Although, only OKC has officially posted their rosters at this time, I think my roster projections will be close enough to make a few observations about the full level squads in general and some players in particular. The main changes you might see is some variability in assignments at 1b, of and backup catcher in A-ball, and some relief pitchers exchanging places from the active roster to EXT or DL. Other than that, its all good, man.
So, the first thing to note in general is that it appears as if some decisions have been made to convert some starters into relievers. While I would say this is a rather definitive for the likes of Ballard, Phillips and Tatusko, it isn't necessarily a permanent move for Hunter, Diamond or Castillo.
Diamond's assignment could be with the intent to work on his slider, some mechanical issues and/or to stretch him out. However, the Rangers did not seem very intent on stretching him out this spring so maybe that foretold their interest in moving him to the pen very early on. And, well, he also sucked royally in ST. I hope that the intent is merely to stretch him out and reinsert him into the rotation. However, if they think he can pull things together in the pen then I'm all for it. As for Castillo, well, he could work within the same ersatz split-starter system in which he operated last year - always pitching extended innings in tandem with another starter. This really blurs the distinction from starting/relieving in his case so a decision regarding his role may not emerge until mid-season.
As for Hunter, I can't say this move makes all that much sense on the face of it unless it might be considered a straight demotion. However, I think they are probably intent on stretching him out during the first month after missing the last 3 weeks of ST with a groin injury. When he is stretched out I would imagine that he replaces Lizard in the OKC rotation - anyone but Lizard please. Why they chose to stretch Hunter out in in AA, who knows?
It appears that Mathis was going to be groomed for the 5th starter role once it became apparent that Gabbard and Diamond would likely be working in the pen (and some inklings of a the three-headed monster that has become Benson-Feldman-Jennings), both of whom would not have been stretched in time to start in any case. Mathis was working weekly to up his pitch count on the back fields when not in an A games and pitched in a camp game on 4/5 in order to put him on the same schedule as our fifth starter. So, it was in the cards for awhile it seems. I don't think Mathis has much of a future as a starter, so at some point, in OKC or in TX, I hope that he slides into the MR role in which I think he can have some success.
Additionally, there are the cases of Hyatt, Schlact, and Moscoso. Moscoso it the only one that I would intently leave as a starter until the end of the year to see if he can indeed compete for a rotation spot next year. I think, err hope, that the decisions to start Hyatt and Schlact in AA has everything to do with a fleeting lack of depth, and well, nothing else. Hopefully, Hyatt and Schlact will find success in the pen this year, as that is where they will eventually end up when mid-season promotions come around, and that is likely where they have the best chance to get a shot at the majors.
As for Moscoso, I think the emergence of Strop as one of the best relievers in ST, and his eventual promotion to AAA, allayed some anxieties about not having an additional late inning arm in the pipe like Moscoso's who might help the team by midseason (anxieties further heightened by the demotion of Garr from AAA to A+). Diamond's move to the pen, if permanent, along with Turnbow's presence (at least until 5/1), might have been all the bullpen balm necessary to convince them that GM was worth a look-see as a AA staff Ace. Of course, as I have argued interminably, the only thing you really need to look at is his stuff and his ceiling, compared to everyone else not named Holland/"perez" in AA/AAA, and then the decision becomes a no-brainer. Hey, if the Lucas-Hindman-Newberg triumvirate can have the Phillips-Schlact-Whittleamn trio, Moscoso can be _my_ pet prospect.
Finally, Retaining Reed in A+ as a reliever is a bit surprising to me. He basically worked as a starter last year for the first time after closing his last 2 years in college. His slider was not as advertised for whatever reason, and I imagine his change was not all that great either and he simply got hammered in A+. However, I thought that if TX drafted him in the third round, they saw him as a starter. Otherwise, he was a reach. Well, it appears that he was a reach. Despite the simpler role of being a 2 pitch setup guy, he apparently has so much to work on that they asked him to repeat.