By: Noah Wright
Spring training is a time to see previews from what you’re going to see from some of your major league players, and a time to watch position battles take place. It’s also the time to watch those on the fringe potentially make a run at a spot on the big league roster. So let’s take a look at some of these players who are making that final run for the 25th spot on the MLB roster.
- Greg Bird (1B):
Greg Bird was seen as the first baseman of the future for the Yankees as early as the beginning of last season. However, that’s been put into question. Bird hasn’t had even average production at the plate the last 2 seasons. He’s also struggled to stay healthy, only having played 176 career MLB games through 3 seasons. He even missed the entire 2016 season because of injury. After Luke Voit’s breakout in 2018, Bird was pushed down in the depth chart, and was likely going to be optioned to Triple-A to start the season. However, Bird has been doing everything in his power to prevent that from happening. This spring, Bird has slashed a very good .342/.479/.658 in 48 plate appearances. He’s even blasted 3 home runs in his spring training time. Greg Bird’s spring training just might prevent him from being optioned to start the year out.
- Rowdy Tellez (1B/DH):
Tellz is the Blue Jays top first base prospect. He may not be a slugger like Vlad Jr., but he definitely has a powerful bat. During his brief MLB appearance last year, Tellez smacked 4 home runs in 73 plate appearances. The slugger had also rounded up 9 doubles. This spring, Tellez has hit very well with a .277/.306/.553 line in 49 plate appearances. He’s hit 4 home runs in that time as well. However, he may find it hard to find playing time to start the season, as the Jays already have Kendrys Morales at DH, and Justin Smoak at first base. However, with Morales not being the player the Jays hoped he’d be, ans Smoak being on the last year of his deal, Tellez could find regular playing time when summer hits.
- Dominic Smith (1B/LF):
Smith’s career has kind of went the way of Greg Bird’s. Once considered the future of 1B for the NY Mets, he steadily rose through the minors. Once he reached the majors, he never put up consistent good performance. Last year, Smith struggled in the majors, having a .675 OPS in 149 PA’s. Smith has been overpassed by another top prospect in the Mets’ organization, Peter Alonso, but that doesn’t mean Smith is out of a job completely. Dom has batted an impressive .349/.403/.465 in spring training thus far in 48 PA’s. Given the health inconsistencies the Mets suffer, Smith might open the season on the roster with corner infielder Todd Frazier likely to start on the DL.
- Ildemaro Vargas (INF):
Ildemaro Vargas is what you would consider a career minor league player. He was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2008, but has just made his MLB debut in 2017 with the Diamondbacks. Vargas is in spring training with the Arizona D-Backs, and he’s giving it a push for a bench spot. He’s collected 21 hits over 56 plate appearances along with 3 walks. He currently has a .396/.429/.528 line. How much the D-Backs trust Wilmer Flores at second base is unknown, but Vargas could leave camp with the MLB team.
- Luis Cessa (RHP):
Cesa has never been any sort of big time pitcher. He’s never done very good, and he’s always just been the guy who bounces between AAA and the MLB every season. This spring training has been pretty impressive for Cesa, who could now be looking at a spot in the rotation after ace Luis Severino, and veteran left hander CC Sabathia will start the year on the DL. Through his 17 ST innings, Cesa has posted a .53 ERA, 1.22 FIP, and .588 WHIP. Cesa has walked just 1 batter all spring, and 9 hits.