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Bernie On The Scene: Cactus League Recap

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

This is the final notebook from Cactus League spring training. Instead of concentrating on one team, I am going to review some of the items that caught my eye or some thoughts I wish to share.


Bartolo Colon provides a good option for Oakland until Jarrod Parker proves he can command his pitches. Parker has the arm, but like Brad Peacock, he's all over the place.

Michael Choice will have a place on the team at some point in the future as long as he will accept instruction, cut down his swing and continue to improve. The A's are woeful at first base.

Yoenis Cespedes knows he has to adjust to breaking balls. He has accepted that and is working hard. Manny may be a distraction.

While first base is a black hole, third base is every bit as bad.


Without question, the best team I saw in spring training.

They have an amazing number of fantasy studs including Pujols, Kendrick, Morales, Trumbo, Wells, Aybar, Callaspo, Bourjos, Hunter, Weaver, Wilson, Haren and Santana.

I have some concern if Jordan Walden can keep his job. I would look at Kevin Jepsen if I were to draft Walden.

I don't like any of the Angels' catchers compared to others available in an AL-only league.

I have no doubt Mark Trumbo can play third base.

I truly believe Aybar and Kendrick are going to have career seasons.


I have concerns about Josh Collmenter's command and control. He got pounded this spring. I think lefty Patrick Corbin is breathing down his neck.

I would guess Stephen Drew might not be back until May, if then. That means Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald will play shortstop. My sources tell me the Diamondbacks are looking for an offensive shortstop.

Justin Upton has a history of mediocre springs. I wouldn't panic if he starts slowly.

Chris Young has tweaked his swing and it seems to be working.

Paul Goldschmidt's increased plate discipline will lead to a huge year.

Any of these pitchers make great keeper league buys: Trevor Bauer, Charles Brewer, Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs. Of those, I like Corbin best at this point. That will change when Bauer learns how to pitch.

I'm not excited about Trevor Cahill. In fact, I won't take him on any team. Too scary in Chase Field.


After almost getting killed by a batted ball last year, Juan Nicasio looks like a possible pitching option that can sustain in Colorado. He's a real sleeper if you want a late-round starting pitcher.

As I've told everyone including my paper-boy and grocery store bagger, Drew Pomeranz will be a stud within two to three years. Maybe sooner.

I'm very bullish on Rafael Betancourt as a closer. Just turn the channel when he's pitching or you'll fall asleep.

Todd Helton can still hit. Make no mistake about it.

I will try and grab Nolen Arenado any time I can. It won't be long until he will be spoken of in the same manner as Toronto's Brett Lawrie.

I really like catcher Wilin Rosario and utility player Jordan Pacheco. Both can hit and both are effective defensively.


A huge hole still exists at second base. Freddy Sanchez still can't throw and there is no indication he is close to returning.

I like all the starting pitching, but I'm really excited about Madison Bumgarner.

Buster Posey looks totally healthy to me and I think you can buy with confidence. He and Pablo Sandoval are the bulk of the offense.

Gregor Blanco's speed and running instincts intrigue me. He could be a real sleeper. But he has no boom in his bat.

I have little confidence in closer Brian Wilson and no confidence in Barry Zito.


Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd stand in the way of hot prospect Brett Jackson. Jackson is a five-tool player who should arrive in 2013 when Soriano and Byrd are done in Chicago.

I like the speed of outfielder Tony Campana, but like Jackson, he is blocked. He may get some playing time eventually.

Bryan LaHair is a better hitter than many people think. He's in a lousy lineup, but he puts the bat on the ball.

Starlin Castro is almost in the tier of Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki. It won't be long until he's a top, top fantasy choice. He has power, speed and makes good contact.

Jeff Samardzija is not on my target list. I don't think he will last the season as a starter. They just don't have many options.


The Mariners' future belongs on the arms of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton along with Felix Hernandez.

Jesus Montero will earn his living as a designated hitter. With both Miguel Olivo and John Jaso around, I doubt if Montero will catch much, but he'll hit.

