Friday's top Spring Training prospect performers

April 2nd, 2022

Here's a look at Friday’s top performers at Spring Training from each team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Tigers: Riley Greene, OF (MLB No. 5)
Even though Greene’s day ended abruptly after he fouled a ball off his foot, the Tigers’ No. 2 prospect flexed his power off Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in his lone at-bat with a 404-foot triple, the longest hit of the game for either team. Greene smoked the 1-2 changeup at an exit velo of 102.3 mph, and he was easily able to leg out his second triple of spring after it bounced off the wall in left-center, and he came around to score several batters later. The 21-year-old has received the bulk of the playing time in center field in Spring Training, so if his foot is okay, he seems poised to crack the Opening Day roster.

Cardinals: Matthew Liberatore, LHP (MLB No. 43)
Luken Baker, 1B (No. 17)
Connor Thomas, LHP (No. 20)

A trio of prospects all stood out for the Cards in their spring contest against the Mets. It wasn’t the prettiest outing for Liberatore, but he was able to keep runs off the board in his 2 1/3 innings of relief. He worked around two hits and three walks as he fanned two batters, both on sliders, one swinging and one looking, though he needed 53 pitches to do it. St. Louis’ third-ranked prospect will start the season in Triple-A after the uneven outing.

Coming off a breakout year in terms of power, Baker clubbed his first homer of the spring and added a single and two runs scored to his 2-for-4 day. The 25-year-old took a slider from Adam Ottavino and parked it 379 feet over the left field fence, the longest hit of the day for either team. Baker clubbed a career-high 26 long balls last season in Double-A, far surpassing his previous high of 10. He ended the 2021 season with a brief stint in Triple-A, so it stands to reason that he’ll start the season there in 2022 after collecting six hits in seven spring games.

Thomas threw two perfect innings as the starter of the contest, mowing down six Major League starters in order on just 16 pitches, 12 of them going for strikes. The 23-year-old southpaw had a so-so performance in Double-A last year but began to click in Triple-A, posting a 3.10 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 30 walks in 101 2/3 innings, good for the second-best ERA in Triple-A East among pitchers with at least 100 innings.

Angels: Michael Stefanic, 2B (No. 27)
Stefanic has been on fire this spring and continued to roll with a 2-for-3 day, tallying a double, a single and a walk before being pinch-run for in the eighth inning. In 11 Spring Training games, Stefanic is 8-for-19 with four doubles, six walks and two stolen bases. The 26-year-old went undrafted in 2018 but after signing with the Angels, he has hit at every level. In 2021, Stefanic batted .336 with a .901 OPS, hitting 17 home runs and 26 doubles. His performance this spring has garnered him consideration to crack the Angels’ Opening Day roster.

Athletics: Kevin Smith, SS/3B (No. 16)
Denzel Clarke, OF (No. 17)

Smith recently joined the A’s after their flurry of offseason trades and has impressed in his brief time with the club. The 25-year-old hit his second homer of the spring -- a three-run shot off Dallas Keuchel -- and picked up RBIs on a single and a groundout to end the day 2-for-5 with five RBIs. Smith has a .281/.303/.531 slash line in 13 games this spring, and after making his MLB debut last season he figures to be a big part of Oakland’s lineup in 2022.

Clarke entered the game for Stephen Piscotty in the sixth inning and immediately left his mark on the game, slamming a three-run homer in his first plate appearance of the spring. The 21-year-old was the A’s fourth-round selection in the 2021 Draft and flashed his offensive tools in a brief stint in the Arizona Complex League. Clarke went 6-for-19 with a homer, two doubles and three walks in seven games. With an MLB ETA of 2024, he is a ways away from making his debut, but Clarke is a prospect to keep an eye on as he moves through Oakland’s system.

Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS (No. 6)
Westburg got the start at third base and stood out on both sides of the diamond, going 2-for-3 with a double at the plate and flashing the leather with a diving stop to make the first out of the ninth inning. The 23-year-old is 4-for-8 this spring while manning shortstop and third, which he did in his debut season last year. Westburg reached Double-A while posting a .285/.389/.479 slash line with 15 homers, five triples, 27 doubles, 79 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 112 games. He figures to start in Double-A this season and could make his Major league debut later this season.

Rockies: Michael Toglia, 1B (No. 8)
There’s nothing like a walk-off, even if it’s just Spring Training. With two outs and the game knotted at one, Toglia took advantage of his teammate Tim Lopes’ two-out walk and sent everybody home with a booming 103 mph double to left-center. After going down in the count 1-2, the 23-year-old fouled off two sliders before swatting the third one to the gap. It was Toglia’s third double of the spring and his fifth hit overall in 10 games as he looks to bounce back from a tough sophomore season that saw him hit .228/.333/.445 with 22 homers and 142 strikeouts in 115 games across High- and Double-A.