After all the pitcher’s fielding practice, split-squads and intrasquads you can handle, the time has come to leave behind all the grapefruits and cactuses (or, if you prefer, cacti). With all 30 teams now wrapping up their exhibition slate, The Athletic’s baseball writers chose one standout player from each club. In other words, they’ve determined the players who weren’t just talking a big game and were actually in the best shape of their lives.


Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Player: Gabriel Moreno, C

Moreno was the centerpiece of the Daulton Varsho trade with the Blue Jays, and figures to be Arizona’s catcher of the future. He might be ready for the present as well. Slated to split time with veteran Carson Kelly, Moreno has batted .370 in Cactus League play, striking out just four times in 31 plate appearances. He’s also clubbed three home runs, which is notable considering the biggest question surrounding his game was power. — Zach Buchanan


Atlanta Braves

  • Players: Dylan Dodd LHP and Jared Shuster LHP

Shuster and Dodd came to spring training with seemingly no chance of making the Opening Day roster. Now they will each make a start on opening week. Shuster will start the third game of the season while Dodd will be activated before his turn in game 5. Shuster posted a 1.45 ERA in Grapefruit League play with 18 strikeouts and four walks in 18 2/3 innings, while Dodd had an 2.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings. 

Baltimore Orioles

  • Player: Heston Kjerstad, OF

The 24-year-old outfielder wants to be judged on his ability, which includes a prodigious left-handed bat that helped him be selected second overall in the 2020 amateur draft. After being named 2022 Arizona Fall League MVP, Kjerstad has continued to produce. Through his first 23 spring games, he has four homers, four doubles and a 1.219 OPS. That’s impressive for anyone in their first big-league camp. But it’s particularly inspiring for a guy who dealt with myocarditis in 2020 and 2021 and didn’t make his pro debut until last year. You obviously don’t get drafted that high without being talented, but he’s quickly reminded everyone how good he could be. 


Boston Red Sox

  • Player: Triston Casas, 1B

Raimel Tapia might have played his way into a bench job, and Kutter Crawford perhaps pitched his way into the starting rotation (at least to start the season), but Casas is a crucial part of the Red Sox’s plan both this year and into the future. He’s done enough this spring to make the team seriously consider him for the leadoff spot in his rookie year. His prospect status has been built on raw power and an advanced approach, and Casas has shown both.


Chicago Cubs

  • Player: Hayden Wesneski, SP

Wesneski’s dominant spring helped him to secure the fifth starter job. He has tremendous command of a plus sweeping slider and seems to have improved his fastball as well. He’ll open the season pitching fifth in the rotation, but he’s likely to be one of the more valuable starters on the team. Honorable mention goes to Javier Assad who dominated in 5 2/3 innings of the WBC for Mexico and is ticking up with his fastball enough that he may emerge as a multi-inning bullpen threat for the Cubs to open the season.