Spring Training Recap 2021: March 5-7

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

Welcome to the spring training recap for the past weekend, March 5th to the 7th! 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. There were a number of starters making their spring debut and a ton of action so let’s get right to it!

 

News

 

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Chris Taylor (2B/SS/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-for-3, R, HR, 4 RBI (3/5)

Taylor got his first few hits of the spring against the Royals on Friday, including a grand slam. The Dodgers’ utility man had a resurgent 2020 (.364 wOBA/ .370 xwOBA) and should get a decent number of plate appearances again for the defending World Series champions in 2021. With his performance trending up, Taylor would become more of a fantasy asset in the event of an injury to A.J. Pollock, Gavin Lux, or Justin Turner.

 

Ronald Guzmán (1B, Texas Rangers): 1-for-2, R, HR, RBI, K (3/6)

Ronald Guzmán has been a disappointment in the majors and Texas felt it was necessary to add former Tampa Bay Ray Nate Lowe into the fold. Guzman will not cede the first base duties that easily though, as the left-hander hit his second home run Saturday and now has four hits in seven at-bats this spring. Furthermore, the long ball Guzman hit left the bat at 113.4 MPH and went 437 feet. Considering his career average exit velocity is roughly 86 MPH, hitting the ball with authority makes Guzman far more intriguing — though it’s probably not enough to get us totally sucked in to draft him.

 

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 2-for-3, K (3/7)

After going hitless in his first two games, Stanton broke out with two doubles in three at-bats against the Phillies. The first was off Zack Wheeler, which was hit at 109.4 MPH, and the second against Iván Nova, with a 109.8 MPH exit velocity. Of course, this is no surprise as this is what the 2017 NL MVP does — let’s hope he stays healthy.

 

Willson Contreras (C, Chicago Cubs): 1-for-1, R, HR, RBI, 2 BB (3/7)

Contreras hit his first home run of the spring off starter Merrill Kelly in an eventual loss to Arizona yesterday. The Cubs catcher has hit second in all four games he’s played this season which is vastly different from his normal spot batting fifth. If this sticks, Contreras will have more at-bats while hitting ahead of Kris Bryant and Javier Báez, increasing his counting stats and solidifying his standing as a top catcher in the fantasy sphere.

 

Ramón Laureano (OF, Oakland Athletics): 1-for-2, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K (3/7)

Oakland’s center fielder had a breakout day on Sunday, driving in four men — including a three-run home run — in a 9-4 win against Cleveland. Laureano wasn’t nearly the same player in 2020 as he was in the two years prior, with a 103 wRC+ and only six home runs in 222 plate appearances. The main factor in that descension was a drop in exit velocity to 87.7 MPH and an increased number of groundballs to 44.5%. Though this spring, Laureano has three hits in eight at-bats, composing of a double, triple, and home run, which is possibly a sign that he’s put 2020 in his rearview mirror.

 

Heliot Ramos (OF, San Francisco Giants): 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K (3/7)

Ramos went off against the Reds, hitting two home runs in his four at-bats. However, even if he were to keep this performance up through the rest of the spring, Ramos has only reached Double-A so it’s unlikely we’ll see him till midseason at the earliest.

 

Josh Donaldson (3B, Minnesota Twins): 1-for-2, R, HR, 3 RBI (3/7)

Donaldson made his spring debut yesterday and hit a three-run homer off Tampa Bay’s Collin McHugh before being replaced in the fourth inning. Donaldson has suffered from injuries — particularly to his calf, in 2018 and 2020 — which has made the 2015 AL MVP unreliable in fantasy recently. But if he’s healthy, Donaldson can still mash the ball as the two balls he hit in play yesterday had exit velocities of 106.9 MPH (groundout) and 110.2 MPH (home run), so he’s worth a middle-round flier if you’re feeling lucky.