Dustin Ackley is improving at the plate and running the bases. He's more comfortable playing second base, and it has an impact on his bat.

Brendan Ryan has a sore shoulder that could impact his future.

Alex Liddi would be the Mariners' third baseman if he could play defense. He can certainly hit.

I think Justin Smoak could have a fine year at the plate.

Carlos Peguero has incredible power.

Franklin Gutierrez can't stay healthy.

I like closer Brandon League but he scares me at time when he throws cookies to good hitters.


The more I saw of Yasmani Grandal, Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger and Edinson Volquez the more I think the Reds made a lousy deal. I think Volquez can have a good year. He has a solid arm and he's pitching in a much better park for his stuff.

Alonso has great work habits and can drive the ball to the gaps. That's a great trait for his home park.

I'm very high on Cory Luebke and I'll take him on any team I have. He has everything I like in a pitcher; command, the ability to miss bats, good mechanics, good velocity and a deep repertoire of quality pitches.

Kyle Blanks can't stay healthy.

The Reds probably wish they still had Chris Denorfia.


Dee Gordon could steal 50 bases. He has the ability to get on base and steal.

Matt Kemp will have a very good year, but I see regression in his future.

Juan Uribe should not be playing third base for the Dodgers. After the new ownership takes over, he won't be.

The Dodgers will spend money and make trades quickly once the new ownership takes over (provided someone wants to trade with them.) High salaried players won't scare them away from trading for them as long as they can play.

Andre Ethier is now once again among the best pure line drive hitters in baseball. He is leaner, meaner and more focused. Now what I thought he would be.

Clayton Kershaw could win 22 or more games if his team scores for him. He's just that good! If you were with me when I first saw him, I said it would take two years for him to find command and then become a mega star. It did. He is. Now his change-up and curve are as good and as important as his fastball.

The Dodgers' rotation is much better than last year. And I like their bullpen. The Dodgers are going to surprise lots of experts.


The loss of Salvador Perez could be devastating. That's how good I think he is.

Eric Hosmer is Joey Votto in waiting. High praise. To me they are very similar players.

Johnny Giavotella is a good hitter. He should ultimately be back with the big club. I still don't think a platoon of Yuniesky Betancourt and Chris Getz works as well as giving the job to Giavotella.

Alex Gordon deserves the love and praise he is getting. He won't look back. He's in a groove and on the move.

Lorenzo Cain might not be the home run hitter he thinks he is. My caution light is on. I'm not going overboard yet. I like him, but not as much as I hear from fantasy owners.

The starting pitching has not materialized. It may take some time. I do, however, like Luis Mendoza as a back end of my rotation starter.

Alcedes Escobar is emerging as a very fine shortstop. He is hitting more consistently and I think if he hits further up in the order he will attempt more stolen bases.

I'm not sure Mike Moustakas ever consistently hits big league pitching.

White Sox

Adam Dunn is better but not a 40 home run hitter anymore. He is seeing more pitches, accepting walks and he looks more comfortable. He's in good physical condition.

I'm disappointed in the lack of energy I see from Dayan Viciedo.

Alejandro De Aza is a sleeper. He can make contact and run. He's good defensively and he should be able to keep his new full-time job.

I don't see Alex Rios coming all the way back, but he may have numbers a little better than last year. Not much, however.

Chris Sale will be an inconsistent starter.

The White Sox have made a mistake not naming a full-time closer yet. They have to get that person prepared to finish out games.

I really like Addison Reed. And Alexi Ramirez. And Tyler Flowers.

I really don't like Brent Morel and Gordon Beckham for my own fantasy teams.

Eduardo Escobar may take someone's job. He's that good.


They are the most lifeless, listless team I saw in spring training. A mess.

They have no impact players-and that includes Shin-Soo Choo. He's a good hitter. He isn't an impact player. Big difference.

