Sometimes, spring training games can look like real baseball. Sometimes, you get games that look like this — still refining their command, a plethora of Yankee pitchers walked five Phillies and allowed a pair of home runs as Philadelphia took their Grapefruit League opener, 7-4.
Right off the bat, I loved the first look we got at the pitch timer. It’s the first game of spring training and every player seemed prepared for the new rule, with no penalties imposed on either a pitcher or a hitter. Nick Nelson, who started the game for the Phillies, worked quickly in the first inning, which is not what I remember about his time as a Yankee. Hitters, too, seemed locked into the change, with many of them simply digging their spikes into the dirt and waiting for the next pitch. I knew the Yankees would have their guys well-prepared, but credit to the Phillies as well for keeping pace.
The marquee attraction for the Yankees today was top outfield prospect Jasson Domínguez’s start, batting seventh and patrolling center field. He wasn’t particularly challenged in the outfield, but he showed off that power potential while batting right-handed in the fifth inning:
That ball left the bat at 110 mph, the third-hardest hit ball of the afternoon, landing 420 feet away from home plate. Jasson’s going to start the year at Double-A, but a strong spring could go a long way to advancing his timeline within the Yankee org, and he looked like he belonged on the field today.
Gleyber Torres had himself a strong day, with a double in the first inning and an opposite-field home run in the third.
Torres is in something of a make-or-break season, given how much potential the Yankees have in the middle infield within the organization. He took a big step forward last year in terms of his hard hit and contact quality, and both his extra base hits were above 95 mph in exit velo today as well. Good signs. albeit in the first swings of the spring.
That screenshot above also reminds me of the other guy who caught my eye today, reliever Alex Mauricio. Coming into the game after Randy Vasquez struggled, the 26-year-old who was at High-A last year engineered four whiffs while recording a pair of strikeouts. This is the age of baseball we’re living in — I had no idea who this guy was until a couple of hours ago, and now I’m very, very interested in how much life is on the fastball.
Nobody got hurt, nobody broke any of the new rules, and one of the Yankees’ top prospects got to turn a few heads. Those are the things that really matter in the early days of spring training, and the club checked all three boxes off today. I hope that, whenever New York takes on the Phillies in the regular season, some guy named Weston Wilson doesn’t drive in four runs all on his own, but that’s the nature of spring training.
Grapefruit League action continues tomorrow, with split squad action against the Braves and Blue Jays. Both games kick off at 1pm Eastern, with Clarke Schmidt starting the former contest and the club yet to announce who gets the ball in the latter.