In 37 at bats this spring, Oscar Colas has struck out once and walked once. He’s hitting .324 and slugging .514 with two home runs. Even making plays in centerfield. Feels like he’s already made the team.
Jake Burger (mmm steak burger . . . ) has four home runs but a .250 OBP and 12 strikeouts.
Lenyn Sosa, similar story, slashing .133/.133/.133 in 15 at bats. I know these sample sizes don’t matter even a little bit in reality, but I also don’t think spring training is reality.
Davis Martin tried to win Helen Chapel’s heart on Wings but lost out to Joe Hackett. Tough stuff.
Franklin German switched Sox when Boston sent him to Chicago for Theo Denlinger in February. He was outstanding in AA and AAA last year, his first as a full-time reliever. So far this spring, he’s thrown seven scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, two walks and a 0.71 WHIP. Could find himself near the back of that bullpen sooner than later.
Reynaldo Lopez is a popular pick at the moment, and he’s doing nothing to quell that intrigue, posting a 0.80 WHIP in five innings. Kendall Graveman is pretty serious about taking the ninth inning, but Lopez has the better stuff and the better stats.
Will Brennan is the most important player in camp for our purposes. He didn’t get his chance in the playoffs last season despite the team needing another bat, and just reading the tea leaves, I feel like they’ve had that conversation internally. Brennan probably can’t send Myles Straw to the bench because he’s sucking up that contract cash, but Brennan is going to play a lot, and I think he’s going to play well.
Bo Naylor got just six at bats before he was optioned to Triple-A. The fantasy community wants Bo more than the Browns fans in the Kevin Costner film Draft Day, but Cleveland seems pretty settled with Mike Zunino.
Bryan Lavastida, David Fry and Zack Collins share some responsibility for Naylor’s demotion. Fry in particular is putting himself on the map with two homers and four walks in 16 at bats spread across 12 games.
Micah Pries is making some noise, slashing .346/.393/.769 with two home runs. He’ll likely open in Triple-A and should get a shot to try that plus power in the majors before 2023 ends.
If his four steals are any indication, Gabriel Arias likes the new baserunning rules. He leads the team in at bats with 34 and is hitting .324 but also has ten strikeouts to three walks. Terry Francona has demonstrated a willingness to play Arias all over the field, so he might not have to hit much to stay on the field.
Zach Plesac is living on borrowed time with Tanner Bibee and Gavin Williams cruising toward the rotation. He had one great season in the pandemic shortened 2020 but has been below average each of the past two years. He’s 28 and could perhaps find something that helps him strike out more batters than the 17.6 percent he K’d last season, but I’d rather the team just move him to a swing role. His 9.45 ERA and 2.25 WHIP in three starts is doing him no favors.
Hunter Gaddis and Xzavion Curry are pitching a lot this spring and could pick up the first few spot starts this season. Curry hasn’t been great (1.42 WHIP in 12.2 IP), but Gaddis has 11 strikeouts and a 1.07 WHIP in 9.1 innings.
Austin Meadows and Andre Lipcius are tied for the team lead in at bats with 37. Meadows is looking to bounce back from a lost 2022 but is slashing .216/.268/.243. Lipcius has three home runs (4) and pole position on an early season promotion.
Parker Meadows can’t lose but got optioned this week along with Lipcius. He’s turned heads this spring with four home runs and a .382 on base percentage in 30 at bats. Both could be everyday players in Detroit by mid-season.
Kerry Carpenter will have to keep hitting his way into the lineup. With a .281 average and two home runs in 32 at bats, he’s doing his thing.
Spencer Turnbull is back in action after losing time to Tommy John surgery. He posted a surprising 0.98 WHIP across 50 innings back in 2021 and could be a great value this year.
I’ve always liked Miguel Diaz, this bullpen is wide open, and Diaz has ten strikeouts in 5.1 scoreless innings. He was 22 when he debuted with San Diego in 2017 and has pitched in parts of five major league seasons. Command has always been the issue, but something is clicking right now and actually started sliding into place around mid-season 2022 in Triple-A.
Johan Camargo is lost in the box, slashing .208/.208/.250 in 24 at bats. Here’s hoping that spot goes to someone with upside, like maybe even this next guy.
In his 25 at bats, Maikel Garcia is hitting .360/.385/.560 with one homer and one steal. He’s not going to make this team early, but he’s not going back in the box if they ever let him out.
Michael Massey has been on fire, hitting .333 with three homers and two steals in 27 at bats in his bid to lock down the opening day second base job.
Drew Waters is still out with an oblique injury, leaving Kyle Isbel and JBJ in center. Isbel is taking advantage of the chance, posting a .484 OBP in 27 at bats. It’s hard to imagine he’d lose out to Bradley Jr. at this point, but anything goes around here.
This team has as many on-the-verge prospects and young players as anyone. Samad Taylor has already been optioned despite slashing .400/.435/.800 with two homers and two steals in 20 at bats. I hope the Mondesi trade is a sign that they’re going to get a little more aggressive in sorting through them in the post-Dayton Moore era.
CJ Alexander is slashing .474/.575/.947 with two home runs, three walks and two strikeouts in 19 at bats. Here’s a good example of how spring stats don’t matter until they do. Alexander came over in the Drew Waters trade and posted 25 homers and 19 steals in Double-A last year. He’s 26 years old and 6’5” 215 lbs. He could fade into the faceless depths of the organization at any time, but with a spring like this, he pushes himself up the list of names to be seen and sorted.
On a team that’s traded a lot from its system the past few years, prospects aren’t particularly numerous in camp, especially while Edouard Julien was with Canada in the World Baseball Classic. It’s a feature—not a bug—on a team with veteran options all over the diamond.
Kyle Farmer or Nick Gordon could open as the starting second baseman if Jorge Polanco can’t make it back for opening day. Gordon could also cover centerfield if Byron Buxton can’t, although it seems like that spot is earmarked for Michael Taylor, and Gordon just sprained his ankle.
The team signed Donovan Solano for $2.1 million, so even if second base pops wide open, Solano will be standing there. Not sure he’s blocking anyone though.
Alex Kirilloff hasn’t returned from wrist surgery and could be headed to the injured list.
Here’s some further scrolling if you’re interested in Kirilloff’s plight with idiopathic ulnar impaction syndrome.
Matt Wallner (.207) and Trevor Larnach (.276) are both playing quite a bit and could step into an opening day roster spot depending on the injured players’ timelines. Wallner got optioned Saturday, and Larnach homered Saturday. Interesting pickup in the short term.
Thanks for reading!