Welcome to the Spring Training recap for March 21st! Every day throughout Spring Training, we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous day’s games and highlighting players to watch in today’s matchups. We had 14 games on the schedule yesterday, so let’s get to it!
- Luis Urías is confirmed to have a strained left quad, shutting him down for the rest of spring training and making him unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. However, the Brewers are confident that this is not a long-term injury and that Urias will likely be back in a couple of weeks.
- The Marlins extended reliever Richard Bleier for two years and $6 million. He was a solid contributor out of the bullpen, with a 2.95 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 7.33 K/BB ratio.
- Shane Baz had surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow after it locked up on him after a bullpen session. John Romano at the Tampa Bay Times reported that Baz could be throwing as early as April and pitching in the majors by June, depending on how long the Rays decide to put Baz on a rehab assignment.
- Ryan McMahon and the Rockies have agreed to a six-year, $70 million contract extension. McMahon played at both second base and third base last year for the Rockies but is expected to start most of his games this year at third, where he ranked first in defensive runs saved (DRS) among players with at least 800 innings at the hot corner.
- For those wondering why Chris Taylor hasn’t seen the field yet in spring training for the Dodgers, manager Dave Robers told reporters that Taylor had surgery on his right elbow in November, but should be available to play second base on Thursday. Taylor signed a four-year contract worth $60 million prior to the lockout and is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
- Cavan Biggio continues to deal with a left elbow sprain but is expected to get some game action soon. Biggio had struggled with injury in 2021, and this is not a positive start to the 2022 season for the Toronto Blue Jay, who was expected to compete with Santiago Espinal to start at second base.
- Billy Hamilton signed a minor league contract with the Mariners with an invite to spring training. The speedy outfielder last played for the White Sox in 2021, managing to steal nine bases in 135 plate appearances.
- The Twins placed Randy Dobnak on the 60-day injured list, which means the competition for the fifth spot in their rotation is wide open. Dobnak is dealing with soreness in his right middle finger, the same injury that he dealt with at the end of last season. The Twins have been linked to both Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea, and with the win-now move they made signing Carlos Correa, it seems the next step would be to finalize a trade with the A’s and fill out the rest of their rotation.
Top Hitting Performances
Willie Calhoun (OF, Texas Rangers): 4-for-4, 3 RBI, 3 R
In a game where the Rangers scored 25 runs, there were plenty of offensive performances to highlight. Calhoun contributed with two doubles and brought in three runs on a pair of singles. His performances at the major league level have not been anything to write home about, but the Rangers are hoping he returns to his 2019 form, where he had 21 homers and 48 RBIs in 83 games, albeit with a juiced ball.
Oneil Cruz (SS, Pittsburgh Pirates): 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Cruz continued to impress this spring training, jumping on a pitch low in the zone for his 2nd homer in as many games. Watching his 6’7″ frame drive a baseball like a golf ball over the fence still seems to defy reality. However, Pirates manager Derek Shelton brought everyone back to Earth, as Rob Biertempfel at the Atheltic reported that the Pirates think there is still more development needed for Cruz and he will likely start the season in Indianapolis instead of at Busch Stadium when the Pirates meet the Cardinals on Opening Day.
Oneil Cruz – Pittsburgh Pirates (2)* pic.twitter.com/L6iJ9NFuHH
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 21, 2022
Josh H. Smith (SS, Texas Rangers): 2-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
Smith, who was traded from the Yankees to the Rangers, as part of the Joey Gallo trade also joined in the Rangers’ slugfest, taking a pitch from Sam Hentges in the third inning out of the park. Smith is a top-10 prospect in the Rangers’ organization and could see the big leagues as soon as this year. While he hasn’t demonstrated much power in the minors, the Rangers sure hope to see more dingers like this one this upcoming year.
Josh Smith – Texas Rangers (1)* pic.twitter.com/0e7vbXnuoe
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 22, 2022
Steven Kwan (OF, Cleveland Guardians): 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R
Lost in the fact of the Rangers putting up 25 runs in their game against the Guardians was that the Guardians also responded with 12 runs of their own, including five in the third inning, where Kwan batted twice. He led off the inning with a single to right, scored on the following at-bat, and then finished off the scoring at the end of the inning with another single, this time to left, scoring Luke Maile. Kwan was added to the Guardians 40-man roster at the end of 2021 is expected to make his major league debut sometime this year.
