Welcome to the Spring Training recap for March 1! 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. Lots of action in both the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues so here we go!
- The Astros final roster spot appears to be going either to outfielder Myles Straw or catcher Garrett Stubbs
- The favorite for the fourth spot in the Yankees rotation is Jordan Montgomery who is coming off of Tommy John surgery just under two years ago. The fifth spot is still a battle with Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Schmidt and others in the mix.
- Salvador Perez saw his first action behind the dish this spring since having Tommy John surgery last March.
- Blake Snell discussed the cortisone shot he received Friday indicating he feels great, but not stating for sure whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
- Joe Maddon indicates that Griffin Canning is likely to start the season on the IL due to trouble with his throwing elbow.
- The Astros may look for rotation help either on the free-agent market or from within their own system.
- MLB’s investigation into sign stealing by the Red Sox has gone past its original deadline with no conclusion. A decision is expected before the start of the season.
- Pirate’s reliever Clay Holmes suffered a broken foot after being hit by a line drive and will be in a boot for four to six weeks.
Top Hitting Performances
Miami may be running out of patience with their prize from the Christian Yelich trade and Brinson finds himself battling to remain the starting center fielder in Miami. While Brinson looked good with a triple, single and a run, his main competition also delivered as Jonathan Villar smacked a dinger and Magneuris Sierra stroked a double in the same game.
Locked in a tight battle for the second base job in Oakland, Kemp had a good day at the plate to make his case. He slapped a double and scored twice in the contest vs. the Indians. Kemp’s hot spring may have him in the lead at this point as the infielder who had a tough 2019 bouncing between the Cubs and Astros has a 1.190 OPS so far in the Cactus League.
The top Pirates prospect drove a T.J. Zeuch fastball deep over the tiki hut roof in center field to oohs and aahs from the crowd and announcer booth. Not slated to head north with the big club, Cruz’ bat may have helped his status as one the brightest lights in the Pirates’ minor league system. His glove, however, did not as he committed two errors in the field.
Ryan O’Hearn (1B, Kansas City Royals): 2-for-4, 2B, RBI
In a tough battle for the first base job with Ryan McBroom, O’Hearn hit a double and drove in a run against the Athletics. As both players are having a decent spring so far, every hit will count for O’Hearn who seems to be the favorite for the job at the moment.
The presumed starting shortstop for the Cubs in 2020 slammed a majestic one-run homer deep to center field off of Mariners Cody Anderson, formerly of the Indians. Just Javy being Javy, this is the kind of production fans and fantasy managers are expecting this year from Báez.
DeJong smoked a 1-1 pitch into the left-field dugout for a two-run homer in the third inning off the Astros’ Joe Smith after doubling in the first. The Cards’ starting shortstop could be a source of power later in drafts for managers that can accept some risk in batting average.
Crawford continues his hot start to spring with a couple of singles, a stolen base, a walk, and three runs vs. the Padres. Crawford’s lack of power and poor batting average in recent seasons is leaving him out of most drafts, even though he will be the everyday starter in San Francisco again this year.
Another Giants infielder getting off to a hot start, Dubón dingered and tacked on a single. The second baseman is slated to start for the Giants this year but his bat has also not been very enticing to fantasy managers at what has become a reasonably deep position, along with shortstop.
Speaking of deep-draft 2B options, Profar had himself a nice day in the same game, slugging a homer and a double for the Pads. He will start the year on the keystone for the Padres. Is this the year he lives up to expectations at the plate? Some of his underlying stats suggest he should have a better batting average, but perhaps his poor exit velocity and hard-hit percentages explain his seemingly unsustainable career .257 BABIP.
Ticketed for the Jays’ bench to start the season, Joe Panik swatted a homer, walked and singled while driving in two and scoring a run in this slugfest against the Pirates. Yacksel Ríos gave up the homer and was beat up pretty good for three earned in a single inning of work. It’s unlikely that Panik will dislodge rookie Cavan Biggio at second base, but may see a good number of PAs as a backup.
Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:
McCullers: command + CH still good?
Maeda: heavy SL/CH mix?
Musgrove: 4Seam command up? CB/SL usage heavy?
Folty: how’s the SL look?
Eovaldi: 99mph & a solid Cutter?
DeGrom: Do I feel dope watching him?
Kluber: CT/SL still elite?
Miley: CH good?
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 1, 2020
Here is how some of them fared:
Lance McCullers (SP, Houston Astros): .2 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, H, K
In his first action after returning from Tommy John McCullers threw just 16 pitches, facing three batters. He struck out Paul Goldschmidt but was pulled, apparently due to a strict pitch limit imposed by manager Dusty Baker. His pitches showed good movement and control in the limited outing. McCullers should be the Astros’ third starter in 2020.
Kenta Maeda (SP, Minnesota Twins): 2.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 H, 3 K, HR, WP
Maeda gave up a homer to Joey Wendle and had problems finding the zone on Sunday against the Rays. Maeda was able to induce a flyout from fellow Japanese star, outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo who joins the Rays this season. Maeda still has time to work on his control before the season starts and he is expected to pitch in the middle of Minnesota’s rotation.
Musgrove has reported pinching in his shoulder this spring but completed three innings of work. He only allowed two hits but they were the wrong kind: a triple to Anthony Alford and a home run to Bo Bichette which resulted in two earned runs. Musgrove also had some trouble with control, walking two batters but was able to strike out Travis Shaw and Billy McKinney. Barring further issues with discomfort, McCullers is expected to be near the top of the Bucs’ rotation.
Folty was not treated kindly by the Red Sox and had trouble with his control, giving up four hits and two walks. Rafael Devers took him deep for two of his three earned runs, and Nick Longhi touched him up for a double. Ticketed for the Braves’ rotation, Foltynewicz seemed ok with his performance in a post-game interview, indicating he thought Devers hit a good pitch, and that he was focused on getting his pitches ready for opening day.
Taking the mound opposite Folty on Sunday, Eovaldi was nearly perfect in three scoreless innings. Eovaldi fanned four Braves, striking out the side in the second, with excellent command and looks ready for the season pitch-wise. Only Sean Kazmar reached base against Eovaldi with a single. Coming back from an injury-shortened season, Eovaldi is expected to be the fifth starter for the Sox this year.
After a rough first inning that saw two walks and single, Kluber settled down, was throwing all of his pitches and found his command to finish the outing with four strikeouts. Although Enrique Hernandez managed a homer off Kluber in the third, most of the contact against him was soft. Kluber’s season was shortened by a broken arm resulting from a comebacker but the Rangers will count on him to be their ace after dealing for him in the offseason.
Logan Morrison golfed a no-doubter off of Miley twenty feet beyond the center field fence to plate three in the first inning. Miley stated he was happy with the work he got in otherwise and felt good with the pitches he was throwing. Miley had good control, issuing no walks. He should hold down the fourth spot in Cincinnati’s rotation in 2020.
Donuts were the only thing on the menu while Nate Pearson was dishing up triple-digit heat. Pearson came into the game in the fourth inning and didn’t allow any baserunners, striking out three over two scoreless. He was touching 100 mph according to the stadium radar gun and looked overpowering at times even against major leaguers. Pearson has a chance to play his way onto the major league club sometime this season but is likely to have an innings limit.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Wojciechowski: Good Slider & Cutter?
Morton: Still dope?
Kim: Good enough for SP spot?
Paddack: How’s the CB?
Keuchel: Living low?
Gray: CB and SL working?
Price: Fewer Sinkers?
Kelly: 94mph velo?
Montas: Four-Seamers > Sinkers? Good Split/SL?
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 2, 2020
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)