I have no faith in Ubaldo Jimenez and I don't want to be an “I told you so, “ but I told you so. His velocity is down by five MPH or more. I hope I'm proven wrong.

The starting pitching is woeful.

Asdrubal Cabrera came to camp fat. He leaves the camp in a bit better shape.

Carlos Santana has worked to improve his defense. Thanks to Sandy Alomar, Jr. he has been much better. He will still be inconsistent at the plate but he'll hit some bombs.

I think the ultimate starting left fielder will be……….Bobby Abreu. Yep, they'll get the Angels to pay the freight and take the problem off their hands.


They are thin in the outfield and it could haunt them.

I like Zack Cozart a great deal. He hits more than I thought he could. And he's pretty consistent putting the bat on the ball.

Scott Rolen is a great mentor for the club and I hope he stays healthy. What a fine player.

Joey Votto had a tough spring but I have no reservations about his ability to hit for power and for average. And he'll steal some bases. A real star. But not worth the length of that contract.

I'm concerned about the future of Aroldis Chapman. I am seeing a great arm and a confused mind. What's his role? Once and for all, is he a starter or reliever? Now he's a starter again. No, he's in the bullpen today. See my point? It sounds like Dusty Baker's the manager. Oh, he is.

Will Mat Latos be worth the trade? I don't think so. I'm not very high on the Reds' rotation. Latos is good. Not great. Yet.

I would like to see Devin Mesoraco take over full time behind the plate. No knock on Ryan Hanigan - he's a good catcher. I just think Mesoraco was born to hit in that park.


I believe Ryan Braun will have a huge year.

Corey Hart will be important to the team's success and I believe he'll come through.

My guy for the year is Mat Gamel. I saw him put some very loud bombs come off his bat. Nice, measured swing.

I like Yovanni Gallardo, but I'm not as bullish about Zack Greinke. I don't know what's in his mind or how his mind works. I think it impacts his pitching. But overall, the rotation is fine. So is the bullpen.

I'm a big fan of both Caleb Gindl and Logan Schafer. I don't think the team needed Norichika Aoki. Gindl and Schafer can both hit and play solid defense.

Jonathan Lucroy is among my biggest surprises of the spring. He has been very sound behind the plate and the man is a much-improved hitter. You should consider Lucroy if you are looking for a hitting catcher.

Aramis Ramirez is a good option for filling the RBI hole left by the departure of Prince Fielder. I hope he'll stay healthy.


I believe the Rangers are making a mistake by starting Neftali Feliz and moving Alexi Ogando to the bullpen. It should be the other way around.

Michael Young will continue to put up huge batting average numbers and score runs. He will continue to save the Rangers' bacon.

Mitch Moreland is a better hitter than we credit.

Elvis Andrus flies on the bases. His best skill is taking the extra base on outfielders. Even better than stealing bases.

Leonys Martin is a bust as far as I can see.

I'll take David Murphy on any team if you'll let me. He hits, runs, plays defense and beats the opposition.

I don't trust Josh Hamilton to stay on the field. He can't be drafted highly by me if he can't play 150 games. Not 120.

I can't understand how a pitcher can throw a fastball to Nelson Cruz. He murders them. Throw him sliders on the outside corner. Period.

Ian Kinsler's home runs can bring rain. I think he'll hit for a better average, too.


If I were Roy Oswalt's agent, I'd be on the phone to the Red Sox. What's up with the thumb injuries to Josh Beckett and Andrew Bailey?

The Phillies will be playing more “small ball” with Juan Pierre at the top of the order. Can he still steal bases? Just askin'.

With the Dodgers on the prowl, every team with a star player will probably talk extensions and long-terms contracts that expire in the next century.

Who's faster, Peter Bourjos or Mike Trout? There are proponents for both. Imagine when they both patrol the same outfield. Maybe by mid-season.

Have fun. Do your best. Bond with your team(s).

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff. I will be tweeting from every Diamondbacks home game this season. Bring your friends along. Follow me on in the Voices section. I always welcome your comments and questions.