1 player from each team making a big impression this spring

4:11 AM UTC

As we near the end of Spring Training, and with Opening Day right around the corner, it’s time to check in on which players around baseball have made the biggest impression on each club during Cactus League and Grapefruit League play.

With the help of all 30 MLB.com beat writers, here’s a look at these spring standouts, including several top prospects who could be on Major League rosters when the regular season opens:

American League East

Blue Jays: RHP Bowden FrancisFrancis entered camp on the edge of the roster, a candidate to either pitch in a bulk relief role or slide into the rotation if injuries hit. Well, they’ve hit. With Alek Manoah still not back up on the mound, Francis is lined up to open the season as the Blue Jays’ No. 5 starter and all he’s done this spring is earn praise. The big right-hander owns a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts over 14 innings, and if he carries this into the regular season, he could force the Blue Jays into an interesting decision when Manoah returns. — Keegan Matheson

Orioles: OF Colton CowserCowser has emerged as the clear front-runner in the crowded competition for the role of fourth outfielder. MLB Pipeline’s No. 19 overall prospect has been battling with fellow prospect Heston Kjerstad (No. 32 overall), Kyle Stowers and Ryan McKenna for a roster spot. The 23-year-old Cowser has proven he shouldn’t be slept on after a tough first stint in MLB last year (he slashed .115/.286/.148 in 26 games). So far this spring, he’s hitting .364 with a 1.246 OPS through 12 Grapefruit League games. It appears likely he will break camp with the O’s and get playing time at all three outfield spots and designated hitter. — Jake Rill

Rays: INF Jonathan ArandaThis offseason, the Rays set out to create a path to playing time for Aranda. The 25-year-old infielder has checked every box in Triple-A, batting a combined .328/.421/.565 with 43 homers and 166 RBIs in 199 games for Durham over the past two years. But that success hasn’t necessarily translated to the Majors yet — he’s hit .212 with a .656 OPS in 66 games. Competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster, Aranda knew he’d get a lot of chances to prove himself this spring. So far, he’s done everything the Rays could have hoped for and more. Aranda is batting .371 with a .992 OPS in 12 games this spring and now seems like a lock for a big league job. — Adam Berry

Red Sox: RHP Justin SlatenSlaten looks primed to become Garrett Whitlock 2.0. Three years ago, Whitlock went from Rule 5 pick to key member of Boston’s bullpen. Slaten has a chance to do the same thing. Recently, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked if Slaten is making the decision difficult as far as finagling him onto the roster. Cora’s response? “Actually, he’s making it easy.” In Slaten’s first five Grapefruit League appearances, he allowed no runs while walking one and striking out six over 5 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old from Longview, Texas, never quite found his way in the Rangers’ farm system, but the Red Sox might have something here. — Ian Browne

Yankees: 1B Anthony RizzoPut it this way: if Rizzo carries his Grapefruit League performance through the season, he’ll emerge as a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Rizzo looks to be completely recovered from the post-concussion syndrome that derailed his year in late May, batting .480 (12-for-25) with two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs through 11 spring games. He’s also looked as expected on defense. Manager Aaron Boone recently said that Rizzo “is doing a good job of staying in his legs and having a good base, and I feel like his bat path is good now.” — Bryan Hoch

AL Central

Guardians: OF Chase DeLauterIt’s been the prospects’ show in Spring Training. Shortstop Angel Martinez (Cleveland’s No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline) has been exceptional. First baseman Kyle Manzardo (No. 2) has fans excited. But it’s DeLauter, the club’s top prospect and No. 31 overall, who has completely stolen the show. He’s part of Cleveland’s depth camp (not even a non-roster invitee) and he’s dazzled with his bat by launching two homers and consistently getting on base. His professionalism and patience in the box has the big league coaching staff in awe. His debut probably won’t be on Opening Day, but his arrival to the big leagues shouldn’t take long. — Mandy Bell

