Welcome to a new running series that will highlight burning topics regarding fantasy baseball preparation heading into the 2021 MLB season. Reading through all the rhetoric to discern how a player may be affected by a change in lineup spot, playing time or contract control provides an edge in upcoming snake or salary-cap (formerly known as 'auctions'). Be sure to bookmark this page since updates will aggregate often.
The hitting content can be found below. Click here to get to the Fantasy Baseball Pitchers blog.
With teams honing in on Opening Day lineups and rosters, it's time for players to step forward. A position battle update in Texas, some intriguing prospects to stash and an underrated first baseman in the desert highlight today's spring hitters update.
Welcome to the last installment of the spring training hitter updates. Without further ado, the delayed posting comes with some bad news for those with Adalberto Mondesi on their fantasy roster:
The Royals announced Adalberto Mondesi has been placed on the 10-day IL with a right oblique strain. Nicky Lopez has been recalled.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 31, 2021
Savvy drafters hopefully stashed Bobby Witt Jr. as a reserve with Mondesi due to his injury laden past. There's no reason for Kansas City starting Witt Jr.'s service clock prior to the Super 2 date, so it may take a little patience weathering this early season storm. For now, it depends on league size and roster construction finding a replacement.
Going over the names available in 50 percent or more of CBS leagues at shortstop, these jump out for the short term:
Jazz Chisolm, Miami - 41 at-bats, eight runs, six RBI, four stolen bases; .268/.333/.488
Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh - 33 at-bats, 11 runs, five RBI, two stolen bases; .606/.641/.788
Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers - 45 at-bats, 10 runs, five home runs, 14 RBI; .311/.392/.756
If mining steals upside, target Chisolm. Newman's one year removed from 12 home runs with 16 steals in 2019 in 130 contests and Taylor's racked up 11 stolen bases since the start of 2019 spanning over 600 plate appearances. Adjust and advance, do not dwell on the lost draft capital.
Now for the updates from the last seven games of spring. Remember, one more sleep until games which matter on Opening Day!
Not only will this second baseman hit leadoff:
Kolten Wong remains hot all spring finishing with four home runs, a .306 average and 1.097 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with three walks versus four strikeouts. Many forget about the upside Luis Urias owned entering last year before an injury derailed his season. Those in need of a shortstop replacement in deep formats could do worse than kicking the tires on a Brewers shortstop projected for the majority share of at-bats in April.
Chicago White Sox
Service manipulation be darned may be this team's credo putting Andrew Vaughn on the Opening Day roster. They also added Zack Collins as the second catcher and he may grab some at-bats as the designated hitter. Before the season ensues, Luis Robert finishes with an odd spring. He only hit one home run but stole six bases. However, his 18 strikeouts against three walks should not be overlooked. He's dripping with potential for fantasy but his batting average and production may be of the streaky ilk.
Could C.J. Cron lead the National League in home runs playing in Coors at the end of 2021? Absolutely, he launched his fifth of the spring finishing with a robust .354 average and a 1.186 OPS. Best part, he walked five times versus nine strikeouts.
four hundred and seventy two feet pic.twitter.com/3laO012d79— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 26, 2021
Back to second in the lineup and working with Chipper Jones all preseason may return Ozzie Albies into the player we hoped for in 2020. He launched this home run from the right side of the plate in his last spring contest:
Ozzie Albies is so smooth at the plate pic.twitter.com/76qgq7jUG7— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) March 30, 2021
Scoring 11 runs in 42 at-bats with three home runs and two stolen bases. Yes please.
Los Angeles Dodgers
After hitting zero home runs all spring, Mookie Betts finished spring with a bang on Tuesday night:
Cody Bellinger added his third home run driving in two homering in back-to-back contests. Guess this offense will support National League candidate Corey Seager just fine.
Ke'Bryan Hayes cracked his second spring home run and finished with a .431/.463/.745 slash over 51 at-bats with three stolen bases to boot. Not too shabby.
It may take a month or two, but those needing speed do not forget about Jarren Duran of Boston. He went 2-for-2 in his last spring outing including his third home run. Through 47 at-bats he slashed .340/.367/.702 with two stolen bases. His 19 strikeouts against two walks should not be ignored, hopefully this improves with a little seasoning.
Thanks for all the support this spring, it's time to focus on the regular season. Stay safe and be well.
