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Why spring training games are irrelevant and the Termarr Johnson hype | Baseball Bar-B-Cast

Yahoo Sports senior MLB analysts Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman explain what the goals of spring training games are and discuss the buzz surrounding a Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect. Hear the full conversation on “Baseball Bar-B-Cast” podcast - and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

JAKE MINTZ: Spring training games have started. Spring training games are 99% irrelevant. Why are they mostly irrelevant? Hitters are just trying to ease their way back into it. Guys are not trying to win. That's a big one. And they're only playing a couple innings. It's not really a results-based thing. Spring training, in my mind, matters with pitch shapes, pitch velocity, new pitches.

And we've gotten a couple interesting tidbits so far, and we'll fly through them here. Carlos Rodon, who was really bad a year ago in his first year with the Yankees, has added a cutter. He threw five of them in his first outing the other day. One of them was a home run. Results don't really matter.

JORDAN SHUSTERMAN: This is why the results don't matter. Because the pitchers are explicitly-- not only are they building up, they are explicitly working on things. They are not trying to get outs. But that doesn't mean that we cannot look at their stuff and the kinds of pitches that they're throwing and say, OK, that is different. So that is where we can care.

JAKE MINTZ: Speaking about assessing pitchers, Alek Manoah, who is one of the few pitchers in baseball that had a worse year than Carlos Rodon in 2023, did not look good in his first spring training outing yesterday. I believe he hit three batters in the first inning, looked out of sorts. It's very early. We, as a podcast, are rooting for Alek Manoah. This is a pro Alek Manoah forum. Not an encouraging first outing.

The one other spring training thing, Termarr Johnson, top hitting prospect with the Pittsburgh Pirates, number-four overall pick in the 2022 draft, went yard twice yesterday against the Blue Jays. One on a high fastball on an 0-2 count. The other against a left-on-left slider. Both very impressive. He was fine last year. Didn't quite show the ceiling that he had as an amateur. But boy, oh boy, reason to get excited because he looks good.

JORDAN SHUSTERMAN: Yeah, I mean, I've been the highest on Termarr since he was an amateur. I don't know, man. I mean, he was 19-- it was a slow start. Obviously, the power was going to be suppressed in the Florida State League. He finished the year with an .860 OPS in A ball. He walked 101 times.

I mean, this is a very unique offensive profile where he has this power, but he's obviously a smaller guy, a second baseman. Just an incredibly fun hitter to watch. I don't know if he's going to necessarily impact the Pirates this year, but I still am pretty optimistic about him being a big part of their future.