If you've taken a look at your portfolio this week, you are probably a little jaded by stocks, and there's an unfortunate parallel between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Dow. They are both representations of a collection of individual performances and they are both trending down. However, just like not every stock in the Dow is plummeting, not every Pirate is having a bad spring. In fact, some are taking advantage of opportunity in a meaningful way. So, whose stock is up and whose is down through the first week of spring games? Let's take a look.
In the spirit of ending on a good note, let's start with those who are trending down.
Trevor is one guy who is looking for a bounce back after a tough 2019. He changed his delivery a bit, and suddenly a guy who relies on control doesn't have it. This is the time to adjust and correct before getting to the games that matter, but Williams' 8 earned runs through 3 innings and his 3.667 WHIP suggest he has a lot of adjustments to make. He's an easy guy to root for, and I hope he figures it out in time for the starting rotation to be named.
There are other Pirates who have had just as bad, or even worse, springs than Kramer, but Kevin is trying to make this team and has done nothing so far to show he should. Through 7 at-bats, he's yet to record a hit and has struck out three times. He has some position flexibility that plays in his favor, but there are others who play a similar role who have shown more to this point.
Howard is trying to prove himself on a new team and, while 1.2 innings is way too small of a sample size to glean anything meaningful from, his 5 walks in that short time frame is very concerning.
This isn't entirely fair to include him here, but he's a guy the Pirates may be counting on at some point this season, and he hasn't shown anything in week one to suggest he'll be ready when they call. In his 8 at-bats this spring, he's struck out 6 times. He does have two walks and an RBI single to his credit, but it would be nice to see some of that power that has caused him to become one of the Pirates' top prospects before he's sent to Indianapolis to start the season.
The Pirates need Frazier to have a big year. Whether they benefit from his production or an increase in his trade value, Frazier's trajectory this year is something to watch. So far this spring, he is without a hit in his 10 at-bats. Of all the players on this list, I am least concerned about Adam. We know who is and what we should expect by now. I'd expect him to knock the rust off at some point.
There are other players we could add to this list, but, being so early in the spring, I wanted to keep it to a meaningful list of guys who need show something.
Believe it or not, it's not all bad. There are a handful of Pirates who are taking advantage of the exposure that these spring games bring.
He's first on this list because I've been waiting for him for quite some time and 2020 should finally be his year. He hasn't exactly been knocking the cover off the ball in his 11 at-bats with 3 hits (.273 AVG), but he's shown up in other ways as well. He's walked twice, including an impressive one against Gerrit Cole where he started out 0-2, and he's flashed some serious leather. Check out the play below, and it's not the only one.
Just when you think Osuna might fade away, he continues to add sneaky value to this team. He's been a man without a position his entire career, and, while that has inhibited him from become an every day player, it's helped him stick in Pittsburgh by providing flexibility. Once again, this spring Jose is showing up. He's got 4 hits in 9 at-bats, including a double and 2 RBIs. Like I mentioned above, Kevin Kramer could be competing for that utility role this season, and Osuna is outperforming him out of the gate.
You can't really talk about the Pirates' spring without bringing up Nick Burdi. We've been pretty bullish about him since it was announced that he was healthy and ready to go for 2020 after his injury last season, and he's shown why. He's only pitched 1.2 innings, and he has allowed some base runners, but he's struck out 3, flashed triple digit heat, and, like Ike Taylor, he's swaggin'.
Blake is another fire baller that Derek Shelton will have in the bullpen at some point. In his 2.2 innings pitched this spring, he hasn't allowed a hit, walked 2, and struck out five. A one-two punch of Burdi and Cederlind could be lethal once they both polish their games.
Perhaps no position on the Pirates' roster received as much (negative) attention as the catchers this off-season. They sent a group of relative unknowns to Florida, but they came to play. They are known more for their defense than their bats, but each has been hitting better than expected. Jacob Stallings, who should lead the group, is 3 for 6 with two doubles so far. Luke Maile, who was signed this off-season, is 2 for 5. He claims he's more than just a good glove. So, hopefully he keeps that up. John Ryan Murphy, another off-season signing, has raised some eyebrows. He only has 2 hits in his 8 at-bats, but they're both home runs. I wouldn't expect all that to continue, but it's at least an encouraging, albeit very early, sign.
Hayes is very much like Will Craig in that he is likely to be called upon, at some point this season, to play in Pittsburgh. The knock on Hayes to this point in his career has been his bat. It hasn't profiled as one worthy of a corner infield spot. His stellar defense makes up for it, but 3B should be a position that produces some offense. So far Hayes has looked the part. He's 4 for 10 with a double, a walk, and only one strike out. We shouldn't expect home run power at this point in his career, but if he can show the ability to get on base and flash some gap power, his glove could make him a star.
Like with the stock down group, I could have added more to this list, but this is the group that has stuck out to me so far. It's still early. Each of these players could go either way from here, but this is what spring baseball is about.
Follow Jared on Twitter: @a_piratelife