With less than a week to go before Opening Day, players are getting stretched out. Also, injuries are getting more focus as they may determine some roster spots. There are players who are seeing their seasons delayed and those who might have some aches and pains that will be worked through before the games start to count.
Fantasy drafts are in full swing. The tools in the Fantistics Insider Baseball Draft software will help you gauge the relative values of players and identify where you can find the bargains and avoid overpaying. If you've been waiting, now is the time to jump in and make use of this software.
Here are some players to keep in mind to look for, avoid, and keep an eye out for after the season starts or consider for your DFS lineup if you participate.
Kyle Tucker- OF- HOU- Tucker has been absent from Astros games for the past few days. He suffered a mild ankle strain in the quarterfinal of the WBC and hasn't seen any game action since then. It is considered mild and Tucker may be back in the lineup tomorrow. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day. Tucker has an ADP of 1.06 and is worth it, with a FDP of 1.07. He is projected to hit a career high 34 homers, which would be his 3rd straight season of at least 30 homers. He is also projected to have his second straight 20+ steal season, with 23.
Daniel Lynch- KC- P- Lynch left Thursday's game and found out yesterday that his injury wasn't as bad as it could have been. He was diagnosed with a strained shoulder. It will result in Lynch missing the first month of the season. He had been penciled in for the final spot in the Kansas City rotation. No replacement has been named. In the Cactus League this spring, Lynch hadn't conquered the control issues that have held back his progress. He walked 7 in 15.2 IP. The Royals were hoping he would make the same kind of jump Brady Singer did last year. However his start will be delayed and he will still have to demonstrate more familiarity with the strike zone to improve his value.
Jose Miranda- 2B- MIN- Miranda will be testing his sore shoulder at 3B today for the first time this spring. His move across the diamond has been delayed but there is a distinct possibility he will open the season at the hot corner for the Twins. Miranda is projected to hit 25 homers and his FDP of 10.02 is higher than his ADP of 13.11, so he is in the bargain category.
Anthony Volpe- SS- NYY- Anthony Volpe got the start with the A team in a split squad game as Gerrit Cole had his last Grapefruit League tune up. Volpe continued to make his case to stay there, hitting his 3rd homer of the spring and collecting 2 RBI. He is slashing .277/.393/967 this spring. Volpe is in danger of losing his status as the #4 hitting prospect because he is getting more likely to stick with the big club. Currently his ADP is 19.06 while his FDP is 17.02 so he is undervalued. The next few days will be interesting to see if Volpe continues to get the nod over Oswald Peraza.
Mitch Haniger- OF- SF- Haniger will likely start the season on the IL. He suffered an oblique strain earlier this month. Haniger started baseball activity earlier this week, but won't be recovered enough to be in the Opening Day lineup. Haniger slugged 39 homers in 2021 before only hitting 10 in an injury-plagued 2022 season. He was projected to be back to 25 homers this year, but a late start combined with the uncertain effects of an oblique injury could make it hard for him to reach that level of power.
Robbie Grossman- OF- TEX- The switch-hitting Grossman has a .279/.377/.413 career slash line against southpaws. It's only .232/.335/.363 against RH pitchers. This spring Grossman has been effective no matter who is on the mound, slashing .405/.500/1.1119. His role in Texas may be more than just the platoon left fielder. As we get close to the point where games count and DFS kicks off, at the very least Grossman will likely provide an inexpensive option to slot in when the Rangers are facing a LH pitcher. Last year he slashed .320/.436/.443 against southpaws.
Esteury Ruiz- OF- OAK- Ruiz stole a total of 86 bases in 2022, between SS, AAA, and MLB. Only one of them came in his 17 games between San Diego and Milwaukee. He was also caught stealing twice while with the Padres. Ruiz had an outstanding season in the minors between AA San Antonio, AAA El Paso, and AAA Nashville. His average at each stop was not below .315. He also had a BABIP no lower than .378 at each minor league location. Ruiz hit a total of 16 minor league homers in 2022. The A's acquired him in the 3-team deal that sent Sean Murphy to the Braves. Ruiz has slashed .326/.400/.865 with 6 steals and only 1 CS in the Cactus League and has secured a spot on the Oakland roster. He will likely get a decent amount of playing time in the outfield which will lead to him using his speed to improve on his stolen base numbers in MLB.
Keston Hiura- 2B- MIL- When Hiura was called up in 2019 it looked like he was going to be one of those players who made good on is prospect status. He slashed .303/.368/.570 with 19 homers in 348 PAs. Since then everything but his power has vanished. Hiura did hit 14 homers last season in just 266 PAs, but his slash line was .226/.316/.449. He wasn't able to make contact often enough, with a 41.7% K%. In the Cactus League he has stuck out 15 times in 32 ABs, so his selectivity hasn't shown signs of improving. The Brewers are going to try and trade Hiura in the next few days and if they can't work a deal he will be waived. Someone may be intrigued by the power potential, but unless he stops swinging at everything he won't be valuable enough to stay in the lineup.
