The 2015 spring schedule comes to an end in the desert as the Cactus league comes to an end this weekend. As we put together our final spring training report on the 15 teams that play in the Cactus league the Oakland A’s sit atop the standings with an impressive 22-9 record.
The A’s also own the more impressive stat line of the spring as well. The A’s have outscored their opponents by 64 runs in those 31 games. The next closest team in the Cactus league was the Los Angeles Dodgers who outscored their opponents by 45 runs. Along with their impressive record the A’s have been red hot this spring winning their last nine games.
Following the A’s in the Cactus league standings are the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. All five of these teams are projected to be playoff contenders as the season opens. On the bottom of the Cactus league the San Francisco Giants have posted just an 11-21 record after taking home the World Series crown last season. Other notable teams in the bottom include the Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.
Now as we move past the spring records since they don’t mean anything we will start to take a look around at some of the top performers of the league. The hot story line this past week was the decision of the Chicago Cubs to send top prospect Kris Bryant to minors.
Bryant led all players this spring in home runs with nine in just 14 games played. The Cubs future third baseman posted 17 hits in 40 at bats to go with the homeruns while also driving in 15 runs. Many fans and experts around the game believed Bryant would start opening night on Sunday. That wasn’t the case as the Cubs sent Bryant down buying them selves an additional year under control.
Despite the move the Cubs still look to have a solid season to open the season especially for Sunday night baseball this week. The Cubs will send out starting pitcher Jon Lester to make both his season debut as well as his Cubs debut on National television. Lester struggled this spring pitching to a 6.48 earned run average over just 8.1 innings.
Another name that comes to mind this spring is catcher Mike Zunino for the Seattle Mariners. The former first round pick has come alive this spring for the Mariners hitting .353 over 19 games including six doubles and seven home runs. Zunino could be an important piece to the Mariners puzzle this spring to help them over take the A’s as well as the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West division.
Sticking with the American League West division, Mark Canha has been a big surprise for the A’s this spring. The 25 year old first baseman has picked up 21 hits in 71 at bats including seven doubles and six home runs. Canha should be able to see some key playing time this year at both first base and designated hitter if he continues to hit like this.
On the mound the one name that has really impressed many has been Tijuan Walker for the Mariners. The Mariners starter has been dominate this spring in six starts for the club. In those six starts, Walker has thrown 25 innings allowing just one earned run bringing his spring total to just .36 in those games. Walker will add another key element to the Mariners starting rotation that already includes Felix Hernandez at the top of the rotation.
As we continue to look around the biggest news possible of the spring was released today as an arbitrator has ruled that Major League Baseball cannot suspend outfielder Josh Hamilton for his latest relapse. This means Hamilton is eligible to return to the Angels and could suit up for opening day. This decision has not sat well with the Angels front office, as many felt Hamilton deserved the suspension.
One additional young name to monitor as the season gets started is Archie Bradley for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks opened up the door over the past few days dealing Trevor Cahill for Bradley to slot into the starting rotation. Bradley has allowed just four earned runs this spring over 22.1 innings pitched for the club.
Now its time to let the real excitement begin and let the real baseball get underway on opening day!