Team-by-Team Top Prospect Report Cards Midway Through Spring Training
With spring training now in full swing, prospects continue to receive significant playing time as their respective clubs evaluate each player’s developmental state and timetable for reaching the major leagues.
However, keeping track of all the prospects in major league camp is never easy.
Therefore, we have put together a prospect report for each team’s top prospects in camp this year and assigned them each a performance-based letter grade.
Grades were determined based on how players have performed this spring relative to their playing time, while also taking into consideration whether the player is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster or is merely in camp to gain experience and give the coaching staff a look at his potential.
Players who haven’t received significant playing time but held their own in limited opportunities—for example, a pitcher who made one decent appearance before being reassigned to minor league camp—receive a "B" base grade. Therefore, prospects that have appeared in the lineup regularly this spring are subjected to harsher graders.
Here is each team’s top-prospect report card midway through spring training.
*All stats courtesy of MLB.com and reflect games through March 11, 2014.
*All roster news courtesy of MLB.com's team transaction page unless otherwise noted.
Kevin Gausman, RHP – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (3 G)
Gausman looks outstanding for the second consecutive spring, showcasing his usual front-of-the-rotation stuff during three outings. Unfortunately, the offseason signing of Ubaldo Jimenez means the 23-year-old will likely open the season in the Orioles bullpen, save for an injury to a starter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; Gausman posted a 3.52 ERA and 29-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 innings last season as a reliever.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 6 IP, 8 H (2 HR), 8 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (3 G)
Rodriguez, 20, has shown the ability to miss bats with his secondary pitches this spring, highlighted by four strikeouts in two innings in his last start. However, the left-hander’s command and overall execution in hitters’ counts—he’s given up a home run on a fastball in both outings—needs considerable refinement before he’s ready for a taste of the major leagues.
Jon Schoop, 2B – Grade: A
Spring Training Stats: 9-for-20 (.450), 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 K (11 G)
Schoop reached the major leagues last season as a September call-up and left his mark with a booming home run in his first career start. He entered camp with an outside chance of winning the second-base gig, trailing Ryan Flaherty and Jemile Weeks on the depth chart, but a red-hot start at the plate (four extra-base hits in 17 at-bats) has his stock on the rise at the right time.
Mike Wright, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 BB, 2 K (2 G)
Wright held his own over two appearances this spring before his reassignment to minor league camp on Sunday—a move that was made to ensure he receives a proper workload as the Orioles sort out their big-league rotation. The 24-year-old will open the season back at Triple-A Norfolk and could be called on later in the summer to serve as a back-end starter or long reliever.
Tim Berry, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K (2 G)
Berry, who turns 23 next week, built on his strong performance in last year’s Arizona Fall League (1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings) with two solid outings this spring in major league camp. However, due to his lack of experience above A-ball, the left-hander was optioned to Double-A Bowie on Monday. Berry’s clearest path to the major leagues will be as a left-handed specialist, and he could be fast-tracked should the organization move him to the bullpen during the season.
Taijuan Walker, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Walker is yet to appear in a game this spring after an MRI revealed inflammation in his right shoulder. Thankfully, the 21-year-old resumed throwing last week and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday. But even if that goes well, it’s hard to imagine the Mariners pushing the right-hander unnecessarily just to get him in the Opening Day rotation.
D.J. Peterson, 3B – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-7, HR, 4 RBI, K (4 G)
Peterson, the Mariners’ first-round pick last year, had his impressive pro debut last summer cut short when an errant pitch broke his jaw. At the time of his injury, the 22-year-old owned a .918 OPS with 13 home runs and 47 RBI through 55 games between Short-Season Everett and Low-A Clinton. Peterson hasn't seen much playing time in his first spring training, but the right-handed hitter has certainly made the most of his opportunities.
James Paxton, LHP – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 9 IP, 7 H, ER, 4 K (3 G)
Like Walker, Paxton impressed late last season as a September call-up, posting a 1.50 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 24 innings (four starts). The 25-year-old left-hander has continued to open eyes this spring, as he’s yet to walk a batter in three scoreless outings (very un-Paxton-like, right?), and the injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Walker could help him win a spot in the Opening Day rotation.
Chris Taylor, SS/2B – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-19 (.158), 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 3 K (12 G)
Taylor’s rise through the Mariners’ system resembles current shortstop Brad Miller’s, though the 23-year-old’s don’t project as favorably at the highest level. Still, he’s an all-around solid ballplayer capable of playing several infield positions, and should at least serve as a solid utility player for the Mariners.
Stefen Romero, OF – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 7-for-30 (.233), 2 2B, 2 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 8 K (11 G)
The Mariners are taking a long look at Romero this spring, as he’s potentially in the mix for a spot on the team’s bench to begin the season. After going 0-for-12 in his first four games, the 25-year-old outfielder has settled in at the dish, going 7-for-18 with five extra-base hits over his last six contests.
Tampa Bay Rays
Enny Romero, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, 2 H, BB (2 G)
Romero received his first taste of the major leagues last September, when he threw 4.2 scoreless innings in a spot-start for the Rays in a must-win game amidst a heated playoff race. Prior to that, the left-hander hadn’t pitched above Double-A. With the organization trying to determine its starting rotation for the season, the 23-year-old was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Saturday to ensure he receives a sufficient workload during the remainder of spring training.
Alex Colome, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: IP, H, K (1 G)
Colome was shut down last June due to a strained elbow, but entered spring training fully healthy after an offseason of rest. The 25-year-old right-hander was expected to compete for the final spot in the starting rotation, but, seemingly to everyone’s surprise, was optioned to Triple-A Durham on Saturday.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 4.1 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 3 K (3 G)
After serving as a swingman for the Rays last year, Odorizzi is arguably the favorite to begin the season the team’s fifth starter. So far this spring, the 24-year-old has allowed only one earned run in three outings, and he received the starting nod against the Red Sox on Monday.
Hak-Ju Lee, SS – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-10, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, K (7 G)
Lee was expected to reach the major leagues last season and possibly even take over for Yunel Escobar at shortstop, but a knee injury (torn ligaments) that required season-ending surgery limited him to only 15 games at Triple-A Durham. Fully healthy this spring, the 23-year-old is seemingly back on track thanks to a hot start in during which he’s hit safely in four of seven games.
Nate Karns, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, H, BB, 2 K (2 G)
Acquired this offseason from the Nationals, Karns struggled during a brief audition in the major leagues last season, registering a 7.50 ERA in 12 innings spanning three starts. While the 26-year-old has pitched well this spring in two outings, he’s unlikely to begin the season in the major leagues (unless used out of the bullpen). However, he provides the Rays quality depth at Triple-A should there be an injury or trade during the season.
New York Yankees
Gary Sanchez, C – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-9, HR, RBI, 3 K (5 G)
Sanchez is still technically the Yankees’ top prospect, though his stock definitely took a hit with the offseason signing of All-Star catcher Brian McCann. The 21-year-old still has big upside thanks to his plus power—he went yard in his first spring game—but it’s hard to see where exactly he fits into the organization’s long-term plan.
Jose Ramirez, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Ramirez dealt with an oblique issue last year that prematurely ended his breakout campaign in mid-July, and the same problem popped up again early in the spring. As a result, the 24-year-old right-hander failed to appear in a game for the Yankees before he was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
Slade Heathcott, OF – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
As usual, Heathcott has struggled to stay healthy this spring, though it was expected following his minor knee surgery over the offseason. The Yankees have eased the 23-year-old outfielder into activities to ensure he’s ready for the minor league season, and he’s likely to appear in games as the spring unfolds before heading to either Double- or Triple-A.
John Ryan Murphy, C – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-16 (.125), HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K (8 G)
Murphy struggled with the Yankees last season as a September call-up, batting .154 with nine strikeouts in 26 at-bats, and is one of three catchers—the others being Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine—currently competing to be McCann’s backup on Opening Day. Aside from a three-run home run (his only spring hit) on March 2, the 22-year-old hasn’t made a strong case and will likely begin the season back at Triple-A.
