The first week of Cactus League games are complete, with the KC Royals finally picking up their first victory on Sunday (1-4). While some of the regular pitchers have yet to throw in a game yet (Wade Davis, Joakim Soria, Luke Hochevar, and Kris Medlen), those battling for positions have all gotten into games.
Let’s take a look at those battling for roster spots and how they did during the first week, starting with the candidates for backup catcher.
Offensively, neither candidate has set the world on fire yet at the plate. Drew Butera has gone 0-for-5 with two walks and two strikeouts. Tony Cruz has gone 0-for-6 with a strikeout. Butera did throw two runners out in his first game, while Cruz allowed a stolen bases in his first game.
At second base, Omar Infante has yet to play in a game (manager Ned Yost expects him to DH today) and Christian Colon isn’t exactly taking advantage. CC has gone 0-for-9 with a strikeout. He was also hit by a pitch.
These next few players are battling for a bench role, mainly as utility fielders, as all can play second base.
Veteran Clint Barmes has played in two games so far, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored (he has also played shortstop). Whit Merrifield played first and second base, going 1-for-5 with a walk, a run scored, a stolen base, and a strikeout.
Dusty Coleman has played second base and shortstop. He went 1-for-6 with an RBI triple and two strikeouts. Orlando Calixte has been the DH and played third base. He has gone 1-for-5 with an RBI triple and two runs scored.
In right field, Jarrod Dyson is out of the running due to an oblique strain that will keep him out for six weeks. Paulo Orlando is now the favorite and he went 2-for-9 with a strikeout.
Travis Snider went 1-for-7 with three strikeouts. Brett Eibner has not picked up a hit (0-for-4), but he has walked four times. However, he has yet to play right field.
The top hitters in the competition have been Reymond Fuentes, Jorge Bonifacio, and Jose Martinez. Fuentes has gone 3-for-6 and played all three outfield positions. Bonifacio has gone 2-for-6 with a double, a home run, a walk, two runs scored, and struck out twice. Bonifacio has been the DH, while also playing left and right field (he picked up an outfield assist from left). Martinez has also gone 3-for-6, but also played first base.
Prospect Bubba Starling has yet to collect a hit (0-for-6 with two strikeouts). He does have an outfield assist. Terrance Gore picked up his first ever spring training hit on Sunday (1-for-3 with a strikeout), but he has only played left field.
The fifth starter‘s spot has yet to pick up yet, mainly because Kris Medlen has yet to pitch (he goes today). Danny Duffy was rocked for three runs on five hits and a walk in two innings without a strikeout.
Some feel that Kyle Zimmer is actually in the running and he makes his second start today. In his first, he allowed two hits over two innings of work. He struck out two. Fellow prospect Miguel Almonte allowed two hits over his two scoreless innings. He struck out three. Dillon Gee made his first appearance on Sunday, as he allowed a hit and a walk over two scoreless innings. He induced four ground outs.
Veterans Chien-Ming Wang and John Lannan has been solid in their two outings so far. Wang has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out two. He has induced six ground outs. Lannan has pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one.
Finally in the bullpen, many of the favorites haven’t looked so good. Ross Ohlendorf has allowed five runs on six hits and a walk over two innings without a strikeout. He has also allowed two home runs. Brian Duensing was roughed up for two runs on four hits in his first outing, but rebounded with a perfect inning on Saturday (2IP, 4H, 2R, 0BB, 4K). David Huff has allowed runs in both of his appearances (2IP, 4H, 2R, 0BB, 0K).
Peter Moylan looked nasty in his first appearances (he struck out two), but then struggled to find the strike zone in his second (two hits, two runs, a walk, and a wild pitch). Lefty Brian Flynn has allowed four hits over two scoreless innings.
Fellow lefty Scott Alexander has walked one and hit a batter in two scoreless innings. Sam Selman (one perfect inning) and Aroni Nina have only pitched once. Nina walked one, hit one, and allowed a two-run homer.
The second week of Cactus League games for the Royals begins today with split squad games versus the Chicago Cubs and Oakland.