Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels - With Shohei Ohtani scheduled to return to the big league mound in May, it sounds like the Angels are leaning towards having him start on Wednesday's for the team because of how many off days they have on Thursdays. This is brutal news for weekly leagues with mid-week changes where Ohtani is listed as one player. If you use Ohtani as a pitcher for the Wednesday start and then swap him to hitter on Thursday/Friday, you're at most getting three days of at-bats each week for him. It's really hard to draft Ohtani as one player for me outside of daily lineup leagues, but if he's split into two players then nothing really changes with this news but his value has a hitter continues to outweigh him on the mound by pure volume. Ohtani could be a legit fantasy star as a hitter in 2020, if he gets the opportunity. IN 2019, he mashed with a 50% Hard Hit rate and 47% 95 MPH+%, these are uber elite numbers. That said his 27% HR/FB rate is likely to drop closer to 21% in 2019 and the 354 BABIP appears bloated. Lots to like if he gets 500+ ABs in 2020, and starts to elevate his swing (almost 2 to 1 GB/FB).
Atlanta Braves Rotation - The Braves fifth, and now fourth as well, starter battle has been a surprisingly good one with Kyle Wright, Felix Hernandez, and Sean Newcomb all have extremely good springs thus far. Hernandez was signed to the team on a minor league deal, but with his performance so far I'd be surprised if the Braves don't try and squeeze what they can out of him. I'm still not worried about drafting him though as he's struggled mightily over the last three years so I'm not confident in him lasting. Wright changed his pitch mix at the end of 2019 and was extremely effective in the bullpen and he's carried that mix over into 2020. Newcomb finally found some success out of the bullpen last year but the Braves haven't given up on him as a starter, who has also turned in strong spring. My guess is that Hernandez and Wright end up getting the last two spots in the rotation and that Newcomb either starts in the bullpen or in the AAA rotation.
Johan Camargo, Atlanta Braves - Camargo is battling with Austin Riley and despite the two having similar springs, I'd guess that they lean in the direction of Camargo to win the job. Brian Snitker has said that they don't see a scenario where both Camargo and Riley both make the roster. Camargo had a fantastic 2018 season before getting moved to a reserve role and rarely getting playing time to start 2019. Camargo posted a 116 wRC+ in 2018 and rated as well above average defensively at the position when he played full time. Whoever nails down the third base job could ultimately hit fifth or sixth in a strong top half of the Braves lineup, getting them a chance to be a solid source of RBI.
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves - Fried took huge steps last season towards becoming a fixture in the Braves rotation posting a 4.02 ERA with a 24.6% K% while going 17-6. There's a legitimate argument that Fried is actually the best picture in the Braves rotation with Soroka's contact approach, compared to Fried's swing and miss skills. Fried also does an outstanding job of keeping the ball on the ground with a 53.6% groundball rate. His ADP around picks 125 since the middle of February and he should be able to greatly outperform that ADP with a full season.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays - Snell came back from his mild-elbow injury earlier in the week, but struggled in his outing walking four batters in less than an inning. The good news out of the outing was that Snell said he felt fine in the outing, and he felt good after throwing a side session on Wednesday. Snell still sounds like he's going to be good to go for opening day, so out of all the aces that are dealing with injuries early on I feel the most confident in drafting Snell as of right now.
Brent Honeywell, Tampa Bay Rays - Honeywell was sent to AAA, but he's been throwing successful bullpen sessions for the Rays and appears to be making good progress in his return from his broken elbow. Honeywell should finally get to make his major league debut at some point this summer, and he's a highly touted arm that we shouldn't forget about. Before his Tommy John surgery, Honeywell was frequently listed in the top 25 prospects in baseball due to his plus stuff and his extremely unique screwball.
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees - Giancarlo Stanton took live BP today for the first time since his calf strain and while he's trending in the right direction, GM Brian Cashman says that it would be foolish for the Yankees to try and rush him back for opening day. Cashman didn't rule out him being ready for opening day, but he did say they won't rush him back just to have him out there. Stanton told reporters on Tuesday that his workouts were going well but that the team still hasn't given him a timetable for his return. Stanton has fallen in NFBC drafts to pick 65 on average, a steep drop where he was just a few months ago. With his health appearing to be trending upwards there's a chance that pick 65 becomes a value for a player of Stanton's caliber, but betting on a player who missed nearly all of last season and is already hurt now is a tough button to press.
Zach Britton, New York Yankees - Zach Britton was one of the Yankees pitchers throwing live BP to hitters and he was hit in the wrist by a line drive off the bat of Eric Kratz. Britton was taken for x-rays that revealed no structural damage to his wrist and he was diagnosed with a bone bruise. The good news beyond the fact that nothing was broken was that the ball hit his right wrist, so it's something that shouldn't sideline him for long. Britton should one of two primary setup men for the Yankees to help get the ball to Aroldis Chapman in the ninth and should pick up a handful of saves during the course of the year.