Mason Williams, OF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-14 (.214), 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K (10 G)
Williams has seen decent playing time this spring, appearing in 10 games, but hasn’t done much in those opportunities, batting .214 with a pair of doubles and three strikeouts. As is the case with the Yankees’ other outfield prospects, the 22-year-old lacks a clear path to the major leagues and is likely headed back to Double-A to open the season, where he posted a .428 OPS in 17 games in 2013.
Addison Russell, SS – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 7-for-25 (.280), 2 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, SB, 5 K (12 G)
After a remarkable 2013 campaign in which he posted an .885 OPS with 56 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bases at High-A Stockton—as one of the league’s younger everyday players—and finished the year at Triple-A Sacramento, Russell has received an extended audition this spring as the organization attempts to gauge how soon he’ll be ready for the major leagues.
The 20-year-old has been swinging a hot bat after a slow start, going 4-for-8 with three extra-base hits in his last four games, but he’ll be forced to miss at least one week after suffering a hamstring injury on Monday.
Billy McKinney, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-3, RBI, 2 K (4 G)
The A’s first-round pick in 2013, McKinney’s playing time has been minimal this spring, though the 19-year-old did collect his first hit, run scored and RBI in Monday’s game.
Billy Burns, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 9-for-35 (.257), 7 R, 7 SB, 4 BB, 8 K (13 G)
Acquired by the A’s during the offseason in exchange for reliever Jerry Blevins, Burns, 24, was named the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year in 2013 after batting .315/.425/.383 with 96 runs scored, nine triples, 74 stolen bases in 81 attempts and a stellar 54-72 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 535 plate appearances between High-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg.
Burns has opened eyes this spring with his combination of on-base skills and elite speed, highlighted by a league-best seven stolen bases in nine games, and is quietly in the mix for a spot on the A’s Opening Day roster.
Matt Olson, 1B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-1, R (1 G)
Olson possesses big-time power from the left side and is expected to hit for a decent average as his plate discipline and approach continue to mature. However, it’s not surprising the 19-year-old has received only one at-bat this spring after spending the entire 2013 season at Low-A Beloit.
Michael Ynoa, RHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (2 G)
Ynoa, who was signed by the A’s in 2008, continues to show promising stuff but still lacks the control and secondaries to succeed against quality hitters. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when the team optioned the 22-year-old right-hander to High-A Stockton on Monday.
Byron Buxton, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-19 (.158), 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K (7 G)
Buxton, who enters the season as baseball’s consensus top prospect, didn’t have the monster spring that everyone expected following his insanely good full-season debut last year. But that’s not to say he performed poorly; the 21-year-old struck out only once in 19 at-bats and launched a booming home run in his second spring start on Saturday.
He was still reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday to ensure he receives sufficient at-bats before departing for Double-A. If all goes as planned in his development, Buxton should reach the major leagues by the season’s end.
Alex Meyer, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, 4 H, ER, K (1 G)
6’9” right-hander Alex Meyer, the Twins’ top pitching prospect, made only one appearance this spring before he was reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday—a move that was made to give him consistent innings. The 24-year-old shouldn’t be long for the minors this year, and he could potentially join the Twins midseason as either a starter or reliever.
Josmil Pinto, C – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-7, 2B, K (4 G)
Pinto offered a taste of his offensive potential last season as a September call-up, posting a .963 OPS with four home runs in 21 games. The 24-year-old backstop has been slowed by a sore back this spring, but he’s been eased back into games over the past two weeks and is expected to be ready for the regular season. Pinto will likely open the year as Kurt Suzuki’s backup, but it’s only a matter of time until he takes over as the Twins’ primary option behind the plate.
Jorge Polanco, 2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-11, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB (6 G)
Polanco received occasional playing time early this spring as a result of Eddie Rosario’s suspension and held his own against advanced pitching while appearing in six games for the Twins. As expected, the 20-year-old switch-hitter was included in the team’s first round of cuts, as he was assigned to minor league camp on Sunday.
Max Kepler, 1B/OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-12, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K (7 G)
Kepler quietly put together an impressive spring before he was reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday, as the 20-year-old batted .500 while appearing in seven games and collected four hits in his final six at-bats.
Nick Castellanos, 3B – Grade: A
Spring Training Stats: 10-for-26 (.385), 2 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 2 SB, 2 BB, 3 K (9 G)
Slated to begin the season as the team’s starting third baseman, Castellanos, 22, has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball this spring, with three multi-hit games, a pair of home runs and 11 RBI through nine games.
Defensively, Castellanos will experience his share of hiccups this season at the hot corner, as the Tigers shifted him back to the position this spring after he served as an outfielder exclusively in 2013. Regardless, Castellanos' promising bat should always outweigh his shortcomings with the leather.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Crawford, the Tigers’ first-round draft pick in 2013, is yet to make an appearance this spring, but he will likely be called on for some work later this month as the team rests some of its starting pitchers.
James McCann, C – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-7, K (5 G)
McCann was expected to compete for a backup role this spring after his breakthrough performance at Double-A last year, but so far the well-rounded backstop has received minimal playing time and mustered only one knock in seven at-bats.
Devon Travis, 2B – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-14 (.357), SB, K (9 G)
Besides Castellanos, Travis has been the talk of Tigers’ camp this spring with his performance on all sides of the ball. After his monster full-season debut last year across both Class-A levels, the 23-year-old is headed to Double-A for his first real challenge as a professional.
Robbie Ray, LHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 BB (3 G)
Acquired this offseason from the Nationals in the Doug Fister deal, Ray is a deceptive left-hander with a strong track record of missing bats when healthy. Given the Tigers’ deep and talented starting rotation, the 22-year-old could potentially emerge as a weapon out of the bullpen later this season.
Kansas City Royals
Kyle Zimmer, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
The Royals are easing Zimmer back into action this spring after he was shut down last August with shoulder stiffness. The 22-year-old right-hander is currently on a throwing program and still a ways away from appearing in a game, and I’d be surprised if he even makes an appearance in major league camp.
Yordano Ventura, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K (2 G)
Ventura made an indelible impression last year as a September call-up, showcasing a legit triple-digit fastball and solid feel for pitching in three starts. With a strong spring the 22-year-old right-hander should be able to win the final spot in the Royals’ Opening Day rotation. So far, so good.
Jorge Bonifacio, OF – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-10, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K (7 G)
The younger brother of Emilio, Jorge posted an .800 OPS in 374 plate appearances last year between High- and Double-A in his age-20 season, and he did so in spite of hitting just four home runs. He’s hit for average at every minor-league stop in his career, and the development of consistent in-game power could make him an impact corner outfielder at maturity.
Jason Adam, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 3 K (2 G)
Adam had a rough 2013 season as a starter in Double-A, with the knock being that the 22-year-old’s arm action gives hitters too good of a look at the ball. However, the right-hander has proven he can still miss bats with regularity, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he sees time in the Royals bullpen later this year.
Christian Colon, SS/2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-23 (.261), 2 2B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K (11 G)
Colon hasn’t developed into the everyday middle infielder the Royals expected when they selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. However, after a healthy campaign in 2013 followed by a solid offseason in the Puerto Rican Winter League, the 24-year-old should be ready for an audition in the major leagues at some point this season.
Toronto Blue Jays
Marcus Stroman, RHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (2 G)
Stroman is one of several pitchers competing this spring for the final spot in the Blue Jays’ Opening Day rotation, but a pair of rough outings in the early going has already hurt his chances. Specifically, the hard-throwing right-hander has struggled with his fastball command, getting hit hard when failing to locate the pitch down in the zone. That being said, there’s no denying that Stroman’s stuff is among the five best in the organization, so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of his spring unfolds.
