Sean Newcomb, Atlanta Braves - ATL P Sean Newcomb enters 2018 in a competition for the final two rotation spots for the braves, and there were some positives and negatives about his 100 innings for the braves last year. We'll start looking the positives as Newcomb posted a 24% K%, had an 11% swinging strike rate, and had an impressive 27% hard contact rate against him those three things make it seem like Newcomb could be a budding ace for the Braves... But the walks. My goodness the walks. Now Newcomb has never been a guy to have a solid BB% numbers (12.5% last season), Newcomb's raw stuff is going to help him, but he still needs to cut down on the walks a bit to become a reliable starter. At only 25 there's plenty to work with. His .327 BABIP on 27% hard hit against, should work in his favor in 2018...again the counting stats with the Ks will be there, the concern is the walks and it's affect on his ERA and WHIP. Deeper league sleeper material. Fantistics is projecting a 1.40 WHIP|4.02 ERA with 171 Ks in 170 IP.
Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta Braves - Mike Foltynewicz has been labeled virtually a lock by both Alex Anthopolis and Brian Snitker for the 2018 rotation to start the year for the Braves. Folty is another electric arm for the Braves that has some command issues, but he has a couple other glaring weakness too that plagued him last year. First, he has a very hard time getting lefties out. Left handed hitters had a .275 wOBA against him last year opposed to righties at a .311 clip. Secondly (something that is fairly important for starting pitchers), Folty get shellacked any time he has to face a batter more than once. The first trip through the lineup he has a .279 wOBA against him but that balloons to .386 and .259 the seconds and third times through the lineup. If Folty ends up not being able to make that adjustment he may end up as a bullpen piece, which actually may suit him well with his raw stuff.
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves - While the Braves have a minor league system littered with high end talented, a player you may not have heard of is outfielder Ronald Acuna who has gotten some slight praise from various coaches and former players around Braves camp. Let's spell it out plainly, wherever Acuna is currently going in your draft is likely the lowest you'll see him go this spring baring injury. Acuna is either the #1 or #2 prospect in all of baseball and he's about as much of a slam dunk in scout's eyes as a 19 year old can be. Acuna projects to have plus power and speed while being able to hit in the .280 range. Regardless of how he does this spring, my guess is that acuna gets the Kris Bryant treatment and gets sent to AAA for two-ish weeks for the extra year of service time. The Braves likely aren't competing this year but there's still no need to keep Acuna down (135, 150, 162 wRC+ at his three stops in 2017) more than the "standard" amount for team control. You really think the Braves want to watch an extended platoon of Lane Adams and Preston Tucker for 80+ games?
Anthony Banda, Tampa Bay Rays - Anthony Banda comes to the Rays from Arizona and the lefty has has been a highly touted arm in the Diamondbacks system for the last few years. He made his major league debut last year and struck out 21.7% while walking 8.7% of his batter which is solid enough for a big league debut. While his ERA last year was pretty terrifying at 5.96, his FIP was well more than two runs under that (3.24) as his strand rate feels like it's due for positive regression. The other side of the coin though is that his 0.35 HR/9 rate probably will move north a few ticks, but getting out of Arizona and into the trop should help it from going up too high ever though he's never been a homer prone pitcher in the minors as last season in AAA was the first time he's had a HR/9 over .75 since rookie ball. He generated enough swinging strikes to make the K% sustainable and his 39% hard hit rate cpuld come down a bit, but aside from going to the AL East he makes for a potential nice sleeper option.
Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay Rays - Wilson Ramos is a potential sleeper option at the catching spot as he missed half of last season recovering from his ACL surgery. His second half numbers as a whole don't look fantasy with an 86 wRC+, but if you dig one level deeper into the splits you'll see June and July completely murdered any chance at a solid half a season. His wRC+ in the second half months went 51, 95, 141. Among the players with 50 ABs at the position in September/October he ranked fifth in wRC+ at the and we are only one season removed from an incredible 2016 where he posted a .307/.354/.496 triple slash with 22 homers and 80 RBI. NFBC's ADP this month has him sitting in the back half of catchers around pick 157, with his max pick being 117.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays - The Rays are starting the season with a four man rotation and it's essentially been announced that lefty Blake Snell is going to be a part of it. Snell's numbers overall don't look great but he was strong in the second half posting mid-three FIPs in August and September . Snell walks a few more batters than you'd like at 11% but he was able to strike out a solid amount of batters to help offset it. The big difference between 2016 and 17 for Snell was he was plagued by homers in 2017 but a lot of that came in June which was his worst month of the season. In the second half of the season he owned a .93 HR/9 in with marks of .59 and .88 in August and September. In those final two months of the season too he was walking under three batters per nine so if he can build off that he looks like he can be solid fantasy starter.
Steven Duggar, San Francisco Giants - Steven Duggar reportedly has a shot at winning the Giants centerfield job in spring training. Duggar is a mid level prospect for the Giants but has shown a nice blend of power and speed in the minors, nothing extraordinary, but nothing to scoff at. His best season came in 2016 when he hit right around .300 across two levels with 10 homers and 17 steals. In a very short season last year where he dealt with elbow and hip injuries, Duggar hit .265 with six homers and 10 steals in 44 games which outpaces 2016 by a nice margin. Right now he's an NL Only kind of target, but could find his way into mixed league conversation with a good spring.
