Oakland and San Fran tend to be somewhat boring teams to be for whatever reasons (maybe not enough exposure), but the rest of the West really makes up for it. On my list are top prospects, youngsters, guys coming off bad years, and the best overall player in the game.
Hope you’ve enjoyed these lists and have caught spring training game on the radio or TV by now!
American League West
Alex Bregman: The 2nd pick in the 2015 draft made his Astros debut in late July last season and held his own hitting .264 with 8 homers and 34 RBI. It will be exciting to see how he handles spring pitching as the third base job is his to lose
Yulieski Gurriel: I wanted to put Carlos Correa here; however Gurriel has me highly intrigued at how he will perform in the Majors now that he has defected from Cuba and starting to adjust to the US. I think a little more power was expected from Yulieski when he was brought up last year, however even without it, the strike out rate was really impressive of just 12 K’s in 137 plate appearances
Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout: Let me tell you how good Mike Trout is…in five full seasons, he has won the MVP twice and finished 2nd three times. Miguel may be the best hitter in this game right now, but Trout is the best player
Garrett Richards: Richards came back late in the season to make 6 starts after a torn UCL. All signs pointed towards positive as he had a 2.34 ERA and 8.8 k per 9 rate, which was right around his best season (2014) performance.
Sonny Gray: Talk about a crash and burn season…Gray had a combined 2.88 ERA before the 2016 campaign which saw him get shelled with an ERA ballooning to 5.69 to go along with a forearm injury. He’s way better than that as we know and hoping to see positive signs this spring
Felix Hernandez: I’m interested to see how the season starts out for King Felix, as it seems like he is going through a Justin Verlander type phase with a growing ERA (2.14 in 2014, 3.53 ’15, 3.82 ’16) and drop in strike out rate (9.5 ’14, 8.5, 7.2). It’s intriguing to see if he can adjust or not
Jean Segura: The new Mariners shortstop has had an up and kind of down career with a nice rebound in 2016 to hit .319 with 41 doubles. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do for his new club as they search for more offense
Tyler O’Neil: I owe for shorting Oakland, so looking forward to the few at bats that O’Neil is expected to see with his power upside. O’Neil crushed 32 homers in 2015, stayed out in the Arizona Fall League that season, and hit another 24 last season while at Double-A Jackson
Joey Gallo: I’d expect Gallo to get a long look in camp with his power potential (152 homers in 5 minor league seasons), however he needs to show better plate discipline after striking out 19 times in his 30 Ranger plate appearances in 2016
Nomar Mazara: The 21-year old was the talk of the league when he made his debut last season as he hit .302 to start the first two months of the season to go along with 9 homers and 24 RBI. It seemed like pitchers then started to figure Nomar out as he finished the season hitting .266 with 20 homers. Just 22, there is a ton of potential here and I look forward to seeing what strides were made in the offseason.
National League West
Taijuan Walker: Walker was part of the trade that sent Segura to Seattle, has show flashes of big potential in the past, but has had a hard time putting it together. At 24, Taijuan has had 2 full seasons of Major League starts, along with 2 other partial seasons. This could be the year he takes a big step forward…if he can keep the ball in the yard (1.8 HR per 9 in 2016)
Archie Bradley: Bradley had been a high profile prospect for some time before his debut in 2015 and looked to be ready to back it up as he was 2-0 in his first three career starts with a 1.48 ERA and 12 K’s. Then Bradley got smoked in the face by a 115 MPH Carlos Gonzalez line drive on April 28th, 2015 and seems like he hasn’t been the same since. I’m hoping that we see the guy this spring that was on all the top prospect reports and what we saw early in the 2015 campaign
Trevor Story: Story grabbed headlines right away in 2016 by hitting 2 homers on opening day and 6 in his first four games (homered in 4 straight). The pace would obviously cool, but the shortstop who was holding down the position until Brendan Rodgers is ready, may now be forcing Rodgers to another position. Story suffered a thumb injury in August, ending his ugh, Storied season, so it will be fun to see how he comes out this spring and what he does for an encore.
David Dahl: Dahl’s going to be fun player to watch all season, but currently left field is his to lose, as the highly rated prospect hit .315 over 63 games for the Rockies last season with 7 homers and 24 RBI
Los Angeles Dodgers
Yasiel Puig: I have to admit, I am still a Puig fan. The potential is there to be great; he just needs to remain laser focused. Regardless, when watching Puig, you may witness something amazing at any point
Julio Urias: Talk about super prospect!! Urias, just 19, made 15 starts for the Dodgers and appeared in 4 more. In those appearances, Urias had a 3.39 ERA and a 9.8 K per 9 rate!!! Yea, he’s going to be good!
San Diego Padres
Hunter Renfroe: Renfroe straight up crushed the ball last year, hitting 30 homers in 133 Minor League games, and then playing in 11 games for San Diego, where he hit .371 with 4 more homers and 14 RBI. The right field job is his to lose, let’s see if the power shows up early this spring
Manuel Margot: The 21-year old made his debut last season for the Padres and is penciled in for center field. Opposite of Renfroe, Margot is more of a speed guy as he’s stolen 30+ bases the last three seasons
San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey: I’m not sure what it is about Bay Area teams to me, but they just seem so boring. That said, we do have the best catcher in the game to keep an eye on.
Brandon Belt: Is this the year that Brandon Belt breaks out and flashes more power?