As the calendar moves closer to Opening Day, rosters in big league camp will get whittled down to those who will break camp on the Major League roster. Over the first couple of weeks, however, many Minor Leaguers made a stamp on the camps they were in.
"These kids are nervous. I don't think they doubt their abilities, but they want to make an impression," said veteran Jacque Jones, who was referring to Twins prospect Ben Revere specifically, but who could have easily been talking about any prospects in big league camps. "They know they're being judged. They know they're being scouted, graded based on how they do in Spring Training. It's not going to make or break them, but everybody wants to make a good impression."
Revere is participating in his first big league camp, and while the 2007 first-round Draft pick has slowed down of late, he's drawn rave reviews for his energy, his speed and his ability to consistently make hard contact. Taking advantage of Denard Span not having a backup in camp, he was leading the Twins with 32 Grapefruit League at-bats as of Friday, and had collected nine hits, a .281 average hurt mostly by a recent 0-for-6 stretch.
Revere is one prospect who wasn't around trying to make a Major League roster. He knows he'll head to Double-A when the time comes. The Cubs' Tyler Colvin is in the same boat. The 2006 first-rounder doesn't have a real shot at cracking the outfield in Wrigley, but rest assured his performance in the Cactus League will leave the big league staff more confident in calling him up during the season, should the need arise.
Colvin's picked up 34 at-bats this spring and banged out 17 hits for a robust .500 average. His 25 total bases as of Friday put him in a tie for sixth among all Spring Training hitters.
... IN WITH THE NEW
|2||Fernando Martinez (NYM)||31|
|6||Tyler Colvin (CHC)||25|
|11||Josh Reddick (BOS)||24|
|13||Rusty Ryal (ARI)||23|
|15||Cole Gillespie (ARI)||22|
|16||Austin Jackson (DET)||22|
|25||Matt Tuiasosopo (SEA)||21|
|30||Ike Davis (NYM)||20|
|31||Ian Desmond (WAS)||20|
Starlin Castro of the Cubs, MLB.com's No. 22 prospect, is also Triple-A bound. But after going 11-for-25 (.440) in Cactus League play, it's not a reach to think Cubs fans will be seeing him up in Chicago at some point this year.
And what of the pair of Mets who have been scorching the ball this spring? Is what Fernando Martinez is doing (16-for-32, 1.439 OPS) just a small sample size, or is it a sign, combined with his very strong showing in Winter League play, that the outfielder has started to figure some things out?
There's no room, it seems, in the outfield right now, but if Martinez goes down and rakes like this in Triple-A, the Mets will be hard-pressed to keep him down.
Ditto with first baseman Ike Davis, who was trying to sneak into big league plans. He's gone 11-for-22 with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs. One has to think Daniel Murphy will be looking over his shoulder right from the get-go.
Other top prospects who have continued to open some eyes this spring, even if they're headed to the Minors, are No. 3 prospect Mike Stanton of the Marlins (8-for-19, three homers), No. 4 Buster Posey (.375) and No. 14 Domonic Brown of the Phillies (10-for-24, two homers).
Then, of course, there are the young players who came into spring with what could have been perceived as more pressure in the form of having, or competing for, a big league job.
That list has to start with top propsect Jason Heyward. All he's done is put himself in a strong position to claim the Braves' right-field job by going 11-for-25 (.440) this spring. His batting practice sessions are already the stuff legends are made from.
No. 12 prospect Alcides Escobar has made the Brewers look wise in handing him the shortstop job by going 13-for-32 (.406) in 10 Cactus League games.
Shortstop seems to be a popular position for prospects this spring. Tommy Manzella has been surprising with the bat, hitting .310 in 10 games with the Astros, with a pair of doubles and a homer. Ian Desmond doesn't necessarily have a job with the Nationals, but he's making their decision tougher by going 12-for-31 (.387) with 11 RBIs over 12 games.
All this talk of hitters does not mean there haven't been pitchers who have stood out. Everyone knows all about what No. 2 prospect Stephen Strasburg has done thus far, including striking out eight over four innings for the Nats on Friday night. Aroldis Chapman has lived up to the hype nearly as much, allowing one run while striking out 10 over seven innings with the Reds. After going 5 1/3 scoreless on Friday night, O's lefty, and No. 5 prospect, Brian Matusz has a 2.51 ERA and 18 K's over 14 1/3 IP.
The Mets' top pitching prospect, Jennry Mejia, has impressed not just with his 1.93 ERA over five outings, but considering that command has been an issue, the Mets must love that he's walked just one and struck out eight over 9 1/3 innings this spring. Cards lefty Jaime Garcia is in the hunt for the No. 5 starter job, and he's helped his cause with a 1.04 ERA and 12 strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings.
Even in the case where a much-ballyhooed prospect has struggled, there's promise to be found.
Madison Bumgarner, No. 10 on the Top 50, has allowed five earned runs over seven innings thus far in his attempt to win the No. 5 spot in the rotation. What's worse, the San Francisco prospect has walked seven and struck out none. But Giants fans can take solace in the fact that reliever Dan Runzler hasn't allowed an earned run and struck out nine -- while walking just one -- over 4 2/3 innings, or in much less-heralded starter Kevin Pucetas, who has tossed nine scoreless innings, while allowing only three hits, in four Cactus League outings. He might be worth watching as a dark horse in that No. 5 starter competition.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.