Miguel Vargas (LAD - 2B) - I wouldn't read too much into the spring stats of Vargas, who didn't even swing a bat for the first handful of games that he played in. Excluding the games in which he wasn't permitted to swing, Vargas is 9-29 with 3 2B, 1 HR, and 5 BB, good for a 310/412/517 slash line. His current ADP is 1B28 (round 21)...it's almost like people are forgetting that he is going to be playing 2B. Our projections have him right around the bottom end of the top-12 at the position, so certainly MI worthy in standard 12-team formats, which would put him somewhere around round 10-11 as a value. He's being criminally underdrafted right now, and he's absolutely someone I would target. Vargas is just 23, has hit over .300 every season of his pro career, and has 20 HR power with the possibility of a bit more as he matures. Playing a weaker position like 2B just enhances his value!
Anthony Volpe (2B/SS - NYY) - Anthony Volpe was informed on Sunday that he will break camp with the Yankees, and one has to assume that he isn't coming up to sit on the bench, so he immediately has significantly more value in all formats. The 21 year old has hit 314/417/647 with 3 HR and 5 SB this spring, illustrating what sort of upside he brings to the table. The relatively high launch angle gives the AVG a lower floor than you might think, but other than that there aren't really many warts here.....he is a reasonably sure bet to produce for a rookie, with the only visible negative being the amount of competition for playing time at the position should he struggle to adapt to MLB. His ADP has been cut almost in half over the past few weeks, and I expect him to start moving into the 8th or 9th round in 12-teamers now that he's assured of a roster spot. He is worth that price, in my estimation.
Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd (SP - ATL) - With Kyle Wright looking to open the season on the IL, the 5th starter competition between Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd is poised to result in two winners. Both 24 year olds have been excellent this spring, and with Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka both struggling, there's no reason to simply expect that one of them will only get one start. Shuster may have slightly better stuff, but Dodd has shown better control. Both of them have a lower floor than you might think, as they've struggled with the long ball even at the minor league levels. Neither pitcher has shown a high GB rate, and Dodd in particular has shown elevated flyball rates above A-ball. However, the ceiling here is nice for both, and both are being underdrafted right now. Shuster is being drafted higher right now, but I have them valued similarly longer-term, and I think that both should be drafted at the very least in any formats rostering more than the top 75 SPs.
Clarke Schmidt and Jhony Brito (SP - NYY) - With Rodon and Severino both expected to start the year on the IL, the Yankees are going to need two SPs that they didn't plan on for at least the first series or two. Clarke Schmidt is going to start the second game of the season in all likelihood, and he does bring some strong K upside and the obvious benefits of playing in front of a solid offense. The 3rd game of the season may very well go to a relative unknown in Jhony Brito, especially after 5 1/3 perfect innings against Toronto on Sunday afternoon. The 25 year old doesn't miss a ton of bats, but he has good control and generates a ton of ground balls. A lack of BB and a high GB rate are definitely 2 of the 3 "pillars" that we look for in pitchers, but the K upside here seems rather limited. Schmidt is a reasonable gamble in larger formats, while Brito is more of a dart throw for AL-only and the deepest of mixed leagues at this point.
Matt Olson (1B - ATL) - Matt Olson is a guy that I've been expecting a bounceback season from in 2023, and he's certainly looking the part this spring with 7 HR and a .439 AVG in 41 ABs. Olson was tied for 7th in exit velo last season and makes better contact than most players with that swing speed, and last year's chase rate (a completely out of character 32.8%, vs. a career average of 28.2) leads me to believe that he was pressing a bit with the new team and contract situation. He averaged far more than last year's 34 HRs during his last 3 seasons in Oakland, which is one of the worst places to hit HRs in the majors, so I can only assume that 40 HR is well within reach for the 29 year old. I love getting him in the 4th round if I can (standard 12-team formats), and would even reach up into the late 3rd if need be.
Yuli Gurriel (1B - MIA) - It was announced on Sunday that Gurriel will make the Marlins Opening Day roster, basically at the expense of Jordan Groshans. The 39 year old had an awful season with Houston last year, and with the spectre of age decline and the part-time role he'll find himself in behind Garrett Cooper, he is a deep NL-only league option only at this time, and not a very good one at that. Still, just one year removed from a 319/383/462 season over 600 PAs, the possibility of some value here if more playing time opens up cannot be discounted. He'll be a watch-list player only for me entering 2023.
Jordan Walker (3B/OF - STL) - It's official: Jordan Walker is going to open the season with the Cards, even after struggling a bit the past week or so. My general rule of thumb with high-upside young players coming out of spring is this: draft them, particularly in shallow formats where the replacement cost is better. In general, clubs do not bring up their top prospects within the intent to play them every day, so expect Walker to be the primary LF for St. Louis starting from day 1. There's tons of upside here in all categories, and the floor isn't horrible. He's moved all the way up to 3B15 via ADP, and while our season-long projections have him right in that area, that always assumed a callup a few weeks into the season at best. He should project to top 12 at the position now, although he may only end up with OF eligibility when all is said and done. I believe his draft position is still a touch light.