Royals: RHP Alec MarshThere are a couple of hitters who are forcing their way into roster conversations, like Nick Pratto and Nick Loftin, but Marsh has raised his stock considerably this spring with the stuff he’s done beyond just the stats. The righty has impressed Royals coaches and evaluators with his demeanor and confidence on and off the mound. His delivery looks much more repeatable this year than in his rookie season, and that’s led to more strikes and control in the zone. His arsenal has impressed with his heater velocity in the upper-90s and sharp breaking stuff. Marsh has experience starting and relieving from last year, and he could earn his way into that hybrid role again for Opening Day. In 10 innings (four games) this spring, Marsh has allowed just one run with 12 strikeouts and four walks. — Anne Rogers

Tigers: RHP Matt ManningNot only has Manning staked his claim to a rotation spot amidst a competition that includes fellow former first-round pick Casey Mize and Reese Olson, Manning has addressed some of the longer-term questions about his game, especially strikeouts. With improved fastball command, a bump in velocity, a sharp slider and a retinkered split-change, Manning has drawn 24 whiffs in 70 swings over his last two outings. His numbers would be better, except that four of his five hits allowed have left the park, including three homers on a windy afternoon against the Pirates. — Jason Beck

Twins: RHP Jorge AlcalaWith Alcala coming off two seasons almost totally lost to injury, there was little idea of what the Twins could expect from the hard-throwing right-hander who had seemed to be on the cusp of a breakout when he was last healthy and pitching regularly at the end of the 2021 season. The version that showed up in camp has been as impressive as he’s looked in a long, long time, with his fastball sitting in the 96-97 mph range and topping out at 98.9, which is very encouraging as he vies for the final spot in the Minnesota bullpen. — Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: LHP Garrett CrochetCrochet expressed an offseason desire to take on the starting pitching challenge, the White Sox agreed and the southpaw has been a man on a mission during this month in Arizona. His talent already was known from parts of three seasons in the bullpen, but Crochet has attacked the strike zone during this starting opportunity, with his fastball touching 100 mph. He has struck out 12 without a walk and allowed seven hits over nine scoreless innings. Crochet could end up anywhere from the White Sox starter on Opening Day to working as a multi-inning hurler out of the bullpen when the team breaks camp. — Scott Merkin

AL West

Angels: INF Miguel SanóThe Angels don’t have much up for grabs this spring, but Sanó has hit three homers and could claim the final bench spot. It’s between him, Ehire Adrianza and Livan Soto. Sanó can play both corner infield spots and could be designated hitter, as the former All-Star with the Twins brings plenty of power and lost 58 pounds since he last appeared in the Majors in 2022. — Rhett Bollinger

Astros: OF Joey LoperfidoLoperfido, the Astros’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2023, has impressed with his performance and the way he carried himself in his first Major League camp. Loperfido can play all three outfield spots and can really swing the bat from the left side. Through 11 games this spring, he is slashing .381/.458/.619 with four extra-base hits and a stolen base. He’s made a case to break camp with the club but is likely to begin the season in Triple-A, where he finished last year. “He’s been having a really nice camp — the speed, the power, can play all three [outfield positions] and lefty bat,” manager Joe Espada said. “He’s really opening some eyes.” — Brian McTaggart

Athletics: OF Miguel AndújarClaimed off waivers from the Pirates in November, Andújar entered Spring Training considered a player on the bubble but has quickly forced his way onto the roster with a monster offensive performance. Through 13 Cactus League games, he’s hitting .333 (1.017 OPS) with four homers, a double and 13 RBIs.

“You look at a guy like Brent Rooker last year that gets his chance to come to Spring Training, makes the roster and has an amazing year, that’s something we’re hopeful with Miguel’s year that’s in front of him,” said A’s manager Mark Kotsay. — Martín Gallegos

Mariners: DH Mitch GarverSeattle’s marquee free-agent signee has settled in swimmingly, sharing his veteran experience freely and to open ears within the clubhouse, while also putting together one quality at-bat after another in Cactus League play. He’s been on time for velocity, has had a watchful eye for breaking stuff, and above all, has made situational adjustments. All the attributes that the Mariners front office had touted have been manifesting over the past month. — Daniel Kramer

Rangers: LF Wyatt LangfordMLB Pipeline’s No. 6 overall prospect, Langford has lived up to the hype, slashing .361/.442/.806 with five homers, five walks and 14 RBIs in 13 Cactus League games in his bid to make the Opening Day roster. The Rangers were honest entering camp that the 2023 first-rounder would have every opportunity to break camp with the big league club and he’s done everything in his power to make that happen.

