Five A's players who have made biggest impressions in spring
The A’s have reached the halfway point of their 32-game Cactus League schedule, making it a good time to check on which players have done the most to boost their stock. It’s risky to read too much into exhibition numbers, but four of the five players listed here have limited (or no) big league experience, so their performance in March means something when evaluating them.
Here’s five who have done the most to help themselves …
It’s not like Healy is on the roster bubble or anything. What he’s trying to prove is that he’s worthy of being in the lineup every day. Healy has no set position — he’ll play first against lefties, see time at DH and spell Trevor Plouffe at third. He’s doing everything he can to show he should be playing — somewhere — regularly, hitting .280 with a team-high 10 RBI in the nine games he’s been in.
Healy plays well with a chip on his shoulder — he tore up minor league pitching last year to prove he was worthy of the bigs. Now he’s got another goal to strive for — show the A’s they can’t do without him.
To this point the right-hander looks on track to sew up a rotation spot. The A’s will be without the injured Sonny Gray for most of April if not longer, a major hit to their rotation. A healthy and consistent Hahn would help stabilize things.
In four appearances, including an unofficial game against Team Italy, he’s allowed three runs in 11 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and two walks. A key has been his two-seam fastball which seems to have regained its sink. Manager Bob Melvin says Hahn can afford to lose a tick off his mid-to-high 90s velocity if it gets him more movement on his fastball.
The A’s top overall prospect, Barreto’s biggest strength is his bat. But this spring, he’s showing he can fly around the bases too. He showed terrific speed on a triple Sunday against the Cubs. Before that, he blazed down the line to beat out a routine grounder.
So far, Barreto has played both shortstop and second base in exhibitions. If he breaks through to the majors this season — a strong possibility — it will likely be at second, with Marcus Semien cemented at shortstop. With a strong first half at Triple-A Nashville, Barreto can force his way to Oakland.
Manager Bob Melvin: “Barreto seems like he gets a hit or does something productive every at-bat.”
Who? He was absolutely nowhere on the radar as the offseason played out. But Castro, a 28-year-old reliever who signed a minor league deal in December, has excelled in getting the key out in sticky situations and displaying an unusual intensity upon entering games. He has yet to give up a run, and has surrendered just one hit, in six appearances (3 2/3 IP).
Castro is a long shot to make the Opening Night roster, but he’s solidifying himself in the thoughts of team officials. Melvin, after calling on Castro in an early exhibition: “He had more to say on the mound when he came in than I did. I leave it to him, he is fired up. It’s good to see.”
Alejandro De Aza
You’ve heard his name before when he’s played against the A’s. Now De Aza, a non-roster invitee to camp, is putting up a strong case to make the club as a fifth outfielder. He’s a smart, experienced player who knows how to handle the bat and can play all three outfield positions.
He’s also displayed an accurate throwing arm and cut down a couple runners on the bases. The A’s need a reliable defender who can play center field and give Rajai Davis the occasional break. This nine-year veteran could be that guy.