Spring Training has seemingly just started, making it impossible to draw any conclusions regarding pitchers (we just don’t have enough innings to judge on). However, while the AB are also limited we have a little bit more to go on. Let’s take a look at three borderline players who have gotten off to a strong start:
Dominic Brown – Philadelphia Phillies – Outfielder
2013 Spring Numbers – .350 (7-20), 3 HR, 4 RBI, 10 R, 0 SB
The Phillies are looking for outfielders, especially with Delmon Young looking like he is going to miss the beginning of the season. They have a lot of options, though no one who really stands out. Brown has always been seen as having the talent, though a .236 average in 433 AB in the Major Leagues shows how big of a struggle it’s been.
That said, at 25-years old it’s possible that he has finally figured it out. It’s only a few games, but the strong start definitely gives him a leg up on the competition. He has 20/20 upside and with an 18.9% strikeout rate and 19.7% line drive rate in the Major Leagues, he has shown us that it can all come together (one of the most impressive numbers for his spring may be his 4 strikeouts vs. 6 walks).
At this point he appears to be a shoe-in to open the season in the starting lineup, though a lot can change between now and Opening Day. That said, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if Brown not only won a job, but thrived all season long.
Verdict – Buy ‘Em (though continue to monitor just in case)
Franklin Gutierrez – Seattle Mariners – Outfielder
2013 Spring Numbers – .364 (4-11), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB
Once thought of as a potential impact outfielder and perennial 20/20 candidate, injuries have done a lot to sidetrack him. He has had 400+ AB in a season just twice and has had 472 AB total over the past two seasons. With the offseason additions the Mariners made Gutierrez easily could’ve just been swept away and forgotten about. However, his performance thus far is obviously forcing their hands.
He is now 30-years old and, despite once being seen as having tremendous, you have to wonder what’s still left in the tank. Injuries are always going to be possible, the Mariners have ample other options and it’s simply impossible to trust him.
Verdict – Deny ‘Em (he’s just too risky)
Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies – Third Baseman
2013 Spring Numbers – .357 (5-14), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB
Viewed as the Rockies starting third baseman of the future, a poor 2012 at Double-A appeared to derail him (.285 with 12 HR). However, he posted a trmendous strikeout rate (10.1%) and has continued to show that this spring with just 1 K.
While the power wasn’t there last season, he also added 36 doubles and he’s still just 21-years old. The Rockies don’t have much at 3B and, while it’s unlikely that Arenado breaks camp with the team, it also isn’t impossible. Considered one of the better prospects in the game, his hot start is definitely something that needs to be monitored closely.
Verdict – Buy ‘Em (especially in NL-only and deeper formats where you can stash him)
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