The Significance of Spring Training
John says to watch Leagues' stuff
John says to watch Leagues' stuff
Staff Writer
Posted Mar 12, 2005

You might be asking yourself these kinda questions while Spring Training goes on.

Does Spring Training mean much at all?
How much can be told by how well or poor players and teams play in Spring Training?

David Wells in the past has called Spring Training a waste of time, and way too long. I don't completely agree with him but I do think too much is made of spring training. The media and broadcasters especially, often hype up Spring Training to be something more than it is, and hint that results will carry into the regular season. Many things should seriously be taken into consideration before making strong judgments over a few spring games. First the level of competition is very weak, filled with no-where near major league talent, with many inexperienced and fringe type players. If players have a brilliant or poor spring it is not necessarily a sign of any similar results to come in the future. Pitchers you hear who were starting a game usually only pitch a couple innings at most, and even if Gabe Gross hits a homerun off Curt Schilling or Mark Prior it's still not the regular season version.

Often players with their roster spot already guaranteed, have a completely different approach in the spring than in regular season. Many times they’re just working on certain things in their game without a care in the world if they’re helping or not helping win the game. Players trying to earn a roster spot is one thing, but how well guys like Roy Halladay, Eric Hinske, or Vernon Wells play shouldn’t matter too much.

The one thing about Spring Training for fans that get to see a game on television or a glimpse on the highlights is they can visualize prospects for the first time, and gain a better idea about players they’ve only read about. Things fans might want to use spring games for the rare opportunity to gain a better understanding of the little things in players that can’t be judged by reading scouting reports, because reading that stuff only goes so far. Some types of things you might want to watch closely are picking up on what Francisco Rosario’s stuff actually looks like on television, and what kind of approach Aaron Hill shows, or how Brandon Leagues changeup has progressed. Its one thing reading Rosario’s fastball in the mid-90s but it’s another seeing how much life it actually has, and how it jumps out of his hand. I’d really keep a close eye on Aaron Hill. Watch when he bats if he's a passive hitter or that he just has an exceptionally good batting eye, but still capable of hitting nasty pitching. Maybe you'll want to watch closely to pick up what Aaron Hill’s swing looks like. Is there enough lift to it and does the ball jump off his bat, which shows a sign of good power potential. Does he have good actions at shortstop? Is his range good enough? Are his hands soft or stiff? I'd watch Brandon League like a hawk to try and see whether he's developed a good enough changeup to make him an effective major league starting pitcher.

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