(5) - Jordan Walker, Tyler O'Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, and Alec Burleson
This was tougher than I thought it would be about a week ago. Walker has cooled off significantly since his brief injury scare, leading some to believe his spot is in jeopardy. While I do think there are more questions now than there were before when I talked to MLB.com's John Denton the other day, who covers the Cardinals each day, he remained confident Walker would make this roster.
Walker will be the Opening Day left fielder, Tyler O'Neill will line up in center, and Lars Nootbaar will patrol right field for St. Louis. Dylan Carlson will still have a significant role with this club but is likely the fourth option for the time being. I do think he remains a starter against left-handed pitching, and will still find 4-5 starts a week for the club.
I had Alec Burleson making the roster over Juan Yepez in my last predictions, and I feel even better about that now. Yepez is a great hitter and will be on this roster again at some point, but he's struggled this spring (.609 OPS in 58 at-bats) and doesn't really have a role with this team. The DH spot will likely go to Nolan Gorman and then whoever needs to be rotated into it, and Yepez does not provide enough value defensively to start over their other options.
Burleson, on the other hand, is a left-handed bat, something the Cardinals would like more of on their roster. Burleson has a .748 OPS this spring and the club has really liked his batted-ball metrics. It's easier to see a path toward playing time for Burleson, as he can play the corner outfield spots and first base better than Yepez, and can pitch hit late in games as a left-handed bat off the bench.