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MLB Spring Training: Dodgers, Orioles, Royals impress as Soto makes Yankees debut

Spring Training officially started last week and all 30 teams have had chances to find some rhythm.

Some of the new acquisitions have made a strong first impression in camp and there have been plenty of highlights thus far in just a few days. 

Here are four headlines from the first few days of Spring Training.

As expected, the Dodgers are good

In the first game of Spring Training, the Dodgers scored eight runs in the first inning and went on to beat the Padres 14-1.

Since that game, the Dodgers beat the Padres again, tied the Angels, and then overcame the Athletics. Some of the takeaways from their first few appearances include Mookie Betts seeing the ball very well, Freddie Freeman hitting a home run in his first at-bat of Spring Training, and a phenomenal showing by top prospect Trey Sweeney.

Sweeney was traded from the Yankees to the Dodgers in the offseason and the prospect has looked fantastic in his few Spring Training opportunities, hitting .429 in three games. He's been a major contributor for the Dodgers and all of these wins have been without Shohei Ohtani. 

Ohtani, who received the most expensive contract in baseball history this offseason, is expected to make his Spring Training debut this week as he begins to hit again after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2023.

Juan Soto looks comfortable in pinstripes

Juan Soto made the perfect first impression on Yankees fans as he hit a home run off of the scoreboard in his first game as a Yankee. 

Soto was the high-profile offseason addition for the Yankees, and he is expected to play a big part in New York's chances of success this season. They are favored at +145 to win the AL East in 2024 after finishing fourth in the division last season.

New York's other outfield acquisition, Alex Verdugo, hit leadoff in Sunday's game and was one-for-two with a double. Verdugo rounds out an impressive outfield that will feature Soto and Aaron Judge. 

New York didn't make a ton of moves in the offseason, but the few additions are looking good after the first few days.

Royals impress in the first few games

The Kansas City Royals are a very young team with a lot of talent, and made moves in the offseason to add some veteran depth. 

The star of the pitching rotation remains the same: Cole Ragans. The 26-year-old lefty was traded from the Rangers to the Royals last season and was phenomenal for Kansas City in the second half of the campaign, going 5-2 in 12 starts with a 2.64 ERA, 50 hits allowed, 23 runs allowed, and 89 strikeouts to 27 walks in 71.2 innings pitched with the Royals.

Ragans picked up right where he left off as he struck out five in two innings of work in his first Spring Training appearance. 

Another star that appeared in Spring Training for the first time in a while was Vinnie Pasquantino. The 26-year-old first baseman missed all of the second half of last year with an injury but is finally healthy enough to take the field.

Pasquantino will play a key role in Kansas City's offense this season, so fans will be happy to see him back on the field already. 

As for Kansas City's offseason acquisitions like Michael Wacha, Hunter Renfroe, and Seth Lugo, they will likely appear in games this week.

The Orioles are young… and good

Heading into Monday's games, the Orioles, +200 for the AL East, led the Grapefruit League with a 2-0 record. Baltimore's youth is on full display as Jackson Holliday, Colton Cowser, and Jordan Westburg have all appeared in at least one game. 

Plus, Baltimore's even longer-term prospects such as Heston Kjerstad and Enrique Bradfield Jr. have also featured in Spring Training. However, the Orioles are also mixing in their Opening Day starters, such as catcher Adley Rutschman and rightfielder Anthony Santander.

On the mound, Corbin Burnes and Cole Irvin have been very impressive. Burnes was the main piece in the blockbuster trade in the offseason that sent him from Milwaukee to Baltimore for several prospects. 

Irvin was acquired from the Athletics not too long ago and was a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen last year. In his first Spring Training appearance, he threw two hitless innings and struck out three. 

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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