Carlos Carrasco, CLE
Carrasco will have his next spring start pushed back a few days as he is currently dealing with mild elbow inflammation. Indians' manager Terry Francona made it sound like the issue is minor, but it is a bit concerning that this is already the second health issue Carrasco has dealt with this spring after a hip strain delayed his start to camp. The Indians were hoping Carrasco would be ready for the first week of the regular season, but we will have to see if this latest bump affects those plans. He could still end up being a good bargain in the middle rounds of drafts considering his upside (96:16 K:BB across 80.2 IP last season) and it's possible that he'll slide even further down draft boards with the news of the latest injury concern.
Oscar Mercado, CLE
Mercado underwent tests on his wrist on Friday, and the diagnosis was that he has a mild strain. This is relatively good news for the Indians who don't have a lot of strong options for their outfield this season. Mercado should continue to contribute moderately across the board as he had a solid 17.4% K% last season along with 15 HR's and 15 SB's in 115 games. Mercado increased his FB% from 33.3% in the first half of 2019 to 41.7% in the second half of the season and this paid dividends - he hit 11 HR's in 71 second half games after hitting just 4 in 43 games before the break - so there's reason to be optimistic that his overall power numbers could take a step forward.
Franmil Reyes, CLE
Reyes is having a strong spring thus far for the Indians, going 10-24 with 4 doubles and 3 HR's in the early going. He has only struck out 3 times in 26 PA's. Reyes looks like a lock to play everyday for the Indians, and he is doing everything he can to show that last year's power surge (37 HR's) was no fluke. It's way too small of a sample size to tell, but if Reyes were to improve his contact rate (career 28.3% K%), he could become an asset in BA as well, especially considering his 47.5% Hard%. He's only 24, so improvement is not out of the question.
Anthony Gose, CLE
After playing 372 games as an OF for the Blue Jays and Tigers fron 2012-16, Gose is now trying to make the Indians' major league roster as a relief pitcher. Gose has been quite impressive so far this spring, striking out 8 in 4.2 IP across 5 appearances while also hitting 100 mph. He is still not a favorite to make the Indians' Opening roster, but his strong spring performance could help his chances of getting an in-season call up. Gose is still far removed from being relevant in fantasy, but it's an interesting story nonetheless.
White Sox Notes
Lucas Giolito, CWS
Giolito pitched an inning in his Cactus League debut on Friday after missing the earlier part of Spring Training with a chest muscle strain. Despit the late start, the White Sox expect Giolito to be ready to go by the start of the season, presumably for Opening Day. Giolito's turnaround in 2019 was quite astonishing as he doubled his K% from the previous season (16.1% to 32.3%), nearly cutting his ERA in half (6.13 to 3.41). His ERA did jump from 3.15 before the break to 3.76 in the second half last season, but that's no reason for concern. His K% and BB% actually both improved in the second half, and his xFIP was an exceptional 3.28 during that time. Giolito should be expected to have another excellent season for the White Sox.
Gio Gonzalez, CWS
Gonzalez has been dealing with shoulder discomfort this spring, but the White Sox still expect him to open the season as the team's #5 starter. Gonzalez recorded a solid 3.50 ERA in 19 games (17 starts) for the Brewers last season, but it wouldn't be wise to expect a repeat of that performance. He posted a career high 4.45 xFIP last season, marking the 3rd straight season for which that mark was over 4.00. His strikeout rates over the past two seasons have also been well below his career average, which was never elite to begin with. Moving back to the AL is also not likely to help his cause.
Around the League
Felix Hernandez, ATL
Hernandez is trying to earn a spot in the Braves rotation, and he has had a decent spring thus far, allowing 2 ER's in 8.2 IP while striking out and walking three. King Felix's fall from stardom has been quite drastic, not only has his ERA increased in each of the past 3 seasons, but it has increased by nearly a run each year. His K% and BB% have fallen well below par, ultimately leading to an ugly 5.17 xFIP in 2019. His days of fantasy relevancy appear to be long over.
