I just finished a short, 3-game trip down to Spring Training. I wish I got to spend more time with the team and especially watching the prospects, but this year, that’s all I get.
Going in February often means getting to see a lot of the younger prospects, as most of the team’s main players will go just four innings in the field, or two on the mound. So I got a good mix of impressions, albeit in short sample size. So here’s the guys I got good impressions on, or got not-so-good impressions on.
DISCLAIMER: It’s the first week of Spring Training, everyone. There’s a long ways to go. For many of these guys, it was their first games. Don’t read too much into good or bad impressions.
- Joey Bart. And I didn’t even get to see his home run. But he was 3-for-5 with a pair of singles, and a hustle (and I mean hustle) double on what should have been a single in a tie game situation. He also showed off that good arm strength. He did have a bobble on one pitch with a runner going, which was just about the only not great note I saw. But overall, great impression of a top prospect.
- Kevin Gausman looked strong in his two innings of work. He only had one strikeout and one walk, but both the fastball and the split looked great. I didn’t get a good look at any other secondary pitches (which he’ll probably need if he’ll return to being a starter), but he’s got two plus pitches already working early in the spring.
- The stats don’t look like it, but Evan Longoria is swinging well early. He had two doubles in the two games I saw him start, and he had a ball that went to the warning track in the left-center corner, which at Scottsdale Stadium, is somewhere between 310 and 330 feet. Giants fans like to dunk on him, but he might have a response this year.
- I liked what I saw of Steven Duggar. He was only one for three, but also had a pair of walks, and in a sacrifice fly situation to medium-deep right, his strong throw was enough to keep the runner from scoring. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy enough to have an impact.
- Spring Training games are a mess of seeing relievers in brief stints, but Tyler Cyr stood out. He came in with runners on second and third with one out in a game where the lead had just been blown, and had a mid-90’s fastball and a wipeout slider that had the back end of the Brewers lineup swinging wild. The Fremont native may be ready to take a big step up.
- Tyler Rogers. Of course I’m going to say Tyler Rogers, right? But really, he looked fantastic against the White Sox, going against their split-squad’s starters. The big key was that he got his strikeout swinging against one of their lefties. Especially with the new rules this year, he’ll need to have an answer to left-handed hitters.
- Jacob Gonzalez. I’ve been tough on him for his defense at third. Last year, he started playing a little elsewhere, and this trip I got to see him at first. And boy, did his teammates put him through the wringer. He had four bad throws he had to field at first, and he handled each one clearly. On two, he was able to even stretch back to the bag and get the out. He also took a line drive on a dive to his left, and while he didn’t pick it cleanly, he did block the ball and get it to the pitcher covering for an out. He did not look good at the plate (two strikeouts in two at-bats), but I give him props for improved defense.
- It’s been a long road for him, but Sam Wolff. He turns 29 in April, and his career has been marred by injuries. But for this game, he was hitting mid-90’s, and was just efficient. Exactly what you want from a middle reliever.
- The numbers don’t look so bad for Jeff Samardzija, but he was definitely not up to full velocity in his first start, with his fastball in the 80’s. This note gets a big, big dose of “Only his first game in the Spring” warning, but I can’t think he’s that happy with this start.
- Buster Posey. Again, sure, early spring. But he had some wild, swings at high fastballs that he was just nowhere up to speed against. It was noticeable from the selective catcher we’ve long seen. I hope he gets it under control.
- Mauricio Dubon. At the plate, he had a tough couple of games, going 0-for-3 with a walk. This included a big double play that he grounded into in a clutch situation (tied, ninth inning, two on, no out). I also got to see his first game in CF, and while he had one good play, letting himself be called off by the left fielder, he also missed a situation with a rundown where he should have come in and helped, which led to the runner being safe. Now, that is a very rare and specific sort of situation, but it’s what he needs to learn from.
- Okay, he was out of his element, but Alexander Canario. I mean, he’s never been above short-season ball, so he’s facing guys that are a couple of levels above him. But he was 0-for-3 with three wild-swinging strikeouts, and a HBP. You could see that batspeed that scouts love, but he has a long ways to go before it starts making contact.
- Shaun Anderson. He’s going to get a lot of chances on the pitching staff this year, but he was not fooling anyone. Four hits allowed, including a big home run. That put him behind in this season’s race for that fifth starter spot.
- Nick Vincent. Okay, first game of spring asterisk, but boy, he was getting hit. He gave up four hits, and three were home runs. Just an awful game for him.
- Raffi Vizcaino did not look great. He was throwing 97 MPH out there, but without movement, he was getting hit around, giving up four hits. His fastball is enough to get out Single-A hitters, but not advanced hitters, and he’ll have to figure out how some movement, or other pitches, can make his fastball harder to hit.
- The infield defense. I saw four infield errors across three games, but one infield was particularly bad. As I noted above, Jacob Gonzalez was doing a great job handling throws, but that meant that the other infielders (Kean Wong at second, Ryan Howard at short, Sean Roby at third) each had at least one bad throw that pulled Gonzalez off the bag. Add in the other errors by Jalen Miller and Drew Robinson, and it just wasn’t good at all in the infield.