Corey Seager looks ready to go
Seager made his Cactus League debut Wednesday against the Cubs, hitting third and starting at shortstop. It went well, as Seager went 1-for-2 with a solo homer and sacrifice fly. Seager reported no issues throwing across the diamond, so all signs point to his being in the lineup on Opening Day. He'll start all three games in the Freeway series against the Angels, so assuming that goes well, he should have no limitations once the season gets going. It is a bit scary to see a 24-year-old have to undergo elbow reconstruction and hip surgery in the same offseason, but he's young enough to put those behind him and pick up where he left off. Depending on where you look, Seager is going in the 60-90 range (average 76), so if you want to buy in, don't wait past the 6th round in 12-team mixed leagues. At only 25 Seager is going to have a big season if he can stay healthy. His Hard Hit rates have historically been elite, as has his average distance on his HRs. Fantistics is projecting 84RS/24HR/77RBI/286BA
Julio Urias makes the team
Urias is reportedly going to find himself on the Opening Day roster according to reports, but it will be in the bullpen. Coming off major shoulder surgery, this makes a lot of sense, as Urias has yet to go beyond three innings this spring. When he's been out there, he's been special, posting a 2.31 ERA and 11:3 K:BB in 11.2 innings, hitting upwards of 98 mph with his fastball. Urias has #1 starter potential long-term, but as long as it seems we've heard about him, he's still just 22. Still plenty of risk with that arm, but the upside is palpable. In leagues that count holds, Urias could have plenty of value, and should Kenley Jansen get hurt, Urias could even compete with Joe Kelly for saves. Urias has a career 3.9 BB/9 in the big leagues, so he'll need to improve his control to take that next step.
- Colorado Rockies
Does Ryan McMahon have a leg up on the 2B job?
Garrett Hampson went 0-for-4 in his last spring start (3/19) while McMahon has gone 4-for-8 with a homer in his last three games to raise his slash to a robust .440/.482/.800 with three home runs, 11 XBH (50% XBH%), and a reasonable 9:4 K:BB in 56 PA. Hampson hasn't been a slouch either, batting a solid .278/.350/.556 with seven steals and three home runs himself. McMahon historically hit lefties well in the minors up until last year when he batted just .217/.254/.267 in 60 at-bats in AAA, so it remains to be seen whether the Rockies will platoon him, likely with Hampson. I still expect both guys to make the team, with Hampson seeing time at multiple positions. One idea floated around the Internet is seeing how Hampson looks in center field. Currently the Rockies plan on using 33-year-old Ian Desmond there, he of the .701 and .729 OPS's the past two years even with playing half his games in Coors Field. Desmond is hitting well this spring though, and it seems like the Rockies would be giving Hampson time in CF NOW if they planned on trying him there this year.
Chad Bettis to open in the rotation
With Anthony Senzatela dealing with a foot injury, Bettis will be in the Opening Day rotation. Whether he lasts more than a couple of starts remains to be seen, but perhaps owners can extract some short-term fantasy value in NL-only leagues. Bettis started strong last year, posting a 2.05 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in his first seven starts (44 IP), though perhaps the warning signs were there, as his 27:14 was mediocre at best. Bettis then posted a 6.72 ERA and 1.60 WHIP the rest of the way, ultimately ending up in the bullpen. Bettis posted extreme H/R splits last year with a 7.08 Coors ERA and 2.88 ERA on the road. He's yet to figure out how to handle RHP which is odd, and those hitters have batted .296 against him since 2016. I'd be okay using him on the road, but only as a last resort.
San Francisco Giants
Is Mac Williamson still the likely starter in left field?
Well considering the lack of competition (Matt Joyce? Cameron Maybin?), it sure appears so. Williamson hasn't hit much this spring, but he is on a 5-for-16 run that's elevated him to .244/.292/.356 with one home run and a 12:2 K:BB. Maybin has pretty much been tabbed as a backup/platoon option and Joyce was just signed, so expect Williamson to be in there come Opening Day. Remember, Williamson hit .316 with three homers in five games last April before an unfortunate concussion injury derailed his season. He wasn't the same after returning, but appears healthy now. In NL-only formats, he's an interesting sleeper. Should Williamson struggle, one scenario that's been floated has the Giants promoting top prospect C Joey Bart, with Buster Posey shifting to first and Brandon Belt to the outfield. Bart was drafted just last year, but he's 22 and has a 1.032 OPS this spring. Bart though has yet to play above Low-A, so this seems likely, but he has looked really impressive this spring and could find his timetable accelerated.