Spring training games with starters leaving after one or two at-bats begin with Opening Day two sleeps away. With roster setting across the majors, lineups settle in and any last minute drafters or waiver wire users should glean the information carefully. Here's the latest hitter update for the Fantasy Alarm family.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Save some home runs for the regular season Corey Seager , spoken as someone who paid full price in a salary cap league in Tout Wars head-to-head points format. He launched his eighth spring dinger last night in two plate appearances along with drawing a walk pushing his average to .347 with a robust 1.245 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
Boston Red Sox
Feeling the crunch due to early injury issues? Look to the Red Sox for a quick fix. Enrique (Kiké) Hernandez can be used at second base or the outfield in most formats and leads off on Opening Day. He hit his third spring home run moving his average to .340 over 47 at-bats. Marwin Gonzalez also can be deployed all over a fantasy roster added his third home run during a 3-for-3 afternoon with two RBI. He's hitting .300 and could start strong if this carries over. Last, Franchy Cordero made the roster:
Red Sox roster moves:— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) March 30, 2021
-Franchy Cordero was reinstated from the COVID-19 IL
-To make room for Cordero on the 40-man roster, RHP John Schreiber was designated for assignment.
-Michael Chavis and Colten Brewer were optioned to the alternate site
No matter how one feels about Bryce Harper , he's raking this spring:
He ends spring hitting .343 with a 1.249 OPS, four home runs and nine walks against 11 strikeouts.
Tampa Bay Rays
The latest Rays notes on Willy Adames ' encouraging spring, the early plan for Rich Hill and Chris Archer , another good sign for Yoshi Tsutsugo and a setback in Ji-Man Choi 's rehab: https://t.co/80l8kmN6aZ— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) March 30, 2021
He's homered four times over his last five games moving his spring slash to .375/.444/.577 and does not turn 26 until September. Even if they trade him (Cincinnati) later this year, he's a terrific late dart at shortstop or middle infield.
Post-hype Breakout Roundup
Colorado: Garrett Hampson - takes over a full-time playing role, could steal 30 bases and be available after pick 200 in most drafts. He went 2-for-2 on Monday with three runs, his first spring home run and drove in three. Rockies play 15 of their first 21 games at home, cash in.
Kansas City: Hunter Dozier - launched his fifth spring home run raising his RBI total to 13 with a .289 average and 1.106 OPS. Eligible at corner infield or outfield in most formats. Many remain averse to him, stash away.
Seattle: Evan White - sneaky pop at corner infield, basically free in drafts. Hit safely in four of his last five games including 2-for-2 yesterday with a stolen base. 20 home run and six-to-eight steals in 15-team formats comes with inherent value.
Minnesota: Willians Astudillo - going to back-up first base, third base and even outfield while being the third catcher on the roster. Slashing .385/.415/.821 this spring with nine of 15 hits going for extra-bases (five doubles, four home runs) and two walks against three strikeouts during 39 at-bats. Deep league second catcher with upside if playing time emerges.
Baltimore: Austin Hays - everyone chases power with speed potential but overlooks Hays? He hit his fourth home run on Monday, owns a .392 batting average with a 1.192 OPS and swiped three bases. Yes please. Playing time will sort itself out if he stays hot.
Last, but not least. Here's the list of the hitters with the most barrels with an exit velocity of 97 MPH or better courtesy of Statcast:
MLB.com - spring statistics
As more rosters take shape, today's focus shifts to recent results and potential impact entering the 2021 season. Three more sleeps until Opening Day people, it's happening.
Although the team may not win the division, there's excitement teeming for fantasy players on this roster. He's hit third in three of the last five spring lineups and returns there later this afternoon. Yesterday, he recorded a combo meal (home run and stolen base in the same game). This marks his second spring home run and his second steal with a .343/.364/.645 slash line. That's good, right. Yes, it's only spring but not sure the fantasy community knows how to project a healthy Mondesi. If intrigued, check out his player profile in our draft guide. He's one of 211 profiles to read for any last minute advice. And for the visual crowd, his home run:
Also of interest, Kyle Isbel went 1-for-3 and hit .341 this spring with two home runs and two stolen bases over 41 at-bats. He may break camp with the team.
As colleague Colby Conway mused on Twitter yesterday, it may be #RoblesSZN. Victor Robles went 3-for-5 on Sunday scoring two runs, hit a double and stole his fifth base of spring. At a reduced price point in most drafts and the need for speed prevalent in leagues, the post-hype outfielder may be on the precipice of a breakout season. Which seems silly since he's already crafted a 17 home run and 28 stolen base campaign during his Age-22 season in 2019.
