C. J. Wilson- TEX- For now, Wilson appears headed to the Texas rotation on the strength of his performance this spring. In 14 IP Wilson has allowed 10 hits and 2 walks while striking out 10. On the down side, he has posted a 4.50 ERA. I have watched Wilson over the past few years and have found him exasperating. His control has been very spotty (92 BB in 188 IP from 2007-2009). He hasn’t really had consistent success in any role at the major league level, whether it be starter, closer or setup man. Sure, Wilson posted a 2.81 ERA last year, but that was a product of having 6 of his 29 runs allowed being unearned. Based on past experience, I expect the wheels to come off the Wilson cart when the games start to count. He will likely find himself back in the bullpen before too long.
Neftali Feliz- TEX- Feliz threw 3 shutout innings in a B game yesterday. He is still likely to start the season in the Texas bullpen, but it is at least as likely that there will be an opening in the rotation before too long (see Wilson, C.J.). Feliz has blown hitters away at every level, including the majors (39 Ks in 31 IP) and also exhibits solid control. He will be turning just 22 in May and with the Rangers hoping to contend, they are going to put him where he can have the most impact, which will be the rotation.
Nolan Reimold- BAL- Reimold finally got a hit Sunday and he will likely have many more once the games start counting. In 23 spring ABs, Reimold has struck out 5 time, not an outrageous ratio for him historically. He has only drawn 1 walk, and that is a little worrisome, but it is only spring training. Reimold benefited a little bit from luck last season, with a .264 BHIPx, but it was not huge, especially given that he has the speed potential to collect double digit stolen bases. Reimold’s power is his main game and that will likely come around. There really isn’t anything to indicate his performance last year (.279 average, 15 homers in 358 ABs) was a fluke.
Koji Uehara- BAL- Uehara has a hamstring injury and that’s not good. He has a history of bad hammys, including getting shut down last year. There is no timetable for Uehara to return, which is a bad sign. This could open up the main right handed setup job for the Orioles. It’s going to be tough to get fantasy value from that role, but Cla Meredith might be able to provide a small amount of worth in deep leagues that count holds.
Chris Volstad- FLA- Volstad had a rough time of it last year, seeing his major league ERA rise to 5.21 from 2.88 in 2008. However, he pitched a full year for the Marlins and lowered his BB/9 from 3.84 to 3.34 and raised his K/9 from 5.55 to 6.06. Volstad’s major problem was that he wasn’t getting the ball down as much. His FB% rose from 28.8% to 33.7% and his homers went from 3 in 84.1 IP to a whopping 29 in 159 IP. If Volstad can keep the ball down while improving his control, he could have a breakout year. At just 23 years of age, this is not unthinkable.
Gaby Sanchez- FLA- Sanchez will start the season at 1B for the Marlins, but that may not be the case a year from now. He will likely hit for average, as a trail of .300+ marks has followed him through the minors. However, the power you want out of a corner infielder will be lacking. Sanchez projects to homer somewhere in the mid teens. The 18 he had between AAA and the majors in 2009 is a career best. With Logan Morrison waiting in the wings, 2010 is probably going to be Sanchez’ only shot at owning the first base bag for Florida.
Albert Pujols- STL- Carrying the Cardinals offense on his back for the past few years may finally be taking its toll on Pujols. The man at the top of many draft boards had an MRI and anti-inflammatory shot yesterday to try and relieve tightness in his back. He is expected to be out of Grapefruit League action for the next couple of days, especially since the cardinals don’t have a game scheduled today. Pujols has dealt with elbow problems for year, but back issues are not as easy to play through. He has only appeared in 7 of the Cardinals 18 spring training games so far. Keep a close watch on his progress during the final days of camp and adjust your drafting priorities accordingly.
Aroldis Chapman- CIN- The official word on Chapman’s injury is that he is having muscle spasms in his back. He is receiving treatment and will be reevaluated later this week. This puts the young Cuban on the “wait and see” list instead of the “must have” list he was bucking for. If he can get the fastball back into the upper 90s and cement his place in the Cincinnati rotation, then Chapman’s value is high. If he is fighting back spasms for the rest of the Cactus League schedule, then not so much.
