1 player on each team who wowed at camp

Detroit Tigers
Spring Training is a chance for all sorts of players to make a big impression on their clubs and fans, from top prospects showcasing what their futures might look like to out-of-nowhere surprises who force their way onto Opening Day rosters.

With Opening Day 2021 less than a week away, it’s time to take a look at the players who are grabbing attention this spring. All 30 teams have someone who’s doing it, and MLB.com’s beat reporters offered their insight with one standout candidate from each club.

Here’s one player on every team who’s opened eyes in Spring Training this year.

Blue Jays: RHP Alek Manoah
Toronto’s No. 7 prospect was the pitching star of camp, and the 23-year-old’s March 14 performance against the Yankees was his finest. The big right-hander struck out seven Yankees batters over three perfect innings of work, showing the Blue Jays that he could be ready for the Major Leagues sooner than many expected.

“Someone asked me a month ago who I was most excited to see in camp, and it was Alek,” said general manager Ross Atkins. “The heartbeat, the way he embraces competition, all of you can see how much fun he was having embracing the challenge of facing a pretty good couple of lineups and performing exceptionally well. He’s put himself in an incredible position.” — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: LHP Bruce Zimmermann
Is Zimmermann the next John Means? Maybe it’s unfair to expect Zimmermann to parlay his strong spring into an All-Star appearance, or emerge as a future Opening Day starter. But the 26-year-old’s story this spring parallels Means’ from 2019, when Means emerged from the roster periphery to snag the O’s final roster spot. Zimmermann has outpitched everyone else in camp, firing nine shutout innings through Friday. And injuries to Félix Hernández and Hunter Harvey have paved the way for the O’s to bring at least one extra bulk innings arm north with them for Opening Day. At this point, that looks like it’ll be Zimmermann, the Ellicott City, Md., native. — Joe Trezza

Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan
McClanahan turned a lot of heads before he was optioned to Minor League camp. The 23-year-old lefty simply overpowered hitters with a triple-digit fastball that touched 102 mph and showed three other legitimate offerings during his brief, one-inning outings. McClanahan struck out the last seven hitters he faced, and his final appearance against the Red Sox was just dominant. It’s not like there were any doubts about McClanahan’s potential; he’s MLB’s No. 84 prospect for a reason, and the Rays were impressed enough by him last year to have him debut in the postseason. But he made a strong argument that he’ll reach his upside as a starting pitcher by pounding the strike zone with a deep and powerful arsenal. It’s easy to imagine him making an impact in the Rays’ rotation sooner rather than later. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec
The Red Sox opened Spring Training hoping Dalbec would seize the job as the starting first baseman, and that’s exactly what the right-handed-hitting masher did. Dalbec belted two grand slams and had seven homers overall with only a handful of games left in camp. A natural third baseman, Dalbec has also looked smooth on the other side of the infield. The team continues to be impressed by Dalbec’s poise and work ethic. It is intriguing that manager Alex Cora plans on using Dalbec as the No. 9 hitter. That could be a lot of homers at the end of the batting order. — Ian Browne

Yankees: LHP Lucas Luetge
Even Luetge was surprised by his spring performance. A non-roster invitee who hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2015, the 34-year-old left-hander muscled into the bullpen conversation with an impressive strikeout rate. Through Friday, Luetge has a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, registering 16 strikeouts against two walks.

“My spring has gone better than I expected,” Luetge said. “You always want to come in starting off good. I didn’t know it’d be this good with the strikeouts, but I just want to keep it rolling. I’ve been able to throw all my pitches for a strike, and my ball is moving a lot right now.” — Bryan Hoch

Indians: LHP Logan Allen
Allen looked like a completely different pitcher when he reported to camp. Not only was he slimmer after dropping 25 pounds, but the 23-year-old lefty spent the enter winter training with the Indians’ coaching staff in Arizona and completely reworked his mechanics. Those changes have paid off so far in Spring Training, as Allen has a 0.64 ERA with 18 strikeouts and just three walks in 14 innings over four Cactus League appearances. Though the rotation was far from set in stone entering camp, many assumed that Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill would be the two to join Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. But Allen quickly made sure everyone knew it would be a much tighter position battle. — Mandy Bell

Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr.
The Royals knew Witt had special talent when they drafted him second overall in the 2019 Draft. MLB’s No. 7 prospect put it on full display this spring, hitting.289/.325/.526 across 40 plate appearances. He has power, speed and above-average defensive skill to play shortstop and second base. Having only played 37 professional games — none above Rookie ball — the Royals pumped the brakes on Witt’s debut and will have him start the season in the Minor Leagues. But what the 20-year-old showed this spring on the field and in the clubhouse, earning the respect of his older and veteran teammates, only confirmed to the Royals that Witt will fit in and be able to help the club when he’s ready — and that could come soon. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: OF Akil Baddoo
From the first day of full-squad workouts, Baddoo looked a whole lot better than a Rule 5 Draft pick who hasn’t played a game above the Class A level and hasn’t played anywhere in the Minors since May 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Beyond the team-high four home runs he slugged, the 22-year-old showed solid defensive instincts, incredible athleticism and a maturity beyond his years. His handling of what seemed like a long-shot bid has essentially forced the Tigers to shoehorn him onto the Opening Day roster as an extra outfielder or risk offering him back to the division-rival Twins, his original organization, with extra development and a confidence boost to haunt Detroit in the coming years. His game bears a lot of similarities to 2018 Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes, but with more power. — Jason Beck

Twins: LHP Lewis Thorpe
This is expected to be a prove-it year for Thorpe, the former top pitching prospect out of Australia who has struggled to a 6.14 ERA in his transition to the big leagues. So far, so good. Thorpe openly acknowledged that he’d been “foolish” and “lazy” previously in his career, not putting in the time in the weight room and falling into a bad place mentally and physically. He vowed to change this offseason and sought the help of a personal trainer, who worked with Thorpe six days a week to improve the left-hander’s strength and stamina. The 25-year-old’s fastball is now touching 93 mph — well up from last season’s 89.7 mph average — and his fourth Minor League option should give him another chance to show the Twins what he’s really got. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodón
Rodón was non-tendered by the White Sox in December after parts of six big league seasons with the team, then brought back two months later via a one-year, $3 million free-agent deal. That non-tender situation, while basically a business move, gave the southpaw a little extra motivation, as the No. 3 pick overall from the 2014 Draft has fanned 16 with just one walk allowed in 13 2/3 innings this spring to earn the fifth starter’s spot. Rodón also has cleaned up mechanics involving his lower half under the watchful eye of pitching coach Ethan Katz, making him believe he’s in the right position to sustain success and stay healthy. — Scott Merkin

Angels: INF José Rojas
Rojas is a great story, as he’s an Anaheim native who was drafted in the 36th round of the 2016 Draft but has hit at every level and could finally reach the Majors as a 28-year-old rookie. Rojas is a career .292/.350/.502 hitter in 411 career Minor League games, and he has had an incredible spring offensively. His lack of a true position has held him back, but he could make the club as a backup infielder, as he can play second base, third base and first base. He can’t play short, but second baseman David Fletcher could shift over there when José Iglesias is out of the lineup. Rojas is not on the 40-man roster, which could keep him off the Opening Day roster in favor of Luis Rengifo, but it’s clear that he’s close to making his long-awaited Major League debut. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: CF Myles Straw
Straw came to camp as the front-runner to replace George Springer as starting center fielder and took advantage from the get-go. He was 13-for-42 with three stolen bases through the Astros’ first 16 games of the spring and looked comfortable at the plate. The Astros tried him out as the leadoff hitter early in camp, but it appears manager Dusty Baker has settled on Jose Altuve at the top of the lineup. Still, Straw’s speed could be a huge weapon if he carries his success at the plate this spring into the regular season. Defensively, he has a chance to become an elite center fielder considering he’s one of the fastest players in the big leagues. — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: RHP Lou Trivino
Not too long ago, Trivino was thought to be the A’s closer-in-waiting as he went through a fantastic 2018 rookie campaign as the eighth-inning bridge to Blake Treinen. After going through a down 2019 that saw him post a career-wost 5.25 ERA, Trivino showed flashes of his old self last season, posting a 3.86 ERA in 20 appearances with 26 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. This spring, the 29-year-old righty has been nearly unhittable, allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts and three walks in 7 1/3 innings. A’s manager Bob Melvin has mentioned Trivino as a potential multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen this year. — Martin Gallegos

Mariners: OF Taylor Trammell
We all knew Jarred Kelenic had the potential to wow, and he’s certainly lived up to that billing and opened quite a few eyes in the process. But we’re going with more of a “pleasant surprise” pick here in the 23-year-old Trammell, who entered Spring Training on the outside looking in for a roster spot and has firmly entrenched himself as the favorite to earn the Opening Day left-field job. MLB Pipeline’s No. 100-ranked prospect certainly still has some development in front of him, most notably in adjusting to secondary pitching at the big league level. But whenever action was happening on the field over the past month in Peoria, Ariz., he seemed to be at the center of it. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: 1B Ronald Guzmán
Guzmán is the clear answer. Rangers fans and coaches alike were understandably frustrated with his production at the plate, and Texas even traded for Nate Lowe this offseason with the hopes that he would grab hold of the starting first-base spot. And while Lowe has proven himself to be serviceable competition, Guzmán has taken it to another level. After winning Dominican Winter League MVP honors, he got off to a hot start to Spring Training. He’s since leveled off, but Guzmán and Lowe are neck and neck for the starting spot. Guzmán has hits in six of his past seven games, and in 11 out of 14 overall. It’s yet to be seen if he makes the Opening Day roster, but he’s surely put up a fight. — Kennedi Landry

