One of the most intriguing aspects of Spring Training is the position and roster battles each team observes as it determines who will head north to begin the regular season. With these competitions come several dark horse candidates who could crack the Opening Day roster with a strong spring showing.

Here’s a look at one of those for each club:

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson
Pearson was once a top-10 prospect in MLB and tabbed as the future ace of the staff, but a long list of injuries have led him here, to the bullpen. He’s embraced it fully, and in his spring debut Sunday in Dunedin, Pearson struck out Josh Donaldson on a 100.8 mph fastball. He’s looking to build off a great winter ball stint in the Dominican Republic, where he got a taste of high-leverage relief work, and the Blue Jays love what they’ve seen. Pearson needs to perform and have a few things break his way, but at 26, he still has the talent to kick the door down at any moment. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: 1B/OF Franchy Cordero
The O’s would like a left-handed-hitting backup to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle on their 26-man roster, and they have several candidates who are non-roster invitees in camp. While Lewin Díaz and Ryan O’Hearn could be viable options, Cordero may have the highest ceiling of that group. The 28-year-old spent the offseason working at first, where he struggled while playing for the Red Sox last season. If Cordero’s glove has improved and he can reach the offensive level he’s shown in the Minors (a .797 OPS in 666 games), he could play his way onto the team. — Jake Rill

Rays: 1B/OF Luke Raley
Raley owns a paltry .189/.278/.283 slash line in the Majors, so why would he have a shot? First, he bats left-handed and plays both first base and the outfield  — and the Rays were unable to acquire a proven lefty hitter this offseason. Second, he’s out of Minor League options. Finally, he’s dominated Triple-A pitching with a .298/.390/.544 line in 168 games. Maybe he’ll be squeezed off the roster by Jonathan Aranda, Vidal Bruján or the recently acquired Ben Gamel, but Raley — who’s spent nearly a year on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster — has a path to earn a spot. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: INF/OF David Hamilton
Talk about a burner on the bases. Hamilton — acquired from the Brewers last year in the Hunter Renfroe trade — stole 70 bases last season to lead the Minor Leagues. Given the bigger bases and pitchers being limited on pickoff throws, Hamilton becomes more valuable due to his speed. Also, Adalberto Mondesi, who is coming off a torn ACL, is highly doubtful to make the Opening Day roster, giving someone like Hamilton a better shot. — Ian Browne

Yankees: LHP Matt Krook
Krook may not be a household name, but the Yankees have spoken highly of the 28-year-old left-hander, who enters the season on the cusp of making his Major League debut. Krook was 10-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 29 games (22 starts) at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, striking out 155 batters against 73 walks in 138 2/3 innings. Manager Aaron Boone said that Krook presents “a real problem for lefties,” adding that the club was “seriously considering” activating him for the 2022 postseason. — Bryan Hoch

Guardians: LHP Tim Herrin
Having another lefty in the mix in the Guardians’ bullpen would be a plus and Herrin is already on the 40-man roster, which would make for a seamless transition. Herrin owned a sub-3.00 ERA in 2019 and ’21 before he got off to another hot start in ’22. He posted a 2.01 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 22 1/3 frames with Double-A Akron, which prompted a quick promotion to Triple-A Columbus. He struggled more with Columbus (4.98 ERA in 34 appearances) but with a strong spring and a decent track record, he could be a realistic option. — Mandy Bell

Royals: INF Matt Duffy
Duffy is a reliable veteran infielder who could fill in around the diamond if needed, especially at third base as the Royals first see what they have there with Hunter Dozier. Duffy has a good track record at the hot corner and has played second, short and first base in his seven-year MLB career. He’s also right-handed, which would help balance out the Royals’ lefty-heavy lineup. And he has experience with manager Matt Quatraro and bench coach Paul Hoover from Tampa Bay, as well as infield coach Jose Alguacil with the Giants. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: RHP Trey Wingenter
Wingenter was a hard-throwing, high-strikeout reliever in the Padres’ bullpen, fanning 99 batters over 70 innings before Tommy John surgery and back issues derailed his career. He has pitched just 8 1/3 innings since 2019, all in Rookie or Winter ball. The Tigers are intrigued by his arm and fastball-slider combination, and with a wide open bullpen following the trades of Gregory Soto and Joe Jiménez, Detroit could find a place for Wingenter in their mix. — Jason Beck

Twins: RHP Cole Sands
With Rocco Baldelli at the helm for the Twins, it’s a decent bet that he’ll look to carry a bulk reliever — a flex starter who can throw 50-75 pitches out of the bullpen when needed. That roster spot is usually a revolving door, and of the group of players this season who could fit that mold, both Ronny Henriquez and Josh Winder are tracking behind in health. That could open the door for Sands, who was the No. 24 prospect in the organization last season per MLB Pipeline. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: RHP Edgar Navarro
Navarro earned strong reviews for his 2022 Minor League season, during which he posted a 3.64 ERA and .188 average against over three different stops, along with 69 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings. But the non-roster invite has taken another step forward during the early stages of Spring Training, earning praise from manager Pedro Grifol. Describing Navarro as possessing “power stuff” with an “elite sinker,” Grifol was looking forward to seeing Navarro in Cactus League action. The White Sox have a number of candidates for one or two bullpen slots, and Navarro appears to be one of them. — Scott Merkin

