Spring Training Stock Watch 3/22: Who’s Rising and Who’s Falling

For the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners, the regular season is already underway after completing a two-game series in Japan. For the other 28 teams, the start of the season is now just less than a week away, with games beginning in six days. This means that by now, most teams have finally made their decisions on who is making the Opening Day roster, who will be in the starting lineup/rotation, and who will be brought out to pitch the ninth. Generally, these decisions were a result of players having either a really great spring training or a terrible one.

Here are some players whose spring training performances stood out from the rest, whether for good or for bad:

 

Stock Rising

 

Jung Ho Kang (3B, Pittsburgh Pirates)

.194/.275/.722, 6 HR, 17 K, 3 BB (36 at-bats)

 

Jung Ho Kang is completely off the radar for most people, having played a combined three games since 2016, thanks to both a variety of injuries and legal trouble. However, he is back and ready for action to start the 2019 season, and he will be the Pirates’ starting third baseman on Opening Day. Kang was very productive in his two real seasons in the big leagues in 2015 and 2016, hitting 15 home runs in 126 games in his rookie season before going off for 21 bombs in just 103 games the following season. He was able to remind us of his power this spring, as he clubbed six home runs, tied with Aaron Judge for the most in baseball. While the 17 strikeouts this spring might be a bit concerning, it can likely be attributed to him shaking off some additional rust from having missed so much time the past couple years. After all, he only struck out 179 times in his 232 career games in the majors. This is a guy who could potentially flirt with 30 home runs this season, and most people probably don’t realize he’s even still in baseball.

 

Shane Bieber (SP, Cleveland Indians)

1.42 ERA, 0.53 WHIP, 23 K, 2 BB, 2 HR (19.0 innings pitched)

 

Shane Bieber is having an absolutely dominant spring. For the most part, he has looked completely unhittable, allowing just eight hits in 19 innings. With excellent control, he rarely walks batters, making it that much more difficult for opposing lineups to manufacture runs against him. After a strong rookie season that saw him post a 5.13 K/BB ratio, the 23-year-old looks poised for a breakout season. He’s young, loaded with talent, pitches in a weak division, and is backed by a strong offense. What more could you want from a guy?

 

Chris Paddack (SP, San Diego Padres)

2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 20 K, 2 BB, 0 HR (12.2 innings pitched)

 

Chris Paddack has yet to pitch in a regular season Major League Baseball game. However, if he pitches the same way he has in the minors and now in spring training, he will be a very good major league pitcher. This past year in the minors, Paddack struck out 120 batters while walking just eight for a ridiculous 15 K/BB ratio. After displaying a similar level of success this spring, he seems to have done more than enough to crack the Padres’ starting rotation to start the year. His innings will surely be limited throughout the season, but the 23-year-old could still end up having a very solid rookie campaign.

 

Brad Peacock (SP, Houston Astros)

1.50 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 10 K, 1 BB, 1 HR (12.0 innings pitched)

 

Over the past couple years, Brad Peacock has been used in just about every way possible by the Astros. He’s started a number of games, come out of the bullpen for both short and long relief, and he’s even gotten a few saves. This year, he seems to have maximized his fantasy value, winning the fifth and final spot in Houston’s starting rotation over Josh James. Part of this decision was thanks to James suffering a quad injury, but Peacock has certainly done enough to deserve the job regardless. After striking out 96 batters in 65 innings this past season, Peacock should have plenty of fantasy relevance pitching behind the Astros’ high-octane offense.

 

Stock Falling

 

Joc Pederson (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)

.167/.250/.476, 3 HR, 16 K, 5 BB (42 at-bats)

 

Joc Pederson has had a pretty typical spring training by his standards, showing some power while hitting for a low average. However, this lackluster spring performance may not be enough to hold off 22-year-old Alex Verdugo from taking his starting spot in the outfield. Now that Pederson is dealing with a back issue, it is entirely possible that Verdugo starts the season as the Dodgers’ starting left fielder. Even when Pederson returns, he may not have much playing time available if Verdugo takes this opportunity and runs with it.

 

Archie Bradley (RP, Arizona Diamondbacks)

6.23 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 6 K, 1 BB, 0 HR (4.1 innings pitched)

 

Archie Bradley entered the spring as the early favorite to be named the Diamondbacks’ closer over Greg Holland and Yoshihisa Hirano. However, he has not pitched well enough to take the job in his limited innings thus far. On top of his subpar performance, he is also dealing with a stiff neck that kept him out of game action for a few days. Meanwhile, Hirano has yet to allow a run this spring and is doing everything in his power to win the job. It is still very possible that Torey Lovullo does decide to name Bradley his closer, but the situation has arguably become less clear as the month has progressed. This is still a situation to watch as the final week of spring training concludes.

 

Lucas Giolito (SP, Chicago White Sox)

8.84 ERA, 1.91 WHIP, 18 K, 8 BB, 6 HR (18.1 innings pitched)

 

Expected by many to potentially have a breakout season this past year, Lucas Giolito did just the opposite, posting a league-worst 6.13 ERA while giving up an American League-leading 90 walks. Following a season like that, I doubt too many people are intrigued by him this year, but some people might see a potential bounce-back year for the 24-year-old former first-round pick. After this spring, however, it is very clear that he has yet to figure things out on the big-league level. Maybe he will turn things around at some point in the future, but it won’t be this year.

(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)

Kyle Frank

Kyle studies finance and sport management at UMass Amherst, and he is a die hard Red Sox fan, despite both of his parents rooting for the Yankees. He has previously written for Cover The Spread 365.

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Comments


Chucky

Interested to hear your take on one of the more contested battles during ST, the Rockies’ 2B dilemma. Hampson v McMahon. Thanks

Kyle Frank

I honestly really like them both. They should both get their fair share of playing time thanks to their ability to play multiple positions, so I think they’ll both put up solid numbers regardless of who gets the nod on opening day. That being said, Hampson has the edge on defense so maybe that wins him the job. Definitely a situation to keep watching through this last week of ST.

theKraken

Isn’t Hampson banged up? It is an interesting battle, but I don’t think the defense of Hampson closes the gap on offense based on spring. McMahon has mashed, where Hampson has been a few levels below that. They are not neck-and-neck on offense at this point. In any case we should want one of them to fail as there are not enough ABs to feed the two of them. It is very unlikely that both provide real value throughout the year – it would take convenient injuries and flops from guys like Desmond to create enough ABs for both. I had a choice and I took McMahon just because he could make a loud impact to start the year if things break right. I think there is also a very open question as to whether both can play multiple positions… well. Literally anyone can be heralded as such! Is McMahon actually passable at 2B? I don’t think we actually know that he is. There is also the reality that COL always produces exciting offensive players and they don’t usually work out – like McMahon last year lol. Brendan Rodgers isn’t far off either which doesn’t help any of them. I’m not hanging my hopes on anyone without a job and I think the price is high enough on these two that I am probably looking to sell… especially if one gets off to a good start.

Perfect Game

How many IP and QS do you thinkg Peacock can get this year as a starter? Not sure how long they will stretch him out in games?

Also, who would you rather have…Glasnow or Robbie Ray?

Kyle Frank

I think Peacock will end up with a workload similar to Rich Hill has had the past couple years. Peacock has never pitched more than 132 innings in a season so I wouldn’t expect much over 150. As for Glasnow vs Ray, I personally like the upside of Glasnow, but Ray has had some proven success in the past, so he is definitely a safer, more consistent option. Overall, I think both players will end up having solid years.

Neal

Re: Bieber “…and is backed by a strong offense.” Seriously? That’s probably the worst OF in MLB.

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