Well, after spending 29 hours in the car over two days, I arrived in the Phoenix area on Saturday night. The drive was boring, fun, tiring, gorgeous, hot, cold and just about anything else you can think of. For the last two days (I’m writing this on Monday afternoon/evening) I’ve spent nearly six hours a day watching the minor leaguers on the back fields during workouts and in the games and I’ve seen some good things and some not-so-good things, but let’s focus on the good things.
Jesse Winker is a stud, plain and simple. On Sunday afternoon he was playing with the Triple-A team on the back fields and in the two at-bats I saw, he looked every bit the top prospect that everyone seems to think he is (myself included). During his first trip to the plate he worked the count before lacing a line drive double. The next at-bat was even better as he clobbered a home run to right field. Two hits. Two extra-base hits. Two absolute laser beams. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – he’s not quite Joey Votto, but he’s going to be a similar type of hitter who can work a count, hit for power and make contact. Joey Votto-lite in the sense that he’s not going to be quite as good in any one area, but probably not too far behind across the board (except I don’t expect him to walk 130 times like Votto does – but I expect him to push 75+). The guy can hit and he knows the zone very well. It’s a great combination.
Eric Jagielo has some real thunder in his bat. Of course, if you’ve been reading any of my articles, or read anything about the third baseman when he was traded for, you probably already knew that. In the first at-bat that I saw him take on Sunday afternoon he obliterated a baseball in the Double-A game. He was the DH in the game, so I didn’t get a chance to see him in the field – where his known weakness is. At the plate though, he made a quick, and loud impression for my first in-person look.
Sunday saw the two A-ball clubs playing at home in Goodyear (the two A-ball teams travel together to play another organization in two games, while the Double-A and Triple-A teams travel together – so there is always two minor league teams at home playing games and two on the road during the spring). It was my first in-person look at a lot of guys.
Jon Moscot started the game for Dayton, but was reliever by two big time arms in Tanner Rainey and Tony Santillan. Both were taken in the 2nd round of the draft last year. Rainey pitched first and was quite impressive, showing off good velocity and a nice looking breaking ball. Santillan followed up with a few innings of his own and looked better than I had expected, given reports of his mechanics and control being spotty at best. He threw strikes and seemed to be under control while showing off some real good stuff as well.
In the Daytona game there was a spotting of Ismael Guillon. If that name sounds familiar it’s because he used to be on the 40-man roster, but was taken off and then missed the entire 2015 season with an injury. The left hander was pitching out of the bullpen, following Tyler Mahle who started the game. Guillon’s stuff looked similar to what it was before he was injured: sitting in the 89-92 MPH range and showing a good curveball – but he struggled to throw either pitch where he wanted it. That’s been an issues he’s had for most of his career. It’s nice to see him back on the mound and perhaps a move to the bullpen can help alleviate some of his control struggles.
If you want some more minor league stuff from spring training, I will be out in Goodyear through Wednesday and will have up more information (and eventually some videos) throughout this week at RedsMinorLeagues.com if you want to check in at times over there. Next week in my column here we will hopefully take a look at the minor league opening day rosters.