Spring Training Preview: Salt River
Stop two on the upcoming visit to the Valley of the Sun, will be Salt River Fields. The Sunday match-up will feature split-squads from both the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. This means prospects in game action and lots of them!
Salt River Fields
Stadium: A / Backfields: B. The facility the D-Backs and the Rockies share is one of the nicest in the Cactus League. It’s well designed, features perhaps the greatest variety of food offered at any Spring Training park and has some pretty fan friendly backfields. The place is terrific, but my first visit was ruined when I came down with the flu. Even still I enjoyed it and am really looking forward to experiencing it at full strength. Unfortunately most of the depth of the Arizona system is in pitching, and the backfields aren’t a great place to watch pitching prospects, since bullpens are generally more secluded from public view.
As for the pitching depth I mentioned, hopefully we get lucky and see Tyler Skaggs, or Archie Bradley throw a bullpen, but here are some hitters to watch for.
Adam Eaton – CF, 24, 5’8″/184
The Diamondbacks traded Chris Young to give Eaton the everyday job. His peaks won’t be as explosive as Young’s, but he won’t have the big, depressing valleys either. The kid can run very well, plays a good centerfield, and his arm is jaw dropping, both accurate and powerful. He’s not somebody you are necessarily floored by during BP, I’m more interested in seeing Eaton in game action.
Matt Davidson – 3B, 21, 6’2″/224
Davidson could eventually (perhaps as soon as the second half, depending on overall roster health) supplant Martin Prado at third base, moving the veteran to the outfield. Davidson has 20-25 home run power, and gets on base, but needs to do a better job limiting strikeouts. His defense is not his strong suit, but he could stick at third long term if he improves. He should be fun to watch around the batting cage.
Chris Owings – SS, 20, 5’10″/180
Not the largest of bodies, Owings has big tools. He happens to be a somewhat deficient baseball player though. He almost never walks (just 24 times in 149 games last year) and can be erratic on defense. It will be interesting to get a sense of this great athlete’s movements and perhaps see what it is that isn’t working for him.
Stryker Trahan – C, 18. 6’1″/215
A big, strong 18 year old with a plus hit tool and plus power is going to be taking batting practice and maybe playing in a B game on the practice fields? I’m setting my alarm now.
People are all frothy about Dodgers’ offseason moves, and their new ownership, which is really great for a franchise that needs its greatness restored. But I am more interested in what the Dodgers used to be all about: player development. There hasn’t been a ton of movement on this front yet, but change is on the way for the Dodgers. When it comes, these will be two of first guys to arrive at the Ravine:
Yasiel Puig – RF, 22, 6’3″/215
The big Cuban runs well, has a refined approach, a great arm and huge power. Basically another Cespedes type, to go along with Jorge Soler of the Cubs. He dominated in a short stint last season, playing intelligent baseball and putting his tools on display. He’s currently stamping out a disappointing winter with a great spring. The odds of him appearing in the split-squad game on the road are pretty decent and that’s good, because I want to see as much of this kid as I can.
Joc Pederson – OF, 20, 6’1″/185
Not as toolsy as Puig, Pederson is an excellent baseball player, giving him a high floor. He should be an above average runner for a corner outfielder, with about an average stick. He seems to do a little of everything, walking, limiting swings and misses, and showing good pop to all fields. I am hoping to see Pederson in the game with the split-squad coming over from Glendale, but this late in spring, I am not terribly optimistic.
Next time: Cubs v Padres in Peoria.