Spring Training Notebook, A.L. Edition: Reyes Keeps Mashing, Kopech Touches 100
Spring training is at its climax, showing us ferocious position battles, impressive performances, injuries, golden opportunities and more.
Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Franmil Reyes is up to nine extra-base hits and could be on the verge of breaking out in 2020, while Michael Kopech touched 100 mph in his first appearance.
Chris Sale remains without a timetable, while Blake Snell went on a weird control lapse in his latest game. Hyun-Jin Ryu looks like he is in midseason form and Chris Davis has nine walks and only three punchouts (!)
You can see last week’s Spring Training’s American League Notebook here.
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Spring Training Notes: American League
New York Yankees
- In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge injuries, Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier could accumulate semi-regular playing time in the season’s early part. They may have a chance to earn at-bats in the future if they perform.
- James Paxton will play catch today after having back surgery in early February. He could return in May, which means he is significantly ahead of schedule given the fact he was given a 3-4 month timetable.
- After giving up four homers in his last start, Gerrit Cole bounced back and allowed just one run in 3 1/3 innings, with six strikeouts.
- Gary Sanchez tested positive for the flu and will be re-evaluated when he returns to camp on Friday. It is the regular flu, in case you are wondering.
Boston Red Sox
- Alex Verdugo, who came from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts’ trade, took 20 swings in the batting cage Monday. He is nursing a stress fracture in his back and is shooting for a return before May.
- Chris Sale (elbow) is without a return timetable. He will be re-assessed at the 10-14 day mark of his shutdown period, not after a week as it was previously reported. He won’t throw until the weekend, at the very least.
- 29-year-old Ryan Weber is having a terrific spring training, conceding just a single unearned run in nine innings with a 11/0 K/BB ratio.
- Martin Perez pitched four scoreless frames on Sunday, with seven strikeouts.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Blake Snell walked four out of five hitters on Monday, and then he was pulled. He had missed his previous start with elbow soreness, but despite the horrific outing, he should be good to go on Saturday.
- According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays and outfielder Austin Meadows are talking about a long-term extension. The Rays would be smart to lock up the up-and-coming star, who hit .291/.364/.558 with 33 homers, 89 RBI, 83 runs scored and 12 steals in 2019.
- Randy Arozarena is scorching hot in spring training: he is hitting .533/.708/.733 with eight runs in 10 games. He has a double, a triple and three steals but more impressive is his 9/0 BB/K ratio. The sad part is that given the team’s outfield depth, he may open the season in Triple-A. But by all means, keep an eye on him.
Toronto Blue Jays
- Hyun-Jin Ryu threw 4 1/3 shutout innings with four strikeouts on Monday. He looks locked and loaded as the Jays’ best hurler.
- Danny Jansen hit a grand slam on Monday and is giving Reese McGuire, his competition for regular playing time, all he can handle. He now has three homers and three steals.
- Bo Bichette hit his second homer of spring training on Sunday. He is a 20-20 threat for years to come.
- Orioles manager Brandon Hyde announced over the weekend that first baseman Trey Mancini will undergo an “imminent non-baseball medical procedure” and that he’ll miss “some time”. Our best wishes are with the slugger.
- Anthony Santander went 1-for-2 with a homer, his first of spring training, on Tuesday. He could be an asset in deeper and AL formats.
- Chris Davis is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with three homers and nine RBI in spring training so far. He is doing it with a 9/3 BB/K ratio. I don’t often buy spring stats, but…
- Royce Lewis hit his second home run on Tuesday. However, it hasn’t been a particularly good spring training for the top prospect, as he is hitting .200 with no walks and seven strikeouts. He will likely start the season in Double-A but could become a contributor at some point.
- Meanwhile, the Twins’ other top prospect Alex Kiriloff is killing it. He has two round-trippers and is batting .474 and slugging .895.
- Luis Arraez went 0-for-4 on Tuesday and 3-for-26 this spring. He’ll play, but his performance will likely dictate where exactly. If he struggles, he may be ticketed to the bottom of the order.
- Byron Buxton took his first batting practice since having shoulder surgery. He may or may not be ready for opening day, but at least he is moving in the right direction.
- Franmil Reyes hit a pair of homers on Monday. He is batting .444 with four doubles, five taters, and 11 RBI. Wow.
- According to the player himself, the Cleveland Indians and Francisco Lindor suspended contract extension talks, per Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The shortstop said the conversations have been good, but the two sides are clearly getting nowhere.
- Mike Clevinger, who had surgery on February 14 to repair a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee, will throw a bullpen session Monday. There is a chance he returns to the rotation in mid-April.
