Category Archives: spring training

Phillip Ervin, the Reds latest-greatest hype & hope


When the Reds selected Phillip Ervin late in the first round in the 2013 MLB Draft, I kind of hitched my wagon to this guy. I really wanted him to pan out and get some time at the big league level with the Reds because instantly, he reminded me of a guy I liked a lot as a big leaguer, Ron Gant. I loved me some Ron Gant.

Today, he hit his second home run of the spring and in just a couple games he’s hitting .636 so far. If this goes on a little while longer, people are going to begin banging the drum for him to make the big league club in a hurry.

Fangraphs had a recent write-up of Ervin that I thought was good:

Ervin has an awesome set of tools, with the raw arm strength, power and running speed any organization would covet. Yet, his actions at the plate look rigid, his first step isn’t the greatest and he most likely fits best defensively in left field at the big league level, though Reds officials maintain he can fill in at center. He has stayed on track to continue climbing the ladder with above-average offensive production at each level, but his tools need to start shining through in game situations for him to realize his potential for the Reds.

I like his chances of developing power to at least an above-average level, as he has the swing and strength to lift balls to all parts of any ballpark. He’s shown a pretty good eye at the plate, but unless his game power takes off, major league pitchers will be able to pick him apart by living on the edges of the zone.

His stiff body at the plate limits his hit tool and causes many of his hardest hit balls to be yanked down the left field line. He has made up for it so far with an excellent on-base rate and avoiding strikeouts reasonably well, but his contact quality has yet to progress. He should continue getting on base via free passes because of his power threat, though it needs to be backed up by better hitting to be reliable.

Despite already reaching Double-A in 2015, Ervin has both a lot of work to do, and yet a reasonable chance of raising his stock quickly with some smoothing out of his swing. His power and speed will give him an opportunity regardless, but what he does with it will depend on his offensive tools developing consistency against advanced pitching.

Here’s a good older post that lists comps for Ervin such as Alex Ochoa, Reggie Sanders, Ian Kinsler, Mark Kotsay, and what do you know; Ron Gant himself.

Checking those box scores each day which is usually meaningless this time of year when everyone starts out in camp has been just a bit less meaningless because of Ervin. In a sea of darkness, we have Phillip Ervin for right now.

Real Live Baseball was played today


Even though the games don’t count for anything except for conversation pieces at the water cooler at work, baseball is officially unofficially back and part of our lives again.

The Reds won. Yoenis Cespedes hit a grand slam. Marcus Semien hit two bombs, including one off of Madison Bumgarner. The Pirates import went yard. Baseball things were happening.

And this is only the beginning. The weather is still awful here in Ohio but soon the snow will melt and spring will bring renewed hope and baseball games that count. And sunshine in the morning. But it would still be nice to take about three weeks off work, drive down to Florida and go to a few Spring Training camps. I’m going to do that someday if I’m ever successful enough to make it happen. That’s a big ‘if’.

Can we just sit this guy until the season begins, please?

I say this only half in jest, but seriously. For those that have serious fantasy ownership stock in Stanton (like we do), the absolute WORST thing that could happen is any injury that would cause him to miss the opener in April.

He’s fine by the way, but I hate hearing stuff like this. Makes me cringe just a little.

Mike Trout hit a Grand Slam today


This is probably a signal that there will be no lettting up in Mike Trout’s game this season. When you think back across time, a player like Trout comes along every 30 to 50 years. You better take a step back this year and enjoy the kid, because he’s probably the most amazing thing to enter the game of baseball since early 90’s Ken Griffey Jr. – and that Griffey was nothing short of hypnotizing. Can this season get underway already so we can just see what insane things Mike Trout has in store for fans of this great game?

Today, Mike Trout took a piece of James McDonald he can never have back. Of course it was a grand slam bomb to left field.

Click through the jump for the video.
Continue reading Mike Trout hit a Grand Slam today

Gregory Polanco’s nickname is ‘El Coffee’, and he went yard today


They’re calling him “El Coffee” and he’s got the twitter handle to prove it. We’re excited about Gregory Polanco – some scouts compare his big, powerful, looping swing to Darryl Strawberry.

While everyone is talking about Ryan Braun’s home run in his first spring at-bat, the one we took note of was the one hit by the youngster who wears Bucco black. Today, Polanco broke a scoreless tie against the Yankees with his first Spring Training bomb. It’s fun to think about what happens if Polanco goes nuts all spring and somehow forces the Pirates hand in putting him on the Opening Day roster. An outfield of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco could be so much damn fun.

Although it’s highly unlikely Polanco has that electric of a spring, it’s fun to hope and follow along. Almost as fun as it is to watch that home run swing over and over.

You want to see Polanco’s spring bomb? Go ahead, treat yourself. It’s been a long week. Click through the jump and we’ll show it to you.
Continue reading Gregory Polanco’s nickname is ‘El Coffee’, and he went yard today

Baseball is Back


Today, baseball returned to the field (and there was only one collegiate team in play as an opponent).

The Reds beat their friends from around the Cuyahoga 8-3. Jay Bruce was back in right field. Joey Votto manned first base. Billy Hamilton hit lead-off and played centerfield.

Even though it was a long day at work, it seemed all was once again right with the world. Spring is on it’s way. There is a new hope arriving. As the sun shined during freezing temperatures outside today, something just felt different.

That Yasiel Puig guy went 2 for 3 as well.

Bryce Harper is packed and ready for Spring Training


We aren’t that far. As bad and as brutal as February is to the baseball fan, we can make it. More tweets like this from players all around the league will be rolling in more frequently as the days roll by. Once we get to March Madness, we’ve basically made it.

