Every spring I like to put a list out of players that I look forward to watching for spring training. I starteted with the AL and NL East yesterday and am moving on to the Central divisions today.
My list has no rhyme or reason to be honest, as it could be a prospect getting a few innings on a big league roster, a guy coming back from injury, a key acquisition, or that teams top player. Regardless, I love watching and listening to spring training games and am always surfing the web or tv to check these players out.
Here’s my list for the Central divisions…
Chicago White Sox
Yoan Moncada: A key piece in the Chris Sale trade and top prospect in baseball. Moncada is a very gifted athlete with speed and power potential. He has roadblocks in front of him, however he did see some time in Boston last year. Moncada ranks 4th on this year’s Top 100 MLB Prospects List
Carlos Rodon: The 3rd pick in the 2014 draft, Rodon was pitching in the Major’s in 2015 and now has 51 starts under his belt as a 23-year old. He hasn’t taken the next step, which could be this year, but his 9.1 career K per 9 is enough for me to watch
Francisco Lindor: Already the face of the organization in Cleveland, this could be the year that Lindor becomes one of the Major’s best if he isn’t already. Lindor is entering his age 23 season, has a career .306 average already and I look for his outstanding defense and power to start to develop this spring
Edwin Encarnacion: The Indians new DH/1B is bringing his big time power to Cleveland and continues to be one the league’s best (193 homers the past 5 years)
Miguel Cabrera: It never gets old watching one of the best all-time hitters in the game
Daniel Norris: There are a lot of expectations on Norris this season and it will start in Spring, where we get to see a healthy Norris hopefully take that next step
Kansas City Royals
Jorge Soler: Soler saw a decent amount of time on the field in Chicago with mixed results. Now that he has broken away from the congested outfield at Wrigley, we’ll see if Soler can regain that potential we saw in the 2015 playoffs
Bubba Starling: I really don’t have another player that I’m truly interested in watching for KC, so I’ll go with Bubba, although he may not see any time this spring with the big club. Starling was once a two-sport star where he was to attend Nebraska to play football and baseball, but turned down the scholarship to play baseball for the Royals. Bubba was the 5th pick in the 2011 draft.
Byron Buxton: Both Twins are an easy choice for me as Buxton was the top prospect in baseball for some time and although he made his way to the Major’s, he has struggled In his early 20’s. Just 23 this season, Buxton is worth keeping an eye on, as he did hit .287 in September last season with 9 homers and 22 RBI
Jose Berrios: Berrios was considered by many as one of the top pitching prospects if not the top pitching prospect last season. Jose eventually got the call and was shelled and I mean bad (8.02 ERA). A 5.4 walk per 9 rate didn’t help or 11.4 hits per 9. Berrios is just 23 and still has time to grow and miss bats.
Kris Bryant: Yep, my new man crush
Kyle Schwarber: Well, there’s this….
Billy Hamilton: The guys speed is just unreal. I feel bad if a team has a minor league catcher in a game while this guys on base this spring
Adam Duvall: 33 homers and 103 RBI for Duvall last season and a minor league career that supports the power, and well…the average.
Orlando Arcia: A top shortstop prospect who made his debut last year, Arcia struggled over 55 Major League games, hitting .219. Regardless, a top prospect based on his glove and age (just 22 this season), we’ll see growth out of Orlando this spring I’m guessing and some of that potential shining through
Lewis Brinson: Was the key piece in the Jonathon Lucroy trade, Brinson had a breakout season in 2015, but struggled in 2016 before the trade. When he arrived at Colorado Springs (Mil Triple-A), the former 1st round selection, tore the league up, hitting .382 in 23 games while collecting 13 extra base hits in 89 at bats
Tyler Glasnow: The 15th rated prospect in my top 100 this year, Glasnow stands 6’8” and fires the ball to the plate. He struggled in his brief time in the bigs, last year, but like many others, is too young to give up on
Jameson Taillon: Another highly rated pitching prospect, Taillon made his debut also last season, fairing a bit better than Glasnow. This could be a break out season after Jameson collected 18 starts in 2016 on the big league roster. The 3.38 ERA is very promising, as is the 1.5 walks per 9
St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Martinez: Well, Alex Reyes would have been in this spot if not for his season ending injury. Martinez was still my other selection however; as I think he’ll be in the Cy Young discussion for seasons to come. The numbers were very similar to his 2015 All-Star campaign; however a slight dip in his second half performance (2.85 ERA vs. 3.27) took him out of last year’s Cy Young voting. I think the 25-year old takes a big leap and finishes in the top-5 for Cy Young voting in 2017
Aledmys Diaz: Looking forward to seeing what Diaz does this spring after he was one of the best storylines of 2016 before losing about six weeks to injury. Still, Diaz hit .300 with 17 homers and 65 RBI. The potion that I am interested in, is how he comes out this spring, as Diaz did not over .300 for any month after April.