Juan Pablo Martinez - For the dynasty/deep keeper league fans out there Juan Pablo Martinez has been cleared to sign by the MLB and he's eligible to sign during this signing period. Martinez swiped 23 bags and hit .333 in his final season in Cuba and Baseball America wrote that his assignment to start would likely be at the A+ or AA level based on his talent. He blends a nice a bit of speed and pop together and is a name to watch as we get closer to draft time, or to add to your dynasty watch list.
Jabari Blash, Los Angeles Angels - The Jabari Blash show is headed out the LA as he was dealt to the Angels on Wednesday. Blash has always been known for his immense power as he's routinely posted ISOs north of .270 in the minor but the hit tool has always lagged FAR behind. In the majors Blash has hit just .200 and we can chalk up a fairly substantial chunk of that to the Chris Carter-like 35% strikeout rate. Now it's not like Blash just swings at everything under the sun as he only has a 20% chase rate but he owns a 17% swinging strike rate. Unless he can figure out someway to corral that hole in his swing he's just going to remain an enigma.
Corey Dickerson, Pittsburgh Pirates - Corey Dickerson has found his new home in Pittsburgh after being DFA'd by the Rays earlier this month. Dickerson finds himself in all likelihood as the new left fielder for the Bucs which gives them a solid trio once again with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Dickerson's move in terms of park factors is fairly lateral move as PNC so we could look at him having a similar season as he had in Tampa last year.
Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays - Brent Honeywell left his bullpen after just 10 pitches on Thursday and he's been tabbed as having a forearm strain which unfortunately tends to be the kiss of death for starters. He wasn't being looked at for a spot in the Rays rotation to start the year so there's no impact there, but on a team that's rebuilding/retooling they are likely going to be extremely careful with how they manage him coming back from this if it ends up being only a strain.
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets - The Mets have been looking for a legit centerfield for what feels like eternity and Brandon Nimmo is going to start in center for them to open the spring on Friday. Nimmo has a 117 wRC+ in 69 games in 2017 with five homers and two steals to go along with them. Nimmo will have to play well right from the jump as Michael Conforto still is rehabbing from his shoulder injury and likely will take over in center once he returns. Obviously Yoenis Cespedes is locked in to left field and Jay Bruce has a $10 million salary in right so center is the only plays that's really up for grabs.
Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners - Edwin Diaz last year did the two things you don't want your closer to do in both actual baseball and in fantasy, walk people and give up homers. Diaz has been a strikeout machine in his first two seasons in the bigs fanning 35% of the batters he faced but this second season saw his BB% jump from 7% to 11.5% along with a 1.36 HR/9. These struggles led him to lose the job briefly in May but he was able to regain it and ended up finishing the year with 34 saves (5 blown) which tied him for 9th at the position.
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners - Felix Hernandez saw a jump in his K/9 and BB/9 (jump in the good way) but his overall stats took a significant hit last year as battled injuries and was limited to 16 starts. Hernandez gave up homers left and right for the first time in his career and the numbers showed across the board. A 4.36 ERA and a 5.06 FIP, Yikes. He also posted his second straight season with a swinging strike rate under 10% and his fastball is continuing to loses a little life year by year. Hernandez is going to be significantly discounted this season because as he is somehow only 31 years old, he already has 2,500 innings on his arm and it's now been two season since he's been fully healthy. Felix still can provide a solid strikeout rate and the Mariners should win some games, but his days of being an ace look to be passed us.
Matt Chapman, Oakland A's - Matt Chapman suffered a hand injury this week but a MRI taken on it Thursday showed no significant damage and he's currently just day-to-day. Chapman provides owners with 14 homers in 84 games last year, but suffered in the average part of the stat sheet as he struck out 28% of the time. All in all Chapman posted a 108 wRC+ in his rookie campaign and that slightly above average bat combined with his outstanding glove makes for a solid player. Chapman's glove is going to get him at bats so he's already valuable in AL Only but we need to see a little more in the average category before he's mixed league viable.
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds - An interesting development is brewing in Reds camp as Nick Senzel is going to get some work at shortstop to help fill the void that Zack Cosart left. Senzel has one of the best hit tools in all of the minors as he hit for a .320 clip with 14 homers and 14 steals across two levels. He also posted a 10% walk rate combined with and a 18.5% strikeout rate. If Senzel is able to stick at shortstop it will only improve his value, especially if he is able to play both some 3rd and short.
Phillies Bullpen - Manager Gabe Kapler has come out and said that he's going to use his bullpen arms in undefined roles. While this is great for the progression of baseball, fantasy players get the shaft though because if you aren't in a league that rewards holds it's going to be tough to figure out who will get the saves. If you aren't in a league that rewards holds I don't think I'd be comfortable drafting any of the Phillies relievers.