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March 5, 2014

Minor League Update

Spring Training Games of March 4

by Jeff Moore

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The Good

  • Gregory Polanco, OF, Pirates: 2-3, 2B. Polanco is spending his spring making the Pirates front office look smart for not shelling out a multi-year deal for Nelson Cruz.
  • Cesar Puello, OF, Mets: 1-2, R, 2B. Puello was in the midst of a breakout season when he lost the last 50 games of it for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. He’s still way too aggressive at the plate, and now we can question whether his power increase was developmental or scientific, so there’s still a lot of work for him to do.
  • Billy Burns, OF, Athletics: 1-3, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 SB. The incredibly fast Burns put his top-of-the-charts speed to work on Tuesday, including beating out a ground ball to the pitcher. He doesn’t offer any power, but he does have game-changing speed and a good idea of how to get on base and use it.
  • Mike Olt, 3B, Cubs: 1-1, R, HR. Olt is getting overlooked by outsiders when it comes to the Cubs’ future, especially by those who want to fast forward to the Javier Baez/Kris Bryant era when they figure one of those two will be manning third base. Olt has to rebound from a tremendously bad 2013 season, but he should get a chance to prove that he can be an everyday player until the younger prospects come up.

The Bad

  • Byron Buxton, OF, Twins: 0-5. Even the best fall down sometimes.
  • Johnny Hellweg, RHP, Brewers: 0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER. Hellweg walked an insane 26 batters in 30 2/3 innings in his short time in the majors last year. He threw strikes on Tuesday, and it didn’t work out much better. He still throws incredibly hard and generates a great downward plane towards the plate, but he simply doesn’t throw enough quality strikes at this point to be effective.
  • Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies: 0-3, K. Franco is getting a chance to get some additional at-bats at third base while Cody Asche nurses a hand injury, but is hitting just .214 this spring.
  • Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Orioles: 0-2, 2 K. Schoop has an outside shot at the Orioles second base job, though he will probably begin the year back in Triple-A. He profiles best as a super-utility player who can play all over the infield, but for 2014, he may be the Orioles best option at the keystone.

Notable Innings of Work*

*During spring training, there are a lot of pitchers getting work in short stints that don’t really tell us a whole lot. I’ll include them here each night without commentary, because there’s not much you can tell from one inning unless it’s exemplary or disastrous, but it’s still nice to keep tabs on who’s getting work.

Jeff Moore is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeff's other articles. You can contact Jeff by clicking here

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