By its very definition, spring training is going to be filled with ups and downs for each major-league player, because they are all training to get their bodies back in playing shape and working on different skills when they step on the diamond.
For prospects, even though the goal is to make the big leagues, spring training is not when they should be trying to make the 25-man roster. If you go all out right out of the gate, more often than not, that's when injuries will occur.
As we dive deep into the heart of spring training, there have been a few standout prospects showing the world why they are so highly regarded, while others have struggled to get their feet under them early in the season.
Here is our prospect stock watch for the third week of spring training.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Spring stats: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
The No. 4 pick in the 2012 draft has been dazzling in five innings this spring, striking out five with three hits and one walk. He had a banner day against the Red Sox in his last outing on March 8:
Kevin Gausman shows why he is regarded so highly, K'ing both Nava and Ortiz— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) March 9, 2014
He still has to work on his slider and fastball command in the minors, but Gausman has looked more confident and comfortable with the Orioles this spring than at any point in 2013.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Spring stats: 10 G, 9-for-18 (.500 BA), 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 6 K
Speaking of the Orioles, Jonathan Schoop is showing no signs of rust after playing just 86 games last season due to a stress fracture in his back. He's been arguably the best player in camp for Baltimore, a fact that hasn't been lost on the team.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com the open competition at second base between Schoop, Ryan Flaherty and Jemile Weeks puts everyone under the microscope, and Schoop has excelled under the pressure.
"Might be continuing to make an easy decision," Showalter said of Schoop. "There's a lot of ways to look at that. I told you before, we came in here with that completely wide open there. Still is."
Schoop has filled out his frame, weighing a stout 228 pounds. This has allowed him to tap into above-average raw power that didn't often surface in previous years, giving him the potential to be at least an average second baseman in Baltimore very soon.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers
Spring stats: 9 G, 10-for-26 (.385 BA), 2 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
When the Tigers traded Prince Fielder to Texas, it was the surest sign that Nick Castellanos was going to start 2014 in the majors for Detroit. Essentially taking the place of an established star can be a lot to put on a rookie, but Castellanos has shown no signs of struggle this spring.
Always lauded for his ability to hit, Castellanos is driving the ball with authority. Even more impressive is his approach and ability to make contact, with just three strikeouts in 26 at-bats.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Spring stats: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
@JakeOdorizzi doing a nice job with his off speed stuff against the Red Sox regulars. Change ups, curveballs, at the edges— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 10, 2014
This is a case where you can't look at the numbers to get the full scope of what a player is doing.
Jake Odorizzi didn't have a stellar showing in 29.2 innings with the Rays last year; his fastball had less velocity than normal, and his off-speed stuff wasn't as crisp. Still, he's always had a great delivery and the athleticism to repeat it.
This year Odorizzi has worked on adding a split-finger pitch that he broke out against Boston on Monday. It will help him keep the ball down and generate ground balls when it's perfected. His velocity and mechanics look sharper this year, so a return to form seems to be in order.
It's a good thing, too, as the Rays will be without Jeremy Hellickson for at least the first month of the year and need someone to step into the fifth starter spot.
Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Spring stats: 9 G, 7-for-22 (.318 BA), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 8 R, 5 BB, 2 K, 6 SB
No one draws a crowd quite like Billy Hamilton, so it's good to see that Cincinnati's new leadoff hitter isn't disappointing in his new role.
The biggest concern with Hamilton has always been about his inability to hit velocity on the inner half. He's got a very slight build and doesn't have a lot of strength in his wrists, so pitchers have the chance to exploit that weakness.
But when you can run like Hamilton, sometimes just putting the ball in play is enough to get on base. He's not striking out and is 6-for-6 in stolen-base attempts this spring; that's a great recipe for him to succeed.
Oh yeah, even though he's still learning the position, Hamilton's showing improvements as a center fielder as well.