Edward Olivares (OF, Kansas City Royals): 3-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R
Olivares singled off Shohei Ohtani and also stole second base in the first inning, and then hit another single off Ohtani in the third, scoring Kyle Isbel for the first Royal run of the game. Olivares showed some power and speed last year, with 20 homers and 14 steals in 105 total games between AAA and MLB, and the Royals are hoping he can be a solid contributor off the bench.
Adrian Houser (SP, Milwaukee Brewers): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
Houser debuted for the Brewers and gave them exactly what they were hoping for from their projected No. 4 starter, pitching three perfect innings, striking out five batters, and inducing four groundouts. The groundouts are in line with his 2021 season, where Houser was 5th in GB% at 59.6%; the strikeouts, however, are a nice addition as Houser only had a 7.5 K/9 in 2021. If this is a sign of things to come for Houser, the Brewers are going to have a dangerous rotation from one to five.
Adrian Houser, Filth.
And a Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/8BtnYdCwmI
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 22, 2022
Hunter Greene (SP, Cincinnati Reds): 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Greene provided some hope for beleaguered Reds fans, as the No. 2 overall pick from the 2017 draft took the mound for the first time this year. Greene showed off his main claim to fame, the triple-digit heater, throwing seven pitches over 100 mph, and struck out two batters in an inning of relief work. The question with Greene will be his command and ability to locate that fastball, but his performance is a good sign of things to come. Greene is also scheduled to start on Thursday, where hopefully he continues to show he’s ready to pitch in the major leagues.
Max Meyer (SP, Miami Marlins): 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
On a day where most fans were expecting to see a great performance from Max Scherzer, it was actually a different Max that wowed the attendees at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. The former Golden Gopher product Max Meyer worked four perfect innings, striking out five of the 12 batters he faced. He showed off a little bit of the velocity that convinced the Marlins to draft him third overall in the 2020 draft, averaging 96.3 MPH on the fastball. He also got six whiffs on the slider and used it to finish off all five of his strikeouts. Meyer has only pitched in professional ball for one season, but don’t be surprised if he makes his big league debut this year.
Alex Wood (SP, San Francisco Giants): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Not to be outdone by his opposing pitcher, Adrian Houser, Wood pitched two perfect innings today against the Brewers, striking out Willy Adames, Christian Yelich, and Rowdy Tellez. Wood was also able to get two groundouts, in line with his 53.7% GB% from 2021. Wood was highlighted in our lockout Going Deep series with the main takeaway being that while there’s a lot to be positive about, he’ll ultimately need to avoid the injured list in 2022.
Tanner Banks (SP, Chicago White Sox): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
If Banks was on your preseason radar for the breakout candidate of spring training—congratulations. All kidding aside, the 30-year-old non-roster-invitee impressed, throwing two hitless innings, including a first-inning where he struck out Trea Turner, Max Muncy, and Austin Barnes. He followed that up with a strikeout of Cody Bellinger in the second. While Banks will likely not make the big-league roster and may never get his cup of coffee in the majors, his performance reminds us why we love spring training and why we’re so glad that baseball is back.
Tanner Banks' 5Ks thru 2 innings.
On pace for nearly 23Ks per 9. 😯😀 pic.twitter.com/z6xnOnSQGW
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 21, 2022
What to Watch for Today
What to watch from SP on TV today
Means – ~93mph? Good CB?
Fried – SL whiffs? CBs for strikes?
Joe Ryan – SL solid?
Luzardo – CB > 40%?
Buehler – ~97mph?
Montas – Good Split?
Musgrove – Dope?
Ray – Are the pants tight?
Giolito – 96mph?
Lauer – 92/93mph?
** deGOAT Has Arrived **
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 22, 2022
- Rich Hill faces off against his former team, as he takes the mound for the Red Sox against the Rays. As the oldest active pitcher in the major leagues, Hill doesn’t have a lot left to prove and is a lock to make the Red Sox rotation. Still, it would be nice to confirm that he has not lost a step yet and can still provide quality innings.
- It will be our first opportunity to see Robbie Ray in his new Mariners’ threads as he faces the Cubs. And while we’ll want to see him fire heaters into the zone and confirm that he still has his 2021 command, the real question is: How tight are the Seattle pants?
- Jacob deGrom makes his Spring Training debut against the Astros. We’ll be holding our collective breath until he walks off the mound ready to pitch another day.
- Monitor Joe Ryan’s pitch breakdown today. If he’s throwing sliders more often and for strikes (16% usage, 66.7% Str% last year), he might be worth another look in your upcoming drafts as a late-round pick.
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)