“He’s had a great camp, and he’s put himself in a great position [to make the roster],” said general manager Chris Young. — Kennedi Landry

National League East

Braves: CF Michael Harris IIHarris won the 2022 NL Rookie of the Year Award and provided All-Star caliber production over last season’s final four months. The 23 year-old outfielder appears poised to take his game to another level this year. He has always possessed good opposite-field power. Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has been impressed with the additional pull power Harris has shown this year. A 30-homer season seems very attainable for the Gold Glove-caliber center fielder. — Mark Bowman

Marlins: LHP A.J. PukWhen word got around that Miami would build up the soon-to-be 29-year-old Puk to start — something he has yet to do in the big leagues — it was met with skepticism. Through three Grapefruit League outings, he has gone 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks. With shoulder injuries to Braxton Garrett and Edward Cabrera, plus Eury Pérez’s nagging nail issue, Puk’s transition is a blessing to an already-tested rotation. — Christina De Nicola

Mets: RHP Tylor Megill and RHP Jose ButtoWhen Kodai Senga suffered a shoulder strain early in Spring Training, the Mets found themselves in need of a fifth starter. Megill and Butto have both lobbied for the job in impressive fashion, combining to produce a 1.23 ERA so far this spring. Although Butto has delivered slightly better results overall, Megill remains the favorite in the race thanks in large part to his results down the stretch last season. Both pitchers have been big reasons behind the Mets’ Grapefruit League-leading team ERA. — Anthony DiComo

Nationals: INF Trey LipscombAmong a stacked group of top prospects invited to Major League camp, the Nats’ No. 16 prospect has made a strong impression against big league competition. Lipscomb, 23, is batting .355 in 15 games. What most notably prompted his selection to this list is his defense. The 2023 Nationals Minor League Defensive Player of the Year and third base Minor League Gold Glove Award winner, Lipscomb has shown he can be a reliable option at multiple positions, including second base. “I’m not going to limit his ceiling by putting a moniker on him that he’s a utility player: this guy’s a good player,” said general manager Mike Rizzo. Lipscomb’s Major League ETA, per MLB Pipeline, is this season. — Jessica Camerato

Phillies: RHP Jose RuizThe Phillies signed Ruiz to a Minor League contract with an invite to big league camp, hoping he might provide depth to the bullpen. He has pitched well enough this spring to make him a dark horse candidate for one of the team’s final two bullpen jobs, but he faces long odds because he is not on the 40-man roster. Still, no team goes an entire season using only 13 pitchers, so if Ruiz finishes camp strong and continues to pitch well in Triple-A, it would not be surprising to see him in the big leagues this season. — Todd Zolecki

NL Central

Brewers: OF/3B Sal FrelickMilwaukee can’t get enough Frelick. His versatility and energy on the field have made him the talk of Brewers camp, and those efforts may well have earned the 23-year-old a pivotal role with the team come Opening Day. That role: a super-utility combo of outfielder and third baseman. The Brewers started experimenting with Frelick at third this spring — even though he’s only played the outfield in professional baseball — but it’s not just an experiment anymore. The Brewers are now considering using Frelick as a regular left-handed-hitting option at third in 2024. Manager Pat Murphy even said: “It’ll be one of the best stories in baseball.” — Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: LF Alec BurlesonThe Cardinals used a tough-love approach with Burleson in the offseason, telling him that he needed to be more mobile and better defensively for him to get more playing time. Burleson not only showed up to camp in better shape and better defensively, but he has also proven to be a force at the plate. In his first 13 games of Grapefruit League action, Burleson has gone 12-for-33 (.367) with two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and four walks. All of that is good news for a Cardinals club that will likely open the season at Dodger Stadium without starting outfielders Tommy Edman (right wrist surgery) and Lars Nootbaar (two rib fractures). Former utility Gold Glover Brendan Donovan or the improved Burleson will likely start in left field on Opening Day. — John Denton

