Spring training has been a welcomed surprise in comparison to the historically cold offseason fans had just witnessed. There have been a number of surprises from every organization, but here are the five most important stories during the first week of MLB spring training.
1. It is still too early to judge Shohei Ohtani.
Shohei Ohtani made his first start in spring training against the Milwaukee Brewers and it was inconsistent. Ohtani made some fantastic pitches in his outing, but he struggled with command. Over 1 1/3 innings, Ohtani threw 31 pitches (17 strikes), while allowing one earned run on a solo shot to Keon Broxton. As the benefit of being a two-way player, though, Ohtani was able to show off his offensive capability, also. In his first game as the designated hitter, Ohtani went 1-1 with a single and two walks. He has shown some tremendous potential both on the mound and at the plate, but it is still spring training. There will be plenty of eyes on Ohtani throughout the season and he will probably be the most covered player in 2018.
2. Hot Talent Lava = Major League Rock
For as much scrutiny Scott Boras has received throughout the offseason, he made, perhaps, the best quote in recent history from an agent. The San Diego Padres are clearly overflowing with hot talent lava. Eric Hosmer made shirts out of it for the team. However, this hot talent lava will not be in plain sight for at least the first half of the 2018 MLB season. The talent in spring training has been exciting to watch, however, Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a home run in his first spring training game, and the San Diego sports fans overflowed with excitement. Luis Urias does appear to be on the door of erupting in the MLB as early as the second half of the 2018 season, but the most exciting potential prospect to make an impact in 2018 could be Franchy Cordero. Cordero hit an inside-the-park home run, and he looks like the main candidate to push Hunter Renfroe out of the starting lineup.
3. The new pace-of-play rules are horrible
The new rule limiting mound visits is terrible for the game. The game has been known forever as the game without time constraints. There is no clock. That is the beauty of baseball. The game does not need to be changed.
4. The Cleveland Indians logo is a mess
The Cleveland Indians did the right thing when they announced that Chief Wahoo would no longer be used after the 2018 season. As Dallas Braden of Barstool Sports’ Starting 9 podcast questioned: why should the Indians have a celebration tour in their final year of the logo? This move had been coming for years, but it is just time to get rid of the logo.
5. The free agents still left on the board are staggering
Jake Arietta, Alex Cobb, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Lance Lynn, Jonathan Lucroy, Neil Walker, Carlos Gonzalez, Jon Jay. These are all major players without an MLB team. It is still early in spring training, but this is unbelievable. These players will all find a home, albeit for less money and years they were probably looking for, but the remaining free agents are too talented to not find a home.
Spring training is still in its early stages, but the next month before Opening Day will provide plenty of excitement.