The latest arrival in Kansas City’s season-long influx of young talent is second base prospect Johnny Giavotella, who was called up from Triple-A last night.
While not among the Royals’ historic stockpile of elite prospects, Giavotella would be one of the top few prospects in plenty of other organizations. He hit .322 with an .855 OPS in 134 games at Double-A last season and batted .339 with an .872 OPS in 109 games at Triple-A this year to earn the call-up.
Giavotella’s modest power matches his 5-foot-8 frame, but along with the .309 career batting average he’s struck out just 212 times in 1,967 plate appearances while drawing nearly as many walks (192) as whiffs. If things go well for Giavotella he projects as a potential leadoff man and if his development stalls a bit he should be a solid contributor at the bottom of the lineup.
And either way he almost can’t help but be an upgrade over the man he’s replacing at second base, Chris Getz, who’s hit just .247 with a measly .309 on-base percentage and .281 slugging percentage in 168 games since the Royals got him from the White Sox for Mark Teahen in November of 2009.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.