Sire of Fort Myers Update and Spring Highlights
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (photo of Ryan LaMarre)In case you missed it, here’s my introductory post regarding the title of Sire of Fort Myers. Basically, the goal is to crown the player who had the most impressive spring. The caveat being that player has to either have never played in the major leagues or not be on the 40-man roster.
This is not about identifying the player most likely to break camp with the team, or the player who has the highest upside. It’s all about performance. The mantra this time of year is “spring training stats don’t matter.” That’s definitely in the case of established major leaguers, but there are some players who have something to gain from a strong spring.
Earlier this week, the Twins added another candidate for the crown into the fold. New Twin Jake Cave qualifies, since he has yet to appear in the majors. Cave was acquired from the Yankees in exchange for 19-year-old pitcher Luis Gil.
Cave went 0-for-3 in his spring debut with the Twins and was hitting just .158/.304/.211 with the Yankees. So while he’s a technically a candidate, he’s not a contender at this time. Who is? Well, here’s what I figure are the top five frontrunners for Sire of Fort Myers.
This guy has been incredible. LaMarre is hitting .500 with a slugging percentage of .857. He’s leading the team in hits, total bases, RBIs and runs scored. Among all hitters with at least 30 plate appearances this spring, LaMarre’s 1.357 OPS ranks 11th. Back in 2014, LaMarre successfully recovered from the same surgery that Miguel Sano is recovering from this spring.
Wow. Romero has logged eight no-hit innings in big league camp with eight strikeouts against just one walk. He was optioned to minor league camp, so it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll appear in another office spring game, but he still has to be considered among the favorites. How does Romero fit into the big picture? Cody did an excellent job of addressing that question earlier this week.
Wade is getting plenty of looks down in Fort Myers, despite the fact that the Twins have no lack of outfield options in camp. The only non-roster player with more plate appearances than Wade are former major leaguers Chris Heisey and Gregorio Petit. Wade is hitting an impressive .304/.469/.391 and has a team-high eight walks.
Another key contributor to last year’s Chattanooga Lookouts club, Gordon has also been making the most of his opportunities. He’s hitting .409/.435/.636 and is tied for fourth on the team in total bases. He’s been making hard contact all spring and has flashed his speed on the basepaths, hitting a pair of triples.
Kinley is getting a lot of work this spring, which is no surprise given the fact he was a Rule 5 pick. Only six pitchers have topped his eight innings pitched, and he’s second on the team with nine strikeouts. His near triple-digit fastball and 90 mph slider have turned heads, but he has also walked five batters and given up seven hits in eight innings pitched.
Erick Aybar is hitting .296/.321/.407 and looks like he has plenty left in the tank. He figures to get a lot of playing time in the final week of spring. Brock Stassi has had a strong showing, hitting .429/.500/.476. Bobby Wilson, favorite to fill the third catcher spot, hit a home run off Masahiro Tanaka. Zack Littell looked great, but with just five innings pitched he’s on the outside looking in. Jake Reed has a 1.50 ERA and eight strikeouts over six innings, but he also has a 1.82 WHIP.
Here’s a package of highlights from the past couple weeks of spring training action, featuring a couple of these Sire of Fort Myers candidates. Someone who hasn’t been mentioned yet is catcher Willians Astudillo. He has just a .330 OPS in 16 plate appearances, but you gotta see the no-look pickoff, which is featured at about the 15-second mark.