5 early Spring Training stats that stand out

March 3rd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It’s March. Let’s overreact.

Spring Training numbers are meant to mislead you, but it all depends on whom we’re talking about.

Veteran numbers can catch your eye and drop hints, but not much more. For prospects, or big league players trying to bounce back from a down year, seeing some real numbers helps to add some valuable reality to their projections.

Here are some early numbers that just might matter… maybe.

1. Bo Bichette's 112-mph single (Feb. 26)

This has been lost in the shadows of Alek Manoah, Ricky Tiedemann and others who showed up to camp in the trademarked best shape of their lives, but has never looked better. The star shortstop adjusted his offseason routine to include swimming, pilates and muay thai, all with the intent of preparing his body to hold up over a full 162 games. These training styles fit Bichette’s game, specifically, because his swing relies so much on core strength and the torque of his body as it uncoils into a violent swing. This isn’t a hulking DH trying to muscle balls out with arms and shoulders alone.

An encouraging data point early on? Bichette’s 112-mph single on Feb. 26. He’s only hit seven balls harder in his career and two harder in 2023, so this is a fine place for Bichette to be in early March.

2. Orelvis Martinez flashes power with 111.2-mph double (Feb. 27)

Speaking of middle infielders with pop, No. 2 prospect might have the best raw power in this organization outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Martinez took a mistake slider on Feb. 27 and turned on it, ripping a double into left field with the bases loaded.

This was a glimpse of Martinez’s remarkable power, something that has even Blue Jays legend Edwin Encarnación buzzing in camp. This comes with all your usual prospect caveats, as Martinez still needs to prove his approach won’t be exposed by elite MLB pitching, but he could cruise past 30 homers if it all clicks.

3. Mitch White flirting with 98 mph

Something strange happened in late 2023. When most pitchers were trying to cling to their average velocity and get to the finish line before their tanks ran empty, found another gear. With Triple-A Buffalo, White started to throw harder down the stretch, posting a 1.69 ERA with 30 strikeouts over 21 1/3 innings in September. White struggled in the big leagues last season, but this was a glimpse of the “stuff” upside the Blue Jays saw from him in 2021 and years prior, before the 2022 trade with the Dodgers.

In two spring outings, White has been pumping gas, topping out at 97.8 mph. Velocity alone won’t get you far, and MLB camps are overflowing with pitchers who throw hard, but this is genuinely encouraging from White, who is being stretched out this spring but still profiles best as a multi-inning reliever. If White can maintain this velocity through Spring Training, it gives him an edge of upside that felt missing in 2023. Combine that with his spot on the 40-man roster, and it all looks like a package that could win the eighth bullpen job.

4. Setting a baseline for Chad Dallas

Access to data in the Minor Leagues gets better every year, but seeing a pitcher such as in Spring Training is always a great opportunity to set a new baseline for the new year. Dallas feels like the dark horse in the Blue Jays’ rotation depth picture, and while he still needs to start the season hot in Triple-A, the early looks have been encouraging.

Dallas isn’t going to blow anyone away -- his fastball velocity sits at 93 mph and peaked at 94.5 mph on Friday -- but he has an excellent feel for his breaking ball and isn’t shying away from big league hitters. Early readings on his fastball velocity confirm the positive reviews we’ve heard over the past year, so even after allowing some loud contact against a stacked Yankees lineup, the early looks at Dallas have only increased his stock.

5. Yimi García doesn’t waste any time, does he?

Some pitchers come into camp sitting a few ticks below their usual velocity and build. is not one of those pitchers.

Garcia has always come into camp hot, including last spring as he tried to peak early for the World Baseball Classic. On Friday against the Yankees, Garcia peaked at 98.5 mph. He threw only 10 pitches harder in all of 2023.