With Spring Training in full gear, let us take a look at some players early on who will make it tough on teams when finalizing the roster prior to opening day.
Miguel Andujar 3B – New York Yankees
Andujar has been nothing short of spectacular so far as he has hit 4 long balls while driving in eight runs through seven games. With his glove lacking, Andujar is showing he can make up for it at the plate similar to his teammate Gary Sanchez who leaves much to desire behind the plate. With Brandon Drury in the mix, you have to think it’ll be tough for Andujar to win the starting role outright but he certainly is headed in the right direction.
Jake Peter 2B – Los Angeles Dodgers
Peter is a name not known by many and when it is all said and done he may fade into the abyss but it should go on the record that he has been tearing it up to this point this spring. Hitting to the tune of .375 with three home runs and 11 RBI through 16 AB is pretty darn good and something that the Dodgers have to keep an eye on. With veterans Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley the main options at 2B, the 24-year old Peter could give the veterans a run for their money, however, it is likely he will find his way back down to the Minors come opening day.
Christian Villaneuva 3B – San Diego Padres
Villaneuva played in 12 games last season for the Padres and showed some signs of success hitting .344 over a small sample size of 32 at bats. However, he is showing this spring that it may not have been a fluke and that he has some value to offer at the plate. Through 19 at bats this spring, Villaneuva is hitting .474 with an impressive 3 home runs and 10 RBI. His strikeouts are a bit alarming as he has five through those 19 AB’s but that should level out with more plate appearances. The biggest issue for Villaneuva has to be the fact that Chase Headley and Carlos Asuaje seem to be the players in favor for the Padres. Regardless, Villaneuva has likely set in stone a bench role heading into the season.
Amir Garrett SP – Cincinnati Reds
Garrett has been a player with unlimited potential but has yet to live up to it. He looks like he may be putting that behind him as he has gotten off to a great spring. Over two games, the big lefty has pitched 5.0 innings giving up zero earned runs and striking out 10. With the Reds in the middle of rebuild, it will be critical for them to keep up with the development of Garrett and turn him into the ace of the staff that they expected him to be. So far in 2018, it is looking like he may live up to the hype. Stay tuned folks.
Justin Verlander SP – Houston Astros
You may be a bit surprised to see Verlander on this list being he is a grizzly veteran with a HOF resume to this point. However, we couldn’t help but notice the dominance he has displayed this spring. He’s appeared in two games and has looked like he could be a Cy Young frontrunner this year. Now before everyone jumps down my throat, I do realize it is only 5 innings against minor league talent. I just love the fact that Verlander has come in with this winning attitude and ready to win another championship. Look for him to lead this Astros staff and dominant throughout the year.