Raisel Iglesias, RP, ATL
Iglesias is dealing with inflammation in his shoulder and will open the season on the IL. He had been set to serve as the team's closer, a role which he has operated in for most of his career. He has been excellent throughout, finishing 6 of the last 7 seasons with an ERA under 3.00. The past 3 seasons have been even better, as his BB% has improved, pushing his WHIP below 1.00 in each of those seasons. His xFIP has fallen under 3.00 in each of the past 3 years as well. The Braves will obviously have to find a replacement though, at least temporarily. Depending on how long Iglesias is out, and how well his replacement performs, you have to wonder if there's a chance that he doesn't return as the closer once he's healthy. Iglesias did serve as the team's setup man (with Kenley Jansen as the closer) after being traded to Atlanta in the middle of last season. He should post elite ratios regardless, but this is a big hit to his value heading into draft day.
AJ Minter, RP, ATL
With Iglesias set to open the season on the IL, Minter could be in line to begin the season as the Braves' closer. Minter was sensational last year, posting a 2.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 12.09 K/9, and 1.93 BB/9 across 70 IP out the Atlanta bullpen. His SwStr% was also elite at 15.7%. Minter has 25 career saves, including 5 last season, and the Braves have little reason to be concerned about how Minter would perform in that role. If your league has drafted already, and Minter is on the wire, he's a good pickup right now.
Joe Jimenez, RP, ATL
Jimenez is also a candidate to see save opportunities for the Braves, with Iglesias headed to the IL to start the season. Jimenez is coming off the best season of his career, recording a 3.49 ERA, 2.70 xFIP, 12.23 K/9, and 2.06 BB/9 for the Tigers in 2022. The biggest key for him was lowering his walk rate, which had been an ugly 6.95 BB/9 in 2021. His career 46.6% FB% is somewhat of a concern, as his 6.5% HR/FB last season could very likely rise. AJ Minter is probably the frontrunner to be Atlanta's closer to start the season, but Jimenez could still be in the mix.
Adam Wainwright, SP, STL
Wainwright is currently suffering from a groin injury and will open the season on the IL. The 41-year-old is coming off a solid 2022 campaign in which he compiled a 3.71 ERA across 191.2 IP. However his strikeout rate dropped to 6.71 K/9 and his 6.7% SwStr% was the lowest of his career. Now it looks like he will be out for at least several weeks, and it's hard to find a good reason to roster him.
Jake Woodford, P, STL
Woodford appears likely to be part of the Cardinals' Opening Day rotation in place of the injured Wainwright. He has had a strong spring, recording a 2.04 ERA and 18:5 K:BB across 17.2 IP in his 5 appearances. The strikeouts are especially nice to see after he posted a 4.47 K/9 in 48.1 IP for St. Louis last season, mostly out of the bullpen. He will now have the opportunity to see if he can carry his spring success into the regular season.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, PHI
In a devastating blow for the Phillies, Hoskins tore his ACL in the game against the Tigers on Thursday. He will require surgery, and it's safe to say that he will be out for a long time, very likely the entire season. This is a huge loss for the Phillies and fantasy owners alike, as he supplied 30 HR's last season, and has hit at least 27 bombs in each of his 4 full big league seasons. The Phillies are already without Bryce Harper for an extended period of time, and the lineup now has another big hole to fill.
Darick Hall, 1B, PHI
Hall could be in line to see more action at first base with the extended absence of Hoskins. He may have been used as the team's primary DH anyway, but this potentially gives a much clearer and more steady path to playing time. Hall has had a tremendous spring, hitting .319 with 5 HR's in 47 AB's. He also has posted a solid 8:5 K:BB, which is especially noteworthy since he had an awful 44:5 K:BB in 142 PA's with the Phillies last year. The power is clearly there; he hit 9 HR's with a 44.6% HardHit% in 42 MLB games in 2022, after hitting 28 HR's in 101 AAA games. If he is able to get his strikeout rate somewhat in check, he could be in line for a breakout season.
Edmundo Sosa, IF, PHI
Sosa is another player who could see increased playing time due to Hoskins' injury, as the Phillies may play Alec Bohm more at 1B, leaving more time at 3B for Sosa. Sosa had a disappointing 2022 campaign slashing .227/.275/.369 with just 2 HR's in 190 PA's. He struck out 26.3% of the time while walking at a mere 2.6% clip. For his part, Sosa is having a strong spring, hitting .457 with 4 HR's in 35 AB's. This may give the Phillies more incentive to play Sosa and see if he can carry over the success into the regular season.
Jarren Duran, OF, BOS
Duran has returned to the Red Sox from the WBC, but there still may not be a spot available for him on the team's Opening Day roster. Duran got off to a quick start after joining the Red Sox last season, slashing .325/.381/.519 over his first 19 games, while recording a 19.0% K% and 90.5 EV during that stretch. He also added 5 SB's during that time, giving him plenty of fantasy appeal. He then fell off a cliff, hitting .157/.223/.268 with a 33.8% over his final 39 games. He has gone 4-11 with a HR and a SB in his few at bats for the Red Sox this spring, but he still may be on the outside looking in as far as making the team out of the gate. He will likely get called up at some point this season though, and we can see if he can recapture the success that he flashed last season.
