Mining the News (3/2/23)

American League

Blue Jays

Cavan Biggio will play half his games in the outfield.

Biggio knows right field well. He started 13 games there in 2021 and six last season, but John Schneider is expecting more of a 50-50 split for Biggio between the infield and outfield this season, adding that he’ll play “a ton” of outfield. That should tell you all you need to know about the Blue Jays’ plans for their fourth outfield spot, and this assignment is something he plans to grab with both hands.


Roman Quinn changed his swing.

Whether he finds a home with Cleveland certainly won’t depend on whether Quinn can maintain his power output. Despite three home runs in his first five spring at-bats, that’s not really part of his game. He has slugged eight homers in 599 plate appearances as a big leaguer. The hard contact, however, is further reinforcement that some offseason swing changes are paying dividends. Quinn worked this winter with hitting consultant Ryan Sutterer, who analyzed Quinn’s body movements and helped him understand how he can repeat his mechanics on a consistent basis.


Andrew Heaney is fine with throwing meatballs.

Heaney then tossed a middle-middle fastball, hoping for an easy strike. But that’s never safe against a hitter like Betts, who launched it deep over the left-center-field wall at Surprise Stadium.

“I was like, ‘I really just want to see a strike,’” Heaney said. “I don’t want to start my first game of Spring Training going 3-0 on a guy or nibbling. So I was like, ‘I’m just gonna kind of throw it at him down the middle.’ And he hit it out. It’s not surprising. I’m not all that mad about it. I’m a little stubborn in that way. Just like I wanted to see one in there. It happens. I’m not going to worry about it.”

Heaney added that, in the regular season, he probably wouldn’t have thrown that pitch in that situation.

National League


Jordan Walker has a 28.5 ft/s Sprint Speed, good for an 80% percentile red lollipop once he gets a Savant slider.

Then, showing off the kind of speed unexpected from a 6-foot-5, 250-pounder, Walker beat out a dribbler to third for an infield single. According to Statcast, Walker registered a sprint speed of 28.5 feet per second – with 30 feet per second being considered elite-level speed usually reserved for middle infielders and cat-quick centerfielders.


• With the injury to Gavin Lux, Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor will see time at shortstop while Jason Heyward and Trayce Thompson will play in center field.

Miguel Rojas will replace Lux at shortstop. Rojas, a 34-year-old, glove-first veteran, was acquired in the winter to aid the group’s depth. He will split time with utility player Chris Taylor, who started at shortstop against Texas on Wednesday. Manager Dave Roberts indicated Taylor would spend 20 to 25 percent of the games there, in addition to his usual work in the outfield. Taylor may also appear at third base in Cactus League games.

With Taylor refocusing on the infield, Roberts suggested he would be less likely to fill the void at center field. The team appears content to begin the season with Trayce Thompson as the starter. Thompson revived his career in Los Angeles last summer, hitting 13 homers with a .901 OPS. But in the previous five years, he had bounced between eight different organizations, unable to find his footing in the majors before an opportunity arose with the Dodgers.

Roberts described Jason Heyward, the former Cub who came to Dodgers camp as a non-roster invite, as “more than adequate” in the field at center. Heyward and David Peralta, a pair of veteran left-handed hitters, could see time against right-handed pitchers. Heyward, a .211-hitter in 2021 and 2022, made significant swing changes over the winter. He homered off former Dodger Andrew Heaney in Wednesday’s second inning.


Ronald Guzmán ex-first baseman for the Texas Rangers, is pumping out 97-98 fastballs.

Non-roster invitee Ronald Guzmán, who is in Giants camp as a two-way player, made his pitching debut in the ninth, surrendering a solo shot to P.J. Higgins over one inning. The former Yankees and Rangers first baseman topped out at 97 mph from the left side and struck out the first batter he faced swinging on an offspeed pitch.

“That was awesome,” Kapler said. “It’s really impressive to see a guy go out there and throw a ton of strikes and throw strikes with his offspeed pitches. He was 97-98 [mph], but I don’t think that was the most interesting part of the outing. It was a true comfort level, not rattled at all. After the home run, back in the zone with offspeed pitches. He looked like a pitcher.”


Zack Wheeler added a sweeper.

Hitters might not want to hear this, but Phillies ace Zack Wheeler just added another pitch to his arsenal.

It’s a variation of his slider.

Some call it a sweeper. Others call it a slurve or even a whirlybird.

Whatever the name, it might become a problem for them. Because it means Wheeler is now throwing a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a cutter, a tight slider, a bigger slider (aka the sweeper), a curveball and, occasionally, a changeup.


Johan Oviedo is adding a sinker.

Oviedo began incorporating a sinker at the suggestion of coaches upon being acquired from the Cardinals at the Trade Deadline. The Pirates suggested that Oviedo begin throwing a sinker because his four-seam fastball naturally sinks. Last season, Oviedo’s fastball had five fewer inches of rise — or more sink — than four-seam fastballs at similar velocities.

“The coaches that were working with me were trying to get me to throw a sinker because sometimes my fastball sinks,” Oviedo said. “It really had good numbers on the computer. They were like, “Why are you not throwing it with a [sinker] grip and try to get used to it and learn how to throw it?’”


Alan Trejo will likely move into the second base spot with Brendan Rodgers on the IL.

But Trejo, who came to Spring Training to try to change some minds, had a change in latitude because Gold Glove second baseman Brendan Rodgers sustained a dislocated left shoulder in the previous game.

Depending how long Rodgers is out of the lineup – and whether the Rockies want to let him continue his preparation into the early days of the regular season — someone has to play second. Trejo, 27, is fine with pushing for all the starts he can at second if that’s his opportunity to be in the lineup.

Austin Gomber is working on a sinker.

The line was rough from lefty starter Austin Gomber on Tuesday against the Rangers – four runs on five hits, including a Clint Frazier home run, while recording two outs. Gomber is working on a two-seam, sinking fastball that he hopes will work at altitude.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

Jason Heyward is still in the league?

1 year ago
Reply to  airforce21one

Apparently the Dodgers will do anything to keep James Outman on the farm.

Baller McCheese (burner account)member
1 year ago
Reply to  airforce21one

My favorite minor story line this season is that the Cubs are paying about $40 million to replace Heyward with Bellinger, and the Dodgers are paying about $0 to replace Bellinger with Heyward. I can’t wait to see how this turns out.