Mitch Garver (C - MIN) - I feel like Garver is still quite a bit undervalued despite his breakout 2019 campaign. He's going in round 11 on average right now, a round or so after Willson Contreras, which I find a bit crazy. Garver has excellent plate discipline, makes well above average contact, and the power is very legitimate as evidenced by an exit velocity on non-ground balls that was 7th in MLB last year. Then we come to the biggest point: the Twins let Jason Castro go in favor of more of a true backup C in Alex Avila, meaning that Garver is probably going to play a quarter to a third more in 2020. It isn't as simple as just extrapolating last year's line by 30%, but if you did you'd find a guy with 40 HR and 90 R and RBI....for me he's closer to the top 2 guys at the position than he is to players 6 and 7. I absolutely like him a few round earlier than he's going right now....the addition of Josh Donaldson to that lineup can only help things for the rest of the guys as well.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS:
A sigh of relief - Griffin Canning had slipped down near SP100 with the news that his elbow inflammation had returned again this spring, but it looks like we can breathe a sigh of relief, as the UCL was intact but "changed". A PRP injection and three weeks of rest will have him out for 2-4 weeks of the season in all likelihood, but he is expected to be back as the #4 starter sooner rather than later. I love the potential here, and now that he will come at a discount....if you have the ability to stash him for a few weeks, I think he is worth the spot with his swing-and-miss stuff and improving control.
Maybe Adell won't toll too soon -
Jo Adellhas a couple doubles and a steal to go along with a .318 AVG so far this spring, but with 11 K's in 22 AB's, it's becoming more and more clear to me that he does need to start 2020 in AAA, and for more reasons than just to manipulate service time. Adell has been striking out at close to a 30% clip above rookie ball during his minor league tenure, posting very good batting averages despite his contact issues at each step of the way. I think he's much less polished than many of the extremely young players we've seen debut over the last handful of years, and some early struggles would not be surprising at all. I don't discount the talent here, but the more I watch, the more I think he's a major, major gamble in redraft leagues for 2020. He's all the way up to OF64 now via ADP, and if I'm going to gamble on someone that isn't going to play for the first month of the year, I'm probably hitching my cart to someone like Mitch Haniger instead.
NEW YORK YANKEES:
"Johnny Lasagna" - By now you all know that I love this kid, and the first two runs he's allowed this spring don't change a thing as far as that's concerned. The Yanks are still hedging on whether they want Loaisiga to open the year as the 5th starter or not, but with 2 hits, 2 runs and a BB:K ratio of 0:11 through 7 innings this spring, he's going to have some sort of a role, that's for certain. I love the upside here....for me, he's only been missing confidence in his first few big league tours. The control ability is there, and the strikeout stuff is legit....love the upside here for late-game drafting.
Up Comes Frazier! - Clint Frazier has the capability to be fairly valuable in the early part of 2020, as injuries to Judge and Stanton will keep them out for at least the first few weeks, and potentially (in Judge's case in particular) much longer. Frazier is 25 and has been at the AAA level for over three years now, so while I wouldn't say he's earned a Masters degree at the level, he's shown enough power and control of the strike zone to make me think that it's well past time for a lengthy audition at the big-league level. His contact issues will make him prone to slumps from time to time, but he hit 283/330/513 with 11 HRs and 34 RBI in 191 ABs filling in early last year before his services were no longer required, which is a 30 HR/100 RBI pace over a full season. There's some AVG downside to be sure, but that level of performance is clearly 5th OF-worthy in standard leagues, and since he will definitely be playing to start the year, I feel that he should be drafted in all formats right now.
Still the one - Early this spring, Trea Turner had slid down from his normal mid-to-late 1st round position back into the 2nd or 3rd round in most drafts, but as we've moved toward Opening Day he seems to be back into the late 1st/early 2nd in most drafts. That's where he should be, frankly, as despite missing 40 games last year he hit 19 homers, stole 35 of 40 bases, and scored 96 runs. As he enters his age 27 year (his birthday is in late June), Turner appears poised for a career high in homers if he can stay healthy and maintain last year's hard contact rate, and he will provide plenty of production everywhere else as well. I do still see him as a top-12 selection overall.
More scintillating 5th starter talk - With three appearances each thus far, I maintain the position that the only 5th starter candidate I have any interest in at all for the Nationals is Austin Voth. Joe Ross may still have the inside track as the guy with the most experience, both we've had ample evidence of what Ross brings to the table, and it isn't helpful. Voth has been the best performing through his first three outings as well, giving up 1 run and 6 hits over 7 innings with 1 BB and 6 K's. His upside isn't huge, but he could be a league average starter or a bit better, which is more than I can say for the other two.
AROUND THE LEAGUE:
Sean Murphy (C - OAK) - I'm a big believer that, if you can't get one of the top 7-8 catchers this season, wait a bit and grab Sean Murphy. Murphy should get the vast majority of playing time behind the plate this year in Oakland (although Austin Allen is around too), and after hitting 14 homers in just 200 PAs between AAA and the majors, he could be primed for a breakout season at a weak position. He's hit at every level in the minors, has solid strike zone discipline, and the power seems to be developing nicely. There aren't many upside plays at the catching position beyond the top tier outside of maybe Danny Jansen, but I do like that aspect of Sean Murphy's value....there are usually a number of mediocre options available to you on the wire if Murphy flops that aren't too dissimilar from anything else you'd find in the 15th round or later.
