Selecting the Mid-Spring Training All-Star Team
We've reached the midway point of spring training, and it's already been an eventful preseason as a number of players are excelling in the early going.
While the star players are in action too, spring is a time for veteran players on the fringe to push for a roster spot and prospects to show what they've got against big league talent.
Here is my take on the mid-spring training All-Star team, with a look at the players who have performed the best so far this preseason.
*All stats via Baseball-Reference.
Catcher: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves
Spring Stats: 13-for-28, 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
The 26-year-old Gattis was limited by a wrist injury last season, but he still managed to break out as he posted a .305/.389/.607 line with 18 home runs and 67 RBI in 74 games.
With Brian McCann on the shelf to open the season, Gattis has a shot at winning the backup catcher job out of camp, and if he can continue hitting he could keep his roster spot as a catcher/outfielder and power bat off the bench.
First Base: Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Spring Stats: 15-for-33, 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R
A .352/.455/.620 line with 23 home runs and 22 steals during his pro debut in 2010 put expectations through the roof for Belt.
After a rocky 2011 season, he won the everyday first base job over Aubrey Huff last spring and turned in a decent .275/.360/.421 season, hitting in the bottom half of the Giants lineup.
There's plenty of room for the 24-year-old to take the next step, and while he may never put up prolific run production numbers, he could be a solid 20/20 player on a regular basis.
Second Base: Ryan Raburn, Cleveland Indians
Spring Stats: 11-for-25, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R
A notoriously strong spring performer, Raburn has hit .298/.386/.545 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI in 325 career spring training at-bats.
After struggling to a .171/.226/.254 line with the Tigers last season, Raburn was released this past November and he signed a minor league deal with the Indians a few months later.
He was already the front-runner to land the utility infield job before camp started, so his strong spring has all but sealed his place on the Opening Day roster.
Shortstop: Tyler Pastornicky, Atlanta Braves
Spring Stats: 15-for-36, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R
Last spring, the Braves opted to turn the starting shortstop job over to 22-year-old Pastornicky when Alex Gonzalez departed in free-agency.
However, through the end of May he was hitting just .248/.281/.324 and the team sent him down the minors in favor of Andrelton Simmons.
Simmons is now a budding star and the unquestioned starting shortstop, while Pastornicky is fighting for a roster spot this spring. He's making a strong case though as he pushes Ramiro Pena for the utility infield job.
Third Base: Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Spring Stats: 8-for-23, 3 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 5 R
After a breakout season in 2011, Arenado struggled to duplicate that success while he made the jump to Double-A in 2012.
Despite that, he still put up decent numbers and remained one of the top third base prospects in baseball, and his future in Colorado is still a bright one.
With Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson holding down the fort at third base, Arenado will likely open the season in the minors, but he could take over at the hot corner for good by midseason.
Outfield: Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies
Spring Stats: 16-for-40, 2 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 15 R
Brown's star has faded significantly since he opened the 2011 season as the league's No. 4 prospect, according to Baseball America.
He has seen just 371 at-bats over the past two seasons, as injuries and offensive inconsistency have limited him. Now he's looking to secure one of the open jobs in the Philadelphia outfield.
Brown is still only 25, and he has been on a tear to open spring play, so maybe this is the year he finally realizes his vast potential.
Outfield: Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins
Spring Stats: 13-for-35, 3 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 11 R
Hicks has been one of the Twins' top prospects since being taken in the first round of the 2008 draft. He enters the 2013 season as the No. 72-ranked prospect in baseball and the No. 6-ranked prospect in the Twins' system, according to Baseball America.
His spring stats are inflated by a huge game against the Phillies, where he went 4-for-5 with three home runs and six RBI, but he's been solid nonetheless.
With Darin Mastroianni (7-for-17) hitting well this spring Hicks may have to open the season in the minors, but the center field job may be his long-term.
Outfield: Jackie Bradley, Boston Red Sox
Spring Stats: 15-for-28, 5 BB, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R
A broken wrist during his final season at South Carolina caused Bradley to slip from a likely top 10 draft spot to the supplemental round where the Red Sox snatched him up with the No. 40 pick.
With a .315/.430/.482 line and 24 steals last season, he put any concerns of a lingering injury problem behind him during his first pro season last year.
He has the makings of a future star, and he is the heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, as he'll be a free agent at the end of the season.
Designated Hitter: Jeff Baker, Texas Rangers
Spring Stats: 18-for-34, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 10 R
Baker has been one of the better utility players in baseball for the past several seasons, and he split last year between the Cubs, Tigers and Braves.
A .266/.316/.428 career hitter who is capable of playing all four infield positions and corner outfield, Baker signed a minor league contract with the Rangers.
He leads all of spring training with 18 hits, and he has all but assured himself of a roster spot with his strong play this preseason.
Starting Pitcher: Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals
Spring Stats: 4 G, 9.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K
The Cardinals selected Wacha with the No. 19 overall pick in last June's draft, and he was fantastic right out of the gates with a 0.86 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 21 innings.
The 21-year-old still falls behind Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez in the Cardinals organization as far as pitching prospects go but he'll likely move quickly.
As a polished college arm, he has a chance at earning a September call-up if he can continue to dominate.
Starting Pitcher: Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
Spring Stats: 4 G, 14 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 18 K
Teheran's stock was at an all-time high entering last season after he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA as a 20-year-old in Triple-A.
With that, he was expected to contend for a rotation spot last spring, but he struggled to a 9.37 ERA in camp and opened the year in the minors.
The struggles continued in the minors, as he had had a 5.08 ERA in Triple-A and made just two major league appearances. The vast potential is still there though, and he appears to be tapping into it this spring.
Starting Pitcher: Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays
Spring Stats: 4 G, 14 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 18 K
It was Matt Moore who got all the hype last spring, but fellow pitching prospect Alex Cobb wound up turning in a similar season statistically.
Cobb opened the season in the minors, but wound up making 23 starts and went 11-9 with a 4.03 ERA. That was enough for him to clinch the No. 4 spot in the rotation heading into 2013.
If the 25-year-old can take another step forward and continue to pitch at the high level he has this spring, it would go a long way towards easing the loss of James Shields.
Starting Pitcher: Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox
Spring Stats: 4 G, 11 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 14 K
One of the pieces that Boston landed from the Dodgers in last August's blockbuster deal, Webster immediately became one of the team's top pitching prospects.
He enters the season as the No. 49-ranked prospect in baseball and the No. 4-ranked Red Sox prospect, according to Baseball America.
The right-hander went 6-9 with a 3.86 ERA in Double-A last season, and while he is not likely to win a rotation spot out of camp, he may be setting himself up to be first in line should the rotation need reinforcement.
Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians
Spring Stats: 3 G, 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
One of the best stories of this year's spring training, Kazmir has been terrific so far in has latest comeback attempt.
The 29-year-old last pitched in the majors on April 3, 2011, and he spent last season toiling in the Independent League. He has a ways to go to prove that he's back, but so far he has looked good on the comeback trail.
He's competing with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer for the team's No. 5 starter spot, and he's looked great in three outings this spring.
Closer: Donnie Joseph, Kansas City Royals
Spring Stats: 5 G, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K
A third-round pick by the Reds in 2009, Joseph was acquired from the Reds at the deadline for closer Jonathan Broxton.
In 55 minor league appearances last season, he posted a 2.33 ERA and recorded 20 saves while striking out 87 hitters in 69.2 innings of work.
The 25-year-old has the stuff to be the Royals closer of the future, and he should make his big league debut this coming season.