Spring Training is finally upon us today. No more of that working out and reporting stuff: actual live action. A time that brings optimism upon the minds of baseball fans across America because, as of right now, everyone is tied for first.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks the tale of the tape is no different, as they head into spring with a number of different storylines. So, as they get ready to take the field for the first time, let's take a look at a couple of them - for some of you, this may come as old news but there is plenty to watch out for this spring:
The New Guys
It's definitely clear what Kevin Towers offseason motive was, put them in a position to make a serious run at the Dodgers. With that, they went out and traded a bunch of long term prospects for players they felt could make immediate impacts for the year now in Mark Trumbo and Addison Reed.
One of the problems for the Diamondbacks last year was a lack of power. Besides Paul Goldschmidt delivering a career year, there really was no other big power bat in the lineup and it hurt them at times. To cure that, they went out and got Trumbo, a guy that can give Goldschmidt protection and one that has hit around the 30 HR range in each of the first.
However, the power is not the question that needs to be addressed in Trumbo. His liability in the field and strikeout rate are things that hinder him. The Diamondbacks believe though that the fielding can be fixed and that Trumbo can be a consistent defender. It's one thing to keep an eye on early with Trumbo in the Spring, is how comfortable he looks out in the field playing in what the Dbacks look to make his permanent home in left field.
Another big guy the Dbacks went out and got was Addison Reed, who almost seemed too necessary after the dismal performance from the bullpen last year. Reed is known as one of the better young closers in the game at 24 and being brought in will no doubt give the bullpen a big boost.
While there is still a position battle being played out between him and veteran closer JJ Putz, the position is clearly one the Dbacks want in him, considering they gave up of their top young prospects to get him. One of the positions spring training is most important for is closers, in seeing if they can get into a groove pitching wise, a consistent spring will be a welcoming sign for Reed heading into the season.
Lastly is the guy who turned out to be the last addition to the team this offseason in Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is a pretty simple piece of pie, as he has made a long crafty career out of being consistent, so most of the time you know what you're gonna get out of him. He was brought in to be back of the rotation starter, a guy they can count on to go out and eat up 7 or 8 innings a start.
One of the most underlooked aspects to Arroyos presence in the rotation will be the veteran leadership he can give to the younger guys. Like Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley, who headline a rotation that is still fairly young. If you look at it a little last year, a presence in the rotation like Arroyo was something they lacked a little.
There will be a lot of immediate pressure on the new guys this season from the fans and organization because of what was given up to get them and spring will be a fairly good first look at how they fit in.
Position Battle At Short
When asked who you prefer to start at shortstop this year for the Diamondbacks, the answer to the question can go either way. In one corner you have Didi Gregorius, who will not give them that dynamic of a bat, even though he showed flashes of it last year. He can though develop into one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball and if you want to know just how important that can be then just go take a look at that shortstop who just got extended in Atlanta.
On the other hand they have Chris Owings, who last year broke out in Triple AAA and seemed to just not stop hitting down there in Reno. Owings also carried over a little of that to the big leagues when he got called up in September, sparking this position battle. Owings is also a guy that a lot of people around baseball feel could be a surprise breakout player in the MLB this year.
It's important to watch these guys as Spring Training unfold, as the position will no doubt go to the one who has the best Spring Training. Right now, Gregorius looks to be the favorite but nothing is certain as at the beginning of last year, you would have been convinced that Gregorius had the position on lockdown for years to come.
Another Young Hotshot Pitching Prospect
Two years ago it was Trevor Bauer, last year it was Tyler Skaggs, every year the Dbacks seem to head into Spring Training with a young pitching prospect gaining the most attention. This year it's no different with the top pitching prospect in baseball trying to prove he's ready for the big league.
However, Bradley is keen on not turning out how the last two young pitchers to headline camp turned out . While both were very talented, it was evident that the amount of pressure they were putting on themselves to produce right away was affecting their pitching. Especially in Skaggs, who came into Spring Training with the mindset that it was make the rotation or bust for him.
The good sign in Bradley, one that makes you feel really good about him as a long term ace for the team, is that you get the vibe he knows the chances of him making the rotation out of the gate are slim to none but more just wants to prove that he is not far off. Especially with the Arroyo signing, At 21 years old, Bradley is a guy that feels a little more consistent and for sure than the last two prospects.
Without a doubt though it will be very intriguing to see what he's got this Spring Training. Most fans haven't got to get a real good luck at this guy pitch and haven't really gotten to see the chance to see what he can do against a big league lineup.
His first start could be March 1st, and it's one that a lot of people, including myself, have circled on their calendars...