MLB Prospects to watch this Spring Training By Ryan Kanne
Via Wander Franco IG
Spring Training is one of the most exciting times of the year for baseball fans. Not only does it signify a new season on the horizon, but it also gives a lot of opportunities to players casual baseball fans might not see. A lot of those players are the minor league prospects who could be called up to MLB soon. From top 10 prospects to lesser-known players doing well, let’s look at some players you should get to know this spring.
Bobby Witt Jr. (Kansas City Royals SS)
The 2019 second overall pick has already left an impression on Kansas City Royals fans. Through eight Spring Training games Witt Jr. is hitting .353 with a 1.095 OPS. His two home runs may be tied for the team lead, but no one on the Royals has hit home runs quite like Witt Jr. has. His first spring home run came off of San Francisco Giants submarine pitcher Tyler Rogers. His second home run was clobbered a projected 484 feet.
Witt’s recent success is great to see after he struggled in the 2019 Arizona Rookie League. With the 2020 season holding the shortstop out of play in the Royals alternative training site there was a lot of speculation over if Witt Jr. improved. With the track Witt Jr. is on, he could join the major league club in September or in 2022.
If Royals fans are excited, you can’t blame them. The 20-year-old still has plenty of time to improve his game before making it to the big leagues. Until then, we just have to appreciate his time in Spring Training.
Bobby Dalbec (Boston Red Sox 1B/3B)
Speaking of home runs, the Boston Red Sox seem to have found themselves another right-handed slugger to add to their lineup in Bobby Dalbec. As fun as it will be to hear Bostonians pronounce his last name, Dalbec provides plenty of entertainment with his power. In only ten at bats, Dalbec has crushed three home runsto the tune of a .400 batting average.
The former fourth round pick has lived up to his draft profile by displaying ridiculous power along with a lot of strikeouts. Despite the strikeouts, Dalbec has already fought to make it to MLB. The 25-year-old contracted COVID-19 in July 2020 butwas able to regain his health and hit eight home runs in 80 at bats.
Dalbec finds himself in a tricky situation as a first baseman and third baseman on a team with an established star playing third and a top prospect in Triston Casas below him at first. Even if he becomes primarily a DH or leaves the Red Sox, Dalbec’s power is MLB ready, and it shows.
Wander Franco (Tampa Bay Rays SS)
Wander Franco is the number one prospect in MLB and living up to that hype this spring. In 10 at bats, the 20-year-oldshortstop is hitting .400 with one home run and a 1.100 OPS. Franco impressed even in the Tampa Bay Rays alternative site, earning him a spot on the postseason taxi squad.
Franco has all the tools to be the next great shortstop in MLB even with concerns over his long-term ability to play shortstop. Even though he’s impressed at the position, Franco worked on playing second and third base during the 2020 season. If the top prospect in baseball wasn’t versatile enough, he became more invaluable last offseason for an organization that loves versatility.
The switch-hitting prospect isn’t likely to start the season on the major league roster but could find himself called up soon to play shortstop or third base. Wherever he plays, he brings an electric bat with him that earned him a perfect 80 hitting score for a prospect. Until he gets the call to the majors, we just have to appreciate each Spring Training at bat.
Chris Rodriguez (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim SP)
The first pitcher on the list, Chris Rodriguez has been a long-awaited prospect for Angels fans since he was drafted in 2016. The 22-year-old has incredible raw movement and potential on his pitching arsenal but was been sidelined with a back fracture for almost all of 2018 and 2019.
After a healthy 2020 at the team’s alternative site, Rodriguez seems poised to break out on a team still in need of pitching. With a fastball that reaches the upper- 90’s to pair with a sinking two- seamer, changeup, slider, and curveball, Rodriguez has some truly nasty pitches that play well off of each other.
Injuries will always be a concern for Rodriguez, but if he can stay healthy the Angels could find themselves with a great middle of the rotation pitcher. His pitching has already earned him praise before a bad start against the Milwaukee Brewers. Even with his struggles, Rodriguez is a pitcher to watch in Spring Training if only to see how he makes veteran players like Joey Votto look silly.