Justus Sheffield (SP - SEA) - There are so many "sleeper SPs" it seems.....just a quick glance between SP100-SP120 via ADP right now shows me 6 names that I'd be happy having on my roster to start the year. One of those is Justus Sheffield, the 23 year old slated to be the 3rd starter for the Mariners. Hope springs eternal, as they say.....everybody comes into spring with a new swing, new pitch, in the best shape of their lives, etc. In Sheffield's case, that new pitch has been working very well, as he struck out 5 more in his most recent start to give him 12 against 0 walks through his first three outings. Sheffield's 4-seam fastball was problematic for him last year: he threw it more than anything else, and it got hammered frequently due to a very low spin rate. Enter a 2-seam fastball this spring, and he's shown improved control with it to go along with some sink and run that wasn't present on the 4-seamer. As many of you know, my preferred SP strategy is 2-3 aces, 5-6 bodies to stream in slots 3-5.....Sheffield fits in very well with that strategy for me and is someone I would look to pick up anytime after round 23-24.
Alec Bohm (3B - PHI) - Some rumblings around the Phillie camp that Alec Bohm might be able to open the season as the 3B have pushed him up some draft boards in recent weeks, but I'm not buying it. Sure, Didi and Scott Kingery have struggled, but don't read too much into spring training stats. Bohm has a whopping 270 PAs above A-ball, and his defense is still a work in progress.....I find it unlikely that he finds his way to Philly much before roster expansion in September. It's very possible that he will be the starting 3B by 2021 though, and he projects as an above-average bat both in terms of AVG and power. Furthermore, any injury to Segura, Kingery, or Didi would probably result in a Bohm call-up, so he is certainly a name to monitor, but I wouldn't spend a regular roster spot on him at this point.
Jesus Luzardo (SP - OAK) - If you're not excited about this kid, I'm not sure what you're watching. 8 of Luzardo's 10 outs on Saturday were K's, easily illustrating his potential in that category, but he pretty much checks all the boxes you want from any SP. He's already going as SP39 (round 12) on average, and the only problem I see here is this: how many innings can he throw? He threw 110 innings in 2018 but only 55 last season....I can't see the A's pushing him much past 120 even in the rosiest scenario. That gives him MAYBE 2/3 of a season to put up SP4 numbers.....he could do it, but there's no certainty there. Still, you'll be able to add someone else in for that last 1/3 of a season, and while it won't be optimal, I think this still makes him more valuable than his current ADP....the ceiling here is enormous.
Dylan Carlson (OF - STL) - The more I look at what's going on with the Cards, the more I'm convinced that Dylan Carlson will either open the season as a starting OF or will be up before the end of April to assume that role. I just have very little confidence in any of the returning OFs for the team, and knowing how they typically operate (i.e. - not worrying about service time much), I could easily see Carlson (10-28 3 2B, 1 3B, 6 BB this spring) simply breaking camp with the club. Carlson is a bit like Jo Adell in the sense that the tools are perhaps a bit ahead of the performance still, but he's every bit a potential impact player, with above average pop and fewer contact issues than many youngsters. I definitely think he's worth a late-game choice in most drafts right now, and I wouldn't jettison him too quickly if he doesn't make the trip north with the Cards if I could help it, as I highly doubt we get to May without him playing in St. Louis.
Ian Happ (OF - CUB) - Happ has a little post-hype prospect thing going right now, as after an abysmal end of 2018 he was mediocre at AAA for much of last year as well. He returned to the majors with the same level of aggressiveness that he showed in 2017, and it resulted in much improved production. Happ still has some sizable contact issues, but at just 25 he has very good power, some speed, and is expected to hit near the top of the Cub lineup. He's looked great the first few weeks this spring as well, for what that might mean...I see him as a potential 25/10 guy with upside that could hit near the top of the lineup for a decent offensive club. Once you get outside of the top 50-60 outfielders, there aren't many whose upside I like more than Happ's.
Nick Solak (3B/OF - TEX) - One of the side effects of the unfortunate broken jaw that Willie Calhoun suffered today is that Nick Solak is likely going to be pressed into more playing time. The 25 year old Solak is a pretty crummy defender wherever he plays, but he can hit a little: he hit 32 homers and stole 7 bases between AAA and the majors last year, and I think he could hit 20 and steal 10 in an everyday role with Texas. He also is a decent contact hitter, so there's the possibility here for a 5-category sort of a player, and at age 25 there's always the potential for some upside to boot. Solak makes for a nice late-game option in deeper leagues right now, with eligibility likely at 3B, OF, and possibly 2B depending on your league rules.
Roman Quinn (OF - PHI) - With Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, and Adam Haseley all nursing various injuries and/or poor performance, it's looking increasingly likely that Roman Quinn will have a fairly significant role in the Phillie OF to start the season. That is major news for fantasy purposes, as Quinn is one of the fastest players in baseball. He's not a Billy Hamilton-type either: I actually think he could be an average hitter....maybe slightly below average power and slightly above average contact ability. The key is, Quinn is the kind of guy that could steal 40-50 bases if he gets the playing time, and there are only a handful of guys like that anymore. He makes for a very reasonable speculative late-round OF selection that could single-handedly give you 3-4 spots in SBs.....if he plays enough.
Teoscar Hernandez (OF - TOR) - Teoscar is a guy that, on the surface, looks like he made no real gains between his age 25 and 26 seasons, but I think there's a little room for optimism here. The surface stats for the two years look similar, but Hernandez hit 4 more homers and stole 1 more base in 60 fewer PAs last year, and he accomplished it by cutting his swinging strike rate by 3 percent and his chase rate by 2. He also walked two percent more....all these little gains don't really show up in the stats, but if he gets an extra 10-2- games of playing time this year and can improve the AVG by a bit (which the chase rate and SS rate should help accomplish), you could be looking at a .250 hitter with 30 HR and 8-10 SB. He's borderline for mixed leagues, good for deeper leagues, and at just 27 there's a bit of upside potential still.
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