Dusty Bergman, who pitched one inning for the Angels in 2004, was the last player from the University of Hawaii to reach the majors. Vinnie Catricala, a 2009 10th-round pick of Seattle, is bidding to be the next.
Catricala popped his second homer of the spring Monday against the Rangers. A corner infielder and outfielder, he’s 6-for-19 in seven appearances to date.
Catricala was one of the best hitters in the minors last season, coming in at .349/.421/.601 with 25 homers and 106 RBI between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. High Desert is well known as one of the top three or five offensive environments in the minors, but Catricala actually improved in Double-A, finishing with a 1.052 OPS in his 62 games for Jackson.
Still something of a man without a position, Catricala played 54 games at third base, 34 at first base and 32 in left field last year. The Mariners have given him time at both third base and left field this spring. He’s not viewed as a realistic candidate to make the team now, but given the uncertainty that the team faces at both positions, it’s not unrealistic to think he could be starting somewhere come July.
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.