Yes, I know we’re only six games into the 2012 edition of Spring Training. But, despite this small sample size of games, there are some things that just can’t go unnoticed. What I’m referring to is Brewers players- particularly those Minor League players, non-roster invitees, and so on- putting up performances that are making their names known, whether or not it’s for a good reason or a bad reason.
I’ll start with one player who has really surprised me thus far this spring, and that’s first baseman Travis Ishikawa. The Brewers signed the former Japanese import to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training late in the offseason, and it looks like the low-risk, high-reward move may pay off. Ishikawa is hitting .364 so far this spring. He started by punishing his former team- the Giants- with a home run in the second game (his first appearance) of the year, and has collected a few hits here and there since then. In today’s game against the Indians, Ishikawa put up one of his best games yet (it was from the DH position, however)- 2-for-3 with two hits (a single and a double), a walk, and a RBI. If he keeps this up, I think he could make the Opening Day squad as a backup first baseman/power bat off the bench. He’s been fun to watch.
Though he got off to a slow start this spring, Mat Gamel is also worth watching at this point. He hit his first home run of the year yesterday, and hit another one today, so he may finally be finding a groove. He’s hitting just .231 so far, but look for that to go up by the end of spring. Gamel also said prior to the start of Spring Training that he wants to finally make it with the Brewers, and that he didn’t capitalize on his chances over the past few years well enough. He also mentioned that he doesn’t want to be traded, so he’s definitely taking his chance seriously this go around.
Jonathan Lucroy is already guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster as the starting catcher, but you just can’t ignore what he’s done this spring. After going 3-for-4 (with two RBIs) today, he’s hitting a whopping .636 so far. Again, I know it’s still early, but that’s just insane. I thought prior to the season that he was due for a big offensive season, because, up until the last month of 2011, he was consistently in the .280′s. But a .636 average at this point is definitely a good sign, and we’ll see if he can keep it up.
On a non-offensive note, nearly all of the pitchers have been flawless so far, especially the starters. The only starting pitcher who has given up an earned run is Zack Greinke, who gave up one against the Reds yesterday (but still turned a solid performance). But, we haven’t seen Shaun Marcum pitch yet due to his “tender shoulder.” But all of the other starters- and most of the relievers- look like they’re headed in the right direction.
As of right now, there’s only one player on the Brewers who has really disappointed me so far- Cesar Izturis. I know he used to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, but this spring has been the exact opposite. So far, he’s committed four errors (keep in mind the Brewers have only played six games). Offensively, he’s hitting .300, but don’t expect him to keep that up. I hope Taylor Green (who is also hitting .300 so far) makes the roster over Izturis, but, managers almost always go based on experience. So, if they don’t both make it, Izturis will probably be the one, unfortunately. At least he would only be the backup shortstop, though, as Alex Gonzalez- one of the best defensive shortstops in the game- has the starting job locked.
Again, it’s still very early in the year, so we’ll definitely so a few guys improve, and a few fall off a bit, unfortunately. But those are the players who have caught my eye so far, and hopefully as spring rolls along, other players will as well.