We are back recapping another day of Spring Training games and each day that ticks off of the calendar is another day closer to Opening Day. We are exactly two weeks away from the best day of the year and the excitement is growing. We have a full slate of 13 games to discuss and break down for you here. It is usually at this point of Spring Training that everyone is groaning with exhaustion and ready to have meaningful baseball in front of them. It does not feel that way today and that is probably because baseball was not a given for 2022. It seemed unlikely to even be happening. As a fan, any baseball is welcomed.
- A trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies has been finalized. The teams reached an accord to exchange outfielders. Colorado gets their hands on Randal Grichuk while the Blue Jays will receive speedy Raimel Tapia. Also, a part of the deal is 19-year-old prospect Adrian Pinto who goes to Toronto in the trade while the Rockies are receiving cash. The Rockies’ interesting offseason continues. With the addition of Kris Bryant as the starting left fielder, Tapia became expendable to the Rockies. Randal Grichuk is slotted to be the starting center fielder or right fielder with the Rockies. They essentially gained some more power in exchange for letting some speed go with the completed deal.
- MLB will once again start games in extra innings with a runner on second base. This had been a sticking point during CBA negotiations and has been noted that this was something that the MLBPA fervently desired. This rule also had mostly unilateral support from front offices and managers as well.
- The league introduced a new wrinkle called the “Shohei Ohtani Rule’’ as they work out the kinks of welcoming in the universal DH. For clarification, this amendment will continue to allow a starting pitcher who also is in the lineup hitting to stay in the game as the designated hitter even when he’s yanked as the starting pitcher.
- MLB clubs will also be allotted 28-man rosters in April. This is certainly a vital alteration to roster management as the league is trying to account for the limited Spring Training due to the lockout. Pitchers will need time to gear back up and get their arms into game-ready shape. This will return to the typical 26-man format in May with teams allowed to roster 13 pitchers. All squads will be able to carry unlimited arms in April.
- 17 months removed from Tommy John surgery, Mike Clevinger pitched three innings against the White Sox line up which mostly had minor leaguers top to bottom. That aside, Clevinger did not allow anyone to each base all while striking out four batters. Clevinger only needed 41 pitches to dismiss 10 batters. He was originally allotted the first inning to pitch but he was so efficient in pitch count they sent him out for one more batter which he responded by striking out that extra batter.
- The Red Sox claimed Ralph Garza Jr. off waivers from Minnesota. The Sox designated Kyle Tyler for the assignment to make the appropriate space. When the Carlos Correa signing was official, the Twins designated Garza to make room.
- Arizona has come to a one-year agreement with Zach Davies with a 2023 option on the contract. He is just a bit removed from his best season to date. The abbreviated 2020 ledger saw Davies pitch 69 1/3 innings in just about twelve appearances with a stellar 2.73 ERA and his best strikeout rates (22.8%).
- Cincinnati made a deal to add some depth to their infield which was depleted due to the deal that sent Eugenio Suarez away. The Reds agreed on a minor league contract with JT Riddle. Riddle was in the Twins organization last year and briefly had a cup of coffee with the big league squad.
- Luke Bard and the Rays have agreed on a deal. According to Rays broadcaster Neil Solondz, the agreement is a minor league contract for Bard. Luke is the younger sibling of Daniel Bard and was with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the 2021 season but did not make an appearance due to a lingering hip issue that eventually necessitated surgery.
Top Hitting Performances
Arizona fans were happy to see Seth Beer going out there and delivering the goods. His last name alone has all the makings of a cult hero. When your last name is Beer, people are going to want to root for you. With only 10 PAs under his belt last year after debuting in September 2021, the Diamondbacks are hoping he can produce at the MLB level right now. He had quite the day at the plate.
Dbacks’ Alek Thomas with a prime Brett Gardner laser the other way
— Gary Sheffield Jr. (@GarysheffieldJr) March 24, 2022
Alek Thomas is a huge centerpiece of the DBacks’ future. He is a highly-touted prospect in their system with tools that have all fans in the desert excited. With him batting behind Beer at the bottom of the lineup, Arizona fans had to be thinking about the future if all goes well with the development of both of these players. He showed a lot of poise at the plate today and was able to hit a double off of a name-brand pitcher: Brandon Woodruff. All in a day’s work for the young man.
— D.J. Peterson (@DJPeterson) March 24, 2022
Peterson’s long ball was one of the finer ones we saw on Thursday. He even spent the time to admire it on social media after the fact which is always fun. D.J. Peterson has been working his way up through the minor leagues since 2013. He missed all of 2020 and 2021 but he may have a real shot to see some time on the big league Rockies’ roster if things break a certain way. If he shows more of that bat the rest of Spring Training, I’m sure Colorado brass will keep him in mind.
