Spring Training Recap 2021: March 2nd

Everything you need to know about yesterday's spring training news and performances.

Welcome to the spring training recap for March 2nd! Every day throughout spring training we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous day’s games, as well as highlighting things to watch for in today’s matchups. 28 teams were in action on Tuesday, with a handful of aces on the mound and literally every shortstop hitting a homer (don’t fact-check that). Here is the news and notes from yesterday’s slate:

 

News

 

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, San Diego Padres): 2-for-2, HR, BB, 4RBI, SB

El Niño put on a show Tuesday, singling to left in his first AB and promptly taking second on a double-steal that also scored Trent Grisham. In the second inning he brought Slam Diego to Arizona, crushing a Grand Slam to left-center off a laboring Caleb Smith. He added a walk to leadoff the 5th inning for good measure before being lifted for pinch-runner CJ Abrams. What more is there to say for recently-extended superstar, who looks poised to go near the top of fantasy drafts this spring.

 

Willi Castro (SS, Detroit Tigers): 2-for-2, HR, 2B, 3RBI

Castro hit his second homer of the spring, launching a hanging curveball from J.T. Brubaker over the CF wall in the 1st inning. He added a double in the 3rd that deflected off pitcher Sean Poppen’s foot into right field, scoring runners from second and third. The 23-year-old had a quietly productive 2020 for the Tigers and enters 2021 as Detroit’s projected starting SS.

 

Kiké Hernandez (SS, Boston Red Sox): 1-for-1, HR, 2BB

Hernandez made his second start of the spring at SS for the Red Sox on Tuesday, sandwiching a homer to straight-away-center between a pair of walks. His homer led-off a 3rd inning outburst for Boston that saw subsequent dingers from Jarren Duran and Rafael Devers, and Hernandez’s second walk coming later in the same frame. Though Xander Bogaerts‘ shoulder injury doesn’t appear too serious, Hernandez could be a sneaky-valuable multi-positional starter in 2021.

 

Andres Gimenez (SS, Cleveland): 2-for-2, HR, 2RBI

Gimenez got the start at SS on Tuesday, in a battle with trade-mate Ahmed Rosario for the starting role. After hitting a single and triple on Sunday, he singled to lead off the 3rd inning on again on Tuesday before homering to right-center off Erik Swanson in the 5th.  Gimenez’s homer was measured at 11omph by Statcast — ranking as the hardest hit ball of his young career. Though we may not be able to draw many conclusions from spring training, increased max-exit velocities are something to keep an eye on.

 

Jose Iglésias (SS, Los Angeles Angels): 1-for-2, HR, 3RBI

We really are in the golden-age of shortstops, eh? Iglasias took Reds rookie Hunter Greene deep in his first AB of the spring, driving in three to open the scoring. The historically glove-first SS took advantage of the shortened season, posting career highs in nearly all offensive categories in 2020. He was acquired from Baltimore in the offseason and looks to continue that success as the starter in Anaheim.

 

Pitching Roundup

 

Walker Buehler (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2 IP, H, 0 ER, 1 K

Walker Buehler capped off a strong Tuesday schedule with a pair of scoreless innings against the Giants. He allowed a two-out double off the bat of Jason Vosler in the first but returned with a 1-2-3 second inning including a strikeout of Daren Ruf. He stuck to the brand, relying heavily on his elite FF and throwing 14 of his 24 pitches for strikes. The 26-year-old right-hander is arguably the ace of the loaded LA rotation.

 

Casey Mize (SP, Detroit Tigers): 2 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

Big shoutout to the LECOM Park camera angle — one of the few spring facilities with the straight-on CF camera. Mize threw 42 pitches and scattered 3 walks over 2 scoreless innings of work against the Pirates. He struggled with arm-side fastball command in the first, but struck out Gregory Polanco on a nasty splitter to end the inning. Mize featured more sliders in the second, but kept the ball on the ground and froze Travis Swaggerty with a fastball to end his outing.

 

Pablo Lopez (SP, Miami Marlins): 2 IP, 2H, 0 ER, 1 K

Pablo Lopez made his first start of the spring, throwing 28 pitches across 2 scoreless innings against the Cardinals. He and opposing starter Adam Wainwright set the tone early in a game that ended after 7 in a scoreless tie. Exciting! Lopez primarily threw FB/CH and sat comfortably around 95mph with the heater. He also mixed in a pair of cutters, which he reportedly worked to develop this offseason. The CH will always be his go-to, but look for him to continue developing the cutter throughout the spring.

