Hamilton Journal News : 2019-02-11

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C5 MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2019 | JOURNAL-NEWS | COMPLETE. IN-DEPTH. DEPENDABLE. MLB PREVIEW NL EAST BRAVES MARLINS Acuna, Braves hope to repeat 2018 success Marlins will spend spring sorting out young roster ByStevenWine Catcher Jorge Alfaro was traded by the Phillies to theMarlins along with twominor leaguers for catcher J.T. Reamuto. AssociatedPress ByCharlesOdum During the offseason the Miami Marlins announced the addition of newconcessionmenuitems, includingmushroom tacos, fries with mole sauce and bottomless popcorn and soda. So much for the team’s 2019 upgrades. Marlins fans hungry for a winner willhave to wait. Thewoebegonefranchise’s biggest offseasonmove came Thursday, when the Marlins traded All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Jorge Alfaro, two pitching prospects and international signing bonus pool money. The dealwas the latestmove inCEODerek Jeter’s rebuilding effort, which began soon after he took over in late 2017 and could eventually transform the Marlins into contenders. Not this year. Spring training will be devoted to sorting out a roster dominated by young players, including several who emerged last season and could provide a foundation for the future. That includes pitchers Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith andTrevor Richards, and third basemanright fielder Brian Anderson. “They’re going to be the core of our championships here,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said during a Marlins show on their flagship radio station, WINZ. “The young talent andwhat theywere able to demonstrate last season is whatmakes us excited to get going.” Someother things toknow before pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Wednesday in Jupiter, Florida: MIAMI — AssociatedPress Ronald Acuna Jr. helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018, when they were the surprise NL East champions. As the Braves enter their last spring training at their Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida, the next challenge is to move closer to their firstWorld Series since 1999. Acunawon the NL rookie of the year and placed 12th in the MVP voting despite playing in only 111 games as a 20-year-old left fielder. The native of Venezuela showed all the tools — power, speed and defense— thatmakehim thenext face of the franchise. Freddie Freeman, the current franchise player who was fourth in that MVP vote, said he can’t wait to see what Acuna can do in a full season. “I don’t know what that guy’s ceiling is,” Freeman said last month. “He is special. ... It’s going to be fun to watch him play every single day. If he can stay healthy, it’s going to be huge.” The Braves bolstered their lineup by signing third baseman Josh Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, to a one-year, $23million deal. They also added veteran catcherBrian McCann, bringing him back to where he launched his career, and re-signed right fielder Nick Markakis. Here are some areas to watch for during spring training: ATLANTA — RICK SCUTERI / AP 2018 rebounded froman 0-7 start and overcame poor run support to finish 9-12 with a 3.98 ERA. He’s 23-19 over the past two seasons, while in other games over the stretch the Marlins have gone 117-164. Alfaro, who will replace Realmuto behind the plate, hit .262 with 10 homers in his first full major league season last year. Second baseman Starlin Castro hit .278 in 154 games in his first season with Miami. it’s a lot. The trades that sent AllStars Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon elsewhere netted a passel of prospects that dramatically improved the franchise’s long-term outlook, and that was the goal. “We needed to layer talent from top to bottom,” Hill said. “That has been our focus over the last 18 months.” TheMarlins’ top six prospects were all acquired after Jeter’s group bought the team. All will get a look in spring training, and that includes 22-year-old Cuban outfielderVictorVictorMesa, rated baseball’s top international prospect when he received a $5.25 million signing bonus from Miami in October. Atlanta Braves left fielder RonaldAcuna Jr. helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018, when theywere thesurprisewinnersof theNLEast. JOHN BAZEMORE / AP 2018 Johan Camargo out of third base and into a super utility role. Camargo and Charlie Culberson provide excellent versatility to the bench, a weak spot in 2018. Replacement startersmust be found forAnibal Sanchez andBrandon McCarthy, who combined for 39 starts last season. finishing fourth in the MVP voting. Ozzie Albies, a possible futureGold Glove winner, showed surprising power with 24 homers and is a lock at second base. They’re not They’re not set MikeFoltynewiczemerged asanAll-StarandNo. 