Spring is the perfect time for young, inexperienced players to take that next step forward into one of the game’s elites. With the importance of the games, and thus the pressure on the players, decreased compared to that of the regular season, it is a time for youth prospects to thrive.

One such prospect in the early stages of spring training this year has been Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien.

After spending time with the Chicago White Sox, Semien was sent to Oakland as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal and wasn’t seen as anything special in his limited time in the majors to that point.

Hitting .240 with four home runs and 35 RBI, Semien wasn’t exactly tearing it up, and expectations were middling heading into this spring from everyone outside of the Athletics organization.

But, as has become something of a norm, Oakland proved just how much smarter it is than the experts around the league, as Semien has been nothing short of a star so far in spring training.

In his six games in the Cactus League with the A’s, Semien is hitting .500 with two homers, seven RBI and an OPS of 1.454. His first game in the spring featured a two-homer performance against the defending champion San Francisco Giants.

The power is something that the Athletics were hoping to get out of the 24-year-old, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that continue as he gets more at-bats throughout the season. With only 85 games in the majors, the sample size for Semien is small, and hopes are his power will benefit as he becomes more comfortable in the majors.

Perhaps the biggest issue Semien has dealt with in his limited career thus far has been on the defensive side of the ball.

After being forced to play at second and third base for most of his time in Chicago, Semien has been inconsistent in the field while playing out of his natural position. But with the issues the A’s have had in recent years at shortstop, it is fair to expect that a long-term stint at shortstop would help boost Semien’s defensive numbers in the season.

“I think the White Sox believed in me at short too, but they had Alexei Ramirez,” Semien said, according to ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl. “I was happy that they worked with me at those other positions, but now, here? Every rep that I get at shortstop, that’s what I’ve always wanted.”

It is almost always better to keep a player happy and comfortable, and it will usually result in an increase in production, which is exactly what the Athletics were hoping for when they dealt Samardzija.

If Semien can develop into the regular starter at short for Oakland, it will be yet another swing and a hit for one of the smartest franchises in the league.

Although, if he doesn’t, the A’s always have Will Ferrell to fall back on as an everyday shortstop.

In a year where the American League is as wide open as it has been in a long time, every move matters. And if the early parts of spring training are to be believed, Oakland made a good one with the addition of the power-hitting Semien.

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