Cactus League Coverage: Five Games, Five Names

While the very reasonable Matthew Carruth announced two days ago that he would no longer breach the subject of Team FanGraphs’ spring training trip in these electronic pages*, I, having never really been all that fond of “restraint,” intend to go back to that well until it’s as dry and dusty as the Greater Phoenix Area.

*It’s like they say: “What happens at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Phoenix-Airpot, stays at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Phoenix-Airport.”

What follows is the sort of white-hot baseballing analysis you can only get from FanGraphs. For each of the five games I attended (in just four days!), I provide one player of note. If nothing else, consider it an opportunity to write “small sample size” in all caps in the the comment section. You’re welcome, in advance.

Date: Friday, March 12
Game: Kansas City at Seattle
Name: Matt Tuiasosopo
Comments: The Peoria Sports Complex, where the Seattle Mariners play, has a giant blue batting eye in center field that’s probably about, I don’t know, 40 feet tall and 90 or so feet wide (and which you can see with your own two right here). Here’s the weird thing about that batting eye: it’s in play. Of course, that’s not something I’d’ve thought about for more than, like, three seconds had Tuiasosopo not slamicated a John Parrish offering half way up said batting eye for what turned about to be a 435-foot double. Oh, and Tui hit a home run to left off Juan Cruz in his next PA.

Date: Saturday, March 13
Game: Texas at Cleveland
Name: Lonnie Chisenbutt
Comments: The lay baseball fan may know him as Lonnie Chisenhall, but it was universally acknowledged by those of us in attendance (okay, maybe just Jack Moore and I) that saying something to the effect of “Guess what? Chisenbutt” is pretty hilarious. In case you’re not acquainted, Chisenbutt is — according to our own Marc Hulet — is Cleveland’s number two prospect and number 55 overall in Hulet’s totally uncontroversial Top 100 Prospect list. In this game, Chisenhall played a pretty legit-looking third base while doubling to the right field gap and drawing two walks. Justin Masterson struck out six in 3.2 innings, and would’ve totally been my Player of the Game if his name could be made into a sophomoric joke.

Date: Saturday, March 13
Game: Auburn at Arizona State
Name: Zack MacPhee
Comments: Through the ten (albeit, non conference) games entering this one, MacPhee had compiled 7 triples and a 7-for-7 record on stolen bases while managing to post an OPS of, like, one million. I was already totally on the bandwagon when, after doubling from the right side earlier in the game, MacPhee jacked a donger from the left side. Worried that the subsequent joy coma might be unwarranted, I asked someone whose actual job it is to know these things, Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt. Mr. Fitt responded kindly, promptly with the following:

I don’t think your liking of MacPhee is irrational at all — he’s an exciting player. He’s undersized, sure, but I actually think he has some projection because he’s a real quick-twitch athlete. I remember when Arizona State brought him in, their recruiting coordinator at the time, Josh Holiday, called him “a little ball of fire” and said “this guy is a stronger, faster, quicker athlete than Pedroia.” Like Pedroia, he really drives the baseball — he’s not just a contact-oriented slap hitter. Holiday really knows his stuff, and he told me quite clearly that MacPhee “will do big things.” And since he arrived in Tempe, he has learned how to switch-hit, and apparently he’s really taken to it. That just gives him more value. Obviously he’s unorthodox, but I think he’s got a real chance to move up draft boards and be a good pro.

Date: Sunday, March 14
Game: Kansas City at Oakland
Name: Catcher Jake Fox
Comments: This was actually supposed to be a Chicago Cubs versus Some Other Team game, but turns out a lot of people really want to see the Cubs. Anyway, the Athletics’ spring training complex wasn’t so far away, so we decided to head thataways. Really, it was just an opportunity for Matt Klaassen to find new and interesting ways to be disappointed by his hometown team. Anyway, the surprising thing was when the PA guy referred to Fox as a “catcher” during the latter’s first plate appearance. I thought maybe I was suffering from too much sun, but, no, in Fox’s second plate appearance, the PA guys once again called him “Catcher Jake Fox.” Later on, in the eighth, Fox jacked a pretty serious donger to left off Matt Herges.

Date: Monday, March 15
Game: Cleveland at Milwaukee
Name: Michael Fiers
Comments: Who the frig is Michael Fiers? He’s a guy who struck out 63 batters across 42.2 IP in the Brewers system last year. Of course, he was a college guy pitching in the low minors, so that’s not saying much. But he’s also a guy who struck out the only three batters he faced in today’s game and looked nasty while doing it. I’d’ve asked around about Fiers, except I was so eager to learn more about MacPhee that I totally forgot. [End white-hot analysis.]

We hoped you liked reading Cactus League Coverage: Five Games, Five Names by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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