Breaking: Drew Pomeranz is in the Giants rotation
I guess I simply forgot that Pomeranz landed in San Francisco back in January, but coming off a 6.08 ERA season, can you blame me? After a rocky first couple outings this spring, Pomeranz has spun nine scoreless one-hit innings in his last two outings, though his 5:5 K:BB hardly sparks confidence. It's a possibility that his lingering biceps injury led to the awful 2018 results, making him a bit of a sleeper this year in a pitcher's park. Pomeranz is just two years removed from posting back-to-back seasons of a 3.32 ERA, 170+ innings, and 174+ strikeouts. He's also just 30 years old, so it was a nice flier by the Giants. He'll have to recover the 2 mph he lost on his fastball last year as well as drop his 5.4 BB/9 to its normal 3.4 range, but that seems doable.
Jeimer Candelario (3B-DET) - In the midst of a rebuild, the Tigers aren't going to win many more than 60 games this year, but Candelario is one guy who should have a nice season. He homered twice on Thursday and is now hitting .250/.340/.614 with three homers. With nine of his 11 hits going for extra bases, Candelario will have a good shot at topping last year's 19 home runs. He'll likely hit in the five-hole, so he should be a lock to improve upon the 54 RBI he tallied in 619 PA last year. Candelario batted just .224/.317/.393 last year, as his 25.8% K% held down the BA, though his 10.7% BB% was solid. Looking over his minor league numbers, it's hard to see a BA much higher than .260, but if he can get there and show more power, something like .260/.340/.470 with 25 homers and 85 RBI looks to be attainable.
Miguel Cabrera (1B-DET) - We're starting to see Miggy's draft stock start to improve, and that was before Thursday's action in which he went 2-for-2 with a double, walk, and home run against Houston. He's now up to .324/.422/.622. Injuries are always the concern, but perhaps we'll get 140 games of semi-vintage Cabrera this year. Even in the 38 games he was ablt to play last year, he did hit .299/.395/.448 while posting his usual excellent ratios - 14% BB%, 17.2% K%. His FB% plummeted to a nearly-unbelievable 20.4% in 2018, but we'll chalk that up to sample size and assume he gets back in the 33% range this year. He's no longer the bargain he was two weeks ago in drafts, but there's still some profit potential to be had.
Tony Kemp (OF-HOU) - Kemp doesn't have a defined position, but he could be poised to be the new Marwin Gonzalez now that Gonzalez has moved over to Minnesota. Kemp went 3-for-=4 with a homer on Thursday and is now hitting .343/.477/.514 this spring with four steals. He's a nice guy to have on AL-only squads, and he's maybe an injury away from having mixed league value. The Astros currently have Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick at the OF corners. Brantley's injury history is well documented, and Reddick managed to hit just .242/.318/.400. Tyler White had a nice 66 games last year, but he's far from established, so it's fairly easy to see Kemp finding his way to 400+ PA.
Miguel Castro (RP-BAL) - Closers on mediocre teams still have plenty of value, as the Orioles should win at least 50 games, leading to perhaps upwards of 30 saves being up for grabs. For now, Mychal Givens looks to be the favorite to open as the team's closer, but Castro is making a hard push. Givens has allowed nine runs in 3.2 innings over five appearances this spring, including three home runs, for an unsightly 22.0-9 ERA. Castro meanwhile tossed a scoreless inning on Monday and has now allowed a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings this spring with an 11:2 K:BB. He should get plenty of FAAB attention this week in deeper leagues, particularly if Givens struggles again in his next outing. Castro posted an unremarkable 3.96 ERA last year in 86.1 innings, but his ugly 57:50 K:BB indicated that it should have been much worse (5.15 FIP). Still, he regularly hits the mid-to-upper 90s, so maybe the control issues are behind him.
Brandon Lowe (2B-TB) - Two days after securing a six-year $24 million deal, Lowe kept hitting, going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer off Braves' prospect Kyle Wright. That pushed Lowe to .372/.413/.744 this spring and left me wondering about how the Rays will get him at-bats. We have to figure Yandy Diaz plays everyday at first. Willy Adames is easily the every day SS, and then you have Joey Wendle at 2B coming off a .300/.354/.435 season. Matt Duffy has been limited by a hamstring and is just 0-for-5 (4 K's) this spring. Unless Lowe pulls a Scott Kingery after signing his deal, he should stick on the big league roster for the year, playing most every day against RHP with possibly Wendle shifting to third. Then you have Daniel Robertson looking for at-bats as well, so perhaps we start to see Lowe getting some OF reps where you have Kevin Kiermaier (injury risk) and Austin Meadows (is he ready?). Either way, Lowe should clock in at 500+ PA.