Aaron Sanchez, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, H, 2 BB, 3 K (2 G)
One of the more projectable pitching prospects in the minor leagues, Sanchez has continued to open eyes this spring as he did in last year’s the Arizona Fall League, as the 21-year-old has allowed only one hit in three innings spanning two appearances. If he can establish better command and overall consistency this season at Double-A, then look out.
A.J. Jimenez, C – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-7 (.143), R (6 G)
Jimenez returned from Tommy John surgery late last season and finished the year in Triple-A, though that doesn’t take away from the fact he’s played in only 94 games over the last two years. The 23-year-old has always been lauded for his defensive skills, and his year-to-year improvements at the plate should result in decent playing time in the major leagues this season.
Sean Nolin, LHP – Grade: C-
Spring Training Stats: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (3 G)
Nolin had a forgettable major-league debut last season on May 24 against the Orioles, when he allowed six earned runs on seven hits in only 1.1 innings. The 24-year-old left-hander is still in the mix this spring for the final spot in the Blue Jays rotation, though allowing 10 baserunners in 3.2 innings hasn’t helped his cause.
Andy Burns, 3B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-4, K (4 G)
Burns, 23, is an intriguing third-base prospect due to his power potential and speed, as he posted an .815 OPS with 56 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases last season between High- and Double-A, and then followed it with a strong performance in the Arizona Fall League.
Carlos Correa, SS – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-15 (.133), 2B, BB, 6 K (9 G)
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2012, Correa had a stellar full-season debut last year, batting .320/.405/.467 with 45 extra-base hits and 86 RBI in 117 games at Low-A Quad Cities. The 19-year-old has struggled this spring in spite of consistent playing time, but that’s not entirely surprising given his age.
George Springer, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-18 (.111), 4 SB, 6 BB, 7 K (8 G)
Springer hasn’t launched any tape-measure home runs as he did last spring, but the 24-year-old outfielder, who finished the 2013 season three home runs shy of joining the 40-40 club, has still impressed with his patience at the plate and speed on the base paths.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 6 IP, 3 H, ER, K (3 G)
Foltynewicz is capable of pumping triple digits any time he takes the mound, but the 22-year-old right-hander is still more of a thrower than pitcher, as he struggles to harness the power in order to command his swing-and-miss arsenal. However, the fact that he’s yet to walk a batter in six innings this spring is definitely an encouraging sign headed into the season.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-15, 6 BB, 5 K (9 G)
Jonathan Singleton began the 2013 season by serving a 50-game suspension following his second positive drug test and then struggled to find his power stroke upon his return while working his way back up the minor league ladder. While his long-ball drought finally came to an end this offseason in the Puerto Rican Fall League (nine home runs in 129 at-bats), it clearly hasn’t carried over to the spring.
Delino DeShields, OF – Grade: D
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-17 (.059), SB, 3 BB, 6 K (10 G)
Having signed Jose Altuve to a multi-year extension during the regular season, the Astros decided to move DeShields to the outfield last fall after developing him at second base. The 21-year-old has major question marks pertaining to his makeup and capacity to make consistent contact against advanced pitching, and his slow start this spring hasn’t helped his cause.
Chicago White Sox
Erik Johnson, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (2 G)
After an impressive showing last year as a September call-up, Johnson has solidified his spot at the back end of the White Sox’ 2014 rotation after just two starts. In his latest outing, the 24-year-old right-hander allowed one earned run in four innings with five strikeouts.
Jose Abreu, 1B – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-17 (.294), 2B, HR, 6 RBI, BB, K (6 G)
The White Sox made Abreu the richest Cuban player in MLB history this offseason, signing him to a six-year, $68 million contract. The slugger has seemingly found his groove at the plate after going hitless in his first two spring contests, as he’s now 5-for-13 with a home run and six RBI in his last four games.
Matt Davidson, 3B – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-19 (.158), 2 2B, HR, BB, 3 K
The White Sox knew that Davidson probably wouldn’t ready to take over at third base this season when they acquired him from the Diamondbacks during the offseason. After a slow start this spring, the 22-year-old may finally be turning the corner, as he’s 2-for-5 with a double and home run in last has two games.
Marcus Semien, IF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-15 (.200), 3 BB, 4 K (10 G)
Semien ripped through Chicago’s farm system last season, putting up eye-opening numbers in Double- and Triple-A before spending all of September in the major leagues. The 23-year-old is off to a sluggish start this spring in his quest to win a bench spot (at best a platoon role), but his defensive versatility should still give him a chance to crack the Opening Day roster.
Micah Johnson, 2B – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-11 (.455), 2 SB, BB, 2 K (9 G)
Johnson offered a glimpse of his offensive potential last year by posting an .824 OPS with 84 stolen bases in 131 games across three levels last year in his full-season debut; he also showed that his defense at second base would need considerable refinement to handle the position at the highest level. The 23-year-old has received rave reviews this spring from within the organization for his improved defense, and I strongly suggest you watch this play if you haven’t already.
Boston Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts, SS – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-18 (.167), 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K (8 G)
Bogaerts emerged as a star during the 2013 postseason, as he batted .296/.412/.481 with nine runs scored, four extra-base hits and six walks in 12 games. More importantly, his performance convinced the organization that he’d be ready to take over as the everyday shortstop in 2014. The 21-year-old is a notoriously slow starter, so don’t read too far into his early struggles this spring.
Henry Owens, LHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (2 G)
Regarded as Boston’s top pitching prospect, Owens has struggled to command his fastball this spring in both outings, which has resulted in nine baserunners in 4.1 innings. Specifically, 21-year-old left-hander was roughed up in start on Saturday against the Orioles, when he allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks in 2.1 innings.
Jackie Bradley, OF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-24 (.208), 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K (8 G)
Bradley entered spring training as the favorite to replace Jacoby Ellsbury as Boston’s center fielder. However, unlike last year, the 23-year-old has struggled to get going this spring, and it can be argued he’s no longer the favorite at the position given the reports on Grady Sizemore. That being said, Bradley has swung the bat better in his last four games, going 3-for-14 with a triple and three RBI.
Garin Cecchini, 3B – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-16 (.188), 2B, 3 BB, 7 K (9 G)
Cecchini’s approach and strike zone judgment are arguably the best among all prospects at-or-above the Double-A level, as the 22-year-old owns a .312/.417/.457 batting line with 172 walks and 195 strikeouts in 279 career games in the minor leagues. He got off to a hot start this spring by going 3-for-7 in his first four games, but is currently mired in an 0-for-9 funk with four strikeouts over his last five contests.
Blake Swihart, C – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-7, SB, K (7 G)
Swihart enjoyed a breakthrough performance in 2013, as the switch-hitting backstop posted a .794 OPS with 38 extra-base hits and a 63-41 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 103 games at High-A Salem. He’s still likely about two years away from contributing in the major leagues, but the 21-year-old has undoubtedly improved his stock this spring by making the most of his limited opportunities.
Rougned Odor, 2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-15 (.267), RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (9 G)
Odor emerged as the top second-base prospect in baseball last season thanks to an .839 OPS with 41 doubles, 11 home runs, 32 stolen bases and a 91-35 K/BB ratio in 569 plate appearances between High- and Double-A. The Rangers have continued to offer the 20-year-old consistent playing time this spring in spite of his initial struggles, and he’s rewarded the organization by going 3-for-8 with a pair of runs and walk in his last four games.
Jorge Alfaro, C – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Alfaro is hands-down the most exciting all-around catching prospect (not the best) in the minor leagues, as he possesses five impact tools that could ultimately make him a star in the major leagues. The 20-year-old hasn’t appeared in any games this spring, but he’s likely to see his share of playing time once the Rangers figure out their catching situation at the major-league level.
Alex Gonzalez, RHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, BB, K (1 G)
Selected by the Rangers in the first round of the 2013 draft, Gonzalez was roughed up on Sunday in his spring debut against the Mariners, as the 22-year-old allowed three earned runs on two hits and a walk in only 0.1 innings. Nerves might have played a role in the right-hander’s forgettable outing, so don’t be surprised if he deals next time out.
