Last night I attended a spring training match-up between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies at beautiful Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. It was a great opportunity to see a mix of veterans and up-and-coming stars, as well as a few organizational players. Here are some observations from last night’s game with one major caveat: it’s early in the spring and players are still trying to get their timing and swings right.
- Melky Cabrera is moving as well as he ever has. It looks like his back tumour/leg issues are far behind him. With that said, he was late on almost every fastball he saw – whether it was from Cliff Lee or BJ Rosenberg. It’s still early on though – probably nothing to see here.
- Kevin Pillar looked overmatched at the plate. I don’t expect that we’ll see him in a big league uniform anytime soon.
- Ryan Howard appeared to be favouring his leg a little bit, especially in his first at-bat (which I missed recording). He’s supposed to be 100% healthy this season and many fantasy pundits have him poised for a monster season. To me, it looks like he has a limp. I took two videos of him; one walking to the plate and one walking to his position. You be the judge:
- I kept my eye on “catcher of the future” AJ Jimenez as he is one of my favourites; I love the way he plays. He was a DH in this game so I didn’t have the opportunity to appreciate his high level defensive game. At the plate, he did not look great. It was difficult for him to square up any fastballs (although he did single to RF) and he was susceptible to most off-speed stuff – like most are this early in this spring.
- Right-handed relief pitcher John Stilson relieved Neil Wagner in the 7th and he impressed with his velocity. He was poised and effective; he struck out Maikel Franco, a legitimate prospect who can hit. If they Blue Jays bullpen wasn’t already so deep, Stilson wouldn’t be over his head pitching at the Major League level. He’s had some shoulder issues in the past and it’s easy to see why – there’s an incredible amount of torque he places on his shoulder in a violent delivery. Have a look:
- Maicer Izturis looks bad, not that he really ever has looked all that good. He is deep into his decline phase and I don’t know that I am all that comfortable with him even taking up a roster spot. It is easy to see why the unproven Ryan Goins has been anointed the Blue Jays’ second baseman for 2014. His fielding is VERY slick. However, it has been a long time since we’ve seen a slick-fielding second baseman in Toronto so I could be getting ahead of myself. I don’t know that Goins is in way over his head at the plate as the prevailing opinion seems to be.
- I’m excited at the prospect of RA Dickey beginning 2014 fully healthy. His knuckler was hard and effective. Although he walked a few and he gave up an oppo bomb to Marlon Byrd, those things are going to happen with a knuckleballer. He threw some pitches in counts that he wouldn’t normally throw in the regular season.
All images © Callum Hughson / mopupduty.com