Chicago White Sox
- Michael Kopech threw a perfect inning with one strikeout in his Cactus League debut against the Rangers on Tuesday. His fastball touched 100 mph and he showed some good breaking stuff. He is the real deal.
- Tim Anderson went 0-for-3 on Tuesday and his spring training slump continues. He is hitting .185 (5-for-27) with two RBI and a 4/1 K/BB ratio.
- Uber-prospect Nick Madrigal was taken out of Monday’s Cactus League game after a ground ball hit him in the head. He is expected to be fine, though.
- Free-agent signing Yasmani Grandal went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two runs scored on Monday. He should be one of the top performers in the catcher position this year.
- First baseman C.J. Cron went 2-for-3 with a homer on Tuesday. He has 9 hits in 24 at-bats with three homers and five walks in 11 games. After the top options in the position are gone, Cron is a nice consolation prize, one who can bop 30 dingers this season.
- Matthew Boyd held the Pirates to one run in 4 1/3 innings Tuesday. He struck out five with just one walk. Boyd is allegedly sharpening his curveball, which would give him a legitimate third pitch after the fastball and slider.
- According to manager Ron Gardenhire, Joe Jimenez will be the Tigers’ closer this season.
Kansas City Royals
- Nicky Lopez hit a home run and drove in two runs on Tuesday. He is hitting .360 with the dinger and four RBI in 2020’s spring training.
- Jorge Soler has, to this point, two doubles and two homers. However, he’s hitting just .172 (5-for-29) with a 14/3 K/BB ratio. It’s just spring, don’t panic yet.
- Meanwhile, Ryan O’Hearn hit his fifth Cactus League home run on Tuesday. He is a very good cheap first baseman.
- Nursing a mild lat strain, Justin Verlander said Monday that it would “probably take a miracle” for him to be ready for the start of the season.
- Austin Pruitt, Josh James, and Framber Valdez are fighting for two spots in the rotation after Verlander’s injury. Pruitt pitched three scoreless frames on Monday, James gave up three runs with three walks in 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday and Valdez conceded four runs in 3 2/3, also on Tuesday. The first two are the favorites.
- Astros manager Dusty Baker said that he’s not sure whether Yordan Alvarez, nursing soreness in both knees, will be ready for Opening Day. That’s disappointing.
- Austin Allen will likely share the catching position with Sean Murphy. Allen is having a fantastic spring training, hitting .406 (13-for-32) with two homers and 10 RBI.
- With AJ Puk beginning the season on the injured list, Chris Bassit will likely take his place initially. He pitched three scoreless innings Monday, but walked three.
- Speaking of Puk, he played catch on Tuesday. He is nursing a shoulder issue, but thankfully, there is no structural damage.
- Franklin Barreto went 3-for-5 and hit three doubles on Sunday. To this point, he is well-positioned in the A’s second-base battle, with six extra-base hits and a .333 average.
- Mike Minor was brilliant on Tuesday, turning 4 2/3 shutout innings with only two hits allowed. He has a 0.52 WHIP in the spring.
- The battle for first base duties is going so bad – Ronald Guzman has a .617 OPS and Yankees’ castoff Greg Bird has a .347 mark – that Todd Frazier started taking grounders at the position on Tuesday.
- Willie Calhoun was hit in the face by a mid-90s fastball and required jaw surgery. He seems to be OK but will be KO for the start of the season at least.
Los Angeles Angels
- Shohei Ohtani the hitter is at .105 (2-for-19) with one RBI with an 11/4 K/BB this spring. He struck out two times on Tuesday. Hopefully, he will get going soon.
- Dylan Bundy struck out five in four innings of two-run ball on Tuesday. He has a 1.59 ERA and a 0.44 WHIP in 11 1/3 spring training innings, but the best part is that sexy 16/1 K/BB ratio.
- Andrew Heaney, the Angels’ opening day starter, allowed four runs over 2 2/3 innings on Monday.
- Justin Upton went 2-for-2 with a homer and a walk on Monday. If health cooperates, he is a value pick late in drafts.
- Dee Gordon, battling with Shed Long for starting duties in second base, went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles on Tuesday. If Gordon wins, he will be a value pick due to the steals upside. If Long gets the nod, he offers an intriguing and more statistically diverse profile.
- Logan Gilbert pitched two perfect frames on Tuesday, with three strikeouts. He is the Mariners’ brightest pitching prospect and could be contributing near the end of the season.
- Taijuan Walker struck out four in three innings of work on Monday, giving up just a single run.
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