Luis Sardinas, SS – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-15 (.267), 5 R, 2B, 4 K (10 G)
Sardinas opened the spring by going 4-for-10 with three runs scored in his first five games, but since then the 20-year-old’s playing time has been dialed back in favor of Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar.
Michael Choice, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 8-for-27 (.296), 6 R, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 5 K (13 G)
Acquired from the A’s during the offseason, Choice, a first-round draft pick in 2010, is in a great position with his new (and hometown) club. The 24-year-old entered spring training as an early favorite to land a platoon role in left field or as the team’s designated hitter, and he’s only improved his chances by batting .296 with three extra-base hits through 13 games.
Los Angeles Angels
Taylor Lindsey, 2B – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-6, 2 K (5 G)
Ranked as the Angels’ top prospect, Lindsey is coming off a breakthrough season at Double-A Arkansas as a 21-year-old, followed by a solid showing in the Arizona Fall League. He hasn’t received consistent playing time this spring with the team trying to determine several 25-man roster spots, but the good news is that he wasn’t included in the first round of cuts. Expect him to get more looks as the spring unfolds.
Kaleb Cowart, 3B – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-7 (.143), BB, K (6 G)
Cowart was the Angels’ top prospect at this time last year after an impressive full-season debut in 2012 between both Class-A levels. However, the 21-year-old struggled mightily at Double-A last season, posting a miserable .580 OPS in 546 plate appearances. The organization has seemingly scaled back Cowart’s development; the acquisition of David Freese gives them an additional two years. Cowart was reassigned to minor league camp Tuesday.
C.J. Cron, 1B – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-11 (.545), HR, 6 RBI, K (7 G)
Cron is familiar with the hitting environments of Arizona; after all, he was named MVP of this year’s Arizona Fall League after batting .413/.467/.700 with five home runs and 20 RBI in 20 games. He’s not going to make the team, but the 24-year-old could conceivably get a look at DH later this season.
R.J. Alvarez, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Alvarez was the Angels' first overall pick in the 2012 draft and spent the entire 2013 season at High-A Inland Empire, registering a 2.96 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. Though the numbers are there for the 22-year-old right-hander, he currently lacks the command to consistently retire advanced hitters and often falls victim to big innings. Still, Alvarez’s stuff is good enough to get him to the major leagues by season’s end. Though he’s yet to take the mound this spring, Alvarez should start to receive more looks in the coming weeks.
Alex Yarbrough, 2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-5, R, K (5 G)
Yarbrough received brief looks this spring and collected a few knocks, but his spot on the depth chart at the keystone—behind Howie Kendrick, Grant Green, Austin Romine and Taylor Lindsey—led to a reassignment to minor league camp Tuesday.
Francisco Lindor, SS – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-15 (.267), 5 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, K (8 G)
Francisco Lindor’s rapid ascension through the minor leagues continued in 2013, as the then-teenager batted .303/.380/.407 with 22 doubles, seven triples, 25 stolen bases and a 46-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 464 plate appearances between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron.
After an impressive performance last spring in major league camp, the 20-year-old thrived on the big stage once again this year, even hitting a go-ahead, three-run home run in a game against the Mariners on March 2. Lindor was among the Tribe’s first round of cuts Wednesday, but don’t worry; he’ll be back before season’s end.
Trevor Bauer, RHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 7 IP, 12 H (2 HR), 8 ER, 5 BB, 8 K (4 G)
What’s there to say about Trevor Bauer that hasn’t already been said—or he hasn’t already rapped about? After a disastrous 2013 season in which he made only four starts in the major leagues, Bauer entered spring training with new and improved mechanics. The 23-year-old actually looked like his 2011 self in his outing against the Cubs on March 6, as he scattered three hits over two scoreless innings while racking up four strikeouts against one walk.
Perhaps more significantly, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the right-hander’s fastball velocity has sat in the 93-96 mph range this spring and topped out at 98 mph, which is a huge improvement after he averaged 92.8 mph last year. Everything seemed to be looking up for Bauer until his follow-up outing against the Angels, when he allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks over two innings. Your guess is as good as mine as to how his spring, season and career will unfold.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B/DH – Grade: D
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-15, 6 BB, 7 K (11 G)
Aguilar entered spring training fresh off a monster offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League in which he posted a 1.000 OPS with 18 home runs in 58 games. So naturally he’d stay hot in major league camp, right? Not quite. In fact, the 23-year-old failed to collect a hit before the Indians optioned him to Triple-A Columbus Wednesday.
Tyler Naquin, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-13 (.231), HR, 5 BB, 6 K (13 G)
Selected in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Texas A&M, Naquin surpassed expectations last year in his full-season debut. He batted .269/.334/.405 with 46 extra-base hits (10 home runs) and 15 stolen bases in 583 plate appearances between High-A Carolina and Double-A Akron.
Just for good measure, the 22-year-old then batted .339/.400/.417 with 39 hits over 27 games in the Arizona Fall League. While Naquin has recorded only three hits in 13 at-bats this spring, he’s consistently had good at-bats and demonstrated a sound approach against advanced pitching.
Jose Ramirez, IF – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-1, BB (2 G)
Ramirez made the jump from Double-A to the major leagues last September, holding his own with a .333 batting average and five runs scored while appearing in 15 games. The 21-year-old is still expected to compete for a bench role this spring, though a left thumb injury kept him out of action until March 6. On Wednesday, Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
A.J. Cole, RHP – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 7 K (3 G)
Cole has shown the ability to miss bats throughout his minor league career, with 393 strikeouts in 366.1 innings. His strong performance this spring could help the 22-year-old reach the major leagues ahead of schedule this season.
Brian Goodwin, OF – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-15 (.200), 5 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 K (10 G)
Goodwin remains a polarizing prospect; he will flash an assortment of loud tools at times and impact a game in a variety of ways, but other times he’ll look lost and overmatched against inferior competition.
Steve Souza, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 7-for-22 (.318), 5 R, 3 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB, BB, 2 K (12 G)
A third-round draft pick in 2007 out of high school, Souza confirmed his 2012 breakthrough campaign was for real by posting a .953 OPS with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases last season at Double-A Harrisburg, and then followed it with a .902 OPS and 10 stolen bases in the Arizona Fall League. The 24-year-old has continued to impress this spring, and he’s poised to make a greater-than-expected impact once given regular playing time in the major leagues.
Matt Skole, 1B/3B – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-14 (.357), 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 8 K (9 G)
Skole played in only two games last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and then struggled to find his rhythm at the plate in the Arizona Fall League. Even though the 24-year-old has struck out in half of his plate appearances this spring, it’s encouraging that he’s driving the ball more consistently.
Zach Walters, SS – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 8-for-13 (.615), 2 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K (9 G)
The Nationals challenged Walters with a September call-up last season after he posted an .803 OPS with 29 home runs in 134 games at Triple-A Syracuse, and the switch-hitting infielder responded by going 3-for-8 in eight games. As a result of his overall success last year, the team is giving Walters a more extensive audition this spring, and so far the 25-year-old has passed all tests with flying colors.
Andrew Heaney, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K (2 G)
Widely regarded as one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the minor leagues, Heaney dominated last season to the tune of a 1.60 ERA and 89-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 95.1 innings between High-A and Double-A.
The 22-year-old left-hander allowed only one hit in two scoreless innings in his spring debut, but he didn’t fare nearly as well last Saturday against the Braves when he yielded two earned runs on three hits in 2.2 innings.
Though Heaney is still considered a long shot to crack the Marlins' Opening Day rotation, he’s likely ticketed for Double-A or Triple-A to begin the season. At the same time, it’s not as though anyone expected Jose Fernandez to make the team last year.
Jake Marisnick, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-16 (.313), 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, SB, 2 BB, 2 K (8 G)
Marisnick was rushed from Double-A to the major leagues last season in late July and, unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old struggled to control the speed of the game and ultimately batted .183/.231/.248 with 27 strikeouts in 118 plate appearances. So, it’s definitely an encouraging sign that the toolsy outfielder is off to a good start this spring in what should be a bounce-back campaign.