1 starter last season, and midseason addition Kevin Gausman helped solidify the middle of the rotation. Otherwise, manyquestionsremaininthe rotation, especially after Julio Teheranwas sent to the bullpen for the playoffs. Young starters unable to go deep intogames could put a heavy drain on a bullpen which has its own questions. Arodys Vizcaino’s sore shoulder kept him from handling the full-time closer’s job, while A. J. Minter battled control issues at times. There will be a mad spring training scramble for other jobs in the rotation and lineup. Anderson will start at either third base or right field after batting .273 with 65 RBIs as a rookie last year. Lewis Brinson will get another chance in center field after batting .199 with 120 strikeouts in 109 games as a rookie. Veteran righthander Dan Straily will be in the rotation unless he’s traded, and injury-plagued left- hander Wei-Yin Chen will be in the rotation if he’s healthy. Rookies to watch Right-hander Touki Toussaint could win a rotation spot this spring. His teammates rave about his potential, which is built around a curveball which promises to be his signature pitch. Left-handers Kolby Allard and Luiz Gohara and righthanders Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson alsowill compete for starting jobs. Third baseman Austin Riley may be the reason the Braves were interested in only a oneyear deal with Donaldson. Outfielder Cristian Pache, an outstanding defensive player, is the organization’s other top position prospect. New look An offseason rebranding included anewlogo andnew colors, part of Jeter’s effort to distance the franchise from the previous owner, Jeffrey Loria. Losing teams, frequent payroll purges and a favorable stadium deal for Loria made him wildly unpopular. “We have to show our community this is a new day,” president of business operations Chip Bowers said on WINZ. “Our fans feel like scorned lovers. They’ve felt burned time and time again. We understand that and can appreciate that. We’re going to work diligently to earn that trust back and make them understand we’re the guy or girl they always wanted to love.” On deck Injury report New look Braves pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Feb. 16, and the team’s first full- squad workout is Feb. 21. They plan to move into a new spring training facility in North Port, Florida, near Sarasota, in 2020 and have scheduled their final exhibition game this spring at the new facility on March 24. The Braves open the season on March 28 at Philadelphia. Atlanta’s home opener is April 1 against the Cubs. The Marlins head into spring training fully healthy. Among the players who recovered from injuries in the offseason are third basemanMartin Prado, first baseman Garrett Cooper, right-hander Lopez and lefthander Smith. A left calf strain spoiled Donaldson’s 2018 season with Toronto and Cleveland. The Braves are gambling Donaldson, 33, returns to his peak three-year level of 2015-17, whenhe averaged 37 homers. “We weren’t looking at third base,” said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. “We just wanted a big bat withpower.” McCann replacesKurt Suzuki in sharing time with catcher Tyler Flowers. Donaldson pushes They’re set They’re set Defense remains a strong point. The outfield includes 2018 Gold Glove winners Markakis and Inciarte. Acuna, who might eventually move to right field or center field, also is a strong defensive player. Freeman alsowon a Gold Glovewhile The Marlins are certain about their ace, catcher and second baseman. Everything else is up for grabs. Right-hander Jose Urena is expected to get the opening day nod for the second year in a row. In 2018 he On deck Spring training will provide a chance to see how much the farm system has improved since Jeter took over. The Marlins believe Four teams think they havewhat it takes towin the NL East crown the first base job and catcher Travis d’Arnaud — now second string behind