Good Monday morning, friendly reader. It is mid-February and we have emerged from the deserts of a winter without baseball to an oasis of spring training information. Every player is in the best shape of his life, swings have been tweaked, training regimens altered, and narratives are being sculpted like the offseason body of a player entering a contract year. Slake your thirst as you drink deeply from the refreshing water of information, and prepare yourself for real baseball.
Camp has started — position players, including Nicholas Castellanos, reported on Sunday — and in these early days, visual evaluations are underway. Apparently, outfield prospect Daz Cameron is at the top of that list. Come for Anthony Fenech talking about Cameron’s grown-man body, stay for Niko Goodrum fawning over his calves. God help us if Rod Allen were still around.
Going high tech
It would seem that Rapsodo isn’t just the name of my high school Italian a capella group. This spring, everyone is extolling the virtue of the Rapsodo machines that take slow motion video of pitchers and offer instant feedback to coaching staff and players alike. Prospect Casey Mize, in particular, seemed to be using them quite a bit last week. Manager Ron Gardenhire also spoke about the information available and how deeply the team is trying to get involved in it.
Flip the script
To say things have not gone exactly as hoped for pitching prospect Franklin Perez would be an understatement. After an injury-riddled 2018 that most would like to forget, Perez has returned for 2019. While the words “best shape of his life” aren’t being uttered here, all the language around a guy who has gotten himself into prime physical condition is being used. There are no restrictions on the young righthander, and folks are hoping to see what made him the centerpiece of the Justin Verlander trade.
Reyes back where he belongs
Remember most of last year when Victor Reyes struggled to hit major league pitching because the Tigers had to keep him on their active roster as a rule 5 pick? I do.
Well, enter 2019. In what is becoming something of a theme in this article, Reyes got himself a bit swole. He has added some weight to his frame, and has made some swing adjustments that have members of the organization pretty excited. Let’s hope Reyes is worth the 2018 he had to endure, even if he spends this season in the minors (where he ideally would have been all along).
Jeimer's a gamer
After finishing 2018 bruised and battered, third baseman Jeimer Candelario was asked by the organization to take it a little easier on himself in the offseason. After a routine that provided more rest than he was accustomed to — not to mention time spent working with Robinson Cano — Candelario returns for 2019 with an updated approach to his game that is both physical and mental. Let’s hope it pays some dividends.
A Nick in our future?
Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos reported to camp over the weekend. After an offseason in which both sides sought trade offers for the 26-year-old, Castellanos talked with the press about his status with the Tigers. Buried among the standard, “Wherever I’m playing baseball, I’m playing to win” stuff was the interesting acknowledgement that he would still be open to discussing an extension with the team. I doubt that is in the cards, but we will see how things progress in the coming months.
Eyes on the Mize
There are a lot of eyes on right-handed pitching prospect Casey Mize and how he goes about his business at spring training this year. Even if he is the first one at the facility every morning — which he contends he’s not — it’s very apparent. Mize has been investing a good deal of his time developing a new breaking pitch. It’s a slurvy offering that Mize hopes to add to his already impressive repertoire.
If nothing else, the staff and players in the organization have been impressed with his attitude and work ethic. While he definitely will not make the big league club out of spring training, he will probably be in Detroit sooner than many might expect.
Around the horn
In the interest of tracking the most important names in baseball, I can tell you that Tim Tebow has reported to camp. Along with him, the article also mentions this Vlad Guerrerro kid. The Phillies are still in the lead for Bryce Harper. Moose goes back to Milwaukee.