Braves: OF Michael Harris
The Braves player who created the most buzz was Harris, who ranks No. 11 among Braves prospects. Harris has played just 53 games since being selected out of suburban Atlanta’s Stockbridge High School in 2019, so the 20-year-old outfielder will likely need another year or two of Minor League seasoning. But while lacing a few of Mike Soroka’s pitches during a sim game last week, the five-tool prospect showed why he’s capable of making a quick rise. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: RHP Anthony Bender
Bender, a 26-year-old reliever who spent 2020 posting a 1.64 WHIP in independent league ball, has struck out 10 batters in 7 1/3 scoreless innings this spring. The non-roster invitee has allowed just one hit and two walks, and his fastball reaches 98 mph.

“He’s a guy that I don’t want to say came out of nowhere, but he sort of did, and he’s been really impressive,” Marlins GM Kim Ng said of Bender. “The other night I was watching him, and he gave up a hit and he actually hit his glove, like he was annoyed that he gave up a hit, his first hit in Spring Training. I did chuckle to myself. But I think that tells you where his mind-set is, and that he has had a great spring.” — Christina De Nicola

Mets: 1B Pete Alonso
Those concerned about Alonso’s future had their worries eased by his strong spring performance. Much like in 2019, when Alonso dominated the Grapefruit League en route to a 53-homer rookie season, the first baseman again demonstrated his muscle throughout Spring Training. Alonso hit three homers and four doubles over his first 10 games, often going to the opposite field with prodigious power — and all that after he failed to hit a single home run last spring. The Mets will have no qualms using Alonso as their regular cleanup hitter in 2021, and are no longer fretting over what to do if Dominic Smith outplays him on a regular basis. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: 1B Josh Bell
The Nationals were looking for power when they acquired Bell from the Pirates on Christmas Eve, and he’s delivered. This spring, he has looked more like the 2019 All-Star who hit 37 homers than the player who struggled last season. Bell has belted six home runs in the first 16 games of Grapefruit League action, a glimpse into the protection he could provide hitting behind Juan Soto in the lineup. Bell’s contact has been so strong, manager Dave Martinez compared the sound to “opening day of duck season.” The 28-year-old also has been lauded by Martinez for his defense. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: LHP José Alvarado
One of the reasons the Phillies feel so much better about their bullpen is Alvarado. The left-hander came into camp in shape and he has impressed, routinely touching 100 mph with his fastball. If Alvarado returns to his 2018 form with the Rays, the Phillies will have a dominant late-inning reliever who could pick up big outs in the seventh or eighth inning or even close games, if needed. — Todd Zolecki

Brewers: OF Garrett Mitchell
Even Robin Yount played 64 Minor League games before making the Majors as an 18-year-old on Opening Day 1974, so perhaps it’s wise to pump the brakes on the Mitchell hype train. Still, the Brewers’ first-round Draft pick in 2020 — the team’s top prospect and No. 65 prospect in MLB — was incredibly impressive during his first Spring Training, especially considering his pro experience coming into camp consisted of four games in the fall instructional league.

Mitchell rolled out of bed and started hitting, beginning his Cactus League with a 10-for-20 clip that included a slew of loud outs and seven hits against left-handed pitchers. That certainly opened eyes for Craig Counsell and his coaching staff, who can file the memory away for a date in the future — maybe 2022 or 2023? — when the left-handed-hitting center fielder has the Minor League experience under his belt to be an option for the Major League club. — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: 1B/OF John Nogowski
An injury to Harrison Bader has likely secured Nogowski’s place on the Cards’ Opening Day roster, and he was giving the club a hard decision to make before the roster squeeze got a little less pressurized. Nogowski leads the Cards this spring in RBIs, is tied for the lead in homers and ranks near the top — if not at the very top — in several other offensive categories. A 28-year-old rookie, Nogowski is best suited at first base, but he’s trying to make himself expendable by playing the outfield as well. Bader’s eventual return might complicate Nogowski’s spot on the bench, but he’s opened the eyes of many now in his fifth year in the organization. — Zachary Silver