Colin Moran, 3B – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-5, R, 2 K (4 G)
Selected by the Marlins in the first round of the 2013 draft out of North Carolina, Moran’s playing time has been limited this spring with the team busily exploring options at both second and third base. Once there’s clarity on that front, the 21-year-old should see more reps.
Justin Nicolino, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: IP (1 G)
Nicolino’s lack of a standout pitch was exposed last season at Double-A, as the left-hander allowed 63 hits and registered a career-worst 4.96 ERA in 45.1 innings. The 22-year-old will likely make a few more appearances this spring before heading back to Double-A for the start of the season.
Adam Conley, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K (3 G)
Conley had another quietly good campaign last year, posting a 3.25 ERA and 129-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 138.2 innings at Double-A. The 23-year-old left-hander has swing-and-miss stuff that plays up thanks to his deception, and he demonstrates good control in spite of mechanics that require considerable effort.
Gregory Polanco, OF – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-20 (.300), 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB, 4 K (8 G)
The Pirates will continue to give Polanco extended playing time this spring in order to determine his timetable for the upcoming season. While the 22-year-old is expected to take over as the team’s right fielder at some point during the summer, he’s likely headed back to Triple-A until the organization deems him ready for a promotion. However, at his current pace, Polanco could force the organization to make a difficult decision later this month.
Jameson Taillon, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2.2 IP, 4 H, ER, BB (2 G)
The Pirates reassigned Taillon to minor league camp Monday to ensure he receives the proper workload over the duration of spring training; the decision wasn’t merely performance-related based on his two so-so outings. The 22-year-old right-hander will return to Triple-A to begin the season, and if all goes as planned in his development, he should reach the major leagues around the same time Gerrit Cole did in 2013.
Alen Hanson, SS/2B – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-10, 3 R, 2 SB, BB (7 G)
Hanson continued to move up the ladder last season, as the 21-year-old switch-hitter batted .274/.329/.427 with 38 extra-base hits and 30 stolen bases in 127 games between High-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona. Although his playing time was limited this spring in camp, Hanson made the most of his opportunities by batting .400 with two stolen bases before he was optioned to Altoona on Monday.
Andrew Lambo, 1B/OF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-21 (.095), RBI, SB, 2 BB, 3 K (10 G)
Once a highly touted prospect in the Dodgers’ system, Lambo finally reached the major leagues last August after seven years in the minor leagues. He held his own with a .233/.303/.400 batting line in 30 at-bats. The 25-year-old is competing with Chris McGuiness this spring for a potential platoon role at first base, and so far he’s not winning.
San Francisco Giants
Kyle Crick, RHP – Grade: N/A
Spring Training Stats: N/A
Crick was reassigned to minor league camp on March 6 before appearing in a spring game, but he got the start Sunday for the “Giants Future Stars” against the big league club. The 21-year-old right-hander failed to escape the first inning, as he allowed five runs on a hit and four walks while throwing only 15 of 35 pitches for strikes. Crick also had two wild pitches in the outing.
Edwin Escobar, LHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 6 IP, H, ER, 5 BB, K (3 G)
Escobar has been the most impressive prospect in Giants camp this spring, as the 21-year-old has allowed only one run in six innings spanning three outings. The control-oriented left-hander did struggle in his start against the Dodgers last Saturday, surrendering four walks in three innings, but he was able to minimize the damage by allowing only one run on one hit. Expect Escobar to be the first Giants’ pitching prospect recalled from the minors this season should the need arise.
Mac Williamson, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-3, K (3 G)
A third-round draft pick in 2012 out of Wake Forest, Williamson was bumped directly to High-A San Jose last year for his full-season debut. As expected, the 6’5” slugger posted huge power numbers against younger pitching in the hitter-friendly California League, batting .292/.375/.504 with 31 doubles, 25 home runs, 10 stolen bases and a 132-51 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 599 plate appearances. The 23-year-old logged an at-bat in three different games before he was reassigned to minor league camp on March 6.
Derek Law, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, 2 K (2 G)
A ninth-round selection in the 2011 draft, Derek Law dominated across three levels in 2013, posting a 2.31 ERA with 14 saves and the best combination of strikeout (13.8) and walk (1.6) rates among all minor league relievers.
The right-hander has already opened eyes this spring in major league camp with two scoreless appearances, and he is a dark-horse candidate to start the season in the Giants bullpen. Even if he’s assigned to Double-A or Triple-A, it shouldn’t take the 23-year-old long to reach the major leagues.
Heath Hembree, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, SV, H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K (3 G)
Hembree showcased his late-inning potential last season as a September call-up, allowing only four hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in 7.2 innings (nine scoreless appearances). While the 25-year-old right-hander hasn’t been as sharp in the early going this spring, he’s still a relatively safe bet to open the season in the Giants bullpen.
Archie Bradley, RHP – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 9 K (2 G)
Bradley has pitched like baseball’s top prospect this spring, dominating the Rockies and Angels—both of whom had numerous big leaguers in the lineup—in back-to-back starts. Here’s a quick list of hitters from both teams who struck out against the 21-year-old right-hander: Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer, Nolan Arenado, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez. Not bad, kid. Not bad at all.
Chris Owings, SS/2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 8-for-32 (.250), 2 2B, 2 BB, 5 K (13 G)
After destroying the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season, Owings held his own with a .742 OPS, five doubles and a 10-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 61 plate appearances (20 games) with the Diamondbacks over the final month of the regular season.
The 22-year-old is competing with Didi Gregorius this spring at shortstop, with the loser expected to open the season at Triple-A. While the roster battle will likely continue through the team’s series in Australia against the Dodgers, Owings has swung a hotter bat thus far and hit safely in five of his last seven games.
Jake Lamb, 3B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-11 (.364), HR, 3 K (6 G)
One of my pre-spring training breakout candidates, Lamb, 23, made the most of his playing time early in camp by batting .364 with one home run in 11 at-bats prior to his reassignment to minor league camp Sunday.
Brandon Drury, 3B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-2, RBI, K (3 G)
Thought to be a toss-in from the Braves last offseason in the Justin Upton trade, Drury turned in a huge breakout performance last year at Low-A South Bend, batting .302/.362/.500 with 70 extra-base hits (51 doubles) and 85 RBI in 134 games.
Jake Barrett, RHP – Grade: B -
Spring Training Stats: 4 IP, SV, 7 H, 2 ER, 4 K (4 G)
Barrett’s full-season debut last year couldn’t have gone any better, as the 22-year-old registered a 1.21 ERA with 29 saves and a 59-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 52 innings (52 appearances) between High- and Double-A.
He also held opposing hitters to a .197 batting average. The right-hander recorded a save and two strikeouts in his spring debut on Feb. 27, but he struggled in each of his next three outings prior to being reassigned to minor league camp Sunday.
Jon Gray, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 4 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 4 K (2 G)
Gray, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, was lights-out at High-A Modesto over the final month of the regular season, posting a miniscule 0.75 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 24 innings spanning five starts. The 22-year-old has started his first spring training with a pair of strong, two-inning outings against the Mariners and A’s, and he’ll likely be stretched out to three or four innings during his next starts before an inevitable reassignment to minor league camp.
Eddie Butler, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB (2 G)
Butler dominated at three levels last year in his full-season debut, registering a 1.80 ERA and 143-52 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 149.2 innings while also holding opposing hitters to a .180 batting average. The 22-year-old right-hander has looked sharp this spring in both appearances, even working three innings in his spring debut on March 3. I still believe he has an outside chance of cracking the Rockies’ Opening Day rotation, though an assignment to Double-A or Triple-A is probably more realistic.
Rosell Herrera, SS – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-11 (.455), 3B, 2 RBI, 2 K (9 G)
Herrera led the Low-A South Atlantic League last season in batting average (.343) and ranked third in OPS (.933). He finished the year batting .343/.419/.515 with 49 extra-base hits, 21 stolen bases and a 96-61 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 546 plate appearances.
