Most of the country is stuck in a thaw after cold weather swept across the nation. Luckily, spring training baseball is finally here to warm your heart.
Early on, there are several teams, like the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, taking on hometown colleges down in Florida. However, the real slate of games starts taking place next week, with some of the brightest young stars getting a chance to shine.
Leading up to the opening week of spring training, here's a look at the notable games and prospects to keep an eye on. Full schedule for the spring slate can be found at MLB.com.
|2015 Spring Training Opening Week Notable Games|
|March 3, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Orioles vs. Tigers|
|March 3, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Yankees vs. Phillies|
|March 3, 2015||1:07 p.m.||Pirates vs. Blue Jays|
|March 3, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Indians vs. Reds|
|March 3, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Giants vs. Athletics|
|March 4, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Tigers vs. Orioles|
|March 4, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Phillies vs. Yankees|
|March 4, 2015||3:05 p.m.||White Sox vs. Dodgers|
|March 4, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Royals vs. Rangers|
|March 4, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Padres vs. Mariners|
|March 5, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Orioles (ss) vs. Rays|
|March 5, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Yankees vs. Pirates|
|March 5, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Cubs (ss) vs. Giants|
|March 5, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Dodgers vs. White Sox|
|March 5, 2015||7:05 p.m.||Red Sox vs. Twins|
|March 6, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Marlins vs. Red Sox|
|March 6, 2015||1:05 p.m.||Nationals vs. Braves|
|March 6, 2015||3:05 p.m.||White Sox vs. Padres|
|March 6, 2015||3:05 p.m.||Reds vs. Cubs|
|March 6, 2015||3:10 p.m.||Rockies vs. Angels|
3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Now, in just his second full season with the Chicago Cubs, anything seems possible for Bryant.
First, he'll have to crack the Cubs' Opening Day roster—one that's expected to be loaded with young talent. Chicago general manager Theo Epstein spoke about just that leading up to spring training, via Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago:
Look, anyone in camp can make the team. We see (Kris) as really, really close to the big leagues. He’s a really talented player. He had a phenomenal year last year. But when we sit down with the players, we also identify the areas where they need to continue to work. And it won’t be news to Kris. ...
We love everything about him, but he’s got his work ahead of him. He’s going to have, I’m sure, a spring where he gets better. And we’ll see where we are at the end of spring training.
Regardless of where Bryant goes after the end of spring training, he has a bright future ahead of him. That future might actually be in the outfield, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reported earlier this week.
New manager Joe Maddon has some success with developing third basemen and outfielders—just take a look at Evan Longoria and Wil Myers. Where he eventually slots Bryant will likely be his most comfortable position. With all that said, Cubs fans can expect Bryant to soon become a fan favorite on the North Side.
IF Yoan Moncada, Boston Red Sox
The sweepstakes for the latest Cuban prodigy has ended, and the Boston Red Sox won. So what's next for 19-year-old Yoan Moncada? A breakout spring training would certainly ease some of the pain from his massive contract.
Hype building around Moncada hit an all-time high this offseason, with the New York Yankees losing the bidding battle to their rival. The Yankees were in need of a young power bat but simply didn't have the appeal of the Red Sox for the Cuban slugger.
Just how important was this to the Red Sox? Ben Badler of Baseball America offered his take:
Sox owner John Henry also voiced his thoughts on why getting a player of Moncada's caliber was so crucial:
No pressure, Moncada.
He'll have a chance to show out this offseason, likely getting plenty of playing time during spring training. Whether or not the Sox will put him on the fast track toward the MLB is yet to be seen, but he'll be the key piece for a franchise that has been up and down over the last three seasons.
P Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
Remember a few years ago when the Baltimore Orioles slowly brought Dylan Bundy along as one of their top prospects? That all backfired in 2013, when Bundy still suffered an elbow injury and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Now, the training wheels are completely off.
That's exactly what Buck Showalter wants with Bundy at 22 years old and having gone through a roller coaster start to his career. He's slated to start the season with the Double-A Bowie BaySox, but he won't be treated any differently during spring training, via Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports:
He's going to be treated like any other pitcher in camp, according to Showalter. No reason to hold him back any longer. He's healthy and on a regular schedule. No half-mounds for Bundy. Will his stuff be electric? It would be a shock - yes, you see what I did there - if he broke camp with the team because he's ticketed for Double-A Bowie, but it's nice to shift our focus away from his elbow surgery.
There is a lot of young talent in the AL East, and the Orioles just might still have one of the best prospects. Bundy will have the chance to prove that in Florida and work his way back into Baltimore's plans for the near future.
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