Ramos — looks to return fromTommy John surgery. as 2018NLRookie of theYear Ronald Acuna Jr. and second baseman Ozzie Albies. Acuna and Albies are rising stars. Freddie Freeman, who finished fourth in last year’s NL MVP vote, remains the figurehead of the franchise. Another key this spring will bethecompetitionbetweena long list of young pitchers to join Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Sean Newcomb and JulioTeheran in the rotation. Foltynewicz enjoyedhis much-anticipated breakout season in 2018, when he was an All-Star. Newcomb had a strong first half before fading and finishing with a still-respectable 3.90 ERA. Corbin — who arrived as a free agent for $140million and will slot in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation. Dozier and the catching duo of Gomes and Suzuki are alsonewtoWashington. The bullpen has fresh arms, too, including the hard-throwing Rosenthal, who is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, and Barraclough. a second consecutive losing season, the Mets made an unorthodox move and handed the front- office reins to Van Wagenen, the agent-turned-general manager who used to represent NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, injured sluggerYoenisCespedes and several otherNewYork players. VanWagenenwent towork upgrading nearly every area on the roster as the Mets were one of baseball’s busiest teams this offseason. He acquired former clients Cano and Lowrie and spent about $80 million on free agents. Rather than chase big stars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Mets wisely acknowledged they hadmanyholes tofill, so they spread that money around and focused on building depth and versatility. The back end of an ineffective bullpen got amuch-needed makeover, with the return of Familia (traded away last July) to set up Diaz, who led the majors with 57 saves last season. New York also assumed $100 million of the $120 million owed to Cano over the next five years, offset some by the approximately $35million the club shed in sending Bruce and Swarzak to Seattle as part of the blockbuster trade that also netted Diaz. Now, well-armed with deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler atop a formidable rotation, the Mets believe they’re legitimate contenders again, even though Cespedes isn’t expected back from surgery on both heels until at least mid-July. There will be plenty to keep an eye on at spring training, including former quarterback Tim Tebow and potential talks on a multiyear contract for deGrom. Power-hitting prospectPeter Alonso tries to win AssociatedPress Ateam-by-team look at the National League East entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the firstworkout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad: Miami Marlins Manager: DonMattingly (fourth season). 63-98, fifth place. Jupiter, 2018: Training Town: Atlanta Braves Florida. J.T. Realmuto (above) joins AndrewMcCutchen and JeanSegura in a revamped PhiladelphiaPhillies offense. Park: Manager: Roger Dean Stadium. Brian Snitker (fourth season). 90-72, first place, lost to Dodgers in Division Series. Philadelphia Phillies FirstWorkout: He’s Here: 2018: Feb. 13/18. C Jorge Alfaro, INF Neil Walker, OF Curtis Granderson, 1B Pedro Alvarez, OF Victor Victor Mesa, 3B DevenMarrero, RHPAustin Brice, RF Gabriel Guerrero. Manager: Gabe Kapler (second season). 80-82, third place. Clearwater, JOHN BAZEMORE / AP 2018 Training Town: 2018: Training Town: Kissimmee, could be used in high-leverage situations in any late inning. Harper or Machado would make the Phillies a serious threat in the NL East. They’re also still in play for free agent lefty Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel. Florida. ChampionStadium. Feb. 16/21. 3B Josh Donaldson, C Brian McCann, C Raffy Lopez, pitching coach Rick Kranitz. Park: FirstWorkout: He’s Here: Florida. Spectrum Field. Feb. 13/18. CJ.T. Realmuto, SS Juan Segura, OF Andrew McCutchen, RHPDavidRobertson, LHP Jose Alvarez, LHP James Pazos, RHP Juan Nicasio, C Drew Butera. 1B Carlos Santana, C Jorge Alfaro, INF J. P. Crawford, C Wilson Ramos, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, LHP Luis Avilan, OF Jose Bautista, 1B Justin Bour, RHP Luis Garcia, LHP Aaron Loup. Park: FirstWorkout: He’sHere: Washington Nationals He’s Outta Here: C J.T. Realmuto, INF-OFDerekDietrich, RHP Kyle Barraclough, RHP NickWittgren, LHP Dillon Peters. Manager: Dave Martinez (second season). 