Ten biggest surprises so far in MLB spring training
By Brian Wright
It would be foolish to think that spring training performances are a guaranteed precursor for the regular season. Nevertheless, they occasionally provide a glimpse of what’s to come when the games actually matter. So take these early March occurrences with a grain of salt…or take them to heart.
10. Evan Longoria
As is the case for any struggling veteran, a slow start to spring training is nothing to get worked up over. Longoria, though, should make a point to improve on his .200 batting average and two RBI over 20 at-bats. If not, thoughts could turn to those declining numbers in 2015 and believe they could be a sign of things to come.
9. Cody Reed
Officially, Reed has never suited up for an MLB appearance. Last seaon, he played for three different minor league teams — never getting as high as AA. Should he maintain something close to his current numbers — five hits, one earned run, seven strikeouts in eight innings — there could be a place for him on the Cincinnati Reds’ roster.
8. Adam Morgan
The Phillies have been looking to fill the voids created by the departures of lefty aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. It’s unknown if Morgan will be the man to do it, but he’s giving the organization reason to consider him a vital part of Philly’s rotation. Over nine innings, Morgan has a 0.67 WHIP and a 2.00 ERA.
Already stocked with great young hitting talent, the Cubs might have another one waiting in the wings. Alcantara (age 24) isn’t going to supply a bunch of power. Instead, he has impressed by consistently getting on base. A .412 batting average has helped in his success on the basepaths — with four stolen bases.
In about a year or two, something of this nature won’t be so much of a surprise. Franco is Philly’s third baseman of the future. However, the present is pretty good as well. Maikel has already drilled four home runs (which is tied for the most among all players this spring) to go along with nine total hits and 10 RBI.
5. John Danks
Seeking to become part of a White Sox rotation that’s sure to include AL Cy Young Candidate Chris Sale and newcomer Mat Latos, Danks hasn’t exactly given the club reason feel assured. Having already started three games, he’s gone 1-2 and surrendered 13 runs in 9.2 innings. We’ll do the math for you: that equates to an ERA of 12.10.
4. Ryan Rua
During his 2015 stint with the Texas Rangers, Rua had just 83 at-bats and was limited to a .193 average with a mere 16 hits and seven runs batted in. Over the course of the 20 spring at-bats, he already has nine hits (for a .450 mark) complemented by five runs driven in (and six runs scored) — highlighted by a two-double performance against the Giants on March 7.
3. Justin Upton
If this were April, the priciest new Tiger would not be earning his paycheck. Through Saturday, the 28-year-old Upton has just two hits in 16 spring at-bats, only two runs batted in and has fanned 10 times. Detroit certainly hopes it sees something to the effect of a 26-homer, 81-RBI outfielder like the one that rode it out in San Diego last year.
If you were to take a peek at the spring training leaderboard so far, you’d see this name at the top in the hits category — one better than the established Nolan Arenado. Those 13 have led to a robust .433 batting average and a .919 OPS. There’s going to be plenty of opportunity for Atlanta’s prospects to get serious playing time down the road. Perhaps Olivera is making his case right now.
1. Jake Peavy
A 10.38 ERA and 19 hits allowed in 8.2 innings of work. If those numbers were linked to a rookie or a minor leaguer, his days on the big league squad would be numbered. Instead, those are the stats of an established right-handed starter. So, it could either be a sign that the 34-year-old may be on the downturn or that he’s experienced enough to know when to bring out his best stuff.