Addison Russell, SS, Oakland Athletics
Spring stats: 12 G, 7-for-25 (.280 BA), 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 3 R, 5 K, 1 SB
It's a shame that Addison Russell injured a hamstring on Monday, because he was starting to come into his own this spring.
The 20-year-old has six hits in his last 15 at-bats with two doubles and one triple. He's still perfecting his defense at shortstop, with an occasional misstep here or there, but flashing enough quickness to make up for it.
Hopefully, Russell's injury doesn't keep him out too long. He's on the cusp of playing in Oakland already—even with Jed Lowrie holding down the starting-shortstop position—and could be called up by midseason.
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
Spring stats: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K
#Astros RHP Mike Foltynewicz has worked 2.0 scoreless innings against the Tigers today. Has only allowed one runner to reach base (E5)— Houston Astros (@astros) March 5, 2014
The strikeout numbers may not be what you want to see from a pitcher who can throw 100 mph, but Mike Foltynewicz is one of the most exciting arms you could hope to watch this spring.
In fact, based on pure arm strength, Foltynewicz might be the best pitcher to watch. He's got a golden right arm and knows how to use it. He's not a finished product—still trying to find consistency with off-speed stuff and commanding the fastball—but if everything comes together, the Astros will have a top-of-the-rotation starter to pair with Mark Appel and possible 2014 No. 1 pick Carlos Rodon.
Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Spring stats: 2 G, 1-for-6 (.167 BA), 1 2B, 1 R
Forget the numbers with Taveras—at least for now. The big news is that he's playing games for the first time since last July after undergoing ankle surgery. However, he's also dealing with hamstring tightness, according to MLB.com:
The missed at-bats last year have likely pushed Taveras out of the running to be St. Louis' everyday right fielder out of camp, but he's going to be a staple in the middle of the order by midseason. Having him back is a huge boon for the Cardinals.
Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
Spring stats: 12 G, 6-for-29 (.207 BA), 2 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K
Maikel Franco is a prospect I run hot and cold on. He's got good upside with the bat thanks to plus bat speed, excellent hand-eye coordination and plus raw power. Becoming a future .280 hitter with 25-homer potential isn't out of the question for him.
However, due to limitations on the bases and in the field, Franco has to produce at the plate for him to hold any value. He's got no speed, whatsoever, making him a station-to-station runner, and he also lacks the agility to play third base.
There's enough potential in his bat to keep Franco high on prospect lists, but this spring has highlighted a lot of the deficiencies in his game.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Spring stats: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB
Just looking at the raw ingredients, Jameson Taillon checks all the boxes to be a future top-of-the-rotation starter. He's 6'6", 235 pounds with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a knee-buckling curveball.
In execution, though, Taillon always leaves you wanting more. His fastball is too straight, and there's no deception in his delivery. This makes it easy for hitters to time his pitches, which is why he hasn't struck any batters out this spring.
Not that he had much chance to make the MLB rotation out of spring training, but Taillon was officially sent down to minor-league camp prior to Monday's game.
Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, Boston Red Sox
Spring stats: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R (3 ER), 4 BB, 5 K
Anthony Ranaudo emerged from the doldrums last year to look like a real prospect for the first time since his junior season at LSU in 2010. He had a 2.96 ERA and 127-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 140 innings across two levels in 2013.
That created some buzz that he might carve out a career as a mid-rotation starter in Boston.
However, this spring has seen Ranaudo regress in spectacular fashion. His stuff doesn't look as crisp, his finish has been dreadful, and everything he has thrown has been up in the zone.
A tough BABIP day for Anthony Ranaudo, but there was too much of this, too. (The glove shows the pitch location.) pic.twitter.com/syYo3KL3bn— Brian MacPherson (@brianmacp) March 5, 2014
Other than that, Ranaudo has been dynamite. He's still an enigma, even after his successful 2013 season, and he will have to prove definitively that last year wasn't an aberration.
Note: All stats courtesy of MLB.com.
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