Athletics' Rule 5 pick Mitch Spence set to make spring debut against Diamondbacks

Rule 5 pick Mitch Spence is set to make his spring debut for the Athletics this afternoon

Oakland Athletics Photo Day
Oakland Athletics Photo Day / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The Athletics are set to face off against the Diamondbacks at 12:05pm PST today at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Arizona.

Rule 5 draft pick Mitch Spence will make his highly anticipated spring debut for the Athletics. The A's grabbed Spence in December's Rule 5 draft from the Yankees after he was left unprotected by his former organization.

Spence started 29 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a 4.47 ERA while striking out just under a batter per inning. Prior to the additions of Ross Stripling and Alex Wood, Spence was a candidate to make the opening day rotation.

At present, he's more likely to start the year in a bullpen role, as four of the five rotation spots in Oakland are spoken for. The fifth spot is up for grabs, likely between Luis Medina, Kyle Muller, and Spence.

Given the experience advantage of Medina and Muller, we have to think those two guys have a leg up in the competition but if Spence comes out sharp, he could get the nod.

Miguel Andujar gets his second straight start, this time in left field. He'll be joined by Esteury Ruiz, who homered in his first plate appearance on Saturday afternoon.

Shea Langeliers is back in the lineup after Tyler Soderstrom struggled behind the plate on Sunday. Soderstrom allowed two passed balls, one of them on a pitchout attempt.

Steve Stockmar of brought up the possibility of first baseman Ryan Noda getting reps in the leadoff spot for the Athletics in 2024. Noda started 22 games at the top of the order last year. He posted a .340 OBP with an almost 12% walk rate in the leadoff spot.

Overall, Noda's .364 OBP could fit well in a leadoff role. He strikes out a bit more than you'd like but he does draw walks. His 15.6% walk rate was 7th best among all batters with at least 100 plate appearances in 2023.

It's an interesting idea but Mark Kotsay and the Athletics should be trying all sorts of things to kick the offense into gear.

The Diamondbacks counter with lefty Blake Walston this afternoon. Fangraphs has him as the 16th ranked prospect in the D-Backs system. Walston doesn't get a ton of strikeouts but does have an interesting off-speed profile that could challenge Athletics hitters today.

We'll also get to see 2023 phenom Corbin Carroll, winner of the NL Rookie of the Year award last year, in the leadoff spot for Arizona. Carroll is an electric athlete and has the potential to challenge for MVP votes if he's able to stay healthy.