Ryan Pepiot- P- LAD- Pepiot, the 28th ranked pitching prospect, has officially made the Dodgers as their fifth starter. Control has still been an issue in the Cactus League, as he walked 5 in 13.2 IP and has a 1.39 WHIP while only a 3.29 ERA. Pepiot struck out 19, so he can add those. Those are small sample sizes, but consistent with what he did in his also relatively small sample size of 36.1 IP with the Dodgers in 2022. He is probably slated to be a placeholder until Tony Gonsolin returns from injury.
Brandon Pfaadt- P- ARI- Pfaadt has posted a 3.75 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 12 IP of Cactus League ball. He has struck out 15 and walked 4. Pfaadt had a 2.63 ERA, 10.80 K/9, and 2.04 BB/9 in 61.2 IP at AAA Reno, after being promoted from AA Amarillo. He is still hanging around the Diamondbacks' camp as a non-roster invitee but has a chance to stick with the big club at the start of the season. If so, Pfaadt is more likely to occupy a rotation spot than go to the bullpen. He is the 11th ranked pitching prospect and would likely exhibit the same good control he has shown in the minors and strike out a good amount of batters with the strong spin rate on his fastball.
Jo Adell- OF- LAA- Adell was optioned to AAA Slat Lake yesterday. In his 6th spring training, Adell slashed .229/.275/.500. He hit 4 homers in 48 ABs, but also struck out 22 times. That pretty much sums up both the promise and disappointment of Adell. When he connects he can hit the ball far but he lacks the plate discipline to offer consistent value (31.1% K% at Salt Lake and 37.5% with the Angels in 2022.) Adell will be playing every day at AAA and the Angels have not given up on him. Despite being a pro since 2017 Adell will only turn 24 next month. He will have the chance to show he is not a AAAA player but the Angels will run out of patience at some point.
Juan Soto- OF- SD- Soto started baseball activity yesterday with dry swinging and doing some throwing. The plan is to increase the intensity of his activity over the next few days and have him ready for Opening Day. Before suffering a mild oblique string, Soto was hot both in the WBC and Cactus League. He is still a hot commodity in drafts (with a 1.12 ADP) and poised to be in the ranks of elite producers. The injury news is encouraging.
Jordan Walker- 3B- STL- It's looking more likely that the #3 hitting prospect will make the Cardinals out of spring training. He is slashing .295/.306/.525 is the Grapefruit League. Walker has hit 3 homers, each of which traveled at least 430 feet. He will play in the OF, since his natural position of 3B is occupied by a guy named Arenado. Walker is projected to hit 22 homers and steal 10 bases with 495 ABs. With more e playing time, his counting stats would grow. He may have trouble getting that much playing time, though, so his numbers may end up less. In keeper leagues, though, Walker is one to grab. His tools are elite.
Kenley Jansen- RP- BOS- Jansen came out of last night's game in the top of the 9th inning last night. Manager Alex Cora said that Jansen felt light headed, so he was removed as a precaution. It is said to not be anything serious. Jansen is overvalued in a lot of drafts, with his ADP of 8.08 well above his FDP of 14.10. He is projected to pick up 34 saves, post a 3.04 ERA and strike out 74 in 62 IPs.
Mychal Givens- RP- BAL- Givens has been suffering from a sore knee. He played catch on flat ground Thursday and the Orioles are still hoping that he will not start the season on the IL. The goal is to have him throw off a mound in the last few days. If he can do that he will likely be on the Opening Day roster. Givens has posted an ERA above 4 only once in his 8 year career. As a middle reliever his value is much greater in leagues that count holds. He only had 4 in 2022 but posted 11 in 2021 and has gotten up to 21 in his career. Givens has also struck out at least a batter per inning in each of his MLB seasons. In certain formats he has been a dependable contributor.
Gabriel Arias- UT- CLE- The Guardians had a scare last night when Arias was hit on the same hand that was broken by a pitch last season. A scan of the hand didn't show anything serious. Arias projects as a super utility player for Cleveland this season. He posted only a .191 average in 57 MLB PAs last season but did have an OBP of .321 due to a 14.0% BB%. Arias' BABIP of .267 negatively impacted his average. He hit 13 homers in 323 PAs at AAA Columbus. He can play any infield position. Arias has hit at every minor league stop he has had. It's hard to project him as contributing a lot for average, but he has potential and also with his position flexibility could be a bargain to fill in, especially in deep leagues.