And it’s good to see a player like Harper reporting for duty early. Washington Nationals position players weren’t due in until February 18th. It’s safe to assume Harper is spending his Valentines Day in route to Viera, Florida. That’s the kind of player we like – a guy who shows up early ready to dig in and work on getting better.

I love you, Kid


Bryce Harper collected three more hits today. I don’t want to jinx the kid too early or anything but he’s started spring training by going 6 for 8. He’s already in his manager’s ear about not wanting to sit. He doesn’t know these games don’t count. And this guy is too good to be true.

Keep sitting him now and again, Davey. He’ll wear himself out by July at this pace. Every spring there’s inevitably one player I really like who has a monstrous spring. Then the stats disappear in April and somehow he gets off to a really slow start. I hope this isn’t the case with Harper.

Buster Olney also said recently on his podcast (18:40 mark): “Joey Votto on Harper: Essentially, he can’t be beaten. He has a “slump proof swing.”

There are real Spring Training Baseball Games Today


It’s been a long wait and February isn’t over yet, but baseball games are going on as we speak. If you haven’t updated your MLB At Bat subscription, now is the time.

It’s days like today and times like this that I wish I was still able to play down in the warm Florida sun.

If you’re just sitting around today getting ready for the weekend, I suggest you read Pat Jordan’s post over at SB Nation about Spring Training. If you’re not ready for baseball yet you will be when you get done reading the article. It embodies everything a Spring Training story should.

The Reds and Indians kick off their spring slate at 3:00 PM today. I can almost smell the pine tar. This is a great time of year to be a baseball fan.


The Latest Bryce Harper Sports Illustrated Cover


I planned to make a trip to the book store on Friday to pick up a few 2013 Fantasy Baseball magazines. Now I’ve added this to my want list.

The most notable quote I’ve seen thus far out of the Tom Verducci story on Harper:

“I’m not going to put it my head. Sophomore slump? I was a sophomore in college and raked. Why can’t you rake in the big leagues?”

If you’re keeping score at home, this is the second Sports Illustrated cover for Harper and his first as a big leaguer.

A Great Quote by Bryce Harper shows why we Love Bryce Harper


Bryce Harper is already issuing gems for today’s diehard fan, he’s 230 pounds and he’s ready to wreck baseballs. This quote caught our eye, and it’s why we’ve loved Harper from the start. You know he means it when he says:

“I’m still 20,” he said. “I’m still young. I’m going to treat every guy on our team with respect, going to treat every guy in the other dugout with respect. I’m still that young guy out there. I’m still going to play the same game I play.”

And now the gem:

“Go out there and give 120%, play hurt, sick, on my death bed,” he said. “Go out there and work hard, play the game the right way, change nothing.”

He goes on to talk about his personal goals that he would rather not share and how autograph seekers aren’t necessarily fans. But nothing in the article tops that quote or goes further to illustrate to you how Harper’s baseball compass is aligned.

Unless this guy murders someone, there’s a good chance he could end up our favorite athlete of all time, of all time! OF ALL TIME!

Since the Super Bowl is over we turn our collective attention to spring training…

And as the first primer to the start of baseball’s preseason, we’ll update you on the spring training locations for all the teams.  Let’s start on the West coast…well Arizona is kind of just a desert, but it’s close enough.  The Reds recently moved here from Florida because trashy Arizona is better than trashy Florida. Right?


















Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Cleveland have strayed a little further west than you might think, but somebody had to do it.

Now on to the dirty South.  Old people in particular love spring training games because it feels like the old time with bleachers and $1 hot dogs.  Perfect for Florida.  Here it is.


















Hmm.  Tampa moves a little south for spring training and Miami moves a little north.  There must be something to this.  Keep counting the days until pitchers and catchers report.

H/T to MLB for the maps.

Chipper on Jason Heyward: “He’s 90 Percent Back”

The significance of us sponsoring Jason Heyward’s Baseball Reference page could mean only one thing: we felt that the man was a generational talent ready to blossom in front of our eyes last year.

He wasn’t just rewarded with our admonishment. There was another Opening Day home run. There were SportsCenter comercials. A twitter account created solely to track when he hits a home run. He became Nike’s new ‘Swingman’.

But then the struggles came, and the injuries lingered. Heyward’s sophomore campaign became one continuous desolate ruin.

By reading an article focused on the reconstruction of J-Hey by Paul Newberry, we learn that Chipper Jones seems to think the worst is behind Heyward.

“He’ll get it done. He’ll get it back. He’s 90 percent back,” Jones said.

I hope Chipper’s right. This guy has a chance to be the crown jewel of the entire league if he’s right. There’s some other interesting points in the write-up–like Heyward coming off a bit ‘snarky’ when asked about childhood memories of David Justice and Fred McGriff.

There’s also a bit where new Braves hitting coach Greg Walker mentions this:

“We went back and looked at 2010, when he was really good,” Walker said. “We said to him, ‘OK, this is what you did. You’ve done it before, so that’s you.’ We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We’re not trying to change Jason Heyward. We’re trying to get him to maximize his potential. We showed him. We filmed him and showed him what he looks like now, and how he looked in 2010. He saw the difference. To be honest with you, we haven’t made a lot of changes. We’re just trying to clean him up and get him back to where he was.”

So if you’re keeping score at home, Greg Walker and the Braves do not want to change Jason Heyward. But they want him to hit like he did in 2010.This idea is absurd, because if you saw him at the plate for much of last year, of course the Braves would like to change Jason Heyward. But you must be careful with the treatment and wording of such things around young potential stars.

And my mind shifts back to that rumor we heard way back when–when someone had said that the legendary Bobby Cox had said that Heyward was like a Ferrari: you have to be careful with them, you don’t want to dent them.