Paul Goldschmidt, St Louis Cardinals - Paul Goldschmidt was held out of the lineup Wednesday as he deals with some right elbow issues. Goldschmidt had an MRI on Monday that didn't reveal any ligament damage and it was described as inflammation in his elbow. Goldschmidt and the team expect him to return to the lineup at some point this week. Goldschmidt's ADP has fallen after his disappointing season in St Louis and he's going off the board right around pick 75 in a cluster of the first baseman that includes Max Muncy and Jose Abreu. The tier here, plus Josh Bell going around 15 picks later, is the tail end of useable starting first baseman in fantasy this year.
Michael Conforto, New York Mets - Michael Conforto has officially been diagnosed with grade one oblique strain and his status for opening day is up in the air. The Mets are planning to give him a few days off to see how he recovers before deciding on the next step in his rehab. There has been a little talk about trying JD Davis in right field if Conforto is forced to miss time. Davis saw time in left field last season and played right field in college, so he potentially makes for a solid fit for the Mets out there.
Seranthony Dominguez, Philadelphia Phillies - Serathony Dominguez has suffered a setback in his injured right elbow. Dominguez was hoping to be back for opening day, but this setback all but ends his chances at that happening. Dominguez missed a huge chunk of last year in an attempt to avoid Tommy John surgery after injuring his UCL, so we'll have to see the details on this setback and whether it will force him to go under the knife. Dominguez is slated to be a late-inning arm for the Phillies if he's healthy but that's a huge question mark at this point.
Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds - Eugenio Suarez is close to making his spring training debut for the Reds after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. David Bell said that he's expected to be the designated hitter in Friday's game, but Bell also said he could play Thursday if everything feels good. There's a higher chance now that he actually is ready to roll on opening day, and if we get word on that his 83rd overall ADP could take a quick jump up into the next tier of third base options.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox - manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday that Chris Sale isn't going to throw until he's "absolutely pain-free," which doesn't give any sort of clarity to a potential timetable for the lefty. Sale is expected to be looked at against in around two weeks, so the best bet for an update will be around then. It's really hard to take Sale right now in drafts which his situation being so up in the air, especially when Tommy John's surgery hasn't been completely ruled out. I think that if Sale gets to around pick 100 in drafts I could take the risk on him, but there's too much uncertainty for me to take a risk any higher than that.
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland Indians - Carlos Carrasco underwent an MRI and is dealing with some minor inflammation in his right elbow. He received an injection in his elbow and is going to be shut down for a few days. It sounds like opening day is definitely in question for now, but the Indians have already named Shane Bieber their opening day starter so Carrasco has a little more wiggle room to work with. His current ADP since 2/15 is 110 overall and could fall a slight amount more with this news, but I think most people have already banked on the idea that he could start the season on the IL.
Kolby Allard, Texas Rangers - Kolby Allard was optioned to AAA on Wednesday. Allard began to revive a little of the luster that wore off in Atlanta with his stint in Texas after being traded at the deadline, but with the Rangers' offseason rotation additions, a spot just wasn't there for him to break camp. Allard was averaging 92.5 MPH with his fastball after sitting at just 89.4 MPH in his rookie season with the Braves. Allard can definitely be avoided or now but he's a guy to keep an eye out in AL-Leagues over the course of the season.
The Kansas City Royals aren't expected to name a closer before the start of the season according to manager Mike Matheny. This means that last year's closer Ian Kennedy could be moved to a different role, but I'd still expect him to ultimately get the role. The Royals are expected to be pretty awful once again so it's best to just avoid this bullpen until we get some more clarity on the role.
James Paxton, New York Yankees - James Paxton played catch on Wednesday and he came away from the session pain-free. Paxton said to reporters that the best-case scenario for him to return to the Yankees is in mid-May. Paxton's recent ADP is sitting at 170 overall and even at the decreased price, it's hard to trust drafting him coming off of a serious back injury.
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins - Byron Buxton hit on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and now he is slated to work out on Thursday but won't hit again. Buxton is making some strides in his return to the lineup but it definitely sounds like he's going to be placed on the IL to start the season off. Luckily for Buxton, he hasn't suffered any setbacks along the way, but rather the normal rehab is just taking a bit longer than they initially expected. His ADP is currently sitting around 150, and I feel like that's a fair point in the draft to gamble on Buxton's potential upside as he was good last year before injuries took over.
Johnny Cueto, San Francisco Giants - Johnny Cueto has officially been named the opening day starter for the Giants. Cueto should be a solid volume play for the Giants this year and could end up having some upside since he does play in such a spacious park, but wins should definitely be hard to come by for the righty. He's a fine dart throw late in drafts in NL-Only and mixed leagues as you'll likely have a good gauge on what he'll be early on in the year.