Angels: RHP Chris Rodriguez
Rodriguez missed all of the 2022 season because of shoulder surgery, but he has electric stuff and was solid as a rookie in ’21. The right-hander is currently healthy and competing for the sixth spot in the rotation. The Angels also haven’t ruled out Rodriguez opening the season in the bullpen if he doesn’t claim a spot as a starting pitcher. Rodriguez has experience in both roles and could find himself on the Opening Day roster with a strong spring. But the Angels could also decide to ease him into action and have him start the season at Triple-A Salt Lake. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: LHP Matt Gage
The Astros plucked Gage off waivers right before camp and threw him into the mix to compete for a spot as a left-hander out of the bullpen with Blake Taylor, Parker Mushinski and Austin Davis, who is a non-roster invitee. Gage made his Major League debut last year at 29, and he flashed impressive stuff, which he attributed to shortening his arm slot. Gage posted a 1.38 ERA in 11 games with Toronto in 2022, bouncing between Triple-A Buffalo and the big leagues. He struck out 24% of the batters he faced and had a 48.4% ground ball rate. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: OF Brent Rooker
Rooker might seem like a name buried on the outfield depth chart entering Spring Training, but the A’s have been intrigued by him dating back to his college days, when he starred at Mississippi State before the Twins took him in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Claimed off waivers from the Royals in November, Rooker is coming off a strong Triple-A season in which he slashed .289/.395/.649 with 28 homers and 87 RBIs. With no solidified right-handed option for left field at this point, Rooker will get a good look this spring. — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: OF/DH Kole Calhoun
The longtime AL West denizen signed a Minors deal with an invite to Spring Training on Friday, and he represents outfield depth to account for injuries and attrition rather than a legitimate big league contributor. The Mariners have big bats in Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández, a platoon situation between AJ Pollock and Jarred Kelenic and an athletic utility outfielder in Sam Haggerty. But beyond that, especially at Triple-A Tacoma, there isn’t much. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: OF Clint Frazier
Frazier is a long, long way from when he was one of the best prospects in baseball, but he’s with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee looking to reinvigorate his career. Texas’ outfield situation is pretty much settled with newly signed Robbie Grossman slotting into left field alongside Adolis García and Leody Taveras, but if Frazier’s swing adjustments with hitting coach Tim Hyers show improvement, he could be a quality fourth outfielder/bench option for the Rangers in 2023. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: OF Sam Hilliard
Hilliard has great speed, arm strength and power potential. But minus a strong September for the Rockies in 2019, he hasn’t tasted much success at the Major League level. The 29-year-old outfielder produced a 1.074 OPS over 37 games against Pacific Coast League opponents last year. But he produced just a .544 OPS in 70 games for Colorado. Hilliard will have a chance to begin the season as a backup outfielder, but if he ever puts it together, he has the tools to be an everyday player at the big league level. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: INF Jacob Amaya
An infield bench spot is up for grabs, and manager Skip Schumaker said service time and 40-man roster status will not factor into how it is filled. Acquired from the Dodgers in the Miguel Rojas trade, Amaya has yet to make his MLB debut. Marlins personnel have noted his glove is MLB-ready; it’s a matter of whether his bat is. Miami’s No. 12 prospect will split time at shortstop and second this spring. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: RHP Elieser Hernández
The Mets are committed to stretching out pitchers David Peterson and Tylor Megill in camp, meaning those two will likely head to Triple-A Syracuse so that they’ll be ready to step in once the Mets need a sixth or seventh starter. The team is stretching out Hernández, too, but he’s behind Peterson and Megill on the depth chart. That makes it possible the Mets could reverse course later this spring and carry Hernández, a five-year Major League veteran, out of the bullpen. His career ERA of 6.33 as a reliever, however, could give the club pause. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: RHP Wily Peralta
The Nationals covet pitchers who can stretch multiple innings and fill multiple roles, and Peralta checks those boxes. A 10-year veteran, Peralta has made 258 appearances (139 starts) over his career. He played the past two seasons with the Tigers, during which he started and pitched out of the bullpen. After making 18 starts in 2021 (4-5, 3.07 ERA in 93 2/3 innings), he made 27 appearances as a reliever last year (2-0, 2.58 ERA in 38 1/3 innings). Peralta, 33, also has played for the Brewers and Royals. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: RHP Noah Song
Of all the dark horses on this list, Song is the longest of longshots. The Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, even though he had a military commitment with the Navy. But Song just transferred his service from active duty to selective reserves, bringing him to Clearwater. Keep in mind: Song hasn’t pitched competitively since 2019. He also threw off a mound for the first time in a long time this month. But the right-hander has a top-of-the-rotation arm, so if there is a way to keep him around, the Phillies will try. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: RHP Gus Varland
The Brewers haven’t carried a Rule 5 pick since 2016, but they like what they have in Varland, a former A’s and Dodgers prospect who saw a significant uptick in velocity after moving to the bullpen last year. The difficulty is finding a roster spot in Milwaukee’s remade bullpen, especially since so many candidates (Javy Guerra, Joel Payamps, Bryse Wilson and Adrian Houser if he’s not in the rotation) are out of options. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: DH/OF Moises Gomez
Gomez, who set a Cardinals Minor League record with 39 home runs last season, can hit his way onto the Opening Day roster if he continues to mash balls out of the park. For years, the problem with Gomez has been the number of whiffs that go along with the homers. At Double-A Springfield, he had 90 strikeouts to go along with 27 walks and 23 home runs. At Triple-A Memphis, he whiffed 84 times and walked 25 times, while also homering 16 times. The Cardinals have worked with the 24-year-old Venezuelan slugger this spring to try and see pitches longer, occasionally go the other way and try to not fly open with his swing. — John Denton

