Spring Training 2013: Grapefruit and Cactus League Action Returns

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(Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

Tyler DeBord, Business Manager

It’s back. The wonders of the game of baseball are returning, and fans are getting excited about their teams as the winter trade talks come to an end. Spring Training is the first step in the baseball season, and a crucial time for a player’s success in a long 162 game schedule. The 2012 campaign was very exciting and memorable for most, but with big signings this off-season, the 2013 season has the potential to top it. Let’s take a look at the upcoming Spring Training, as the Grapefruit and Cactus League get started next week.

Grapefruit League: Last year’s Grapefruit League saw the Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals top the rest of the league. Two of these teams, St Louis and Detroit, went on to make the playoffs including a Detroit Tigers’ World Series appearance. The Cardinals were eliminated when the San Francisco Giants toppled them in a seven game National League Championship Series.

Now, onto the 2013 outlook. The Grapefruit League consists of Toronto, Detroit, St. Louis, New York Yankees, Boston, Minnesota, Philadelphia  Baltimore, Houston, Miami, Washington, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New York Mets, and Pittsburgh. East Coast teams make up the Grapefruit League. Each team heads down to the state of Florida and goes to their spring training home for a month to get reps and play exhibition games against the other teams. The start date is Thursday February 21st. Spring Training is a time to get a good look at a clubs’ top prospects because they usually bring everyone on the 40 man roster. Some prospects to look for in the Grapefruit League this year are Zack Wheeler (Mets RHP), Dylan Bundy (Orioles RHP), and Julio Teheran (Braves RHP). These three have already made their Major League debuts and have had success. Look for these prospects as the 2013 season comes to life, as we could see all three of them starting in the Big Leagues. In all honesty, standings do not matter in the Spring. It’s all about player development and getting repetitions. For our purposes, we will take a look. The best team coming in would have to be the Atlanta Braves due to the recent signings of BJ and Justin Upton from an offensive standpoint. Their pitching rotation is one of the best in the National League by far, and they have a legitimate shot at making yet another run towards the postseason. The Washington Nationals have the best starting pitching. Other teams to watch in the Grapefruit League this Spring are the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and the Baltimore Orioles.

Cactus League: This Spring Training League is held in Arizona, consisting of West Coast teams. Arizona, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Kansas City, LA Angels, LA Dodgers, Milwaukee, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Texas. Four of these teams made the postseason last year, including the Reds, Athletics, Giants, and Rangers. Expect these teams and a couple more listed above to make a postseason splash.  Some key players to watch this Spring in the Cactus League are Jurickson Profar (Rangers SS), Billy Hamilton (Reds OF), and Bubba Starling (Kansas City OF). Among these top prospects, 2 of the 3 should be in the Majors (Profar and Hamilton), while Starling should stay in the Minors in order to develop a little more. As far as the league shakes out, the LA Angels seem to be the top team along with the 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants. These two teams will make a huge splash once the regular season rolls around with top pitching staffs and two of the best offenses.

The 2013 Major League Baseball season should be one filled with excitement. More surprises are sure to come in division and wild card races across the country. Great the things are bound to come out of this season. Mark your calendars ladies and gentlemen, April 1st is no joke. Baseball season is officially back.