Friday Notes – Spring Training Edition
Hello from beautiful Surprise, Arizona where I’ve finally escaped to in order to avoid the massive amounts of snow still on the ground in Kansas City and to see some baseball. I got in late Wednesday night, so my first day at the park was yesterday and in spite of the Royals losing their first game of the spring, it was an absolute blast. What’s better than a day at the ballpark? Well, a day at the ballpark and a win, but they were bound to lose eventually. I guess. I’ll come to you all weekend from Surprise and on Twitter @DBLesky, so keep up and I’ll try to get you as much extra information as I can.
- The man you see above is one Ervin Santana, who I had the chance to see pitch for three innings yesterday. The numbers were solid with Santana going three innings, giving up one run on three hits while striking out four and walking nobody. He was as good as the numbers for the most part. He was really sharp and crisp for long stretches, but for three or four pitches at a time, his mechanics diminished and he lost command, occasionally in the strike zone, which is how he gave up the hits he did. His fastball looked very good, and his secondary pitches were keeping hitters off balance. I think it’s telling how sharp he looked compared with the rest of the game when the Mariners scored 11 runs in the final six innings. I’m skeptical that Santana can regain his 2010/2011 form, but he sure looked like that guy yesterday.
- Donnie Joseph threw his fourth inning of spring training yesterday and he looked better in person than he sounded on the radio when he struck out seven batters in his first three (scoreless) innings. He struck out two and walked nobody yesterday. A runner reached on an error, but he flashed a fastball and an off speed pitch that was really driving the hitters wild. He was really fun to watch pitch. I think he still has an uphill battle to win a spot in the Royals bullpen, but if he keeps doing that, they’ll simply have no choice but to find a spot for him in the big leagues. If he can even be 80% of what he’s done in spring training, that adds yet another elite arm in a bullpen that has a chance to be one of the very best in baseball.
- One pitcher who did nothing in his bid to win a spot on the big league team was Guillermo Moscoso who pretty much signed his ticket to Omaha yesterday. He got hit hard when he was around the strike zone and was nowhere near the zone when he couldn’t find it. He worked slow and inefficiently and he was rewarded by giving up five runs including a grand slam that may or may not have landed by the time you read this. If you wait until Saturday, I think we can safely assume it has landed. It’s not fair to put too much into one outing, but this one was especially bad. We’ll call it Jonathan Sanchez-esque.
- I talked about this a few weeks ago when Bob Fescoe was tweeting pictures of the Royals, but I had a chance to see Mike Moustakas up close yesterday and he looks bigger, but in a good way. He lost all that weight a year ago that led to him having such a great defensive season, and now it looks like he’s taken the next step and looks like he’s in even better shape than he was a year ago. The biggest difference I notice is in his legs where he looks thicker, which is a great sign for his power stroke. I said on the last podcast with Clint that I think he’ll lead the Royals in home runs, and after seeing him in the batting cage (batting right-handed for a time) and seeing him up close, I don’t feel terribly silly for believing that.
- Eric Hosmer getting called to join the United States squad in the WBC is a good thing in my opinion. As much as I’d love for him to be in camp with his teammates following his terrible season from a year ago, I think it’ll be great to see him continue his comeback in games that actually mean a little bit more than just spring training games. I’ve seen a lot of people talk about the impact he could receive from being around a team full of great players, and I think that’s probably a reasonably good thing, but I’m just really excited about the opportunity for him and really think the meaningful game part will help a lot.
- I decided to sit and watch Orlando Calixte yesterday in the cage and around some teammates after hearing great reports about him from people who I really trust an respect. The first thing I noticed when he was in the batting cage was that the sound off his bat is just different, and that’s what you hear about the special players. He was in a group that included guys like Whit Merrifield and if you weren’t watching, you’d easily be able to tell who was hitting. In watching his swing, though, I just see a lot of things I don’t like. It’s mostly because there’s just so much movement that if anything goes wrong, he’s pretty much out of luck. His hands are ridiculously quick and that will give him the opportunity to make up for that, but if his hands slow down at all, he won’t amount to much. Still, I see the immense potential and the Alfonso Soriano comps.
- Lorenzo Cain looked really good yesterday. With the caveat that it’s obviously just one game, Cain had a great approach at the plate, looked both fast and quick and flashed a great arm in center field. I know some people doubt Cain, but as long as he’s not counted as the second, third or even fourth option, he is incredibly valuable to a team. I just hope he can stay healthy because he’s a really dynamic player.
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