MLB Spring Training officially kicked off on February 24, with one exhibition between the Red Sox and Northeastern and two Cactus League games. Many of each teams’ regulars took the field for their first action, as did one of the game’s top prospects. Here’s a a closer look at how the first day of Spring Training shook out.
Yoshida Takes the Stage
The Red Sox took on Northeastern University in Boston’s first Spring Training game of 2023, Many of Boston’s regular position players started in the first game, including newcomer Masataka Yoshida. Yoshida went 0-1 with a sacrifice fly that gave him his first RBI of the spring. Boston wound up winning 5-3 in a seven-inning affair.
The Italian Nightmare Belts His First
It didn’t take long for one of the MLB’s rookie standouts from 2022 to hit his first home run of Spring Training. Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino went 2-2 with a home run, a deep blast to right field. Pasquantino, who we have listed as one of the top ten best first basemen in fantasy, recorded an impressive .960 OPS over the final two months of the 2022 season.
Kansas City defeated the Rangers 6-5.
Seattle defeated the San Diego Padres in both teams’ first Spring Training game, but the attention went to two of San Diego’s infielders. One of those names was Jackson Merrill, arguably the top prospect in the Padres farm system. Merrill went 3-3 in the first game of the year, after the shortstop came in to replace newcomer Xander Bogaerts.
The young infielder should be a key piece of San Diego’s future, especially if Manny Machado departs in free agency later this year. Speaking of Machado, the third baseman became the first victim of MLB’s new change-of-pace rules. Machado received a violation for taking too long to step into the box in first AB, which caused him to start the count 0-1.
One other note to watch this spring is the length of games. The Mariners-Padres game went 2:29, while the Rangers-Royals exhibition took two hours and 33 minutes to complete. Considering that the average length of a game last year was over three hours, that’s not a bad start.