 

Ian Anderson (SP, Atlanta Braves): 2 IP, 3H, 0 ER, 2 K

Anderson faced 10 hitters over 2 innings against a lineup with 6 Twins regulars. He struck out Miguel Sano to end the 1st after issuing a 2-out BB to Jorge Polanco, then worked around three consecutive singles in the 2nd to escape his outing unscathed. Though the overall line was aided by a run-saving catch from Ender Inciarte the big takeaway here is a multi inning debut from Anderson, who manager Brian Snitker praised “wise beyond his experience.” After a strong debut in 2020, the righty is still rookie eligible and surely one frontrunners for NL Rookie of the Year heading into the season.

 

Lucas Giolito (SP, Chicago White Sox): 2 IP, H, 1 ER, 4 K

A Ronald Guzman homer was the only damage done against Giolito on Tuesday as he struck out 4 in an otherwise clean outing. He caught Joey Gallo looking on a painted fastball to end the first, then got Khris Davis swinging and Nick Solak sword-ing to start the second. The White Sox ace is quickly becoming one of the league’s best pitchers and looks to build upon a strong 2020 season.

 

Framber Valdez (SP, Houston Astros): 2 IP, 1H, 1 ER, 2 K

Framber focused on his sinker in this one, throwing 18 of them on just 24 total pitches. It was mostly effective, inducing 4 consecutive groundouts to begin his outing before Jeff McNeil took him deep to right field in the second. Perhaps offended by the dinger, Valdez brought out the off-speed and promptly struck out James McCann and Luis Guillorme to end the inning. He sat in the 92-93mph range with the sinker, right on par with his 2020 averages and ended the day with a 42% CSW.

 

Marcus Stroman (SP, New York Mets): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K

Stro shared the bump with Valdez and tossed two perfect frames with a pair of strikeouts. He also showed his full repertoire, with 10 SI, 6 SL, 6 FS, 4 FC, 2 FF, and 2 CH. Thats 30 total pitches for those of you keeping score at home. The big reveal here was the splitter, which is actually more of a split-changeup than split-fastball. The new pitch got a pair of called strikes and a big whiff from the notably-hard-to-strikeout Michael Brantley. Stroman delved into his full arsenal and shared his grips in a recent video with Pitching Ninja, which is a highly recommended (and highly enjoyable) watch for anyone who wants to learn more.

 

JT Brubaker (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates): 1 IP, H, 1 ER, 1 K

Everybody’s favorite sleeper JT Brubaker made his spring debut with a 13 pitch inning of work against Detroit. Aside from the aforementioned homer by Willi Castro, Brubaker got through the inning relatively quickly. Perhaps by design, he emptied the arsenal with 3 pitches each of his FF, SI, SL, and CU (and a lonely CH) — good for a 31% CSW in the short outing.

 

Zack Wheeler (SP, Philadelphia Phillies ): 2 IP, H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

Wheeler threw 37 pitches over two innings of work, surrendering a single and two walks against a lineup of Toronto regulars. He primarily threw SI and FF, but mixed in a handful of breaking-balls throughout. His SI sat around 95mph, with the FF topping out at 97mph. Overall the Blue Jays put together some good ABs against Wheeler, drawing a pair of walks and fouling off a number of pitches in the process. They didn’t seem particularly fooled, with a 19% CSW to show for it.

 

Kohei Arihara (SP, Texas Rangers): 2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB 2 K

Tuesday gave us our first look at Arihara, the 28-year-old righty who joins the Rangers after a productive career in Japan. He gave up three runs on 5 hits, including a 3-run homer to Andrew Vaughn in the first, but flashed a good changeup and recorded a pair of strikeouts. He has the ability to throw 7 different pitches and showed the poise and mound-presence we have grown accustomed to from Japanese pitchers.

 

Yusei Kikuchi (SP, Seattle Mariners): 2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Speaking of Japanese pitchers, Yusei Kikuchi made his spring debut on Tuesday against Cleveland. Josh Naylor hit a first inning RBI double, but was thrown out at third on a strong throw from Jarred Kelenic to end the frame. Kikuchi struck out both Mike Freeman and Austin Hedges swinging to end his day after two innings of work. Keep an eye on Kikuchi’s fastball velocity throughout the spring as he looks to carry his 2020 gains into the new season.

 

What to Watch for Today

 

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Natan Cristol-Deman

Natan is a California native and senior at UMass Amherst. He enjoys applying analytics to scouting and player development. You can find him on twitter @natan_cd

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