Cubs: RHP Shelby Miller
Remember Miller? Once a promising prospect, the right-hander was a key piece in multiple blockbuster trades before injuries stalled his career. He was an All-Star in his last full season — back in 2015. Miller then posted a 6.89 ERA from 2016-19, logging 183 total innings before electing not to play in the 2020 season. Over the offseason, the Cubs took a chance on the 30-year-old without requiring a throwing session beforehand. Chicago offered him a Minor League deal, a non-roster invite to camp and a real chance to prove he belonged with the Major League staff. This spring, Miller has hovered around 94-95 mph with his fastball and has flashed a new slider, which he began developing last year. The Cubs believe the veteran righty could help this season as a part-time starter or multirole reliever. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: RHP David Bednar
The Pirates picked up Bednar, a Pittsburgh native, from the Padres as part of the deal for Joe Musgrove in the offseason. Bednar seemed like a good depth piece for the Minors, having posted a 6.75 ERA in 17 1/3 innings over the past two seasons in San Diego, but he’s come out firing in Spring Training. The 26-year-old has held opponents scoreless through eight appearances in the Grapefruit League, striking out 14 batters in 7 1/3 innings with an .077 batting average against. Though the Pirates aren’t keen to show their hand early, he seems certain to earn a spot in the bullpen — if not on Opening Day, then shortly after. — Jake Crouse

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan
Finnegan fell way off the radar, and he hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since 2018. Poor performances, lack of conditioning and injuries contributed to his coming off the 40-man roster in ’19, and he didn’t see any game action in ’20 because of the pandemic. Finnegan spent much of 2019 at Driveline to rework his mechanics and find his lost velocity. The quality pitches and velocity appeared to be back when Finnegan got into some early spring games. He earned a promotion from Minor League camp to big league camp and into a legitimate option for a bullpen spot. Finnegan may or may not make the club when it breaks camp. But he definitely put himself in position to return to big leagues at some point in 2021. — Mark Sheldon

D-backs: RHP J.B. Bukauskas
There was some question after he was acquired from the Astros in the Zack Greinke deal about whether Bukauskas’ future was in the rotation or the bullpen. That hasn’t fully been answered, but the 24-year-old right-hander pitched in relief this spring and was dominant. In six Cactus League games, he has not allowed a baserunner while striking out 12. While he was optioned to Triple-A Reno, the D-backs’ No. 17 prospect definitely made an impression. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: RHP Jimmy Nelson
The Dodgers had high hopes for Nelson in 2020, but back surgery during Summer Camp forced the right-hander to miss the entire season. Los Angeles is starting to benefit from the signing in ’21. Nelson looks completely healthy, and he said he feels 100% for the first time since his breakout season with the Brewers in 2017. The 31-year old has been one of the standouts this spring for the Dodgers, and it’s very likely that he’ll make the Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee. If he does, he would serve as a multi-inning option out of the bullpen. — Juan Toribio

Giants: OF Heliot Ramos
Ramos, the Giants’ No. 3 prospect and MLB’s No. 82, showed off his tantalizing promise by emerging as one of San Francisco’s hottest hitters this spring, batting .417 (14-for-35) with three home runs and six RBIs over 19 Cactus League games. The 21-year-old from Puerto Rico wasn’t viewed as a candidate for the Opening Day roster, but his performance was the latest indication that he could be ready to contribute at the big league level sooner rather than later. The Giants believe Ramos possesses the necessary tools to remain in center field, which could help accelerate his path to the Majors given the club’s shallow depth at the position. — Maria Guardado

Padres: SS CJ Abrams
Abrams’ performance this spring bears a fun resemblance to Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 2018 camp. The Padres wanted to see how a wiry, young shortstop prospect like Tatis could hang, facing big league competition for the first time. He instantly proved he belonged. So has Abrams. MLB Pipeline’s No. 8-ranked prospect, Abrams has dazzled all spring with his elite bat-to-ball skills, strong defense and blazing speed. At some point, the Padres will likely move Abrams off shortstop. (They’re already set there.) But for now, they’re simply eager to watch him develop in the Minors after a strong showing this spring. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: LHP Ben Bowden
A second-round Draft pick in 2016 who is ranked as Colorado’s No. 15 prospect, Bowden has been dealing with injuries since ‘17 — it was a back injury last year. Expected to need Minor League seasoning, the 26-year-old Bowden has been impressive in full innings and matchup situations to put himself in position to earn an Opening Day roster spot. Righty-swinging corner infielder Colton Welker, the team’s No. 11 prospect who just might grab a bench role with the Triple-A season delayed a month, deserves an honorable mention here. — Thomas Harding

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