Spring training stats don’t count for anything, but it is interesting to see which players have shown improvement over the past month. As March comes to a close and Opening Day nears, many Reds are starting to hit their stride just before the end of camp.
Left fielder Ryan Ludwick started off the spring in a slump, but has started heating up lately. On Wednesday, Ludwick stepped up to the plate with the Reds down a run and down to their final out. He hit a two-run, walk-off home run, his first of the spring. He followed that the next day with a three-hit game. Since March 14, Ludwick has raised his average by over .100 points to .295. Meanwhile, Chris Heisey, Ludwick’s likely platoon-mate in left field, has hit just .213 this spring.
Rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco has received strong praise from manager Dusty Baker and others for his defensive work behind the plate, but his offense is coming around as well. He has five hits in his last five games, and in the past two weeks, Mesoraco has doubled his average to .222.
Utility man Todd Frazier has been the Reds best slugger this spring with a team-best five home runs and 12 RBI. Frazier has four hits in six at bats over the last two days to raise his average to .280. He is competing with the disappointing Juan Francisco for a roster spot. Coincidentally, Frazier and Francisco hit back-to-back home runs in Friday’s win over the Indians. Francisco had drawn the ire of Baker by reporting to camp overweight and has hit a paltry .184 this spring, but he is out of options and is the only left-handed power bats the Reds have to bring off the bench. This is one of a few key decisions to be made by Baker and Co. in the next few days.
On the mound, while Aroldis Chapman has received plenty of buzz (deservedly so), fellow southpaw Sean Marshall has quietly dominated hitters for the past three weeks and may be the hottest Red of them all. Marshall allowed four earned runs in his first two outings of spring training, and nothing since. He has not given up a run in seven appearances dating back to March 12. In that span, he has allowed just four base runners in eight innings and has struck out a whopping 15 batters. To reiterate, in that seven-game scoreless stretch, he has a microscopic WHIP of 0.50 and an astronomical K/9 of 16.9. Those numbers are just silly.
Hopefully these trends will continue to carry on into the regular season.