Spring Training Job Hunt For These 8 Guys
For some, spring training is about getting ready for the long major league season. For individuals like the players listed here, it’s all about proving you belong on a major league baseball roster. Any major league baseball roster.
From minor leaguers who get stuck behind other talented players to major league All-Stars, there often comes a time when you have to prove to everyone that there is still a place for you on a 25-man roster. Spring training is your place to earn that 25th spot or consider the minor league contract and knocking heads with prospects until a spot opens up.
Here are 8 individuals I am watching this spring.
CATCHER: Max Stassi— Houston Astros, 4th round 2009 draft by Oakland A’s, traded to Houston in 2013. Will be 26 when season starts; solid defender; Has just 30 major league appearances; Just 565 pro at-bats over the last 2 seasons. Has some power from the right side, does strike out but K% improves with more at-bats. Out of options and currently is behind McCann and Gattis.
FIRST BASE; James Loney—Texas Rangers, 1st round 2002 draft by LA Dodgers, signed in January by Rangers. Will be 33 after start of 2017 season, maybe not as agile but still solid glove man and still can hit the right handed pitchers. Hit .282/.323/.419 against RHP last season. With 400 AB’s he should bring 10-15 home runs.
THIRD BASE: Charlie Culberson—Los Angeles Dodgers, 1st round 2007 by San Francisco Giants. Super utility guy who is knocking the dust off his outfield glove in camp this year. Can play all over the field, hits from the right side, still has fewer than 400 at-bats in major league career.
SHORT STOP: Pete Kozma—New York Yankees, 1st round 2007 by St Louis Cardinals, signed minor league contract with Yankees at end of January after playing all of 2016 in AAA for Yanks. Every day shortstop for Cardinals in 2013 but didn’t hit well enough to keep the job. Good glove man and can play several spots, makes regular contact without much power. Seems like he forgot how he became a major league player during the 2014 season and might just need a confidence boost.
BULLPEN: Brian Matusz should be on a major league team to start the season. Lefty who had a couple high profile outings with Orioles that didn’t go his way. 4th player taken overall in 2008 by Baltimore in 2008. Was listed as having back discomfort to start 2016, then was traded to Cubs, ended up spending most of the season in minor leagues between the two organizations in what amounted to a wasted year. 30 years old and should be in a bullpen. Lefties have hit .210 against him in his career.
Dalier Hinojosa, Philadelphia Phillies RHP was taken off the 40-man roster and outrighted to AAA before the most recent Rule 5 Draft. Cuban signed by Red Sox and sent to Phillies in 2015. I don’t understand it, there must be a personality issue somewhere because this guy serves up outs but gets few opportunities. With all the bad relievers out there, Matusz and Hinojosa would certainly help most bullpens.
David Hernandez, Giants and Brandon Morrow, Dodgers. Two guys that throw hard and might just be at the age where they look in the mirror and say “It’s time to use my best pitch and get outs.” Max Scherzer (11), Tim Lincecum (10), Clayton Kershaw (7), and Andrew Miller (6) all were top 11 picks in the 2006 draft but Brandon Morrow was taken before all of these guys, 5th overall out of Berkley by the Mariners.
Rushed to the majors after 16 innings of minor league work, Morrow has had a few setbacks like tendonitis, inflammation, oblique strain, forearm strain, torn tendon sheath (one you don’t hear much). Serious enough issues to land him on the 60-day DL a few times but he still has the mid-90’s fastball. I doubt the Dodgers will be looking at Morrow to be a starter (he’s been both starter and reliever) but they do have enough relievers with options that if the former first rounder does well he could make the club. Worth watching because when he gets his chances he normally does pretty well and I think Honeycutt and the rest of the Dodgers staff can help him. He’s out of options.
Hernandez missed all of 2014 with elbow surgery making a come-back in 2015 and last year with Philadelphia logging 72.2 innings out of the bullpen. Another mid-90’s guy he can be very effective in short outings. Probably not a starting pitcher option any more but 2 years after surgery if the Giants release this guy, teams should be in line to get him.
By Scott Hortness February 28, 2017
Morrow photo by James G https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Matusz photo by Keith Allison https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Loney photo by Arturo Pardavila https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/