Orlando Arcia, MIL
Arcia is off to a solid start this spring, hitting 4 HR's in 21 AB's with just 1 strikeout. Arcia had a moderately productive first half for the Brewers last season hitting 12 HR's along with 5 SB's in 85 games, before falling flat in the 2nd half with a .199 BA and 3 HR's in 63 games. Arcia doesn't hit a ton of FB's and doesn't hit the ball particularly hard so don't expect an extended version of his recent power production. He did suffer from a .253 BABIP last season so his overall .223 BA should improve, but the best case reasonable scenario for him would be something like his 2017 season, when he hit .277 with 15 HR's and 14 SB's. Things of course could be a lot worse than that though, as they have been in Arcia's other three big league seasons.
Paul DeJong, STL
DeJong has gotten off to a blistering start this spring going 10-21 with 4 HR's through his first 8 spring games. DeJong hit a career high 30 HR's in 2019, and that power production increased in the 2nd half, when he hit 17 HR's in 72 games. His BA fell to .233 but that was largely due to a .259 BABIP; he actually improved his K% to 22.4% last season (28% and 25.1% in the previous two seasons). Still, it's noteworthy that his K% in the second half shot back up to 26.7%, the same time period in which he hit more FB's (47.2%) and more HR's. It's very possible that he was selling out for power and it kind of worked. If that's the case, we could be looking at another high power, low BA season from DeJong in 2020.
J.D. Davis, NYM
Davis had a breakout season with the Mets last season, hitting .307 with 22 HR's in 140 games. His .355 BABIP makes him a prime candidate for regression though, and while he does hit the ball hard, his 30.2% FB% limits his power upside. Davis seems like a guy with a fairly high bust potential in 2020.
Hanser Alberto, BAL
Alberto came out of nowhere to hit .305 for the Orioles last year, and it wasn't completely a fluke; he did have a minuscule 9.1% K% for the season. Still, he benefited from a .318 BABIP, a number that will be very difficult to maintain with a weak 24.6% Hard%. I hear people talking about having Hanser Alberto on their fantasy team, but this makes no sense to me. You're rostering a guy who has minimal power and minimal speed with the hopes that he'll produce a positive BA, and even that's not at all guaranteed. There's really no reason to go here.
Nathan Eovaldi, BOS
Eovaldi's first full season with the Red Sox was nothing short of a disaster, as he posted an ugly 5.99 ERA and 4.66 BB/9 over 23 games (12 starts). Still, the Red Sox seem to plan on having him as part of their 2020 rotation and he'll be especially important considering Chris Sale's injury. Eovaldi has been lights out so far this spring, striking out 12 and walking one in 8 shutout IP (3 starts). Keep in mind that Eovaldi was quite good as recently as 2018 (3.67 xFIP) and even last year, he had a nice 9.31 K/9 and 44.6% GB%. He's not being drafted in many fantasy leagues but could end up making a difference in the back of a rotation.
Yusei Kikuchi, SEA
Kikuchi was a major disappointment for the Mariners and fantasy owners last season as he posted a 5.46 ERA and 6.46 K/9 across 32 starts. His peripherals don't indicate that he was unlucky; his xFIP was a similarly bad 5.18. It's nice to see that he has 10 K's in 6.2 IP so far this spring although he has also walked 5. It's way too early to tell if Kikuchi has truly made improvements, but he was expected to do a lot better than he has since coming to America, so he's worth keeping an eye on as the regular season begins.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, TEX
Kiner Falefa continued his strong spring going 2-3 with his 4th HR in 29 spring AB's. This display of power has to be considered somewhat shocking, as Kiner-Falefa only has 5 career MLB HR's over the course of 618 PA's. He has made solid contact throughout his young career, compiling an 18.0% K% and 7.8% SwStr% across two big-league seasons, but the power is entirely new. As of now, he is set to serve a utility role for the Rangers, and since it doesn't appear he will be catching this year, he may need an injury to get any sort of regular playing time.
Ian Miller, CHC
It's unclear if Miller has a realistic chance of the making the Cubs team out of spring training, but it is clear that he has the ability to steal bases at whatever level he plays at. Miller has a league-leading 7 SB's in 14 games this spring, and has notched at least 30 SB's in each of the last 5 seasons in the minors, averaging 42 SB's per year over that span. It's too bad for Miller that steals don't count for as much in real baseball as they do in fantasy.