Victor Martinez- BOS- In real life, Martinez won’t make as much as Joe Mauer, but in the fantasy world, their values could end up being very similar. It really helps Martinez that the Red Sox will be using him primarily at catcher. His days of being a first baseman are done, at least for now. Projected numbers of .300-26-111 are in the ballpark of Mauer’s .336-24-93 in terms of overall worth. In 2009, Martinez had his highest BB% (11.2) and lowest K% (12.6) of any of his full time seasons. Unsurprisingly (and unavoidably) this resulted in his highest Batting EYE (1.01). This bodes very well for the upcoming season.
Jair Jurrjens- ATL- Jurrjens seems to be over the inflammation that bothered him earlier this spring. He has only thrown over 110 pitches in a game 9 times over the past two seasons and in 2009 his average pitches per inning dropped almost a full pitch, from 16.35 to 15.37. The Braves have been careful to avoid overtaxing Jurrjens’ arm, despite having him pitch 215 innings last season. He doesn’t appear to have been pushed past the point of severe fatigue, which is really the danger.
Justin Duchscherer- OAK- It was definitely a successful spring debut for Duchscherer. Except for the lone strikeout, he was close to being back to his 2008 form, when he went 10-8 in 22 starts, posting a 2.54 ERA and walking 34 while striking out 95 in 141.2 IP. There don’t appear to be any concerns among the A’s staff that Duchscherer will not bounce back after losing all of 2009 to a minor elbow injury and clinical depression. This should put him on your draft board as a low risk/high reward player.
Hideki Matsui- LAA- Matsui got to occupy space in left field yesterday. He didn’t have any fielding chances, but just being out there will add to his fantasy value in 2010, as soon as he qualifies under whatever eligibility rules particular leagues have. A horrendous .227 BHIPx hindered Matsui’s numbers in 2009, and he still posted a .274 batting average to go along with 28 homers in 456 ABs. His projected production of .280-31.95 will be more valuable with the flexibility to put him in an OF slot instead of being locked into DH.
Gil Meche- KC- In one stretch of 7 starts last season starting on June 4th, Meche threw at least 110 pitches 5 times, including starts of 132 and 121 pitches. He also had another 120 pitch game earlier in the season. Shortly after this span, Meche started feeling fatigue and ended up being shut down with a month left in the regular season. So far this spring, he still doesn’t have a feel for his breaking ball and is experiencing stiffness and discomfort in his shoulder. Meche doesn’t’ believe it’s serious, but given his usage pattern, there are big red flags here.
David Price- TB- Price may be able to outpace his projections, based on the progress he made over the course of last year. After starting in the minors, he got better as the season went along. In the last two months of 2009, Price posted a WHIP of 1.09 to go along with an ERA of 3.82 in 11 starts. He struck out 45 and walked 19 in 68.1 IP. The more familiarity he got with the majors, the better his production. Given a full season with Tampa Bay, Price could live up to the hype that surrounded him last spring.
Fausto Carmona- CLE- Luck absolutely killed Carmona last season. With a BHIP of .313, he was bound to have difficulty. That and control issues (5.03 BB/9) led to his horrific 6.32 ERA. Carmona doesn’t blow hitters away (5.58 career K/9) so luck plays a huge role in his numbers. There are better pitchers out there that don’t require the winds of fortune to have a decent season.
Chris Iannetta- COL- Iannetta has picked up just where he left off. No, I’m not talking about the .228 overall batting average of 2009. I’m looking at the .350 mark he posted over the last month of the season, not far off from his .385 Cactus League average. Iannetta was absolutely killed by bad luck last year, with a .182 BHIPx, really low even for a slow footed catcher. The Rockies are giving Iannetta a chance, splitting playing time between him and Miguel Olivo and if Iannetta has even moderate luck he should end up with the bulk of the playing time and putting up solid numbers.