Participating in his first major league camp this spring, the 21-year-old shortstop has made the most of his playing time by collecting five hits in 11 at-bats. And don’t be surprised if he puts up big numbers this season in the hitter-friendly California League.
Tom Murphy, C – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-14 (.214), 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K (7 G)
Murphy showcased big-time raw power last year in his full-season debut, as the 2012 third-rounder posted a .948 OPS with 31 doubles and 22 home runs in just 415 plate appearances between Low-A and Double-A. So I guess it’s only fitting that the 22-year-old’s three hits this spring have all been of the extra-base variety.
Kyle Parker, 1B – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-21 (.286), 3 2B, HR, 8 RBI, BB, 6 K (9 G)
Parker continued to make steady progress at the plate last year in spite of moving up to a notoriously tough level (Double-A). He batted .288/.345/.492 in 528 plate appearances while hitting 20-plus home runs for the third consecutive season.
The Rockies moved the former Clemson quarterback from the outfield to first base toward the end of the season with the hope of expediting his arrival in the major leagues. While the 24-year-old’s defense at the new position is still very raw, his production early this spring could keep him in the mix for a roster spot if Justin Morneau’s neck injury doesn’t improve.
Tyrone Taylor, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-1 (1 G)
Selected by the Brewers in the second round of the 2012 draft, Taylor enjoyed an impressive but under-the-radar full-season debut last year, batting .274/.338/.400 with 43 extra-base hits, 19 stolen bases and a 63-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 549 plate appearances at Low-A Wisconsin.
Though he’s participating in his second big league spring training, the 20-year-old center fielder has only appeared in one game so far (as he did last year), but he could see an uptick in playing time in the coming weeks before heading to minor league camp.
Jimmy Nelson, RHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K (2 G)
Nelson was impressive last season with the Brewers as a September call-up, registering a 0.90 ERA and .065 opponents’ batting average in 10 innings (including one start). However, the 24-year-old struggled this spring while auditioning for a spot in the team’s Opening Day rotation and was subsequently optioned to Triple-A Nashville Monday.
Mitch Haniger, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-10, 4 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, SB, 2 BB, K (7 G)
After a knee injury shortened his professional debut in 2012, Haniger, 23, batted .264/.348/.431 with 52 extra-base hits—but only 11 home runs—68 RBI and a 92-57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 543 plate appearances between both Class-A levels. The outfielder has boosted his stock this spring with his performance on both sides of the ball, showing good power potential as well as the ability to play center field.
Johnny Hellweg, RHP – Grade: D
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 8 H (2 HR), 6 ER, BB, 2 K (3 G)
Hellweg—all 6’9” of him—bounced between the minors and majors last season as the Brewers continued his development as a starting pitcher. He finished the year with an ugly 6.75 ERA and even uglier 9-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 30.2 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander walked only one batter this spring before the team optioned him to Triple-A Nashville Wednesday. The decision had more to do with the six earned runs and eight hits he allowed between two of his three starts.
Hunter Morris, 1B – Grade: D
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-16 (.125), 3B, BB, 5 K (9 G)
Morris regressed across the board last season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, as he posted a .766 OPS with 122 strikeouts in 546 plate appearances. More significantly, the 25-year-old has now squandered the opportunity to take over as the team’s first baseman in back-to-back spring trainings—a reality that became official when the Brewers optioned him to Triple-A Nashville Monday.
Javier Baez, SS – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 6-for-18 (.333), 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K (6 G)
Arguably the most exciting prospect in baseball, Baez turned in a monster 2013 campaign between High-A and Double-A, batting .282/.341/.578 with 98 runs scored and 20 stolen bases. He led all minor league hitters with 75 extra-base hits and 111 RBI and ranked second with 37 home runs in 577 plate appearances.
Baez has made the most of his extra playing time at shortstop this spring, dropping jaws with his performance on all sides of the ball while Starlin Castro nurses a strained hamstring. It didn’t take long for the 21-year-old to leave his mark, either; last week, Baez homered in back-to-back games.
Kris Bryant, 3B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-9 (.222), 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 6 K (7 G)
Bryant hasn’t stopped hitting since signing with the Cubs last summer. He posted a 1.078 OPS with nine home runs in 36 games across three minor league levels before heading to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where the 6’5” slugger produced a 1.184 OPS with eight doubles and six home runs in only 20 games. Bryant, 22, has only collected two hits this spring in seven games, but I bet it doesn’t come as a surprise that both left the yard.
Albert Almora, OF – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-9, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 K (6 G)
Almora began last season on the disabled list as he recovered from a broken hamate bone, but he quickly proved to be one of the Midwest League’s top hitters upon returning by batting .329/.376/.466 with 24 extra-base hits and a 30-17 strikeout-to-walk rate in 61 games.
However, the outfielder’s impressive season ended prematurely on Aug. 7, when he was placed on the disabled list with a groin injury. Unsurprisingly, Almora is raking this spring in major league camp—because that’s what he does—and he’s now collected at least one hit in five of the six games in which he’s appeared.
Jorge Soler, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-8, 3B, RBI, BB, 2 K (8 G)
Assigned to High-A Daytona for his first full professional campaign, Soler posted an .810 OPS with 22 extra-base hits (eight home runs) and a 38-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 55 games before suffering a season-ending leg injury (stress fracture to tibia) when he fouled a ball off his left shin in late June.
As was the case in last year’s Arizona Fall League, the 22-year-old outfielder has struggled to get things going at the plate this spring without regular at-bats. So, it’ll be interesting to see how many starts the Cubs offer Soler before optioning him to the minor leagues.
Arismendy Alcantara, SS/2B – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-10, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K (8 G)
Alcantara emerged as one of the more intriguing infield prospects in the game last season with a breakout performance at Double-A Tennessee. Playing in 133 games—the first time in his career in which he’s played in more than 100 games in a season—the switch-hitting infielder batted .271/.352/.451 with 55 extra-base hits (15 home runs) and 31 stolen bases.
That being said, the 22-year-old is yet to pick up a knock this spring. Plus, he actually stands to lose even more playing time should the Cubs end up auditioning Baez at second and third base.
New York Mets
Noah Syndergaard, RHP – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (2 G)
Noah Syndergaard took a huge step forward on all fronts in 2013—as many expected would happen—posting an impressive 3.06 ERA and 133-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 117.2 innings between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton. Participating in his first major league camp this spring, the 21-year-old right-hander has given Mets fans a preview of what’s to come with a pair of impressive starts against the Braves and Tigers.
Travis d’Arnaud, C – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-20 (.200), 2 2B, BB, 3 K (8 G)
He finally reached the major leagues last August in spite of a foot injury that limited him to only 32 games in the minors. However, d’Arnaud struggled to shed the rust developed during his time on the shelf and finished the season with a disappointing .548 OPS in 31 games. Unfortunately, the 25-year-old hasn’t benefited from a fresh start this spring, evidenced by his .538 OPS through eight games.
Rafael Montero, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 6 IP, 2 H, ER, 4 K (3 G)
Montero continued his surge up the organizational ladder in 2013, as he posted a 2.78 ERA with 150 strikeouts against 35 walks in 155.1 total innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Like seemingly every other Mets pitcher this spring, the 23-year-old has made a strong impression through his ability to pound the strike zone and limit base runners.
Brandon Nimmo, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-6, RBI, BB, K (5 G)
Nimmo turned in a quietly good full-season debut last year at Low-A Savannah, as the Wyoming native batted .273/.397/.359 with 26 extra-base hits and a 131-71 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 480 plate appearances. The 20-year-old outfielder has continued to make a strong impression this spring in spite of limited opportunities, collecting three hits in six at-bats while coming off the bench.