82-80, second place. West He’s Outta Here: 2018: Training Town: C Kurt Suzuki, RHPAnibal Sanchez, RHPBrandonMcCarthy, RHP BradBrach, 3BRyanFlaherty, RHP PeterMoylan, 1B Lucas Duda, CReneRivera, OFLane Adams, pitchingcoachChuck Hernandez. Going campin’: Therewill be plenty of scrambling for playing time, and the only jobs that aren’t open are at the top of the rotation ( Jose Urena), second base (Starlin Castro) and catcher (Alfaro, acquired fromthe Phillies in the Realmuto trade). Brian Anderson was one of last year’s few bright spots as a rookie, and Mattingly must decidewhether to play him at third base or in right field. Platooning is the likely result at several positions. Camp will provide a chance to evaluate some of the prospects acquired since CEO Derek Jeter’s groupboughtthe team in late 2017. Sorting out the rotation will be Mattingly’s most interesting spring task as he evaluates a group of young, promising arms that includes Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Trevor Richards. The Marlins also need to find out how much veterans such asWalker, Granderson and 3B Martin Prado have left. Palm Beach, Florida. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. New York Mets He’s Outta Here: Park: Manager: Mickey Callaway (second season). 77-85, fourth place. Port St. FirstWorkout: He’s Here: Feb. 14/19. LHP Patrick Corbin, RHPAnibal Sanchez, C Yan Gomes, 2B Brian Dozier, RHP Kyle Barraclough, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, C Kurt Suzuki, RHP Tanner Rainey, 1B Matt Adams. OF Bryce Harper, C Matt Wieters, RHPTannerRoark, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Jefry Rodriguez, LHP Tim Collins. As spring training nears, it’s still not clearwhereHarper will end up. The star slugger is a free agent and, while Washington made an effort to keep him, it’s not as if GM Mike Rizzo sat around waiting to find out whether the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP would stay or go. The Nationals were as busy as anyone this offseason and will head to camp withmore than a third of the roster turned over, including 2018: Training Town: Going campin’: The 2018 Baby Braveswere a surprise breakthrough team, winning the club’s first NL East championship since 2013. A repeat title in a tougher NL East might be a bigger challenge. A key to the start of spring will be the health of Donaldson, who signed a one-year, $23 million deal after a left calf strain spoiled much of his 2018 season with Toronto and Cleveland. The Braves need Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, to add more punch to the middle of their lineup, especially after the teamre-signed NickMarkakis instead of pursuing a power hitter for the outfield. Donaldson and McCann, whose Atlanta homecoming should be abig hit with fans, addveteran voices to a clubhouse packed with such youngsters Lucie, Florida. First Data Field. Feb. 14/18. GM Brodie Van Wagenen, 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, INF Jed Lowrie, C Wilson Ramos, RHP Jeurys Familia, LHP JustinWilson, OF Keon Broxton, 1B-3B J.D. Davis, LHPLuisAvilan, LHPHector Santiago, OF Rajai Davis, OF Gregor Blanco, RHPWalker Lockett, RHP Kyle Dowdy. RF-1B JayBruce, INFWilmer Flores, LHP Jerry Blevins, C Kevin Plawecki, RHPAnthonySwarzak, OF Austin Jackson, RHP A. J. Ramos, INF Jose Reyes, RHP RafaelMontero, C Jose Lobaton, INF-OF Jack Reinheimer, RHP Bobby Wahl, RHP Gerson Bautista, RHP ChrisBeck, 3BDavidWright. Following Park: FirstWorkout: He’s Here: Going campin’: The Phillies were a surprise contender formuch of last season and led their division with the second-best record in the National League one week into August before they collapsed. They went 16-33 over the final 49 games and finished with a losing record for the sixth straight year. Philadelphia is still chasing Bryce Harper and MannyMachado but already upgraded the infield, outfield and bullpen. Realmuto, Segura andMcCutchen will improve a lineup that finished last in batting average (.234), 22nd in runs (4.2 per game) and third in strikeouts (1,520). Robertson gives the team a proven closer who He’s Outta Here: Going campin’: He’s Outta Here: Going campin’: PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER PressReader.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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