Cubs: 3B Edwin Ríos
The Cubs signed Ríos early in camp, adding him to an already crowded field at both first and third base. Chicago is trying to build a lineup with a wide array of options for manager David Ross to consider, and Ríos boasts the type of lefty power the offense could use. He could split time at third with Patrick Wisdom, get at-bats at designated hitter or find some innings at first (or maybe even a corner outfield spot). Ríos has averaged one homer per 13 at-bats in his MLB career, but he’s had sporadic results with big whiff rates as a part-time player. He has a Minor League option, so at a minimum he offers some experience depth. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: RHP Colin Selby
The Pirates have a laundry list of relievers in competition for the Opening Day roster, and Selby is firmly in that mix. The right-hander performed well with Double-A Altoona last season, posting a 2.20 ERA and 2.59 FIP with 41 strikeouts across 32 2/3 innings, earning a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis before season’s end. Selby also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, allowing two runs across nine innings (2.00 ERA) with nine strikeouts. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: SS Elly De La Cruz
With only 47 games and 207 plate appearances logged above Class A ball for his young career, the 21-year-old top Reds prospect (No. 10 overall) would have to really blow the doors off everybody this spring to make the big league roster out of camp. De La Cruz, a five-tool talent and certainly on a fast track, would also have to leapfrog Jose Barrero and veteran Kevin Newman to become the Opening Day shortstop. At High-A and Double-A in 2022, De La Cruz batted .304 with a .945 OPS, 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: RHP Corbin Martin
Martin was the centerpiece of the return the D-backs got from the Astros in the 2019 Trade Deadline deal that sent Zack Greinke to Houston. At the time, Martin was recovering from Tommy John surgery and he struggled as a starter in big league stints in 2021 and ’22. The team is looking at him as a reliever this spring and the early results have been encouraging. With a fastball in the upper 90s, Martin could be an interesting bullpen piece for a team looking for reliable relievers. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: OF Jason Heyward
Heyward is trying to get his career back on track after a disappointing end with the Cubs last season. The veteran outfielder made significant changes to his swing over the winter and is expected to make the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster if he continues to show improvement. Heyward could end up in a platoon in center field with Chris Taylor, making him an important addition to this year’s Dodgers team. — Juan Toribio

Giants: RHP Cole Waites
Waites is a bit behind after suffering a right lat strain two weeks ago, but he’s expected to resume throwing soon, which could put him back in the mix for a spot in the Giants’ Opening Day bullpen. The 24-year-old rookie allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in seven Major League appearances in 2022, and he pairs an upper-90s fastball with a nasty slider. — Maria Guardado

Padres: RHP Brent Honeywell Jr.
It’d be quite a story if Honeywell, a one-time top prospect whose career has been decimated by injuries, could author his long-awaited breakthrough. The 27-year-old right-hander signed in San Diego for precisely that opportunity, and he just might have an outside shot to crack the roster. After a dominant showing in the Dominican Winter League, Honeywell says his confidence is back, and he could be on the verge of a resurgence. There aren’t many spots up for grabs on the Padres’ staff — perhaps only one, if everyone’s healthy. Still, Honeywell remains an intriguing depth option for the rotation and a potential swing-man type for the bullpen. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: OF Brenton Doyle
The Rockies’ plan is to go with Yonathan Daza in center field, but they aren’t ruling out Doyle, who has all the physical tools and is coming off a 2022 at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque (combined .773 OPS with 26 home runs in 132 games) that put him on the Major League map. With Randal Grichuk (bilateral sports hernia surgery) to begin the year on the injured list, it’s possible for the Rockies to move Daza to right (where his arm could have more impact), and use Doyle in center. But with versatile players such as Harold Castro and Cole Tucker in camp, Doyle must be spectacular. — Thomas Harding

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