Wilmer Flores, IF – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 4-for-22 (.182), 2B, 2 RBI, 4 BB, 4 RBI (8 G)
Flores thrived in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season, posting a career-best .887 OPS with 55 extra-base hits (15 home runs) in only 107 games. As a result of his success, the Mets promoted the 22-year-old to the major leagues in early August, where he was overmatched by top-notch sequencing and posted an ugly .542 OPS in 101 plate appearances. Like d’Arnaud, Flores has struggled so far this spring—though both players still have plenty of time to right the ship.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Corey Seager, SS – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-2 (1 G)
Seager enjoyed a highly impressive full-season debut last year, as the left-handed-hitting shortstop batted .269/.351/.473 with 40 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in 426 plate appearances between both Class-A levels. He’s only appeared in one game so far this spring, but he’s likely to receive additional playing time in the coming weeks as the Dodgers rest their starters in anticipation of their season-opening series in Australia.
Joc Pederson, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-20 (.250), 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K (15 G)
Coming off a surprisingly good full-season debut at the High-A level in 2012, Pederson improved his stock as much as any position prospect last year by batting .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs, 31 stolen bases and a 114-70 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 519 plate appearances as a 21-year-old in the Double-A Southern League.
The Dodgers have given Pederson considerable playing time this spring due to injuries to Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp, and the toolsy outfielder has done nothing but prove he’ll be ready for the major leagues at some point this summer.
Zach Lee, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, 2 H, K (1 G)
Lee improved significantly last season back at Double-A, registering a 3.22 ERA and 131-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 142.2 innings (25 starts). While he was sidelined early in the spring due to an offseason lat injury, the 22-year-old right-hander pitched well in his spring debut last week against the Rangers.
Chris Anderson, RHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 1.1 IP, H, 2 ER, 2 BB (1 G)
Anderson was impressive at Low-A Great Lakes last summer following his selection in the first round of the 2013 draft, as the big right-hander registered a 1.96 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 46 innings (12 starts). The Dodgers didn’t waste time getting him into a game this spring, though they probably would have preferred not to see him allow two runs on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman.
Ross Stripling, RHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 2 IP, 5 H, ER, K (1 G)
After experiencing soreness in his right elbow following his first spring outing, Stripling underwent arthroscopic surgery last Wednesday to remove loose bodies. He’s still expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2014 season.
San Diego Padres
Austin Hedges, C – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-11 (.091), 2 RBI, BB, 3 K (9 G)
Austin Hedges held his own last season at High-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio. However, as expected given his age and lack of professional experience, his production tapered off at the more advanced levels.
Between both stops, the then-20-year-old batted .260/.333/.390 with 25 doubles and a 54-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 341 plate appearances. The 21-year-old has appeared in nine games this spring, but he’s currently searching for his first hit since March 2. However, that shouldn’t bother the Padres; it’s more important for Hedges to get to know his future battery mates.
Matt Wisler, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, K (2 G)
Wisler dominated at a pair of advanced levels last year, registering a 2.78 ERA and 131-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 136 innings (26 starts) between High-A and Double-A. The 21-year-old right-hander was especially lethal against same-side hitters, whom he held to a .188 batting average and struck out 73 times in 58.1 innings. Wisler is expected to reach the major leagues at some point this season, so expect the Padres to give him a few more looks on the mound as the spring unfolds.
Joe Ross, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, BB (2 G)
The younger brother of Padres starter Tyson Ross, Joe was limited by injuries early in his career but stayed healthy long enough to make developmental strides last season at Low-A Fort Wayne, where he posted a 3.75 ERA in 122.1 innings (23 starts). The 21-year-old right-hander has looked good in a pair of appearances this spring, highlighted by two scoreless innings against the Giants on March 3.
Rymer Liriano, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-21 (.238), 2 2B, RBI, 3 K (13 G)
After batting .280/.350/.417 with 42 extra-base hits and 32 stolen bases in 2012 between High-A Inland Empire and Double-A San Antonio, it was popular belief that Liriano would make an impact in the major leagues during the 2013 season.
However, Liriano’s season was over before it even began, as the 22-year-old suffered an elbow injury in the spring that resulted in season-ending Tommy John surgery. Fully healthy for the 2014 season, the toolsy outfielder is trying to make up for the lost time this spring, which is all the more reason for the Padres to keep getting him in the lineup.
Jace Peterson, SS – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-18 (.167), 3 R, SB, 3 BB, 2 K (10 G)
Peterson enjoyed a breakout campaign last season at High-A Lake Elsinore—albeit in the hitter-friendly California League—as the shortstop posted a career-best .836 OPS with 37 extra-base hits, 42 stolen bases and a 58-54 strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, the 23-year-old has struggled this spring against legitimate big league pitchers, which suggests he might have benefited from age versus level last year.
Robert Stephenson, RHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, BB, K (3 G)
Stephenson’s stock is sky high headed into the season. The right-hander posted a 2.99 ERA and 136-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114.1 innings across three levels in 2013, finishing the season at Double-A Pensacola. However, the 21-year-old struggled to find rhythm on the mound this spring, as control issues resulted in a pair of shaky outings before the Reds reassigned him to minor league camp Tuesday.
Billy Hamilton, OF – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 7-for-22 (.318), 8 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 6 SB, 5 BB, 2 K (9 G)
Coming off a breakout 2012 campaign in which he posted an .852 OPS and stole 155 bases, Hamilton posted a disappointing .256/.308/.343 batting line and 102-38 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 547 plate appearances. However, the 23-year-old still managed to swipe 75 stolen bases (in 90 attempts) in 123 games, and he ultimately took Major League Baseball by storm as a September call-up.
Hamilton has shown a better feel for the strike zone and making contact this spring—he’s accrued six walks compared to only two strikeouts thus far—which is all the Reds can really ask for from their soon-to-be Opening Day center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Jesse Winker, OF – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-2, 2B (1 G)
Winker opened eyes in 2013 with his full-season debut at Low-A Dayton, as the 20-year-old outfielder batted .281/.379/.463 with 39 extra-base hits (16 home runs) and a 75-63 strikeout-to-walk rate in 486 plate appearances. While he’s appeared in only one game this spring, Winker should at least receive a few more at-bats before shifting to minor league camp.
Yorman Rodriguez, OF – Grade: C-
Spring Training Stats: 2-for-17 (.118), 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 9 K (12 G)
Rodriguez came through with a long-overdue breakout performance last season, as the 21-year-old batted .259/.324/.427 with 54 extra-base hits (including a career-high 13 home runs) in 556 plate appearances between High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola.
He also struck out a whopping 153 times (27.5 percent strikeout rate) compared to 47 walks, though the latter total was also an improvement. Rodriguez appeared in 12 games during the first two weeks of spring training, but after striking out nine times in 17 at-bats, he was optioned to Double-A Pensacola Tuesday.
Michael Lorenzen, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 K (3 G)
Selected by the Reds with the No. 38 pick in the 2013 draft, Lorenzen was regarded as the top two-way talent in the class after excelling as Cal State Fullerton’s center fielder and closer. After signing with the Reds, the 22-year-old was moved at an accelerated pace through their system, making stops at four different levels before finishing the season with Double-A Pensacola.
However, his rawness was exposed at both High-A and Double-A; appearing in 12 games between the two levels, the right-hander registered a 5.40 ERA with 11 walks and 11 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. After allowing three runs in his spring debut, Lorenzen rattled off back-to-back scoreless appearances before he was reassigned to minor league camp Tuesday.
St. Louis Cardinals
Oscar Taveras, OF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-6 (.167), 2B (2 G)
Taveras entered last season as the top-ranked outfield prospect and was expected to make a significant impact at the major league level. However, the 21-year-old suffered a high ankle sprain in late May at Triple-A Memphis which resulted in two separate stints on the disabled list and eventually season-ending surgery.
Taveras doubled in his highly anticipated spring debut Friday, but two days later he was out of the lineup after experiencing hamstring tightness. On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny confirmed that Taveras probably won’t make the team unless he’s healthy.
