This will be my first eXtended Spring Training report in a couple weeks. The Williamsport and Gulf Coast teams seem to be taking shape. With most of the rehabbing players having returned to their assigned teams, I have been watching prospects more than watching games. I have been concentrating on players like Cord Sandberg and Trey Williams. Williams has been playing first base every game but only recently started taking in-game at bats again. He went 1 for 4 today with a double. His defense has consistently improved since the beginning of camp.
Sandberg went 0 for 1, but what a day. He worked an 8-pitch walk in the 1st inning after falling behind 1-2. In the 3rd inning he grounded out to second in a 6-pitch at bat. He saw 7 pitches while working a walk in the 5th inning. He finished with a 5-pitch at bat in the 8th inning when he was he by a pitch and loaded the bases. After a line drive double play left second base open, he stole the base.
I really like the way Sandberg plays the game. Last season in the GCL, he compiled a slash of .207/.313/.272/.585. He walked 24 times and struck out 36 times in 169 at bats. He had 6 extra base hits, 4 steals in 7 attempts, and played errorless outfield in both center and left (and maybe right). He displayed quickness in the field, on the bases, and at the plate – he was never adverse to dropping a bunt when the opposition gave it to him.
Sandberg has continued the same level of play this spring. He has been the lead off hitter on most days. He has shown increased patience at the plate. Earlier in XST, I wasn’t sure he would make the Williamsport roster this season – not because of his play, but because it’s not always clear how quickly the organization will decide to develop a player. Today, I overheard that he is hitting around .360 this spring. Now, I don’t see how they can keep him off the roster.
Sandberg could be part of an interesting outfield that would include Herlis Rodriguez, Jose Pujols, and Jake Sweaney. One of Gustavo Martinez (who might start on the DL) or Justin Parr could fill out the outfield contingent.
The infield could include Williams, Jair Morelos, Grenny Cumana, Jan Hernandez, Hugo Arrocha, and Robinson Torres. William Cuicas and Olvy Marte could also be in the middle infield mix. Williams and Hernandez would seem to be locks.
The remaining pitching positions that aren’t filled from the draft could come from Rivar Angulo, Manny Martinez, Ricardo Pinto, Gregorio Santos, and Jorge Serrano. David Whitehead has started pitching in games and could also be headed to Williamsport.
I’m going to continue devoting most of my time to watching this group up until they break camp on June 4th.