 15 stolen bases) is hoping to bounce back after a so-so year at Chattanooga. He played here in 2012.

Trayvon Robinson, a former top prospect who played for the Isotopes in 2011, is back after signing as a free agent. He is also looking to bounce back after a rough campaign (.247/.329/.394, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 21 stolen bases) between the Orioles' Triple-A and Double-A teams.

Final picks: Buss, Pederson, Hazelbaker, Cavazos-Galvez

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