Blake Sabol (C - SF) - It's a little surprising to me that a team needing as much talent as the Pirates left Blake Sabol off of the 40-man this winter, but the Giants (via a trade from Cincy) may end up being the beneficiaries, as it looks like the Rule V pick may end up making the roster out of camp. The defensive part of the game is still a major weakness for the 25 year old "catcher", but Sabol has hit and hit well at every level, and his 349/474/651 performance this spring suggests that he may not even be overmatched at the top level despite just 513 PAs in the high minors. There are some contact issues here, but he has plate discipline, power, and a touch of speed....Joey Bart and Roberto Perez are not huge roadblocks to playing time if he can improve defensively and hit even just a little. He's certainly one to watch, and in 2-catcher formats in NL-only leagues, possibly even a worthwhile 2nd catcher.
William Contreras (C - MIL) - The offensive bar at catcher is still pretty low, but one catcher I'm staying away from at his current price is William Contreras. Despite the 20 HR in 97 games and the plus EV going along with it, I just feel like the downside here is pretty significant. His AVG was 35 points higher than his xAVG via Statcast data, thanks in large part to a .344 BABIP despite a mere 15% LD rate, and the contact issues persist (68.4% contact rate, up 0.7% from '21, where he hit .215). Add in the fact that he's certainly going to a lesser offense in Milwaukee, and I feel like C10 (his current ranking via ADP) is 3-4 slots too high for the 25 year old. The age is important here, because he is still on the plus side of the curve....any contact rate improvements would be immense for his value. Still, I expect he won't be gracing any of my rosters this season due to cost vs. projected value.
Oscar Colas (OF - CWS) - Oscar Colas has been told by the White Sox that he will make the team, with the expectation being that he will be the starting RF. He hasn't had a stellar spring, hitting just 270/281/444, but there's plenty of power potential here (23 HR in 111 minor league G in 2022), and despite some significant contact issues the batting averages have been solid as well. His plate discipline leaves much to be desired, so there is some downside risk here in AVG, but we feel that Colas is a top-60 OF for 2023, and his current ADP is OF73. There's some value here, and a pretty nice ceiling to boot.
James Outman (OF - LAD) - Outman is not only going to open 2023 with the Dodgers, but he's slated to be the primary CF against RHP (strong side of the platoon). For a player that had 31 HR and 13 SB in just 125 G in the minors last year, that's a major opportunity for value. Yes, the contact issues are significant, but Outman has been able to maintain decent batting averages the past few seasons in the minors based on the strength of some excellent EV and LD rates. There's no guarantee that will translate, but boy, there's a nice ceiling here. We have him right around the cusp of the top-60 among OFs, yet he isn't being drafted in the top 100 on average at present. I think he's an excellent value late in drafts with a very solid upside, particularly in the power categories.
Tyler Glasnow (SP - TB) - Glasnow is someone that I'm targeting after the first 25-30 SPs are off the board this spring. He's dropped all the way down to SP39 after the oblique injury, but really, you weren't drafting Glasnow with the expectation that he would get 200 IP, or even 175. The thought here was always that you'd get SP1 performance for perhaps 2/3 of a season, and that's definitely enough to justify a spot in the top-20. It might be even better now, because (assuming he stats healthy upon his return, which is admittedly a big if) he should be around for the stretch run instead of having his IP managed. He should only miss 5-6 starts if all goes well, and I have no problem slotting him in as my SP3 (or in a perfect world my SP4) and streaming starts until he's back. Glasnow is throwing on flat ground as of Sunday, and the projected timetable of early May hasn't been adjusted at this point.
Logan Gilbert (SP - SEA) - One player that I feel folks are a bit too optimistic on is Logan Gilbert, who has a current ADP of SP30. Gilbert has solid control, but he allows a lot of FB, a lot of hard contact, and doesn't miss bats at an elite level. His Statcast xERA was 4.11 last season, and the balanced schedule will see him facing the bottom-tier offenses of the A's and Angels less than he did last year. I'm not saying he'll bounce all the way back above a 4.00 ERA, but I feel that some regression is warranted, and for me he's closer to the 45th best SP than the 30th.
Jeffrey Springs (SP - TB) - The price on Jeffrey Springs has gotten a bit too rich for my blood over the past week or two, but I suppose that's to be expected during a spring in which he's allowed 7 baserunners and struck out 24 over 14 innings. He's looked scintillating, but it's spring, and his ADP is moving up into the top 30 SP. I think he's good, but that's just too pricey for me....he's more a top-40 SP in my book, as I'm skeptical of most "new pitch" stories in spring training....half of those K's have come against guys that won't be playing next week. I'd rather have Jordan Montgomery, Dustin May, Jesus Luzardo, just to name a few.
KeBryan Hayes (3B - PIT) - The 26-year old Hayes is a great player to target as your CI this year. He has all of the tools to break out, and he's coming off of a year where he showed virtually no power to keep his price down. He's hit 4 HR this spring, giving me hope that the wrist is healed and that he can start adding some lift to his swing. Outside of the low launch angle, you have a player that makes excellent contact, posted a top-50 exit velo, and stole 20 bases. He's the complete package, but he hasn't shown it yet. I love grabbing him in the mid-teens in the draft (current average ADP: 17th round) to fill that CI slot, hoping for a breakout that seems very, very possible.