5 of the best team matchups in Spring Breakout

March 7th, 2024

We know the Spring Breakout concept -- series of Spring Training games pitting the best prospects from all 30 farm systems against each other from March 14-17 in stadiums across Arizona and Florida. We know its schedule. We know the rosters.

We know we want it to start tomorrow, but we’ll wait.

To whet everyone’s appetites in the meantime, here are five of the most talent-loaded matchups from the inaugural Spring Breakout.

1. Orioles @ Pirates, March 14, 7:05 p.m. ET
Watch: MLB Network, SportsNet Pittsburgh, MLB Digital platforms, ESPN+
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Talk about opening with a bang. The first matchup on the Spring Breakout schedule promises to be its most loaded. Seven of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects combined made the Orioles' and Pirates’ Breakout rosters.

The two biggest names among them -- 2023 No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes against 2022 No. 1 overall pick Jackson Holliday -- and the idea of seeing the pair face off for the second time would make this must-follow baseball. The O’s lineup should have plenty of length with potential future slugging stars like Samuel Basallo and Coby Mayo backing up Holliday in the lineup, while the Bucs could keep them at bay with an array of arms alongside Skenes in Anthony Solometo and Bubba Chandler. This is strength facing strength and just the type of dream Breakout matchup we all crave.

2. Padres @ Mariners, March 15, 4:10 p.m. ET/1:10 p.m. PT
Watch: MLB Network, Padres.TV, Root Sports, Mariners radio, SXM App, MLB Digital platforms, ESPN+
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Call this the Clash of the Complex. Seattle and San Diego share a Major League Spring Training stadium in Peoria, Ariz., so they’ll be familiar with each other.

This will be an especially fun one for fans of backstops with the chance that both Ethan Salas (Padres) and Harry Ford (Mariners) -- two of the top four prospects in MLB Pipeline’s current catcher rankings -- could be in action in the same afternoon.

San Diego also boasts an interesting plethora of arms that could throw to Salas in 2022 picks Robby Snelling and Dylan Lesko and the recently acquired Drew Thorpe, and in fact, each of the Padres’ Top 14 prospects are on the initial Breakout roster. M’s officials, who are sending each of their Top 10 talents, will have some hard choices to make in the middle of the infield as they decide how to divide up playing time between above-average-to-plus hitters Cole Young, Colt Emerson, Felnin Celesten and Michael Arroyo.

3. Nationals @ Mets, March 15, 3:10 p.m. ET
Watch: SNY, MLB Digital platforms, Nats.com (audio), ESPN+
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Division rivalries can start anywhere, anytime, so why not in the Spring Breakout? The Nationals and Mets farm systems both find themselves in interesting places entering 2024. Washington is still in the midst of its rebuild but got a big boost from 2023 No. 2 overall pick Dylan Crews. The former LSU star has already shared the grass with potential five-tool talent James Wood, and this matchup remains a perfect chance to spotlight them again, potentially alongside other interesting outfielders in Elijah Green, Daylen Lile, Robert Hassell III or Cristhian Vaquero.

The Mets got their own infusion of talent when Luisangel Acuña and Drew Gilbert joined in trades involving Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at last year’s Deadline, while 2022 first-rounder Jett Williams is coming off a breakout season that saw him post a .425 OBP with 45 steals across three levels. New York pitchers Blade Tidwell, Brandon Sproat, Dominic Hamel and Tyler Stuart, among others, could use the exhibition as an audition for a future spot in Queens.

4. Rays @ Twins, March 16, 4:05 p.m. ET
Watch: MLB Digital platforms, Bally Sports Sun, Rays audio webcast, ESPN+
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Twins fans might be dying for the chance to see 2023 top pick Walker Jenkins share an outfield grass with No. 3 prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez and the newly acquired Gabriel Gonzalez, while also getting a closer look at shortstop Brooks Lee ahead of a potential MLB debut early in ’24. The potential for a lineup of four Top 100 prospects is just too enticing, and it’s worth noting that David Festa, Marco Raya and Charlee Soto -- the organization’s top three arms -- made the Breakout cut as well.

On the Rays side, Tampa Bay has the chance to load up the infield with Top 100 prospects Carson Williams and Xavier Isaac and 2023 first-rounder Brayden Taylor. No. 12 prospect Chandler Simpson could also use this as the perfect showcase for his 80-grade speed after he tied for the Minor League lead with 94 stolen bases in 2023.

5. Diamondbacks @ Rockies, March 16, 7:10 p.m. ET
Watch: MLB Network, MLB Digital Platforms, Rockies.TV, ESPN+
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Like the Padres and Mariners, these are another pair of clubs that share a Spring Training facility in Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and both organizations understood the Spring Breakout assignment to load up their rosters.

Arizona is sending each of its top 16 prospects, including all three Top 100 talents in shortstop Jordan Lawlar, shortstop Tommy Troy and outfielder Druw Jones. The Rockies are sending 16 of their Top 18 prospects from MLB Pipeline’s updated list, and they one-up their NL West brethren with four players from the Top 100: middle infielder Adael Amador, right-hander Chase Dollander and outfielders Yanquiel Fernandez and Jordan Beck.

Time to settle some bragging rights in the desert. That is, until the next Spring Breakout.