 

Pitching Roundup

 

Here was our list of starters to watch from the past weekend:

Here is how some of them fared:

 

Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels): 1.2 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K (3/5)

After not pitching in all of 2020 in recovery from Tommy John surgery, it was great to see Shohei Ohtani pitching again. The right-hander had his power stuff going, striking out A’s hitters with his fastball, slider, and splitter. Even though he gave up three doubles and two walks in the outing, Ohtani displaying his top stuff so early in the spring is the only thing worth focusing on so early in the spring. Days after hitting a 468 foot home run, Ohtani could finally display in 2021 what so many fantasy players have drooled over.

 

Michael Pineda (SP, Minnesota Twins): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (3/6)

Before the game was eventually washed out, Michael Pineda was dominant in his outing, including striking out four Red Sox hitters consecutively at one point. Pineda was excellent for Minnesota after returning from his PED suspension, registering a 3.38 ERA (2.22 FIP/ 4.46 xFIP) in 26.2 innings pitched. On a good team and pitching in a light-hitting division, Pineda should be a nice target late in drafts.

 

José Quintana (SP, Los Angeles Angels): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, BB, 4 K (3/6)

Quintana pitched his second scoreless outing this spring against the Rockies on Saturday, with four strikeouts — three of those in the second inning. In a six-man rotation with a lack of depth, the left-hander is essentially locked into a starting role and will look to produce customary serviceable fantasy numbers in 2021.

 

Shelby Miller (SP, Chicago Cubs): 2 IP, 2 H, ER, 0 BB, 3 K (3/6)

Miller’s second spring outing was an impressive start against the Brewers on Saturday. The former Cardinal looked sharp with his slider overall, notably striking out Kolten Wong (swinging) and Christian Yelich (looking) on the pitch. While the outing did result in an earned run from an Orlando Arcia RBI single, Miller showed that he’s well in the hunt to make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster as a swingman.

 

Logan Gilbert (SP, Seattle Mariners): 2 IP, 2 H, ER, 0 BB, 4 K (3/7)

Gilbert was scintillating against the Angels, using his power fastball and slider combination to strike out four batters — including Mike Trout looking. The only blemish on the outing was an RBI double from Justin Upton in the second, but it’s merely an afterthought. The 23-year-old showed why he’s one of the top prospects in baseball in only two innings, and should be targeted in the event of a midseason call-up.

 

Charlie Morton (SP, Atlanta Braves): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB (3/7)

Morton was making his first outing of the spring and went unscathed in his three innings of work. The right-hander got out of a jam in the first inning with men on first and second by striking out Rafael Devers and Christian Vázquez and then struck out Jonathan Araúz to end the second inning, stranding a runner on third. Despite the traffic on the bases, Morton was in midseason form, reaching as high as 96 MPH with his fastball and showed off his patented curveball. He’s locked in as a top starter in fantasy, especially with 2021 being a season of lower innings totals for pitchers across the league.

 

Anthony DeSclafani (SP, San Francisco Giants): 2 IP, H, ER, 0 BB, K (3/7)

‘Tony Disco’ made his first start as a Giant against his former team yesterday and did a solid job, surrendering only one run. While recording the lone strikeout is not ideal, DeSclafani was able to retire all five left-handed hitters he faced, something he’s struggled with in his career (.836 OPS v LHB). Even in a small sample, the 30-year-old will take it as a stepping stone as he’s made it a focus this season to throw more changeups to counteract the success of opposite-handed hitters.

 

Mike Foltynewicz (SP, Texas Rangers): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, K (3/7)

Mike Foltynewicz started Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, and less than a year later was DFA’d after displaying severely diminished velocity. Texas picked up the right-hander on a one-year deal in the offseason and Sunday’s outing showed the potential upside in the signing. Folty threw hard in his outing, sitting 93-95 MPH and even peaking at 97 MPH with the fastball — the best news anyone could have asked for. It seems that he’s rekindled his old magic and he’ll be soaring up draft boards through the spring.

 

What to Watch for Today

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Jai Correa

Jai Correa is an alumnus of UMass Amherst. He is incredibly passionate about the Red Sox, Indian cricket and economics.

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