Yusei Kikuchi, SP TOR
Kikuchi had a strong outing against the Twins on Thursday, striking out 9 and walking 1 in 5 shutout IP. He has had a tremendous spring thus far, compiling a 1.00 ERA and 25:10 K:BB across 18.0 IP, allowing him to solidify a spot in Toronto's rotation after being banished to the bullpen in August last season. He had gotten off to a solid start in 2022, posting a 3.48 ERA over his first 9 starts, but he then went on to post a 7.02 ERA over his next 11 starts, leading to his exit from the rotation. Ultimately, Kikuchi failed to complete even 5 IP in 12 of his 20 starts, which obviously isn't going to cut it. On the bright side, Kikuchi did record a career high 11.09 K/9 last season, although that came with a dreadful 5.19 BB/9, also easily a career high. Both the strikeout and walk trends have continued this spring, so it wouldn't be surprising to see that carry into the regular season. He's certainly a risky play from the ratio perspective, but there is strikeout upside.
Josh Bell, 1B, CLE
Bell hit his 3rd HR of the spring on Thursday and appears primed to serve as the Guardians cleanup hitter for the 2023 season. Bell's power has been inconsistent throughout his MLB career; in 5 full seasons, he has three 26+ HR campaigns, while hitting 12 and 17 HR's in the other two seasons. He tends to hit the hall hard, but low FB's have led to occasionally weak power numbers. His contact rate has been consistent though, as his K% has been held under 20% in every season other than the abridged 2020 campaign. This has led to a respectable .262 career BA with little variation. His career 11.9% BB% has made him especially valuable in OBP leagues, and given him a solid floor for runs scored - he has scored at least 74 runs in each of his full seasons. His current ADP is in the 175 range, which is a low risk for a player who produces a solid BA/OBP, has 25-30 HR potential, and will be hitting in a prime spot in the lineup.
Drew Jameson, SP, ARI
Jameson allowed 4 ER's on 4 hits and 4 BB's in 4.1 IP against the Dodgers on Thursday, striking out 7 in the exhibition. Jameson is battling Ryne Nelson for the 5th spot in the Diamondbacks rotation, and neither have been great this spring. Jameson has a 7.71 ERA and 19:7 K:BB across 14 IP while Nelson has a 7.53 ERA in 14.1 IP. Jameson made a strong cameo for Arizona in the 2022 season, making 4 starts and compiling a shiny 1.48 ERA, 24:7 K:BB, and 56.1% GB% across 24.1 IP. It's hard to know how much to trust in that sample size though, especially since he stumbled to a 6.95 ERA in 114 AAA IP last year.
Trey Mancini, 1B, CHC
Mancini has been having a strong spring for the Cubs, hitting .349 with a .903 OPS and a couple of HR's in 43 AB's. With Eric Hosmer at first base, Mancini's path to regular playing time this season may be through the DH slot. Mancini is coming off the worst season in his career, with career lows in BA (.239), SLG (391), and HR's (18). Most of his peripherals were near his career averages, other than his FB%, which at 39.1% was well above his norm. Despite that, he failed to reach the 20 HR' plateau for the first time in his career due to a career-low 11.8% HR/FB. If he keeps hitting the ball in the air with consistency, he has a good shot at reaching 20+ HR's again, assuming he is given the at bats to do it.
Elvis Andrus, 2B, CWS
Andrus has been batting leadoff the White Sox lately, and if this is indeed the plan for the regular season, that's obviously good news for his fantasy prospects. Andrus kind of shocked everyone with a sensational finish to the 2022 season. After being traded to the White Sox in August, Andrus hit .271 with 9 HR's, 28 RBI, and 11 SB's in 43 games, making him one the top fantasy players during that stretch. Fantasy players don't seem to be buying it though as he's going undrafted in most leagues. It's somewhat understandable, as Andrus had just 3 HR's and 12 SB's in 146 games in 2022 and the power is certainly not typical of him. He's likely to see some regression from last year, as his EV and HardHit% are below average, but he did increase his LA to a career high of 11.9 and he produced the highest FB% of his career. So another double digit HR and SB campaign is a realistic possibility for the veteran infielder.
Tony Gonsolin, SP, LAD
Gonsolin is expected to begin the season on the IL with an ankle injury and miss at least a few weeks. He finished 2022 with a superb 2.14 ERA and 16 wins in 24 starts. He is due for plenty of regression as he recorded a .207 BABIP and 83.8% LOB%, while posting good, but not elite, strikeout and walk rates. His xFIP was 3.69 which isn't Cy Young worthy, but very rosterable in fantasy, especially pitching for the Dodgers where wins are easy to come by. He should remain a fantasy asset this year, once he is back on the mound.
Ryan Pepiot, SP, LAD
Pepiot may have a chance to crack the Dodgers rotation to start the season while Gonsolin is dealing with his injury. Pepiot had mixed results in his rookie campaign last year, recording a solid 3.47 ERA and 10.40 K/9 in 36.1 IP (9 appearances, 7 starts), but also posted an unsightly 6.69 BB/9 and 5.31 xFIP. His 57.5% FB% is also quite worrisome. The regression warning signs are strong, but the Dodgers seem to always have a way to produce strong starting pitching so he shouldn't be ruled out.