Bobby Witt Jr. – Kansas City Royals (2)* pic.twitter.com/usNtivcWgC
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 24, 2022
Bobby Witt Jr. is one of those players that you watch and know he is going to be something special. The 21-year-old out of Colleyville, Texas is part of the reason fans tune in to watch Spring Training games. Barring an unforeseen setback, it seems likely for us to see Bobby in the Kansas City lineup sooner than later. Will he be there for Opening Day? Time will tell. He has the potential to be one of the most explosive players in baseball.
One of the earlier offseason splashes from Stevie Cohen. Eduardo Escobar is a big piece of what the Mets want to achieve offensively. He has been a sneaky productive player throughout his whole career and hopes to do so surrounded by even more talent in Queens. He had a nice showing during Thursday’s outing and just refused to make an out. The Mets are hoping he can return to 2019 form where he launched 35 HRs. That would be a huge lift and he surely would be an instant favorite of the orange and blue.
The only thing scarier than the Dodgers’ lineup is the Dodgers’ lineup with a DH every single day. Edwin Rios was the lucky individual to sit in the designated hitter slot for the loaded Dodgers and he made the most of it. Reaching base 3 out 3 times, he was the highlight of a 6-6 tie between the Rockies and the Dodgers. The Dodgers are going to be so scary to pitch against this year. Even their depth has depth.
Yuli SMOKED this ball. pic.twitter.com/KhyUf98lsM
— MLB (@MLB) March 25, 2022
What can I say? I’m an absolute sucker for Grand Slams. They will make the list every time. Not an overwhelmingly impressive day at the plate aside from the one at-bat that plated 4 but he needed to be included in this list because of this monster shot. The man they affectionately refer to as La Piña has looked great in the shortened Spring thus far. A core member of the Astros’ team that has won and competed for championships the last few years will take on more of a prominent role with Carlos Correa leaving for Minnesota.
A lot of swings and misses for Anderson who just signed with the Dodgers as a free agent about a week ago. Tyler Anderson was signed as a depth piece but he looked absolutely on point today striking out 7 throughout 3 innings pitched. Surely the Dodgers do not need their dart signings to work out for them too but if this one does, it could make them even more dangerous.
Casey Mize, K'ing the Side. pic.twitter.com/IZG1buK0rJ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 24, 2022
Every time Mize pitches, he is a must-see. The hype is there and this performance was reminiscent of what an ace should look like. Casey Mize twirled three scoreless frames only allowing one hit and one walk. There was a point during his appearance in the game that he was cutting through the Yankees’ lineup easily with precision. A big piece of his success today was throwing 30 of his 44 pitches in the strike zone. Forcing the Yankees’ line up to stay on their toes kept them off balance as the Casey Mize worked with confidence. Aside from the domination at portions of the game, a nice takeaway for Mize and the Tigers was his ability to work out of the jam when New York put two runners in scoring position with two outs. With some luck, he will be able to translate that confidence into the regular season and have better success pitching in high-leverage situations.
Brandon Woodruff didn’t have it in his first Cactus League outing of 2022. Regardless he still understands that it’s not about making an impact now, but when it matters most.
— Cole Bradley (@colebradley01) March 24, 2022
The Brewers’ ace was not good in his 2022 debut. He even admitted that in the postgame but he is not panicking nor should you. There was not much to be alarmed about here aside from the line that jumps out at you. It is certainly not time to panic as pitchers do have these outings. I would chalk it up to more of a shaking off the rust type of situation than anything else.
Logan Gilbert shelved his old changeup grip (below) because he could t command it. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” he said. More on him shortly in bold predictions, just filed. pic.twitter.com/iLhDxCASr7
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) March 24, 2022
Logan Gilbert continues to impress this Spring. An interesting story that cropped up over the past 24 hours was about how he was unable to connect with his coaches about the changes in grips and approach he wanted to have on the mound going into the 2022 season. He was hoping that the new grip would create more movement on the ball and therefore get more swings and misses. Unable to speak with Mariners’ personnel, he has connected with fellow MLBPA members and an absolute filthy pitcher himself, Jacob deGrom. Gilbert went on to talk about the meeting with the two-time Cy Young award winner.
“I was just trying to learn as much as possible,” Gilbert said. “He just kind of goes about his business, and it’s effortless for him, but I would just try to watch and see what he does. I know we throw a little different body-movement-wise, all that kind of stuff, but it’s good to learn from him.” (MLB)
What to Watch For Today
What to watch from SP on TV today
Cade Cavalli – 👀👀
Severino – 97? Good command?
Tarik Skubal – Good secondaries?
Ryu – Good CH & CT? 91?
Ian Anderson – Lots o' strikes?
Houck – SL strikes?
Freddy Peralta – Filthy?
Urías – 94?
Luke Weaver – 3rd pitch?
Nick Martínez – 👇 pic.twitter.com/tvjU07GV49
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 25, 2022
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)