With another Major League Baseball season upon us, there will be just one Blue Devil alumnus on an Opening Day roster—left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano of the Boston Red Sox. Despite there being only one player on a roster right now, there are a number of other former Duke baseball stars who could make an appearance in The Show this season.
The Big League Mainstay
Chris Capuano, P, Boston Red Sox: Capuano used a very strong spring to secure a spot in the Red Sox's Opening Day bullpen. A starter for the majority of his seven-year Major League career, the move to the 'pen may be troublesome for the lefty. However, experienced southpaws who can get tough lefties out late in games are always useful. Should injury strike one of Boston's five starters, Capuano would be on the short list to replace him in the rotation.
Hoping For Another Shot
Greg Burke, P, Colorado Rockies: Burke spent a significant portion of 2013 working out of the bullpen for the New York Mets, compiling a 5.68 ERA in 31.2 innings of relief. That was Burke's first Major League action since seeing 45.2 innings with the San Diego Padres back in 2009. Not on the 40-man roster, Burke faces an uphill battle for a roster spot, but a return to The Show should not be ruled out for the 31 year old side-armer.
He'll Be Back
Nate Freiman, 1B, Oakland Athletics: Freiman spent the entire 2013 season on the active roster for the A's last season as a Rule 5 pick, but this season was optioned to Triple-A before the regular season started. His .238 average this spring didn't exactly help his cause, nor did his inability to play a position other than first base, something that doesn't make a player all too attractive for a Major League bench. Having hit .274 in the Majors a season ago, Oakland knows he can hack it at the next level, but with Daric Barton and Brandon Moss already options at first, there just wasn't room to carry Freiman on Opening Day.
Next in Line
Marcus Stroman, P, Toronto Blue Jays: Stroman's time is almost here. The soon-to-be 23 year old was in consideration for the fifth starter job in Toronto, but ultimately was sent back to the minor leagues to get more seasoning. Stroman is considered one of the most Major League-ready prospects in baseball after being selected with the 22nd pick in the 2012 draft by Toronto, making him the first ever Blue Devil pitcher to be taken in the first round. He had had his share of troubles however, not the least of which was his 50-game PED suspension just two months after being drafted. Stroman bounced back strong from his suspension and tallied a 3.30 ERA in Double-A last season. The young hurler will more than likely get a look in Toronto this season, but the question remains whether he will get that look as a starter or working out of the bullpen. His diminutive 5-foot-9 frame has cast doubt in the baseball community as to whether or not Stroman can cut it as a starter in the Major Leagues.
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