Spring training 2018 is officially here. Teams have hit the practice fields and are getting their cleats in the dirt once again. With the exhibition games coming this Friday, some teams are making some last-minute moves before play begins.
Notably, pitcher Yu Darvish is starting his Chicago Cubs tenure after signing a six-year, $126 million contract. Also, the Boston Red Sox picked up outfielder J.D. Martinez on a five-year deal worth $110 million. Signing noteworthy veterans can really add some needed experience and help with some lacking elements on a roster. But equally as important is seeing which young prospects can step up and help bring victory to the team.
They surely will come in handy with any roster subtractions, and what they bring to the table can be exactly what a team needs to play in October. For these prospects, spring training will provide plenty of chances to get their names out there.
Prospects on the mound
Pitchers help set the tone for the defense. Whether a starter, reliever or closer, they are counted on to bail the team out a sticky situation. Arguably the biggest prospect is Shohei Ohtani from the Los Angeles Angels.
The 23-year-old out of Oshu, Japan, has been taking names on the mound in his five seasons playing in the Japan Pacific League. On the mound, he racked up a pitching record of 42-15 with an overall ERA of 2.52 in 543 innings pitched.
But his talents don’t stop at the mound. At the plate, he belted 48 home runs, 166 RBIs and recorded an overall batting average of .286. In the outfield, he has posted a .976 overall fielding percentage.
Ohtani signed with the Angels on Dec. 8, 2017. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 1 RHP prospect, as well as the No. 4 outfield prospect.
Another pitcher eyeing a spot in the rotation is Brent Honeywell of the Tampa Bay Rays. In the minor leagues, he went 31-19 with an ERA of 2.88. Although the Rays’ pitching staff had a rock-solid outing last season, Honeywell can be another formidable name in the near future.
MLB Pipeline lists Honeywell as the No. 12 overall prospect and the No. 4 RHP prospect.
Prospects on the field
As much as the pitcher gets idolized, as well as scrutinized, the other eight starters on the field have as much to do with a team’s success. By bat and glove, these prospects are looking to make an impact right out of the gates. One such prospect is 20-year-old outfielder, Ronald Acuna.
Acuna signed with the Atlanta Braves back in July of 2014. His three seasons in the minor leagues have proven to the Braves that he deserves a shot at the starting lineup. During his tenure, he has racked up a .310 batting average, 29 home runs and 119 RBIs. In addition, his feet and defense speak well for themselves. His scout grade, according to MLB Pipeline, has shown his running, throwing arm and fielding to be above average.
MLB Pipeline lists Acuna as the top outfielder prospect coming into 2018.
Another player eager to make waves in 2018 is third baseman Nick Senzel.
The Cincinnati Reds picked up the former Tennessee Volunteer as the second overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Much like Acuna, Senzel has plenty to offer on offense and defense. His two seasons in the minor leagues have yielded a .315 batting average, 21 home runs, 105 RBIs and a .956 overall fielding percentage.
MLB Pipeline lists the 22-year-old as the #7 overall prospect and the No. 2 prospect at third base.
Let the games begin
As the countdown ticks away for the exhibition games, many more prospects are eager for a chance to become a starter. Like in any other professional sport, baseball is no stranger to overlooked names becoming big-name stars.
But as the old saying goes, “Rome was not build in one day.” Maturity and a willingness to learn are as vital to a player’s success as a pitcher’s arsenal or a infielder’s position versatility.
For some, these characteristics can be what puts them in the starting lineup over others.
Both seasoned veterans and new faces will take to the field this to showcase their talents against other teams. For fans, it will be a welcoming sight and a preview of what exciting things may come for their favorite teams.
Featured image from MLB.com
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