Former No. 1 Picks Are a Hit in Detroit-Baltimore Clash
There are plenty of talented youngsters making their presence felt in the early stages of the Grapefruit League with the Major League Baseball teams playing their spring training games in Florida.
The entire American League East Division is part of the Grapefruit League with the Las Vegas odds listing both the New York Yankees out of the AL East and the New York Mets from the NL East priced at +750 to win the World Series.
Here’s a look at some of the early storylines and MLB news worth monitoring in the Grapefruit League as the regular season is less than a month away from starting.
Red Sox Rolling
There are some new faces expected to take on key roles for the Boston Red Sox.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts is with the San Diego Padres while designated hitter J.D. Martinez is a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pitchers Matt Barnes and Nathan Eovaldi are among the other players headed elsewhere.
That hasn’t stopped Boston from winning its first four spring training games and that included a 15-3 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bobby Dalbec is hitting .444 while Christian Arroyo has a pair of home runs and five RBIs.
Boston is priced at +6000 to win the World Series according to the MLB odds.
Top Picks Meeting Up
Thursday’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers featured the No. 1 overall picks from the 2019 and 2020 MLB Drafts.
Catcher Adley Rutschman, the top selection in 2019, was 2-for-2 with his first home run in the spring for the Orioles. There is no question that Rutschman will be in the middle of things for the Orioles as they look to continue their upward trajectory.
Adley being Adley pic.twitter.com/VgFNwKIbJv
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) March 2, 2023
First baseman Spencer Torkelson had one of the 12 hits for Detroit and drove in a run in a 10-3 win for the Tigers. The Tigers would love to see Torkelson start to resemble the player who hit .337 in three seasons at Arizona State. That could help the Tigers in their quest to surprise and outperform the less than stellar expectations when it comes to the MLB predictions.
Baty Swinging a Hot Bat
Brett Baty is showing up on some Rookie of the Year lists and the sportsbook prices him at +2000 to be the top rookie in the National League.
He is off to a strong start with six hits in his first 12 at-bats. He has three runs, scored and has driven in four others.
Some of the other young players have gotten off to a strong start. Baty looks like he is ready after playing in 11 games for the Mets last season. Baty displayed some power with 19 home runs and 49 extra-base hits in 89 games at Binghamton in the Double A Eastern League a season ago. He hit .315 in 95 minor-league games last season.
While some of the high-priced veterans have led to the MLB playoff odds listing the Mets as the favorite in the National League, Baty could give New York another top hitter to keep an eye on.
Could Dodd Get the Nod?
The Atlanta Braves had two of the best rookies in the major leagues last year as outfielder Michael Harris was the National League Rookie of the Year and infielder Vaughn Grissom hit .291 in 41 games.
Another talented youngster is off to a blazing start for the Braves.
Dylan Dodd, a third-round pick by Atlanta in the 2021 MLB Draft, has seven strikeouts and no walks in 4⅓ innings over his first two appearances.
The 24-year-old lefty was 12-9 while making 26 starts for three different minor league teams.
Even though only one of those games came at the AAA level, he could make it hard for the Braves to send him down to the minors.
Today’s defensive player to watch is … Michael Harris of the Braves
Tied for 4th in Defensive Runs Saved by a CF last season
Wouldn’t be surprising if he led MLB CF in 2023
His highlight reel is 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/LuzxHgJXl5
— SIS_Baseball (@sis_baseball) February 28, 2023
Walker Off and Running
Jordan Walker is second only to Arizona’s Corbin Carroll in the National League Rookie of the Year odds according to Las Vegas MLB odds.
Walker is living up to the hype so far for the St. Louis Cardinals as two of his first three hits in spring training games went for extra bases.
Walker is doing everything he can to be penciled in at left field for the Cardinals.
He is coming off a sensational 2022 season at AA Springfield last year with 100 runs, 31 doubles, 19 home runs and 22 stolen bases in 119 games while hitting .306.
Kikuchi Letting It Rip
There’s never been a question that Yusei Kikuchi has swing-and-miss stuff.
The 31-year-old lefty had 124 strikeouts in 100.2 innings in his first season with the Toronto Blue Jays.
His control was an issue with 58 walks in those 32 games during the 2022 season.
He has pitched four innings in his first two starts in the spring. He has allowed just one hit with seven strikeouts. Most importantly, he has walked just one batter.