Oakland A’s: The emerging stars of spring training

The Oakland A’s are off to a great start this spring training with four wins, one loss and one tied game. The club as a whole is gaining a lot of attention this spring because of the depth in their bullpen and the quality of their players both offensively and defensively. But there are already a few individual A’s who are making headlines for their personal successes during spring training.

Josh Reddick

Reddick had a rough 2013, but he told the press that he felt 100% healthy both physically and mentally going into spring training. But Reddick looked more like 200% better when he scaled the chain link fence to catch what should have been a homerun against the San Francisco Giants in the Cactus League Opening Day game. Not only did he do this once, but he robbed Michael Morse of a home run twice during that game. Everyone is still talking about these two catches and both have already been labeled as the catch of the year even though the regular season has not started yet.

Reddick has always been known for his defense, so it is good to see that his defense is back up to its Gold Glove standards. Besides his skills out in right field, Reddick’s batting skills has also improved since 2013. He is 4-for-10 with 3 RBIs and only one strikeout. Reddick has met with the A’s batting coach, so it is likely that his hitting will continue to improve throughout spring training.

Billy Burns

Burns filled in for Coco Crisp on Saturday against the Texas Rangers and played a very impressive game. Burns just recently came to Oakland in December, so this was his first opportunity to show the Athletic coaches what he is made of. He does not have the strongest arm out of all the outfield players, but Bob Melvin expressed that he was pleasantly surprised when it came to Burns’ throwing accuracy and quick release. Burns was able to make two assists from center field that threw out runners at third and home.

When it came to offense, Burns has two hits, two runs, and two steals. He has a lot of speed and is a bold runner, which will prove to be a good addition to the A’s since Crisp is the only other player who has the speed to regularly steal bases. After his success on Saturday, it is clear that we will be seeing a lot more of Burns during spring training and mostly like during the regular season.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez is off to a great start this spring training. Since he is the only Oakland pitcher to have started two Cactus league games, Chavez has pitched more innings than any other A’s pitcher – a whopping 4.2 innings. However small, these innings were quite impressive with three strikeouts, only two hits and one walk – which is much better than Jarrod Parker’s start last week where he went 1 ⅓ innings, walked a batter, hit another batter, and allowed five hits that resulted in six runs. Chavez’s success on the mound during these two outings will likely earned him a coveted spot in the Oakland A’s bullpen for 2014, especially since he was also a reliable long and middle reliever in 2013 with a 3.92 ERA. Chavez would add more depth to the A’s already very deep bullpen and provides the Athletics with another great option for a middle reliever.

Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir

Scott Kazmir

Even though Kazmir has not pitched in a game yet during spring training, he threw a 46-pitch simulated game to prepare for his start on Friday in his first Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Athletic coaches and executives came out to see their newly acquired starting pitcher, and pitching coach Chris Young told reporters that he was quite impressed with Kazmir’s fastball and his ability to hit strike zone. Melvin on the  other hand saw something special in Kazmir’s changeup. Kazmir also showed off his slider and curveball during this simulated game. If he can make the news for just pitching in a simulated game, then he will most likely be make headlines on Friday after his first start of spring training.

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