Spring Training Recap 2022: March 23

It's Spring Training! What happened on Wednesday?

You know the drill. We’re almost a week into Spring Training, the glorious time of year where confirmation biases and hyperbolic overreactions reign supreme. Let’s look at what happened on Wednesday.

 

News

 

  • Good news for baseball in New York. As predicted by WFAN Sports Radio’s Boomer Esiason two days ago, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is, indeed, lifting the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for professional athletes today. The sudden reversal leaves Brooklyn Nets fans to wonder, doesn’t anyone care about basketball in this town? Meanwhile, fantasy managers need not worry about Mets or Yankee players missing any home games due to the mandate. But, the Yankees still have a situation on their hands for the clubs’ three scheduled series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, the first of which is set for May 1st-3rd.
  • Tommy Pham finally has a team. And just like everyone predicted, it’s the Colorado Rockies Cincinnati Reds. The terms include one year at $7.5 million and a mutual option for the 2023 season.
  • Veteran catcher Stephen Vogt is back in Oakland on a major league deal. He was a two-time All-Star during his time with the Athletics from 2013-17.
  • On Wednesday, the White Sox issued one-year deals to 23 players. But there’s one player left on their 40-man roster who has not come to terms yet, and it’s a big one. Asked yesterday if he could be headed for arbitration, Lucas Giolito replied, “It’s looking like it.” With Giolito having reportedly filed at $7.5 million, and the White Sox number at $7.3 million, the sides are very close. Eligible for free agency following the 2023 season, Giolito has compiled a brilliant 3.47 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his last three seasons combined (427.2 IP). Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech were among the notables to come to terms with the club at $750, 000 and $730, 000 respectively.
  • Jose Barrero underwent surgery on his left hamate bone and is expected to miss roughly six weeks of action. He was competing this Spring with Kyle Farmer as the Reds’ starting SS.
  • Zack Wheeler threw a bullpen session of 42 pitches and the ball was coming out of his hand well. After clearing what seems like a minor shoulder fatigue issue, the Phillies’ right-hander is next slated to throw a BP session before potentially making his Grape Fruit League debut.
  • Great news for Ronald Acuña Jr.as Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos said that the Venezuelan star could be cleared to return to the outfield as soon as early May, as opposed to the previous timeline of late May. He’ll open the season on the IL, but is expected to make his debut as a DH in late April.
  • New York Mets outfielder Starling Marte looks to have hurdled a minor oblique issue as was cleared to start a minor league game in the outfield yesterday. 
  • Odúbel Herrera is dealing with a right oblique strain, leaving Joe Girardi and the Phillies to turn to some mix of Adam Haseley and Matt Vierling to cover CF.
  • The Athletics are, not surprisingly, still focused on trading Sean ManaeaThe better question at this point might be who are the Athletics not selling?
  • Mike Clevingerwho is returning from a second Tommy John Surgery, made his way through a minor league game against the White Sox. He fired 41 pitches through three perfect frames and reportedly sat at 94-95 with his fastball.

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Giancarlo Stanton (OF, New York Yankees): 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R

The Yankees teed off on the Orioles tonight. I have a hunch we might be saying that again later on this year. Gleyber Torres and D.J. LeMahieu also hit dingers last night. Stanton, who hit cleanup last night, is sporting a 2.047 OPS in the early going.

 

Akil Baddoo (OF, Detroit Tigers): 3-for-3, 1 R

A perfect 3-for-3 for the Tigers’ lefty leadoff man, with two singles and a double to his credit. If you can somehow find someone who loves you as much as our Scott Chu adores Akil Baddoo, you’ll lead a blissful life. Baddoo is currently rocking a cool 1.600 OPS this spring.

 

Oneil Cruz (SS, Pittsburgh Pirates): 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R

We’re going to want to keep a very close eye on Mr. Cruz. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing talent than the 6’7″ lefty. (Insert silly shortstop pun here). He brings mammoth power to the table and swiped 18 bags last year in 62 games with Double-A Altoona. He might not open the season with the club, but for fantasy managers out there, this is the type of party you want to be early rather than late to. He’s 5-for-8 so far this spring.

 

Keston Hiura (1B, Milwaukee Brewers): 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 1 R

Strikeouts have derailed the Brewers’ first-rounder out of the 2017 Draft, but he’s retooled his swing including a less exaggerated leg kick in hopes of finding his mojo. Still just 25, Hiura is a worthy late-round gamble in deep leagues. The Brewers could certainly use an impact bat and should give him every opportunity to prove himself.

 

Mitch Garver (C, Texas Rangers): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R

Garv Sauce, who was traded from the Twins earlier this offseason, owned an excellent .404 wOBA and 155 wRC+ across just 93 games for the Twins back in 2019. Now looking like the Rangers’ primary backstop, he offers upside at a thin position. He hit third tonight, after Corey Seager and before Nate Lowe. And both of his shots came off Lance Lynn too. Not bad!

 

Top Pitching Performances

 

Corbin Burnes (SP, Milwaukee Brewers): 3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 5 K, 2 BB

In his first tune-up of this season, Burnes got his pitch count up to 56 and allowed five runs including a solo home run to TJ Friedl in the first inning. Highlights included turning Tyler Naquin’s bat into a piece of kindling, and a few nasty changeups, a pitch that he has evidently worked on this past offseason. 

 MacKenzie Gore (SP, San Diego Padres): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K , 0 BB

Not too long ago Gore was baseball’s top pitching prospect and the lefty impressed in his second Spring Training appearance. He’s put in a lot of work this off-season in fixing his mechanics and encouragingly, he has yet to allow a walk, control being something that he’s struggled with given his very unique delivery. And his fastball velocity is up to 97-98. For now, the last spot in the Padres’ rotation looks to be a battle between Chris Paddack and Ryan Weathers, meaning Gore probably opens the season in the minors. But, he’s someone to keep a close eye on as it is hard to imagine him not getting a chance if he keeps it up especially considering that Weathers and Paddack had ERAs north of 5.00 last year.

 

Merrill Kelly (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 8 K, 0 BB

The consummate Toby, Merill Kelly had the strikeout pitch working yesterday and fanned eight of the nine batters he faced. His velocity is reportedly up a bit to 94-95 and he has worked on his changeup during the offseason. Given that he’s basically free in drafts, there could be some streamer appeal for deeper formats as the DBacks’ should certainly give him all the innings he can possibly handle.

 

Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Guardians): 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 1 BB

Cleveland’s ace wasn’t sharp in his debut as he allowed a leadoff dinger to Gavin Lux before allowing another gopher ball to Miguel Vargas in the second inning. Seeing him knock off the rust isn’t surprising at all considering he missed a lot of time last year. The important thing is that he feels well and is still penciled in as Cleveland’s Opening Day starter.

 

Aaron Ashby (SP, Milwaukee Brewers): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 K, 0 BB

Do you hear that whistle? The Ashby hype train is picking up steam. The southpaw looked sharp last night retiring all nine batters he faced. Back on March 14th, Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell revealed that the plan is to have Ashby stretched out as a starter during camp. If you’re looking for an upside arm late in your draft, look no further than Ashby and his scintillating slider, which featured a 42% whiff rate last season across 31.2 IP.

 

What to Watch for Today

 

 

Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)

Ryan Amore

Writer for PL, artist, DFS enthusiast, and occasional Yankee fan. Once won a GPP with Henderson Alvarez. A proprietor of the Ketel Marte Fan Club. Appreciates walks but only of the base on ball variety.

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