The initial plan was to highlight winners and losers from spring training, but you know what? The losers just aren't as interesting.
It's true that Cody Bellinger's strikeout rate has gone off the rails. It's true that Blake Treinen, Dylan Floro and Joe Barlow are no longer such promising sources for saves. Jacob deGrom, Lance Lynn and Jack Flaherty have all been lost to injury, and we haven't gotten much of a chance to see if Mike Clevinger has recovered from his.
Those are your losers, more or less. I have various categories of winners here for you to elevate in drafts or perhaps even target off the waiver wire. Note that some of my winners last spring included Shohei Ohtani, Freddy Peralta, Jazz Chisholm, Sean Manaea, Jonathan India, Logan Webb, Carlos Rodon and Robbie Ray.
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SEA Seattle • #44 • Age: 22
The preternatural talent, who has generated best-prospect-in-baseball buzz from the time he was 17, has officially won the center field job with a spring in which he made everything look too easy.
DET Detroit • #20 • Age: 24
GM Al Avila said the top pick in the 2020 draft would have a chance to win the job, and the Tigers made it official over the weekend, giving first base another potential standout with big power and on-base ability.
Jo Adell RF
LAA L.A. Angels • #7 • Age: 24
After acclimating himself better in his second go at the majors last year, the former top prospect has had his tools on full display this spring, flashing the sort of power/speed that drives Fantasy Baseballers bananas.
C.J. Abrams SS
WAS Washington • #5 • Age: 23
The 21-year-old with top-of-the-scale speed and hit tools has used the Fernando Tatis injury as an opportunity to showcase his talents, and it's put him in a position to be possibly the biggest opening day surprise.
Matt Brash RP
SEA Seattle • #47 • Age: 25
The same wipeout slider that made him one of the minors' biggest breakthroughs last year has been just as devastating against major-leaguers, earning him the fifth starter job.
Jeremy Pena SS
HOU Houston • #3 • Age: 26
The heir apparent to Carlos Correa has a glove to match and has handled the bat well enough to claim the job, most recently delivering a two-homer game.
Bryson Stott 2B
PHI Philadelphia • #5 • Age: 26
Thought to be a long shot to overtake Didi Gregorious, Stott has instead pushed Alec Bohm at third base, piling up multi-hit games while demonstrating superlative plate discipline.
SD San Diego • #75 • Age: 32
The ground-ball specialist has emerged as the front-runner to be the Padres closer, a role he filled capably in Japan with 42 saves, a 1.16 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 8.4 K/9 last year.
CIN Cincinnati • #21 • Age: 24
The former No. 2 overall pick with the 102 mph fastball has locked up a rotation spot for a team that's purged much of its roster, giving him a chance to stick around for the long haul.
Nick Lodolo SP
CIN Cincinnati • #40 • Age: 25
The top pitcher taken in the 2019 draft has seemingly secured a rotation spot with a steady performance that saw him throw strikes as regularly as he did in the minors.
Reid Detmers SP
LAA L.A. Angels • #48 • Age: 24
The lefty has rebounded from a rough five-start debut last year to claim a rotation spot, demonstrating the swing-and-miss stuff responsible for his 15.7 K/9 in the minors last year.
WAS Washington • #1 • Age: 24
All that work on the backfields to recapture the delivery that once made him the best pitching prospect in baseball appears to have paid off, again making him arguably the top starting pitcher to stash. That's presuming he doesn't have a job right away.
Steven Kwan LF
CLE Cleveland • #38 • Age: 26
The little-known rookie has gone the entire spring without striking out, earning at least a part-time role in an outfield with few viable alternatives. He showed a little pop in the minors last year, too.
ARI Arizona • #64 • Age: 26
After breaking through with an .843 OPS in the minors last year, the 24-year-old has positioned himself to claim the starting second base job, ranking among the spring leaders in home runs.
DET Detroit • #57 • Age: 30
He's talked about mixing in a slider more, which may be impacting the results, but more than anything, this spring is validation for those who trusted in last year's 3.43 xFIP rather than the 4.74 ERA.
MIA Miami • #44 • Age: 26
Not only is he leaning on his secondaries more, which was the change he needed to make following a disastrous sophomore season, but he's also throwing his fastball about 1.5 mph harder.
Alex Cobb SP
SF San Francisco • #38 • Age: 36
His splitter gave him plenty of sleeper appeal already, but then he showed up throwing 2 mph harder after working with the Driveline Baseball pitcher development program, the same that helped elevate teammate Alex Wood a year ago.
Jon Gray SP
TEX Texas • #22 • Age: 32
The hope was that he'd expand his arsenal after getting out of Coors Field, which suppresses pitch movement, and he has indeed introduced a new sweepier slider that's been responsible for almost all of his strikeouts.
Mitch Keller SP
PIT Pittsburgh • #23 • Age: 27
He worked with a pitcher development program this offseason to lengthen his delivery and is now throwing his fastball almost 3 mph harder, which will hopefully help him realize his forgotten potential.
Keston Hiura 1B
MIL Milwaukee • #18 • Age: 27
The former top prospect simplified his swing and is timing up the ball again, putting a charge in it like he did as a rookie in 2019. He'll need to get at-bats somewhere.
ARI Arizona • #29 • Age: 35
One of the most boring pitchers of the past couple years has put together a truly buzzworthy spring, ratcheting up the strikeouts with a reworked changeup that might open new doors for him.
Paul DeJong SS
SF San Francisco • #18 • Age: 30
The former 30-homer man worked with a private hitting instructor in the offseason to correct a swing that yielded only a .197 batting average last year, and it could be paying dividends.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #6 • Age: 36
Peralta remade his swing in the offseason with the intention of hitting for more power, and at least so far, the power has shown up. He had just eight home runs last season.
HOU Houston • #35 • Age: 40
The future Hall of Famer has put any and all concerns about his recovery from Tommy John surgery to rest, rocketing up the rankings into the top 20 at starting pitcher.
Carlos Rodon SP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #55 • Age: 30
After an offseason that had us wondering if his September velocity dip was a return to normalcy or a harbinger of injury, Rodon is back to rifling the ball like he did for most of his breakout 2021 season, when his ratios were much like those of Corbin Burnes.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #22 • Age: 35
There was talk of him needing Tommy John surgery at the end of last year, but the way he's looked this spring, those concerns can pretty much be put to rest.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #59 • Age: 36
The results haven't painted the rosiest picture, but he says he's feeling great and recently revealed that he pitched last year with loose bodies in his elbow, preventing him from fully extending his arm.