Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers are set to report on Feb. 14, as the offseason winds down and attention turns to the 2018 season. After position players report to their respective teams between Feb. 19 and Feb. 21, the Dirtbags will have nine former players in reporting to the Cactus League for big league spring training.
Highlighted by three players on the San Francisco Giants’ 40-man roster, here is a rundown of the Dirtbags, some who are household names and among MLB’s brightest stars, who’ll be throwing pitches and taking hacks in Arizona this spring.
Brice will be one of the players reporting on Feb. 14, as he begins his second season with Cincinnati. Traded to Reds from the Miami Marlins last January, Brice found a role in Cincinnati’s bullpen, appearing in 22 games. After making his MLB debut with the Marlins on Aug. 12, 2016, Brice logged 32.2 innings last season, striking out 26 batters against just seven walks, sporting a 4.96 ERA. The 25-year-old right-hander was a ninth-round draft pick in 2010 out of Northwood High School in Pittsboro, N.C. The Reds call Goodyear their offseason home.
Los Angeles Dodgers
No team may be eager to return to the diamond more than the Dodgers. After falling a win shy of the club’s first World Series title since 1988, the Dodgers look prime to make another deep run in October, led by a Dirtbag. Shortstop Corey Seager is set to continue his rise to stardom, entering his fourth season for the team. Back spasms held Seager out of the playoffs until the Dodgers showdown in the Fall Classic against the Houston Astros, but nothing held back Seager in 2017 regular season. The 2012 first-round draft pick batted .295 in 145 games, connecting on 22 home runs, driving in 77 runs and stealing 28 bases. Only 23, the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and recipient of two Silver Sluggers, Seager has the potential to be an MVP candidate in 2018. Dodgers position players report to Glendale on Feb. 19.
San Diego Padres
Traded to the Padres on Dec. 12, Mitchell is set to begin his first season in the National League after four seasons with the New York Yankees. Debuting with the Yankees on Aug. 10, 2014, Mitchell appeared in 48 games as a member of the Yankees. Mitchell went 1-1 with a save over 20 games in 2017, totaling 32.2 innings. As a power arm out of the bullpen, Mitchell struck out 17 batters behind a four-seam fastball which average 96 MPH. Mitchell is from Reidsville, N.C., a 16th-round draft pick in the 2009 draft out of Rockingham County High School.
Mitchell will find a familiar face in Peoria when all of Padres come together on Feb. 19, as he will be joined by former Dirtbag, and member of the Dirtbags Board of Directors, Wil Myers. Another 2009 draft pick, when he was a third-round selection by the Kansas City Royals, Myers is coming off a career year in 2017, setting a career highs for doubles (29), home runs (30), and walks (70). Adding 20 stolen bases and a .247 average, Myers provided the Padres with another season of strong play at first base, a year after he was an All-Star. The American League Rookie of the Year in 2013 as a member of the Tampa Rays, ready to begin his sixth MLB season, Myers enters 2018 15 home runs shy of 100 for his career.
San Francisco Giants
A four-time All-Star, three-time world champion and MVP of the 2014 World Series, left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner has put together quite the career since being the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Hickory, N.C. After a non-baseball-related injury limited him to 111 innings a year ago, Bumgarner looks to return to the standout form that saw him log at least 200 innings between 2011-2016, and hold a sub-3.00 ERA from 2013-2016. With a career record of 104-76, Bumgarner has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his career, 1482 strikeouts in 1508.2 innings, carrying a 3.01 as of the decade’s most dominant pitchers.
After making his MLB debut on June 24, 2017, a little more than two weeks after his 23rd birthday, Jones looks to break with the big league team out of Scottsdale and play for the Bay Area club for the entire 2018 season. Jones appeared in 53 games last season, picking up 26 hits in 150 at-bats, including two home runs. A second-round pick in the 2013 draft out of Watagua High School, Jones flew up the Giants farm system, needing only 450 games to merit a call-up, earning nods on the Giants’ Organizational All-Star team in 2016 and 2017.
Mac Williamson is another former Dirtbag looking to stick with the Giants out of Spring Training. Williamson has appeared in big league games in each of the last three seasons for the Giants, recording 212 at-bats over 92 games, with nine career home runs. The right fielder was a third-round pick out of Wake Forest in 2012, debuting on Sept. 23, 2015.
The elder of the Seager brothers, Kyle hopes 2018 is the year the Mariners get over the hump and enjoy the same West Division supremacy Corey’s Dodgers have. For seven years now, Seager has done his part to make sure the Mariners are formidable. Finishing the 2017 season with his 1,000 career MLB game, Seager holds a .263 lifetime average with 213 doubles, 153 home runs and 525 RBI. A big leaguer since his July 7, 2011 debut, Seager has hit at least 20 home runs in each of his six full seasons, including 2014 when he hit 25 to earn an All-Star nod. But he’s not all bat, playing a strong hot corner as he was the American League Gold Glove recipient at third base in 2014. The Mariners join the Padres in calling the Period Sports Complex their spring training home.
When pitchers and catchers report Mike Ohlman will do so with a new team, the Texas Rangers. Texas signed the backstop, who reached the bigs last year as a Toronto Blue Jay, to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training on Jan. 10. An 11th-round draft pick in the 2009 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, Ohlman appeared in seven games last year for the Blue Jays, picking up three hits in 13 at-bats. Giving him a taste of what’s needed to succeed as a big leaguer as he prepares for the season in Surprise.