Notes from the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues...
The Brewers have a gaping hole at the hot corner. They have brought in several candidates from around the majors to fill it
Aaron Hill- 2B- Mil- Hill came over to the Brewers in the deal for Jean Segura. Hill has a couple of ways to get in the Milwaukee lineup. One is for 2B Scooter Gennett to have a slow spell, something that is not unprecedented. Last year Gennett spent 17 games at AAA after batting .207 through April 19. Hill's natural position is 2B, although he played 47 games there and 38 at 3B last year. That makes him a candidate to man the hot corner. Hill will need to improve on his offensive output of the last two seasons in order to have value. It is possible, given that his .230 average last season was driven by a BABIP of .253. Also, after having a Batting EYE of 0.30 in 2014 Hill rebounded to 0.57 in 2015. Hill has the most major league experience of the contenders and at this point is the favorite to win the job.
Garin Cecchini- 3B- Mil - Cecchini was formerly the 3B of the future for the Red Sox. Then they signed a Panda before 2015. Cecchini had already raised some doubts after his K% jumped to 21.6% and average dropped to .263 upon being promoted to AAA in 2014. Cecchini was shifted to OF last year and his performance at AAA dropped again, with a .213 average and 21.3% K%. Some coincidence in those numbers. Boston gave up on him and sold him to Milwaukee in the offseason. Cecchini had been the favorite to get the 3B job until Aaron Hill came over in trade. The odds of Cecchini being able to try and recapture his prime prospect status sank.
Will Middlebrooks- 3B- Mil- Middlebrooks is one of multiple former Boston 3B prospects trying to take the job in Milwaukee. For the Padres last year, he hit 8 homers in 148 PAs on the road away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park. This could give him a chance to put up some power numbers in a much more power conducive environment in Miller Park. But that would only happen if Middlebrooks sheds his minor league contract status and grabs the starting job for the Brewers. It would take a very strong spring for him to do that.
The non-signings of Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler has left the Orioles' OF picture a bit on the murky side.
Dariel Alvarez- OF- BAL- Alvarez is listed as on top of the RF depth chart at MLB.com. That doesn't seem like a very realistic assessment of the situation. His BB% of 3.0% at AAA in 2015 was a regression of his 4.4% after his promotion to that level the previous season. Alvarez did improve his power numbers, with 16 homers in 541 PAs at AAA Norfolk after hitting 1 homer in 183 PAs there in 2014. Unless Alvarez shows more patience at the plate in a hot spring he is likely to drop in that depth chart.
Nolan Reimold- OF- BAL- Reimold logged 195 PAs for the Orioles last season. That is his highest number since 2011. It's still not that impressive. Reimold's .247 average and 6 homers in 2015 is not enough to give him a very solid hold on LF for Baltimore.
Hyun-soo Kim- OF- BAL- Baltimore signed Kim because he has power potential. He had career-best numbers in Korea and added a career-best walk rate. That combination makes Kim a player to watch this spring. The Orioles will give Kim a chance to win a corner OF job.
The Rangers signing of Ian Desmond seemed to put their LF opening to bed. However, there are longer term ramifications.
Ian Desmond- SS- Tex - Texas general manager Jon Daniels stated that Desmond would be the left fielder for the Rangers "all year." One obvious piece of fallout is that doesn't bode well for the prospects of Josh Hamilton. However, there has been speculation that Desmond has the athleticism to play CF. This gives options if Hamilton shows he has recovered well and Desmond has recaptured his offensive prowess. He showed it as the season progressed with a .777 OPS and .185 ISO in the second half. Moving to Texas should help his numbers and make him productive as a fantasy player with eligibility this year at both SS and OF.
Delino DeShields- OF- TEX- Delino DeShields Jr was an extremely productive Rule V pick last year for the Rangers, hitting .261 with a .344 OBP and 25 steals. It earned him the CF job and prompted the Rangers to deal Leonys Martin. DeShields' year came as a surprise given his .236 average at AA in 2014. He had a .293 BABIP that year, which was much lower than the numbers he had put up at lower levels. With the Rangers Deshields posted a BABIP of .334 in 2015, more in line with where he had been in the rest of his minor league career. Steals are the name of his game, 25 for 33 last season. However the bigger concern is his ability to stay in the lineup, or at the top of the lineup. His 78% contact rate and 21% K rate, is abysmal for a non power hitter. However his 11% BB rate does give him some OBP potential, but he's going to have to cut down the K rate to get a full slate of ABs this season, which could make him a 40+ SB guy.
Yoan Moncada- 2B- BOS- Moncada is only 20 years old and isn't expected to be in the majors in the very near term, but he made a strong impression in major league camp yesterday. The Red Sox played Northeastern University and Moncada went 2-for-2 with a run, RBI and double. He is a top prospect and could end up in the outfield when he is ready to make the jump to the majors.
David Murphy- OF- LAA- Murphy signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox yesterday and has an invitation to major league camp. Unlike other veterans who are in camps on a minor league contract, Murphy doesn't have a solid path to a big league job. The outfield situation in Boston is crowded. It will probably take an injury or someone significantly stumbling to give him decent playing time.
Juan Uribe- 3B- NYN- Uribe officially signed with the Indians and is slated to be the starting 3B for the Tribe at age 37. Last year he hit 14 total homers for the 3 teams he played for. This was in 397 PAs and Uribe hasn't logged more than 426 PAs since 2010. Expecting him to keep the job for the entire season is a stretch.
Randal Grichuk- OF- STL- Grichuk hit 2 homers in an intrasquad game yesterday. In 2015 in games that counted he hit 17 long balls in 350 PAs. Grichuk's power will be more valuable with a full time position in 2016. Poor contact rate of 70% (31% K rate), but smoked the baseball when he made contact (37% Hard Hit rate and 104 BBS on HRs). That said the 19% HR/FB rate is not sustainable, and the heavy flyball rates are going to hurt his BA, RBI, and RS potential. Still only 24, so there is some hope that he'll improve the contact rate, especially the 15% Swinging strike rate.
A. J. Pollock- OF- ARI- Displays a rare combination of bat speed (34 hard hit %) and contact (85%), could be a 20/100/100 guy in the middle of the order, but at leadoff, the SB tradeoff (39) is worth the loss in RBIs. Pollock has skipped batting practice for the past 3 days and will not be in the lineup for today's game against the University of Arizona. He is suffering from a sore arm. Manager Chip Hale didn't give any details but said it's nothing major. The situation bears watching until it becomes clearer.
Yaisel Sierra- P- LAN- The Dodgers are waiting for some paperwork to get resolved before Yaisel Sierra can participate in Spring Training. The Cuban pitcher has exceptional stuff, with a fastball that hits 98 mph. Sierra will need some seasoning in the minors before he can contend for a major league job.
Hunter Pence- OF- SF- Pence is suffering from right Achilles tendinitis and won't be in any games for the first week of the Cactus League. Given his injury woes last year keeping an eye on his health this spring is wise. Pence is still a premier hitter with top 20 bat speed.
Alex Wilson- RP- DET- Wilson has been shut down for a few days with shoulder soreness. The Tigers say that they are being conservative after Wilson tallied 75.1 IP last year, 70 of them with Detroit. He has a secure spot in the bullpen so this may be just caution early in camp, but keep a watch.
Draft Advisor: bring our winning strategy (Serpentine / Auction) to your draft. Our player rankings adjust as players are selected, adhering to the changing dynamics of your draft. After a player is selected/drafted, the software will display/suggest the best players remaining. Purchase Today!