Three Very Early Spring Training Standouts

Baseball is finally back and with the first weekend of Spring Training games in the books there have already been some notable standouts. The first few spring games always allow fans to see the results of players’ offseason work and what the top prospects on their team can do against other big leaguers and this year was no different. Several major and minor league players made strong first impressions with exceptional on-field performances so even though games just began, here are some early Spring Training standouts.

Three Very Early Spring Training Standouts

Spencer Jones: OF, NYY, AA

Spencer Jones is one of the top prospects in all of baseball and the top-ranked prospect in the New York Yankees‘ organization. Fangraphs has him ranked as the 15th-best prospect in all of baseball. The 22-year-old outfielder spent most of last season in High-A but finished the year for Double-A Somerset and while he didn’t dominate either level he showed he has the tools to be a part of the Yankees future.

This weekend he reminded everyone why he has been so highly touted by going 5-5 with a walk and a home run in his two games of action against some legitimate big league arms. Perhaps the most impressive part of that performance was his swing decisions, accumulating five hits over just 14 swings with a microscopic chase rate of 5.9%. Overall, while he may not play for the big club this year Yankees fans should look forward to seeing him develop into an impact player.

Cole Ragans: LHP, KCR, MLB

Last Year Cole Ragans showed that he has the stuff to be one of the best pitchers in the game and he looks like he’s only getting better. In his final 71.2 innings after being traded to the Kansas City Royals, he put up an impressive 2.64 ERA with a possibly even more impressive 11.2 K/9. Despite the small sample he is already considered a dark horse candidate for the AL Cy Young Award and looks to be a big part of the Royals’ future.

If the industry thought his stuff was impressive last season, the 26-year-old’s first Spring Training start would have blown them away. He threw two scoreless innings against the LA Angels and faced a lineup that included Mike TroutAnthony Rendon, and Taylor Ward among other established major leaguers, and was sensational. He struck out five hitters including Rendon on three pitches and his fastball topped out at 101 mph. In just two innings of preseason work, he has already made some of the best hitters on the planet look foolish and is a good dark horse pick for AL Cy Young honors.

James Wood: OF, WAS, AA

James Wood is one of the most exciting young prospects in all of baseball, ranking first in the Washington Nationals organization and sixth overall according to Fangraphs. The 6’6″ outfielder dominated High-A before being called up to AA where he continued to display his prolific power and impressive glove. While it doesn’t seem like he will break camp with the big league club he is still putting on a show this spring in Florida.

The 21-year-old put on a remarkable power display this weekend going 2-5 with two homers, including this 109.7 mph rocket that travelled 422 feet. Additionally, both home runs were against pitchers with major league experience making this feet even more impressive. Obviously, a 40% home run rate isn’t sustainable at any level but if the power display he’s put on early this spring is a sign of things to come the Nationals’ lineup is in very good hands.

The first week of spring is an extremely small sample but these past few days have been a great opportunity to see what the game’s best players have been working on over the offseason. If this weekend was any indication, these three players are primed to take big steps in 2024 and could be major parts of the futures of their respective organizations. While the wins and losses don’t count in the spring, player production in these games is useful for projecting individual performances so watch out for these guys as they take the field to start the regular season.

Main Image: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

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