There was a wide variety of impressive Spring Training performances on Saturday among players trying to secure a starting role or a spot on an Opening Day roster. From a veteran returning to a former team and demonstrating he still has power in his bat, to prospects raising eyebrows with
There was a wide variety of impressive Spring Training performances on Saturday among players trying to secure a starting role or a spot on an Opening Day roster. From a veteran returning to a former team and demonstrating he still has power in his bat, to prospects raising eyebrows with their early spring success, position and roster battles continued around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
Here were some of the standouts among those vying for a job:
Matt Kemp, Dodgers, LF
Though he wasn't necessarily expected to stay with the Dodgers following a payroll-centric trade that sent him from Atlanta to Los Angeles in December, Kemp has been impressive to open Spring Training. With a two-run homer in the first inning of the Dodgers' 14-6 win over the D-backs on Saturday, Kemp is batting .308 (4-for-13) with two homers.
The 33-year-old outfielder is competing for the starting left-field job in his second stint with the Dodgers. Alvin Toles, who was 2-for-2 with a two-run triple on Saturday, as well as Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo and Trayce Thompson are Kemp's competition for the role.
Kemp slashed .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs in 115 games for Atlanta last season. In 2016, he slugged 35 homers with a 113 OPS+ in 156 games between the Padres and Braves.
Jake Peter, Dodgers, INF/OF
Peter entered camp as a non-roster invitee likely headed for Triple-A Oklahoma City, but the 24-year-old hit his third home run of Cactus League play on Saturday against the White Sox, from whom he was traded to Los Angeles in a three-team deal in January. He also tripled and owns a 1.416 OPS in 16 at-bats.
In 120 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte last season, Peter slashed .279/.344/.417 with 13 homers, nine of which came in 45 Triple-A games.
While the Dodgers are deep in the middle infield and the outfield, Peter could make a push for a roster spot should he continue to surprise at the plate.
Victor Robles, Nationals, CF
Robles went 0-for-2 in Washington's 8-1 victory over the Astros, but he made a sensational catch in left-center field to rob Alejandro Garcia of extra bases in the eighth inning. Robles sprinted toward the gap and left his feet for a full-extension diving grab, losing his cap in the process.
Robles, 20, is the Nationals' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and No. 3 overall. He's batting .316 (6-for-19) with a home run so far this spring.
Giovanny Urshela, Indians, INF
Urshela is competing for one of what will likely be three bench spots on the Tribe's Opening Day roster, and continues to help his cause, hitting his first homer of the spring in Saturday's loss to the Giants. Overall, he's hitting .533 (8-for-15).
Urshela played second base on Saturday, though he's mostly been a third baseman during his career. Jose Ramirez can play both second and third, giving Urshela an opening if he continues to hit well.
David Dahl, Rockies, OF
Dahl missed all of 2017 with a stress reaction in his rib cage, but entered camp this year vying for a spot as the club's fourth outfielder. He opened Cactus League play with an 0-for-15 slump, but has homered twice in as many games, including a solo shot to dead center field in a 6-5 Rockies loss to the Brewers on Saturday.
In 63 games during the 2016 season, Dahl was impressive, slashing .315/.359/.500 with seven home runs and five steals for Colorado. The Rockies currently have a projected Opening Day outfield of Ian Desmond (left field), Charlie Blackmon (center field) and Gerardo Parra (right field), with Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman competing with Dahl for a backup role.
With Manuel Margot in center field and William Myers having moved back to right field following San Diego's signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer, the Padres have several players vying for the starting left-field job, including Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero and Jose Pirela.
Pirela can also play second base, giving him more flexibility in a roster competition this spring. He doubled and walked in Saturday's 10-4 win over the A's. Renfroe went 2-for-4 with his second homer of the spring. Cordero went 1-for-4 with an RBI single.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.