Must-see moments from first full Spring Training slate

February 26th, 2023

The long-anticipated first full day of Spring Training games delivered mammoth home runs, impressive debuts from players suiting up for new teams and tremendous performances from top prospects looking to leave their mark during Cactus League and Grapefruit League action.

Here's a look at the best of the best from an eventful Saturday in Arizona and Florida:

Mets at Astros
MLB’s No. 21 prospect Brett Baty provided the first homer of the day in his first Spring Training at-bat. The 23-year-old slugged a two-run shot to center field off the Astros’ Brandon Bielak in the first inning. Baty, who homered in his first at-bat in the Majors last season, is vying to be the Mets’ starting third baseman on Opening Day.

In the home dugout, José Abreu had what he described as a “very weird” debut with the Houston Astros.

Nationals at Cardinals
MacKenzie Gore was acquired by Washington at the 2022 Trade Deadline as a key part of the Juan Soto trade. He got the start in his Nats debut Saturday, pitching one scoreless inning with a strikeout.

Blue Jays at Pirates
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. absolutely teed off against the Pirates’ David Bednar, punctuating a 432-foot homer with a sweet bat flip.

On the mound, new-look southpaw Yusei Kikuchi was the star of Toronto’s Spring Training opener as he battles to grab a spot in the Jays' starting rotation.

Twins at Orioles
The kids are alright in Baltimore. Heston Kjerstad, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 Draft and reigning Arizona Fall League MVP, went deep twice on Saturday. His second dinger came in the seventh inning, which was also when the No. 1 pick in the '22 Draft, Jackson Holliday, laced a double in his first career Spring Training plate appearance.

Holliday came around to score and Kjerstad went 3-for-3 on the day in the Orioles' 10-5 victory.

Rays at Twins
The Twins appear to be in midseason form. Right-hander Jhoan Duran, MLB Now's No. 5 relief pitcher entering the spring, threw a perfect 10-pitch top of the second inning with his typically nasty stuff. Duran threw four four-seam fastballs Saturday, and each of them clocked in at 101 mph or faster.

Minnesota’s offense then batted around in the bottom of the inning, putting six runs on the scoreboard as part of an 8-4 win in which right-hander Kenta Maeda looked sharp in his first game action since August of 2021.

Phillies at Tigers
The Tigers turned a 6-3-5-2 triple play to end the top of the seventh inning. This game wasn’t televised, but Detroit’s social media team did its best to recreate the magic.

Red Sox at Braves
The conclusion of this game saw the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the game tied, 6-6. On a 3-2 count, Atlanta’s Cal Conley did not have both feet in the batter’s box and his eyes on Boston reliever Robert Kwiatkowski when the pitch timer reached eight seconds, resulting in an automatic strike on a 3-2 pitch.

Yankees at Phillies
Yankees star prospect Jasson Domínguez is known in the baseball world as "the Martian". His home run Saturday didn’t quite land on Mars, but Domínguez did turn this sinker into a temporary UFO against the Phillies.

Guardians at Reds
Cincinnati’s No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline delivered the biggest hit in this game -- Matt McLain belted a walk-off homer in the ninth inning to lift the Reds to a 4-3 win.

D-backs at A’s
Gabriel Moreno is the D-backs’ catcher of the future following a blockbuster offseason trade with the Blue Jays. The future looks mighty bright for the 23-year-old, especially if he can tap into his power like he did Saturday. Moreno, who hit one homer in 69 big league at-bats last year, opened his spring season with this two-run, line-drive dinger.

Rockies at D-backs
The other player whom Arizona acquired in the aforementioned trade was outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. He went deep in the fifth inning.

Rockies outfielder Zac Veen, the No. 27 prospect in MLB, did something Saturday that only one Rockie did all of last year: hit a ball 115 mph. That feat came on an RBI double in the sixth inning. For reference, that would have ranked as the 20th-hardest batted ball last season.

Veen then followed that up in the eighth with a solo blast to right field.

Giants at Cubs
Casey Schmitt, San Francisco’s No. 6 prospect per MLB Pipeline, demonstrated why he was named to the 2022 MLB Pipeline All-Defensive Team at third base, making a diving grab down the third-base line before firing to first to get Brennen Davis in the second inning.

But Schmitt wasn’t done, shining at the plate with a long solo homer to left field in the fourth inning, going back-to-back with Blake Sabol, who launched a two-run shot to put the Giants ahead.

Also notable from this game: 16,152 fans were in attendance at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., setting a new Cactus League record.

Royals at Rangers
Nathan Eovaldi looked sharp in his first appearance as a Ranger. The righty -- who signed a two-year deal this offseason -- tossed two perfect innings and struck out four in his start Saturday.

Padres at White Sox
David Dahl, a former All-Star outfielder with the Rockies who is trying to make the Opening Day roster with the Padres, helped his cause with a triple and a diving catch during San Diego's 6-2 win over Chicago.

Angels at Mariners
The M’s scored only one run against the Halos on Saturday, but that run came courtesy of a fifth-inning homer to dead-center field by Seattle’s No. 21 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Cade Marlowe.

Dodgers at Brewers
Freddie Freeman is getting ready to play for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic next month. If his second plate appearance Saturday is any indication, he's ready.

However, Garrett Mitchell did one better than Los Angeles’ All-Star first baseman. Mitchell, who ended last season as Milwaukee’s No. 5 prospect, clobbered two impressive home runs -- one to the opposite field and one over the batter’s eye in center.

Marlins at Mets
Jose Butto, the Mets' No. 15 prospect per MLB Pipeline, started and struck out the first four batters he faced. In the bottom of the second inning, Pete Alonso crushed his first homer of the spring. New York's bullpen was stingy from there, with eight pitchers combining to yield just one run over 7 2/3 frames in a 5-2 victory.