MLB Prospects Making the Most of Spring Training

As we move closer to Opening Day, many teams are in the process of deciding on the 25 man rosters. But there are some who are on the fringes of the rosters. MLB prospects all over the league are looking to make an impact this spring. Whether they are trying to earn a roster spot or showcase their skills, these prospects have performed above expectations so far. These four prospects are giving their teams something to think about entering the final phases of Spring Training.

MLB Prospects

Ian Happ will start in the minors, but has been impressive in major league camp (Wade Payne/Chicago Tribune).

2B Ian Happ – Chicago Cubs

After being selected ninth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft, the 22 year old is beginning to make due on the promise he showed at the University of Cincinnati. He has been laboring in the Cubs’ minor league system for the past two seasons, ending 2016 at the AA level. With a strong showing in Spring Training, Happ has given the Cubs front office plenty to think about.  But just how well has the Cubs second overall prospect done this Spring Training?

In 34 at-bats, Happ has hit a scorching .441 to give him the third best batting average in all of MLB so far this spring. Couple that with his three homers and nine RBIs, Happ has certainly produced. With a strong performance in Spring Training and his minor league pedigree, Happ could increase the timetable the Cubs have on his MLB debut. But with a loaded major league roster, Happ isn’t expected to make the 25 man roster anytime soon.

OF Bradley Zimmer – Cleveland Indians

As the 21st overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, Bradley Zimmer is showing that his skills are maturing. He provided the University of San Francisco plenty of power and speed. That combination of talent made Zimmer a top player in the draft, and he’s continuing to impress in Spring Training. With a hot start to Spring Training, Zimmer could make the jump from AAA to the majors this season.

Zimmer has torn the cover off the ball this Spring Training, putting up a .359/.405/.641 slash line. He has also hit two homers and driven in 11 RBIs in 39 at-bats. He has seen regular playing time this Spring Training, showing that the Indians are evaluating him heavily. While he isn’t listed on the Indian’s depth chart, he could push Lonnie Chisenhall for playing time in right field if Zimmer continues to stay hot. Zimmer will make his MLB debut this season, give his minor league track record and terrific Spring Training.

OF Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners

MLB Prospects

Mitch Haniger has opened some eyes in Mariners’ camp this Spring Training (Getty Images).

Mitch Haniger is on his third team since being drafted by the Brewers 38th overall in 2012. After a strong college career at Cal Poly, Haniger was able to turn his college production into major league promise. But injuries derailed his career, and at 26 years old, it’s now or never for Haniger. As the fourth best prospect in the Mariner’s farm system, he certainly has the talent to succeed. And he’s finally showing it on the field, performing well in Spring Training.

With the fourth best batting average (.425) in Spring Training, Haniger is beginning to show why he was one of the top selections in the 2012 MLB Draft. He has also hit two homers to accompany seven RBIs. In his 40 at-bats, Haniger has only struck out five times. Listed as the starter in right field for the Seattle Mariners, Mitch Haniger will finally be given a shot as a full-time major league starter in 2017.

SS Dixon Machado – Detroit Tigers

After spending the past eight seasons in the Tigers’ minor league system, the 25 year old Dixon Machado is on the doorstep to the majors. He signed with the Tigers in 2008, and has grown in both his offensive and defensive game. And in 2016, Machado made his MLB debut with the Tigers. But he wasn’t able to stick in the majors, and is now fighting to prove himself in major league camp. And so far, Machado is excelling.

With a .324/.366/.378 slash line in 37 at-bats, Machado is hitting at an impressive clip. While he may not offer much in terms of power, what Machado can do is hit. He’s proven to have an innate ability to make contact and put the ball in play. But with the major league club full of talented starters, Machado will have to wait to gain a starting role. He should break camp with the major league club, given the team’s lack of depth. But if he can continue his impressive hitting into the major league season, Machado may work his way into the regular lineup.

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Cream of the Crop: Top Five Prospects from the Farm

As is tradition, MLB.com issued their top MLB prospects list this past week to highlight the games future stars. At the top of the class are five elite youngsters who are already generating a buzz around the league.

Some of these players have already made a contribution at the Major League level while others are rapidly progressing towards a call-up to “The Show”. Today, The Game Haus breaks down the players, their positional fit, and their expected contribution for the 2017 season.

 

No. 5 Amed Rosario

The 21-year-old Amed Rosario may be the one of two prospects on this list we don’t see in 2017. However, given Rosario’s outstanding minor league numbers and the positional need for the Mets, expect him sooner rather than later. Asdrubal Cabrera didn’t have a bad showing in 2016, but a dWAR of -0.1 may prompt the Mets to adjust.

In addition to outstanding fielding ability Rosario has been consistent at the plate through every level. Slashing .280/.328/.388 with good speed on the base paths and developing power, Rosario’s athleticism is unquestionable. For as young as he is the Mets shouldn’t need to rush a call-up, but at the speed he continues to develop, it may be hard for New York to hold off.

No. 4 Dansby Swanson

Top MLB Prospects

(Courtesy Getty Images)

Dansby Swanson was called up in August of last year and made his impact felt early and often. In just 129 at-bats, Swanson slashed .302/.361/.442, smacked three home runs, and stole three bases.

Atlanta made a strong showing in the final months of 2016 and Swanson played a critical role in that effort. Most impressive was Swanson’s ability to take his incredibly brief stint in the minors and immediately translate that skill set to the major league level. With maturity beyond his years and a winning baseball pedigree, the Braves have to feel good about this cornerstone player.

 

 

 

No. 3 Gleyber Torres

The third shortstop on the list, Gleyber Torres represents the top prospect at the position. A key trade piece in the 2016 Aroldis Chapman deal with the Cubs, the Yankees certainly netted an impressive return. Torres displays all of the defensive tools, but his power potential is what sets him apart at his position.

The interesting decision for the Yankees will be juggling call-up timing in relation to current up-and-comer Didi Gregorius. That said, at just 19 years old, the Yankees can afford to be very patient. Torres’ already advanced plate discipline will make it difficult to stash him for long, but having too many good shortstops in your system can hardly be considered an issue.

No. 2 Yoan Moncada

Top MLB Prospects

(Courtesy Getty Images)

Long considered to be the top prospect in the MLB, Yoan Moncada has only been recently inched out by number one on this list. However, losing out on the top spot certainly doesn’t take away from this young gun’s incredible potential. Developing through the Boston farm system, Moncada was only recently dealt to Chicago in the Chris Sale trade.

Slashing an impressive .287/395/.480 during his minor league career, with an even more impressive 94 stolen bases, there is no questioning Moncada’s MLB readiness.

A brief eight-game call-up in 2016 gave Moncada a taste of the majors, but not at his true position at second base. Given Chicago’s clear rebuild strategy, there’s no urgency to immediately slot him in. However, whenever the Sox decide he’s ready, there’s no chance Brett Lawrie will inhibit this future stars’ progress.

No. 1 Andrew Benintendi

At the top of the list sits Andrew Benintendi, and for good reason. After demolishing the minors slashing .312/.392/.540 he was called up to play 34 games in 2016. Benintendi kept pace by utilizing those 118 plate appearance to quickly generate a .295/.359/.476 slash line.

Despite his youth, Benintendi has a consistent ability to put the ball in play while also generating solid power. Already being slotted as the Red Sox everyday left fielder before the start of camp demonstrates Boston’s confidence in his readiness. Benintendi has performed at every level and it will be exciting to see how he continues to hone his craft in the 2017 season.

 

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