Mar 14, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Will Middlebrooks (11) swings the bat against the Texas Rangers at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
A.J. Preller is looking like a genius so far in acquiring this “buy-low” third baseman from the Boston Red Sox. Yangervis Solarte is putting up a pretty good fight, but it will be hard to argue against Middlebrooks getting the starting third base job. Through eight games, he is hitting .375 with two home runs, two doubles, and seven runs scored. He is also slugging .708 and looking more and more like the upstart rookie star the Red Sox had in 2012 and 2013.
2. Matt Kemp
Kemp isn’t as much of a surprise as he is a relief. Everyone knew he could hit for power, but we were all holding our breath, hoping he could stay healthy. Halfway through spring, he looks healthy and is playing well. He has blasted two home runs so far and at times his swing has looked like that of his 2011 MVP-run. Oh, he is also hitting .429 and tied for the team lead with seven RBIs.
Amarista has never been known for his bat. He has never hit more than five home runs and never had an average higher than .240. However, this spring something has clicked. He is hitting .391 and making a great case to be the starting shortstop come April 6th. He is a great “plug-and-play” player but no one expects him to hit like he has so far in the spring. I don’t anticipate him continuing to hit north of .300, but it has been a nice sight to see so far.
Morrow has made a strong case for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. In nine innings pitched, he has struck out seven and only allowed one run (1.00 ERA). His last outing was the most impressive so far. He pitched four shutout innings and only allowed three hits and no walks.