Do you smell that? Spring is in the air, and that means the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are underway.
Major League Baseball’s biggest stars are slugging away, but so are many of baseball’s top prospects. Here are a few I’ve watched from afar who have stood out through the first week. This week’s edition is heavy on the bats, since most pitchers have hurled one or two innings at most.
The Yankees’ future
There was early talk about the New York Yankees starting the season with two rookie infielders. Miguel Andujar was one of them, but with questions about his big swing and shaky defense, the Yankees brought in Brandon Drury to likely fill that void at third.
Andujar’s start may make the Yankees question that decision.
He’s hitting .412 with seven hits in 17 at-bats. Six of those hits have been for extra bases, four leaving the park. That includes a two-home run performance on March 1, his third-straight game with a homer. Andujar has always been known to hit the ball hard, and this spring he is showing that. He has struck out four times and is still in search of his first walk, but he can hit.
Estevan Florial is also off and running for the Yankees. Literally. The speedy five-tool outfielder leads both leagues with three triples this spring. The most impressive part? He has only four hits. He scored four runs and succeeded in his only stolen base attempt. Florial still has some time to go, but he has constantly improved with every new challenge he has faced.
St. Louis’s new addition
Yairo Munoz had his second big season in a row on the Oakland A’s farm last season. The shortstop reached Triple-A for the first time in his career and handled it well. Due to some depth in the system at middle infield, the A’s capitalized and sent him to St. Louis as part of the deal for Stephen Piscotty.
Munoz likes his new home apparently. He has seven hits in his first 20 at-bats, two of which are long balls. He has the ability to play multiple positions, a feature not uncommon in past Cardinal prospects. If he continues to show the hit tool is for real, he could have a spot in the bigs this year.
Maybe the power is for real?
Scott Kingery keeps blasting home runs.
The Phillies’ second baseman broke out in a huge way last year, launching more home runs than he had in his career prior to 2017. He proved it wasn’t just the homer-happy confines of FirstEnergy Stadium that were helping him — he continued to slug bombs with Lehigh Valley.
Now he continues in Florida.
Kingery is hitting .417 with three home runs, smashing a home run in each of his last three games. Already a sound defensive second baseman, he has the pop that could make him one of the best in the National League.
All members of the Phillies’ youth brigade have come out on fire. J.P. Crawford has four hits in his first seven at-bats, while Jorge Alfaro has the same amount in eight at-bats. Things are looking good for the Phils.
Ronald Ac… oh, you know
Acuña, Jr. started the spring off slowly, going 1-for-9. The Atlanta Braves’ 20-year-old top prospect has quickly righted the ship, and after an awe-inspiring bomb on Friday, he’s just heating up.
Acuña went 7-for-10 with that bomb to right-center, striking out just once while walking once. Put those doubts behind you — here comes the best prospect in baseball. Acuña isn’t perfect but has few flaws. One of those flaws is a big swing, but his ability to quickly adjust has been overwhelmingly impressive in his meteoric rise.
Prospects who have had interesting starts and are on the radar for next week’s edition:
- Lewis Brinson
- Shohei Ohtani
- Mike Soroka/ Kolby Allard
- Franklin Barreto
- Christian Arroyo
- Austin Riley
(All stats through Friday, March 2, 2018)