By Casey Gagnon @CaseySportsAZ on March 10, 2014
While MLB Spring Training is often a time for veteran players to rediscover their skills and ease into a new baseball season, young players who have yet to prove themselves must work non-stop from day one. Ever since the Arizona Diamondbacks commenced their Cactus League exhibition schedule at the end of February, here are five young players who have stood out early, making their case for inclusion on the big league lineup card.
Jake Lamb, who mostly plays at third base, is batting .364 through six Spring Training game appearances, which includes a solo home run. Even though a hand injury sidelined him for a good part of last season in the class-A California League, Lamb still showcased his slugging abilities, finishing in double figures in both homers and extra base hits. The Diamondbacks drafted Lamb in the sixth round of 2012 out of the University of Washington.
The Diamondbacks added pitcher Bo Schultz to their 40-man roster at the 2013 season's conclusion after he completed just over 100 innings of work split between double-A and triple-A. Schultz posted a 5-6 record and a 3.35 ERA. He also finished with 1.21 WHIP and a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. So far at 2014 Spring Training, Schultz has made two appearances, one as a starter and one in relief, surrendering only one run on three hits.
A 24-year old outfielder from the Dominican Republic, Alfredo Marte has seen action in eight Spring Training games thus far. He's batting a respectable .455, has scored three runs, driven in three additional runs and brought his OPS up to 1.409, aided by both a home run and a triple. Marte was an amateur free agent signing in 2005 and appeared in 22 regular season games for the Diamondbacks last season, spending most of his time in triple-A.
Speedy outfielder Ender Inciarte, a Venezuelan native, originally signed with the Diamondbacks in 2008. The Philadelphia Phillies snagged Inciarte in the 2012 Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings, but the Diamondbacks claimed him right back after the season started. He spent all of 2013 in double-A, where he batted .281 and stole 43 bases. He's seen a great deal of action at 2014 Spring Training, appearing in 11 games and batting .353 thus far.
Considered the league's top pitching prospect, Archie Bradley could feasibly earn a spot in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation by Opening Day. Aside occasional control problems, the 21-year old is a strikeout machine with a fastball in the high 90s along with a wicked curveball that spells bad news for an opposing batter's knees. In two short Spring Training starts thus far, Bradley has fanned nine batters and has yet to allow a run.
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