Welcome to the Spring Training recap for February 23! 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. Yesterday saw the first full slate of Spring Training games so let’s gooooo!
- Trent Thornton is the likely fifth starter in the Blue Jays’ rotation
- Willie Calhoun is the frontrunner for the Left Field spot on the Rangers
- Brian Dozier has signed a minor league deal with the Padres
- Yoenis Cespedes is not ruling out a return by opening day
- Seven players are in the mix for the Cubs’ second base job, including Jason Kipnis, David Bote, and Nico Hoerner
- Angels’ manager Joe Maddon suggests top prospect Jo Adell is “not far off” from being ready for the majors
- Lonnie Chisenhall retires
Top Hitting Performances
Harrison Bader (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-for-3, HR, 2B, R, RBI
Bader led off and played center field for the Cardinals in their contest against the Mets. Bader is on track to be the starting center fielder when the regular season kicks off for the Cards. So far a glove-first player, Bader brought the bat to his first game of Spring Training this season.
Sosa, the Cardinals’ 14th-ranked prospect, replaced Paul DeJong at shortstop in the fourth inning and smacked a line-drive, two-run bomb to left field to tie up the score in the eighth. That’s how things would end against the Mets. Sosa saw time as a utility infielder in 2019 and could be an option in 2020 if the need arises with the big club.
Jay Bruce (OF, Philadelphia Phillies): 2-for-2, 2 2Bs, R, 2 RBI
Journeyman slugger Bruce teed off on Pirates’ pitching for two doubles, hanging the loss on Trevor Williams with two RBIs in the first. Bruce is ticketed for a bench role with the Phillies this season and not projected to be a big part of the offense.
Ketel Marte (2B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-for-3, HR, R, RBI
One of 2019’s breakout stars, Ketel Marte homered to right field and tacked on a single to lead the Diamondbacks’ 7-3 victory over Oakland. Marte has a lock on the second base job in Arizona after his stellar year at the plate. His defense is sure to keep him in the lineup in the unlikely event of a slump with the bat.
Starting catcher Victor Caratini hit a long ball to right-center field in the fourth inning to kick off the scoring against the Dodgers. Caratini is likely to play a backup role once the season starts.
Tony Kemp (OF/2B, Oakland Athletics): 2-for-3, HR, R, RBI
Kemp tried to make his case for the A’s second base job with a fifth-inning home run to right field. Kemp is in a tough battle for the starting job at the keystone in 2020, but may be able to find playing time in a utility role as well.
Todd Frazier (3B, Texas Rangers): 2-for-3, 2B
Frazier singled and doubled in a 7-5 victory against the Mariners. He should be the starting third baseman for the Rangers.
Jarren Duran (OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-3, 3B, R
Red Sox fifth-ranked prospect singled and doubled in the Red Sox contest against the Orioles. The outfielder also scored a run.
Derek Hill (OF, Detroit Tigers): 2-for-3, HR, 2R, RBI
Derek Hill may have opened some eyes with his 2-hit day in Bradenton, Florida. Replacing Jacoby Jones in the fourth inning, Hill smacked a line-drive home run to right field in the top of the fifth. He added a single and another run to round out his excellent day with the bat.
Sam Haggerty (2B, Seattle Mariners): 2-for-2, 2B
Mariners 17th-ranked second baseman Sam Haggerty replaced Shed Long in the sixth inning and collected a hit in both of his at-bats including a double. Long is slated to start at second base this season with Haggerty being considered for a utility role.
Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:
SPs to watch today:
Listen to reports of Cease’s command and let’s imagine good things together.
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) February 23, 2020
Here is how some of them fared:
Bryse Wilson (SP, Atlanta Braves): 2 IP, 4 Hits, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Wilson did his chances of making the Braves’ rotation no favors with an outing that saw him give up four hits in two innings with no strikeouts. He is a long shot to make the rotation and while he showed good control and did not issue a walk, his bendy stuff does not appear to be fooling anyone.
Anthony Kay (SP, Toronto Blue Jays): 2 IP, 3 Hits, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks
Kay will have a tough time making the Blue Jays’ rotation to start the year but his outing Sunday showed some good signs as he did not walk a batter and struck out two. The hits he allowed were all singles, but they pushed across two earned runs.
Aaron Nola (SP, Philadelphia Phillies): 2 IP, 3 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Nola was off to a good start with two scoreless against the Pirates. He only gave up three singles and did not walk a batter. Somewhat disappointing last season, Nola still threw over two hundred innings and struck out 229 hitters. If he can regain the control that he has exhibited in previous seasons he will be among the most valuable SPs in the game.
Alex Wood (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): 1 IP, 1 Hit, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks
A sharp outing makes for a strong opening argument for Woods to make the rotation. He hopes to hold off prospects Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin for the fifth spot this season. The only blemish was a two-out double to Victor Caratini followed by a wild pitch that moved Caratini to third. Wood was able to strike out the next batter swinging to prevent any damage.
Yusei Kikuchi (SP, Seattle Mariners): 1.1 IP, 4 Hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks
Kikuchi took the loss after giving up four hits and walking one batter while striking out two over just 1.1 innings on the mound. While he touched 95 mph on the stadium radar gun, his results were not spectacular. He was hit hard even when getting outs and hard contact was a problem last season as well when Kikuchi only induced soft contact on 18% of balls in play. He will be a fixture in Seattle’s rotation, but if he does not improve upon last year’s 8.8% swinging strike rate he is likely to see more outings like this one.
Joe Palumbo (SP, Texas Rangers): 2 IP, 0 Hits, 0 ER, 2 BBs, 2 Ks
Palumbo didn’t allow a hit, but like opposing starter Kikuchi, struck out the first two batters he faced. He allowed two baserunners in the second inning via the walk, but the threat was ended when Palumbo induced a groundout into a double play by J. P. Crawford. Palumbo was in the upper 90s with his fastball but is likely headed to the minor leagues to start the season.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch today:
Velasquez: FB sitting 94+? SL/CU working?
Cobb: Split-change solid?
Eovaldi: FB upper 90s + Cutters effective?
Maeda: Lots of SL/CH please
Alcantara: Sinker heavy?
Stripling: CH good?
Woodruff: FB up + SL/CH working?
Alzolay: Command? Mechanics still violent?
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) February 24, 2020
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)