The crack of the bat, the pop of the ball meeting leather and roster cuts—they’re all an indelible part of spring.

While the first two elicit nostalgia, the last one is an undeniable bummer. Writing for Fox Sports, former major league hurler C.J. Nitkowski describes the agony of the annual ritual:

A Major League Baseball team will start spring training with anywhere from 55-65 players. It starts the regular season with just 25. That means 30-40 players in each camp get the dreaded tap on the shoulder, usually from the hitting or pitching coach, ‘The manager needs to talk to you.’

Ugh, I get that same pit in my stomach just typing those words, you know what’s coming. It is an awful feeling, you’re getting sent down, or worse, released.

But getting axed from the big league roster, or even cut loose altogether, isn’t a death sentence. Every year, a gaggle of players—some prospects, some veteransreturn from their March exile to make an impact. 

Who will it be this year? Let’s take a look at a few early candidates, guys who’ve been demoted as of March 27 yet appear primedbecause of potential, past results or both—to catch on and produce at some point this season.

What follows isn’t an exhaustive list. Rather, it’s a sampling of intriguing names with the ability and opportunity to work their way from spring cuts to summer players. 

Many are flying under the radar; some have never tasted the big leagues. But they all share a common dream: cut today, back tomorrow.

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