Spring Training is a chance for all sorts of players to make a big impression on their clubs and fans, from top prospects showcasing what their futures might look like to out-of-nowhere surprises who force their way onto Opening Day rosters.
With Opening Day 2021 less than a week away, it's time to take a look at the players who are grabbing attention this spring. All 30 teams have someone who's doing it, and MLB.com's beat reporters offered their insight with one standout candidate from each club.
Here's one player on every team who's opened eyes in Spring Training this year.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: RHP Alek Manoah
Toronto's No. 7 prospect was the pitching star of camp, and the 23-year-old's March 14 performance against the Yankees was his finest. The big right-hander struck out seven Yankees batters over three perfect innings of work, showing the Blue Jays that he could be ready for the Major Leagues sooner than many expected.
"Someone asked me a month ago who I was most excited to see in camp, and it was Alek," said general manager Ross Atkins. "The heartbeat, the way he embraces competition, all of you can see how much fun he was having embracing the challenge of facing a pretty good couple of lineups and performing exceptionally well. He’s put himself in an incredible position." -- Keegan Matheson
Orioles: LHP Bruce Zimmermann
Is Zimmermann the next John Means? Maybe it's unfair to expect Zimmermann to parlay his strong spring into an All-Star appearance, or emerge as a future Opening Day starter. But the 26-year-old's story this spring parallels Means' from 2019, when Means emerged from the roster periphery to snag the O's final roster spot. Zimmermann has outpitched everyone else in camp, firing nine shutout innings through Friday. And injuries to Félix Hernández and Hunter Harvey have paved the way for the O's to bring at least one extra bulk innings arm north with them for Opening Day. At this point, that looks like it'll be Zimmermann, the Ellicott City, Md., native. -- Joe Trezza
Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan
McClanahan turned a lot of heads before he was optioned to Minor League camp. The 23-year-old lefty simply overpowered hitters with a triple-digit fastball that touched 102 mph and showed three other legitimate offerings during his brief, one-inning outings. McClanahan struck out the last seven hitters he faced, and his final appearance against the Red Sox was just dominant. It's not like there were any doubts about McClanahan’s potential; he's MLB's No. 84 prospect for a reason, and the Rays were impressed enough by him last year to have him debut in the postseason. But he made a strong argument that he’ll reach his upside as a starting pitcher by pounding the strike zone with a deep and powerful arsenal. It’s easy to imagine him making an impact in the Rays’ rotation sooner rather than later. -- Adam Berry
Red Sox: 1B/3B Bobby Dalbec
The Red Sox opened Spring Training hoping Dalbec would seize the job as the starting first baseman, and that’s exactly what the right-handed-hitting masher did. Dalbec belted two grand slams and had seven homers overall with only a handful of games left in camp. A natural third baseman, Dalbec has also looked smooth on the other side of the infield. The team continues to be impressed by Dalbec’s poise and work ethic. It is intriguing that manager Alex Cora plans on using Dalbec as the No. 9 hitter. That could be a lot of homers at the end of the batting order. -- Ian Browne
Yankees: LHP Lucas Luetge
Even Luetge was surprised by his spring performance. A non-roster invitee who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2015, the 34-year-old left-hander muscled into the bullpen conversation with an impressive strikeout rate. Through Friday, Luetge has a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, registering 16 strikeouts against two walks.
"My spring has gone better than I expected," Luetge said. "You always want to come in starting off good. I didn’t know it’d be this good with the strikeouts, but I just want to keep it rolling. I’ve been able to throw all my pitches for a strike, and my ball is moving a lot right now." -- Bryan Hoch