Cubs: LHP Shota ImanagaSigned to a four-year, $53 million deal in January, Imanaga is getting his first look at Major League batters this spring. Even in early live batting practice sessions, the Japanese lefty noted how quickly the hitters could adjust from at-bat to at-bat. Imanaga has also been learning how to alter how he uses his fastball, especially up in the zone. Even amid all that learning on the fly, Imanaga had racked up a team-high 19 strikeouts (with only two walks) through just 9 2/3 innings in Cactus League play. Yes, it’s only Spring Training, but don’t forget that Imanaga led Nippon Professional Baseball in strikeouts last year. — Jordan Bastian

Pirates: RHP Jared JonesWith so much attention being paid to Paul Skenes in his first Major League camp, Jones flew a little under the radar at first. That was until he stepped on a mound and started pumping triple-digit heat with high-spin sliders. After dealing with some control problems last year, Jones has attacked the zone more in his spring outings, trusting that his stuff will play. So far it has — he has not allowed an earned run over 7 1/3 innings while striking out six. He’s being considered for a spot on the Opening Day roster, but at the very least, he’s shown he should be on the Major League radar now. — Justice delos Santos

Reds: SS Elly De La CruzFollowing poor offensive results the last two months of his rookie season, the switch-hitting De La Cruz went to work on making offseason adjustments that have clicked throughout camp. He leads Cincinnati in hits this spring and has shown an ability to hit to all fields. And he still has his eye-popping power, judging by the 470-foot home run to right field he slugged from the left side of the plate on March 2 vs. the Rockies. — Mark Sheldon

NL West

D-backs: INF Blaze AlexanderFrom his first at-bat this spring, Alexander has raked at the plate while showing the ability to play second, short and third. Despite all that, and the fact that the D-backs are in need of a backup shortstop, Alexander is not a favorite to make the Opening Day roster. That’s because the D-backs likely will want Alexander to get regular at-bats rather than filling a backup role at this stage of his development. Alexander, though, is doing everything in his power to make the decision a difficult one. — Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: RHP Tyler GlasnowWhen healthy, Glasnow has proven he can be one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the Majors. But Glasnow has struggled to stay off the injured list throughout his career. This spring, however, he is coming into a season fully healthy and his last few Cactus League starts were a positive sign for the Dodgers. Glasnow will get the responsibility of starting on Opening Day against the Padres and the club will need the power right-hander to be a big piece to their $1 billion puzzle this season. — Juan Toribio

Giants: RHP Landen RouppThere are several promising pitching prospects in Giants camp this spring, but the coaching staff can’t stop raving about Roupp, who hit 97 mph in his Cactus League debut and features one of the best breaking balls in the organization. The Giants have been careful with Roupp’s ramp-up since he missed significant time with a back injury last year, but the 25-year-old right-hander could make a late push for a bullpen spot if he continues to dominate in the coming weeks. — Maria Guardado

Padres: SS/CF Jackson MerrillThe Padres threw Merrill straight into the deep end, giving him as many matchups against big league pitchers as they possibly could. They wanted to test their No. 2 prospect against that level of competition, considering he’d only played 46 games above A-ball. Well, Merrill passed with flying colors. He batted .351/.400/.595 in 13 games and appears to have won the starting center-field job (despite having never played the position until a few weeks ago). Merrill is poised to become the youngest Padres center fielder in 45 years and is expected to make his big league debut on Wednesday against the Dodgers in Seoul. — AJ Cassavell

Rockies: C Drew RomoDuring the early part of last season, the switch-hitting Romo, the 35th overall pick in 2020, had a sub-.200 batting average at Double-A Hartford and dropped out of the MLB Top 100. But Romo used the setback as fuel. By season’s end, he earned a promotion to Triple-A Hartford and an invite to the Arizona Fall League. Romo simplified his technique in the batter’s box to unlock force to his swing and improved his receiving by committing to a left-knee-down catching technique. Throwing errors were an issue last season and he’ll need to show improvement during the season. But he is unleashing throes with confidence this spring and entered mid-March still in Major League camp. The presence of Elias Díaz and Jacob Stallings on the big league roster gives Romo development time, and he is gradually checking boxes. — Thomas Harding