Dexter Fowler (OF-STL) - Locked in a battle with Tyler O'Neill for RF playing time, Fowler showed a pulse on Thursday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of homers off the Yankees' Domingo German. That still left him batting just .227/.261/.386, but he's hit in four straight, and with O'Neill batting just .176/.288/.510 (but with 5 HR), Fowler looks to be the favorite. O'Neill could still break camp with the club as a reserve, as the 35 homers he hit last year between AAA and the Cardinals would prove to be a nice weapon and he has little to prove in AAA other than perhaps cutting down on the strikeouts (24.9% K% in AAA, 40.1% with the Cardinals).
Pablo Lopez (SP-MIA) - There isn't much to be excited about in Miami, but Lopez has been a nice find this spring. In his final spring start Wednesday, Lopez tossed six scoreless innings and sits with a 0.90 ERA in 20 innings with a 16:3 K:BB. This is probably somewhat flukish after Lopez recorded a 4.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 10 starts last year with a 7.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. He profiles as more of a back-end starter rather than what we're seeing this spring, but on the other hand, after averaging 92.3 mph with the fastball last year, he's hit 97 this spring. Lopez did finish last year with a shoulder injury, so perhaps that was the reason for the lesser velocity. Breakout potential? Perhaps, though clearly the wins will be limited pitching for the Marlins.
Corey Knebel (RP-MIL) - Tough news for the Brewers on Thursday, as Knebel is reportedly seeking a second opinion for a "UCL issue". If you subscribe to this site, the first thing that comes to mind is Tommy John surgery, and though it's reportedly not a complete tear, he's going to be out a while regardless. With Jeremy Jeffress out until mid-to-late April with a shoulder injury, the Brewers are reportedly talking to free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel. In the meantime, Josh Hader would seem to be the best bet to close games, though the Brewers may prefer to use him earlier in high leverage situations. That could open up chances for Alex Claudio, but best-case scenario for the Brewers would seem to be signing Kimbrel and getting Knebel back in May. Knebel struggled at times last year, but his September numbers were ridiculous - 15.1 scoreless innings, 0.52 WHIP, and a 32:3 K:BB. He's be a huge loss for the Brewers were he to miss extended time, or perhaps even the full season.
Ronald Guzman (1B-TEX) - Long on potential and fairly short on production so far, Guzman is off to a nice start this spring. After going 2-for-3 with his fourth homer on Thursday, the Texas starting first baseman is up to .368/.405/.737 in 36 at-bats. He's reportedly retooled his swing, and though that doesn't always mean positive results will follow, it's still worth noting. Guzman would seem to have the body and swing of a guy who can take a nice step forward from last year's 16 home runs. Of course cutting down on his 28.3% K% from 2018 would also help, but with an improved approach, perhaps he can get into the .260-25-80 range, which would be a nice step forward. There's a lot of swing and miss to his game, particularly on pitches outside the zone, so pitch recognition will continue to be the key.
Billy Hamilton (OF-KC) - Hamilton remains a polarizing fantasy player. He dipped to 34 steals last year, but had 50+ the previous four seasons despite a career .298 OBP. At this point he probably is what he is, a guy with little power, not much plate discipline (6.9% career BB%), who can't really make enough contact to let his legs get him to first base. But wow, can he run and play defense. The Royals are reportedly wanting be the first team since the 2007 Mets to steal 200+ bases, and with guys like Hamilton, Adalberto Mondesi, and Whit Merrifield, it's possible. As a data point, the 2018 Indians led the league with a mere 135 bags swiped. Back to Hamilton, the speedy CF led off Thursday and went 1-for-4 with his seventh double and is now batting .313/.365/.458. Just imagine the green light mentality of Ned Yost combined with Hamilton leading off and posting a .365 OBP. He's steal at least 80 bases. I don't expect that, but he's seeing the ball well and is set to hit free agency after this season. With an ADP of 167 right now, it's possible he's being undervalued.
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