USA TODAY Sports
Jason Hunt takes a look back at some of the prospect performances that were available to watch from last week's spring training games, including an excellent 3 inning outing by Cardinals' pitcher Michael Wacha.
With another full week of games in the books, a number of prospects have been receiving significant playing time, and more than a few of the top prospects in the minors were able to be seen on MLB.tv. As the spring progresses, we will probably see less and less of these prospects as the World Baseball Classic winds down and teams start sending their prospects to minor league camp.
Addison Russell (OAK-SS) - Viewed in Sunday, February 24th's game
Russell had two plate appearances in this game against the Angels, showing good plate discipline in both at bats. In the second at bat he had a very nice double to the right field corner which was the product of a bit of an inside-out swing. He scored on a Michael Choice double (a single really that was stretched on the throw), running well, but a bit out of control on that particular play. I've been pretty clear on my belief in Russell, and am hoping to see him later this year in Stockton.
Nick Castellanos (DET-3B/OF) - Viewed in Monday, February 25th's game
Castellanos played the full game in left field for the Tigers on Monday, but the big story was at the plate. Castellanos went 2 for 4 with a single, a two-run home run, and a walk in the Tigers' romp over the Phillies. In the first plate appearance, Castellanos struck out, being fooled on a pair of changeups, taking a curve in the dirt, and ending up caught looking on a high fastball. Against Cliff Lee, kind of what you would expect.
He faced Jonathan Papelbon in his second plate appearance, and drove a home run to right-center field on the first pitch he saw. Papelbon was completely off his game that day, but the hit by Castellanos sounded legit on the video regardless of how Papelbon was doing. He walked on four straight pitches in his third AB, lined out to the center fielder in the fourth AB, and singled in his last at bat. Overall, he showed an aggressive approach at the plate that day, but was also patient in certain at bats as well. At one point the Phillies broadcasters mentioned that he "would be the starting left fielder" for the Tigers this year, which is extremely unlikely. But he'll be there sooner than later to be sure.
Michael Wacha (STL-SP) - Viewed in Wednesday, February 27th's game
Oh boy. The numbers on Wacha last season were extremely good (40K in 21 IP), but as has been pointed out numerous times at this point, Wacha did not pitch more than three innings in a single outing. The Cardinals brought him in to the game in the 3rd inning, and it's easy to see why he has had so much helium this offseason. He threw three innings in total, striking out 5 Mets and allowing just 1 hit in that time. He was sitting 90-93 with his fastball according to the television radar gun, and was sitting pretty consistently 83-86 with what appeared to be his changeup. The key for Wacha was nearly pinpoint command, as he was painting the inside corner very consistently to each batter. He even mixed in a breaking ball, which completely froze a batter in the 5th inning. I'll be doing a profile of Wacha later this week, but I have to say I was extremely impressed with what I saw in that outing against a large quantity of major league hitters.
Yasiel Puig (LAD-OF) - Viewed in the games on Monday, February 25th and Friday, March 1st.
I was looking forward to seeing Puig in game action, and got the opportunity to see him in two different games this week. He had a pair of at bats in Monday's game, but flew out on one pitch in one, and hit a single to left field on the first pitch in the second. The more interesting plate appearances really came in Friday's game, where he struck out against Jered Weaver and hit a ringing double to left center field in his next at bat. To this point, he looks like he has an extremely aggressive approach, but was able to work a full count against Weaver in the first at bat. That said, Weaver also got Puig to chase a very high fastball for the strikeout. The power looks great, and it seems on this extremely brief sample that they need to work with him a bit on plate discipline.