The first week of full squad practices is over and there is a lot to unpack. Coming into the season the 26-man roster almost appears to be set in stone, barring injuries or unexpectedly bad performances. I’ve attended the workouts over the past five days while Jack was there for Monday and Friday. Here’s some of the takeaways I’ve had from the week:
Ketel Marte and David Peralta are healthy
Having these two players healthy is absolutely critical for the team’s chances of making the playoffs. In the first week Marte and Peralta were both crushing balls through straightaway center (410 feet to the fence). Defensively, neither player looked limited in the looks I got in as well.
Pavin Smith had a solid showing
Between Pavin Smith and Seth Beer, I thought Smith had the better week. Smith looks like a natural 1B, although I’d rank his defense behind Christian Walker and Jake Lamb from what I’ve seen in the infield drills. Given how close the gap between the two prospects has gotten, that may be enough for Smith to get out ahead.
Zac Gallen appears primed to take that next big step
2020 will most likely be Gallen’s first full season in the majors, barring injury, so we’ll get to see what he can do over 162 games instead of about 60. Gallen was the team’s best pitcher down the stretch and could take a step forward. His change-up is elite, he generated some ugly swings from Jon Jay and Josh Rojas on the pitch on Thursday. If Gallen can command the ball better than 2019, you could make a case he could end up being the best starter in the 2020 rotation.
Josh Green is a sleeper candidate to make starts this year
Green probably isn’t very high on many prospect lists, but I’m not discounting the fact he got to AA and did well there in his first full season. Green commands 4 pitches that are at least average, albeit none are plus pitches, and generates a lot of ground ball contact. On Tuesday, Green was making mince meat out of Daulton Varsho and Josh Rojas although wasn’t as successful facing Christian Walker on Thursday.
- Emilio Vargas’ fastball definitely plays better up in the zone thanks to arm slot and spin rate. I watched him embarrass Stephen Vogt with high fastballs, he swung through two of them in the same at-bat.
- Jon Duplantier’s slider is still as good as ever, he made Christian Walker look really bad on one. Dup has altered his windup to a slower and more controlled pace, a change I think will greatly help. If you want to learn more about his offseason, I suggest reading this article from Zach Buchanan (subscription required). I have Dup 7th on the SP depth chart if he can stretch out in Reno.
- Daulton Varsho has worked exclusively with catchers, although will likely see time in the outfield at some point this Spring based on what I’ve heard from Steve Beriathume
- Rojas has worked at 2B in all the defensive drills so far this week.
Torey Lovullo’s Q&A with the Media
- Archie Bradley will be seeing multiple inning appearances in Cactus League play. Bradley won his arbitration case this week.
- Madison Bumgarner will throw at least one more time on a back field and one more bullpen before the team decides to send him out for Cactus League starts.
- The team has a contingency plan in case tomorrow’s Spring opener is rained out although Lovullo laments it as a missed day.
- Kole Calhoun, Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte, Jake Lamb, and Carson Kelly will most likely be in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s game. On a follow-up question about which position Lamb will play, Lovullo answered 3B. The final decision is typically made with about a week to go.
- Lovullo doesn’t focus on bottom-line results, but rather how players are playing the game for his Spring evaluations. The examples he lists include footwork, how the hands are moving in a swing, breaks in the outfield, and the shapes of certain pitches.
Jack had the chance to record both Torey Lovullo and Archie Bradley after the workout. You can listen to the full audio down below.