For the Eyeball Scout, packing for spring training is no trifling matter. Glasses, contact lenses, saline solution, artificial tears, mascara — we’re talking a good five minutes here. Oh, and clothes; should probably pack those. Arriving to the ballpark with your contact lenses on and nothing else? That’s a mistake you don’t make twice.
With a Thursday flight booked, on the off chance the plane lands safely on the runway (always a pleasant surprise) the Eyeball Scout will take in A’s games Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday March 3rd-7th. What will he — he who refers to himself in the third person but who is not Rickey — most be looking for in order to report back to his readers (that’s you, also presumably not Rickey although Rickey if you’re reading ... well that’s pretty cool and the Eyeball Scout says "Hey-y!")?
Women may not care about the size of a man’s swing, but the Eyeball Scout is keen to judge the swings of a couple key Matts, Olson and Chapman. Both are a K-rate reduction away from being impact players but both have yet to prove they can make enough contact to hit .240 in the big leagues.
In the case of Olson, I have seen his swing and worried that it is longer than an inning that features a catcher’s trip to the mound between every pitch. So I will looking to compare my perspective from a year ago to now. With Chapman, I will be getting a sense of whether I think the swing is long or the bat speed slow or whether his contact issues (which the Eyeball Scout had until he went to Daily Wear lenses) stem from another source.
I think it would be fun to interview the Matts together, so I am putting that on my short list of ideas to pursue. Disclaimer: once in the clubhouse you take what you can get, and interviewing players you can locate is a sound strategy.
Early March is a tough time to gauge secondary pitches because often at this juncture pitches are still focused more on building arm strength and the bite has yet to appear on their sliders, cutters, and curves. That being said, early March is also a time when the young players are still in camp to be seen at all.
On my list of pitches to try to see up close and personal:
- A.J. Puk’s internal-scout-unfriendly curve
- Daniel Gossett’s new-ish cutter
- Jharel Cotton’s is-it-serviceable slider
- Raul Alcantara’s new splitter
- Frankie Montas’ triple-digit fastball
I do hear Ross Detwiler has a new cutter but all I can say to that is, "How super ducky for him."
I hope to get a sense of how legitimate I think Franklin Barreto’s defense is at shortstop. You would think the small sample would make this an exercise in futility, but it was in spring training samples — in-game but also during their pre-game infield drills — that I was able to conclude Hiro Nakajima was subpar and Addison Russell was the real deal.
I am also keen to watch Ryon Healy play 1B for the first time (that is first time for me, not for him) and try to get an overall feel for some others I have yet to see such as Jaycob Brugman (RF/CF), Richie Martin (SS), Yairo Muñoz (SS), Max Schrock (2B), and Sean Murphy (C), some of whom may not be in camp for very long but might be on the field the first week of March.
If there are some other foci you would like to suggest to the Eyeball Scout, this is the place to do it. Five days to see what I can see, and you will be subjected to hearing about all of it!