Kolten Wong, 2B – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-20 (.250), 5 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, SB, 2 BB, 4 K (8 G)
Kolten Wong had a disappointing showing in the major leagues following a late-August promotion, batting .153/.194/.169 in 62 plate appearances spanning 32 games. The 23-year-old got off to a similar slow start this spring—he was 0-for-10 through his first five games—but eventually settled in at the dish.
He is now 5-for-10 with three extra-base hits and four RBI in his last three contests. Unless Wong suffers an injury in the coming weeks, it’s a safe bet that he’ll be the Cardinals’ Opening Day second baseman.
Stephen Piscotty, OF – Grade: B+
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-15, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K (10 G)
Piscotty jumped on the major league radar last year (in his first full minor league campaign) thanks to his consistent production at two advanced levels. Splitting the season between High-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield, the 23-year-old batted .295/.362/.458 with 40 extra-base hits (15 home runs), 11 stolen bases and a 46-37 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 471 plate appearances.
Piscotty furthered his success in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, where he ranked among the league leaders in numerous offensive categories. He’s only continued to gain backers this spring with his performance in major league camp.
Marco Gonzales, LHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, K (1 G)
Gonzales, the Cardinals’ first pick in the 2013 draft, had a shaky spring debut Friday against the Miami Marlins, though I’m sure the left-hander’s nerves played a role in his struggles. The 22-year-old was unable to complete his scheduled two-inning outing.
His fringy control and tentative approach resulted in two earned runs on two hits and three walks. Following the start, Gonzales experienced some tightness in his left forearm (an MRI on his elbow revealed no structural damage) and was subsequently reassigned to minor league camp Monday.
Alex Reyes, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: IP, 2 H (2 HR), 2 K (1 G)
Reyes is one of the more intriguing pitching prospects yet to reach a full-season level, and the fact that the Cardinals invited the 19-year-old to major league camp this year speaks volumes about his future. He spent the 2013 season in the Rookie-level Appalachian League, where he posted a 3.39 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 58.1 innings spanning 12 starts.
However, Reyes quickly learned about the difference between a rookie-level hitter and a big league hitter in his spring debut, as the right-hander surrendered two solo home runs (but also struck out two batters) in one inning of work.
Maikel Franco, 3B/1B – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 5-for-25 (.200), 4 R, RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (11 G)
One of the top breakout players in 2013, Franco batted .320/.356/.569 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBI in 581 plate appearances between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. More significantly, the 21-year-old showed an improving feel for the strike zone.
He posted a 70-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio while facing older and more advanced pitching. Franco’s thunderous bat has resulted in an extended look in camp this spring, and the fact that he’s seen time at both first and third base indicates the Phillies are pondering how to get him in the lineup later in the season.
Jesse Biddle, LHP – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (2 G)
Moved up to Double-A Reading for the 2013 season, Biddle’s control varied from start to start at the more advanced level and prevented him from working deep into games. Yet, the 22-year-old still had a respectable campaign, as he posted a 3.64 ERA with 154 strikeouts in 138.1 innings.
The only problem was that he also led all Eastern League pitchers with 82 walks on the year. Biddle gave up two runs in both of his outings this spring before the organization reassigned him to minor league camp last Saturday.
Ethan Martin, RHP – Grade: C-
Spring Training Stats: 0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, BB (1 G)
Despite never improving his control and pitch execution last season in Triple-A, the Phillies called up Martin in early August to fill a hole in the starting rotation. As expected, the 24-year-old’s overall inconsistency was exposed against the game’s top hitters, as he posted a 6.08 ERA and 47-26 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 innings and allowed nine home runs.
The right-hander failed to record an out in his spring debut on Feb. 27, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk before departing. In the days following his appearance, it was announced that Martin suffered a strained right shoulder capsule and would be shut down for the next three weeks.
Kelly Dugan, OF – Grade: C
Spring Training Stats: 0-for-5, 3 K (5 G)
A second-round draft pick in 2009 out of high school, Dugan continued to put things together last season at a pair of advanced levels, as he batted .291/.352/.506 with a career-high 20 home runs in 473 plate appearances between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.
The free-swinging outfielder’s approach was challenged at both stops, but especially at Reading where he posted a 54-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 226 plate appearances. Participating in his first major league camp, Dugan is currently 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, and at his current rate it’s difficult to envision him surviving the next round of roster cuts.
Ken Giles, RHP – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K (3 G)
In 2013, Giles landed on the disabled list twice with a strained oblique and then struggled mightily following a return to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Logging only 25.2 innings over 24 appearances at the level, Giles tallied six saves and registered a 6.31 ERA and 34-19 strikeout-to-walk rate. However, the right-hander helped revive his stock this fall by showcasing arguably the best velocity in the Arizona Fall League.
He worked in the 96-99 mph range and scraped 100 mph with his four-seam fastball to go along with his largely inconsistent slider in the upper 80s. However, there’s something to be said about a late-inning reliever capable of pumping triple digits, which is exactly why the Phillies have already gotten him into three games this spring.
Christian Bethancourt, C – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3-for-12, 2 R, 3 K (6 G)
Bethancourt finally made strides at the dish last year—his second straight at Double-A Mississippi—by making more consistent contact and striking out less. Overall, the 22-year-old batted .277/.305/.436 with 33 extra-base hits (12 home runs), 11 stolen bases and a 57-16 strikeout-to-walk rate in 388 plate appearances.
As one of the premier defensive catchers in the minor leagues, the Braves will presumably stick with Bethancourt until he costs them a roster spot. Therefore, expect him to keep receiving at-bats this spring as the organization continues to groom him for future seasons.
Tommy La Stella, 2B – Grade: A-
Spring Training Stats: 10-for-31 (.323), 3 2B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K (11 G)
La Stella has hit at every minor league stop since the Braves drafted him in 2011, including a .343/.422/.473 batting line with 27 extra-base hits and a 34-37 strikeout-to-walk rate last season in 81 games at Double-A Mississippi. However, a slew of injuries have prevented the 25-year-old from playing more than 90 games in a single season.
La Stella is considered a potential replacement for Dan Uggla at the keystone, so it’s not surprising the Braves are giving him an extended look in major league camp. But after opening the spring by going 7-for-10 with four runs scored through his first four games, La Stella is now 3-for-18 with three strikeouts.
J.R. Graham, RHP – Grade: B-
Spring Training Stats: 3 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (4 G)
Graham was expected to make an impact in the major leagues last season, but a shoulder injury in mid-May prevented the 24-year-old from taking the mound for the rest of the year. A clean bill of health has the right-hander back on the mound this spring, which is really all that matters.
As expected, Graham was rusty out of the gate, allowing three earned runs on four hits between his first two outings. However, he’s settled in nicely since then with four straight scoreless appearances covering 2.1 innings. Don’t read too far into Graham’s struggles this spring; right now, he just needs to build arm strength in preparation for the upcoming season.
Jason Hursh, RHP – Grade: C+
Spring Training Stats: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (3 G)
Selected by the Braves in the first round of the 2013 draft, Hursh made an immediate impact after signing by posting a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings (nine starts) at Low-A Rome. Hoping to jump-start his ascent to the major leagues, the Braves have already put Hursh in three games this spring, though none of the right-hander’s outings were particularly clean.
However, he represents part of the team’s next wave of homegrown arms, so expect him to appear in at least one more game this spring before a reassignment to minor league camp.
Jose Peraza, SS – Grade: B
Spring Training Stats: 1-for-1, 2B (1 G)
Peraza emerged as one of the more intriguing young shortstops in the minor leagues last season courtesy of an impressive full-season debut at Low-A Rome. Playing in 114 games on the season, the 19-year-old batted .288/.341/.371 with 64 stolen bases and a 64-34 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 504 plate appearances.
Even though he’s appeared in only one game this spring, Peraza’s prior success and overall advanced state relative to his age make him the type of player the organization wants in major league camp in spite of concerns regarding playing time.