It’s that time of year, baseball is right around the corner. Spring training is set to begin very soon with the Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers reporting on Thursday.
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Spring training is an exciting time for fans, but more importantly, it gets the players ready for the regular season. It also allows some of the younger guys from within the minor league system an opportunity to make the big league club.
There are some players that fans will want to keep an eye on as Spring Training progresses. Whether it be a player returning from injury, a new face or a young guy trying to make the team.
Here are some of the top guys to watch as we head into Spring Training.
Jul 19, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (44) runs the bases after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks won 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Paul Goldschmidt: Now, Diamondbacks fans know what to expect from Goldschmidt. He has consistently been Arizona’s best player since he was called up. What fans may not know is, how he responds after suffering an injury.
Goldschmidt was hit by an Ernesto Frieri pitch and suffered a fracture in his left hand late in the 2014 season. He was out for the remainder of the year, but his hand has healed and he will be ready for the beginning of spring training.
It will be interesting to see how he responds. As one of the top players in the National League, he should have no issue getting back to where he left off before his injury.
Yasmany Tomas: Arizona made waves when they announced the signing of the latest Cuban defector, Yasmany Tomas. There are very high hopes and projections surrounding Tomas. He absolutely has the potential and skill to be a top player in MLB.
When he was acquired by Arizona, assumptions were that he would play in the outfield. Arizona’s coaching staff and management had different plans for him though. He will be given a look at third base. He hasn’t had much playing time at third, but Arizona is determined to at least give it a try.
If he does secure the third base position, it will help Arizona by subtracting him from an already crowded outfield. A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, Mark Trumbo and Cody Ross currently make up Arizona’s outfield depth.
If he can’t play well at third, Jake Lamb is a possibility to man the position. Lamb was called up late into the 2014 season and had a bit of a rough go of it. His minor league numbers have been exceptional, but transitioning to the majors has been a bit of an issue. Albeit in only 37 games, Lamb posted only .230/.263/.373 at the major league level.
Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington were given looks at third in 2014 as well, but both of them would only be a band aid on the position and not a long term solution.
Peter O’Brien: With Miguel Montero having been traded during the off-season, general manager Dave Stewart has said that O’Brien is the catcher of Arizona’s future.
O’Brien was acquired by Arizona via trade from the New York Yankees in exchange for Martin Prado during the 2014 season.
O’Brien has a big upside to his game, but it seemed as though he wouldn’t be ready for major league action just yet. Stewart has decided otherwise by saying that he could earn a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Be sure to watch for how O’Brien responds after such high praise from Diamondbacks brass.
Last but certainly not least, Archie Bradley. His major league debut has been very eagerly waited by not only Diamondbacks fans, but fans from around all of Major League Baseball.
Feb 7, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley (2) throws in the bullpen during the first day of camp at Salt River Fields. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball America recently ranked Bradley as Arizona’s top prospect for the second straight year.
In 2014, Bradley had a bit of down year. He struggled to throw strikes and get outs. He was also shut down for a portion of the season with an elbow injury. He rehabbed well but couldn’t pitch well enough to make the majors even as Arizona was basically holding tryouts for their prospects toward the end of the 2014 season.
Bradley pitched in the Arizona Fall League and seemed to have gotten back on track. Spring training will be a good test to see how Bradley battles back from a down year.
This is only a list of a few players, but they are all going to be key pieces of the Diamondbacks future. Arizona’s first Spring Training game comes against Colorado on March 4.