Spring training is a time to look into the future while also seeing what the projected team that year could look like. Since we are still in the early going, today we're going to focus on some of the top prospects and how they fared on Wednesday. First up, the number two prospect in baseball on many lists: Byron Buxton.
Buxton, 22, did not have a good beginning to his day, striking out twice against Red Sox left-hander Henry Owens (who struck out five in two innings). In his third at-bat he singled up the middle to drive home a run, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. Miguel Sano didn't bash the ball on Wednesday, but he did reach base via the walk and came around to score once. Minnesota's biggest addition this winter, 29-year-old Byung Ho Park, struck out three times in his spring debut. A bit of a learning curve is expected with Park, but if he is able to put everything together this season he could be a big force in the middle of the Twins' lineup.
Atlanta Braves prospect Mallex Smith turned in a big game in his own spring debut, going 4-for-6 with three RBI and two runs scored. Baseball's #29 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, 19-year-old shortstop Ozzie Albies, also had himself a day at the dish with a 3-for-5 showing that included a homer, three RBI and three runs scored. Power is not a tool often attributed to Albies, but he showed it off anyway.
Another highly ranked shortstop prospect, #30 Jorge Mateo of the Yankees, showed off his speed in the ninth inning with the Bronx Bombers down a run with a triple off the wall to right-center. He would score on an infield single and the Yankees ended up beating Detroit 10-9 in the bottom of the ninth. Pipeline grades Mateo's speed as an 80 on the 20-80 scale, and since this game was on MLB Network everyone was able to see his best tool.
On the mound, lefty Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays was roughed up in the sixth inning, giving up a three-run homer to center to veteran Scott Sizemore, now with the Washington Nationals. Reporters talked to Snell after the game, and he appeared unphased by the long ball. Instead, he stated that he was happy with his performance and was working on all of his pitches and seeing what the kinds of swings he was getting off of them, not necessarily going for the best results. When asked what he learned from the day's action, Snell replied jokingly, "Don't throw a changeup down the middle." Snell had a ridiculously low ERA in the minors last season at 1.41 from High-A to Triple-A and held a strikeout rate of 10.9; also very impressive. If he doesn't make the Rays' rotation out of camp, he will certainly be at the top of the depth chart in Triple-A Durham.
Orlando Arcia, another shortstop prospect from the Milwaukee Brewers' system and ranked 6th overall by Pipeline, went deep in his second at-bat of the afternoon and would finish the day 1-for-3 with two RBI. The one caveat here is that the Brewers were playing the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Another prospect playing against a college team, Patrick Wisdom of the St. Louis Cardinals, ended up 2-for-3 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored. Wisdom had an impressive Arizona Fall League, but has spent the past two seasons in Double-A Springfield, which is likely part of the reason he went undrafted in December's Rule 5 Draft. With prospects that aren't likely to make an immediate impact having limited time to make an impression on the coaching staff, Wisdom did his job with a big performance on Wednesday.