Slow springs by star players need to be taken with a grain of salt. For instance, Freddie Freeman went 2-for-3 with a double and home run raising his spring average to .206 through 34 at-bats. Just take in his sweet swing on this opposite field double off of a southpaw:
Lefty-lefty oppo double.— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) March 28, 2021
MVFree back to doing MVFree things. pic.twitter.com/PHVrRUR3Jd
Target with confidence, it's a marathon, not a sprint based on spring results.
When taking chances on Rockies hitters, it's important to note they play 15 of their first 21 contests at home, weather permitting. If someone starts hot, sell high. For instance, deeper league players looking for batting average insulation may look in the direction of Josh Fuentes . He went 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI on Sunday raising his average to .333 with an on-base rate of 35.6 percent driving in 11 runs. He does not hit for much power, but:
Josh Fuentes is a yeah-but player. Good Cactus League? Yeah, but it's just spring. Good 2020 in the bigs? Yeah, but just one month. Rakes at Albuquerque? Yeah, but it's just the PCL. He might yeah-but himself into a full time spot at third.— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) March 28, 2021
Home Run Roundup
Joc Pederson launched his eighth Cactus League home run, he may never want to leave Arizona. He presently owns a .372 average with a robust 1.429 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
Joey Gallo went 2-for-2 including his sixth home run and drove in three runs. Bounce back season? Or #GalloReboundSZN.
A healthy Matt Olson continues to mash this spring with a .319 average, a 1.127 OPS and hit his sixth spring dinger on Sunday.
Combo meal number two on Sunday went to Avisaíl García of Milwaukee. His fourth home run and first steal of spring.
Until next time, stay safe and be well.
Updated 3/28/2021 at 10:50am ET
Four more sleeps until Opening Day! If you enjoy these free updates, check out all the great work on Fantasy Alarm for half price:
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As for today's updates, at least one prospect will break camp with his team, notable performances from Saturday's contests along with injury alerts to monitor in any last minute drafts.
For anyone who thinks players do not appreciate making the majors:
Scott Servais said on ROOT Sports that Taylor Trammell has made the MLB roster and will start in either left or center depending on Kyle Lewis ()">Kyle Lewis' health.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 28, 2021
he said Trammell broke down crying.
Taylor Trammell celebrated in style going 2-for-2 including his third home run and driving in four of the Mariners five runs in a win over the Giants. He's slashing .302/.388/.628 through 43 at-bats this spring plus stolen two bases.
For a second straight game, Jesse Winker led off with a home run. After a slow start this spring, he's heating up with hits in three of his last four contests and four RBI in them. Jonathan India launched his third home run this spring and carries a .333/.455/.644 slash through 20 games. He's on track to start at second base on Opening Day. And for those taking Eugenio Suárez in drafts for power, it appears he adds positional eligibility to his appeal in 2021:
#Reds Nick Krall on Eugenio Suárez: "looking like he's going to end up being the everyday shortstop"— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) March 27, 2021
Moving up to second in the lineup could enhance counting statistics for Paul Goldschmidt and his power may be underrated for 2021 after playing through injuries last year:
Once again, post-hype breakout candidate Tyler O'Neill tallied two more hits in five at-bats driving in two runs. He's hitting .372 through 43 at-bats with two home runs, 10 RBI and three stolen bases.
Roster updates with a surprise twist in the race for first base:
Rosters:— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) March 27, 2021
- Nate Lowe named starting 1B
- Ronald Guzmán has also made the team
- Josh Sborz has made the team
- Anderson Tejeda to AAA
- Andy Ibáñez to alt-site group
- Drew Butera released, re-signed to MiLB deal
- Nick Vincent released, team hopes to re-sign him to MiLB deal
Staying in Texas, an encouraging sign from Saturday's game:
This marks the first home run for Yordan Alvarez in spring contests and hopefully signals him heating up with the regular season fast approaching. Alex Bregman keeps drifting in drafts but hitting .294 with a 1.074 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) through 17 at-bats with two home runs.
Top prospect J.J. Bleday continues to impress in camp:
Bleday went 2-for-3 with a triple, his second home run and two RBI. Garrett Cooper continues to rake below the fantasy radar going 3-for-3 with a run on Saturday. He's hitting .432 with a 1.191 OPS over 37 at-bats this spring. No universal designated hitter affects his value but in deeper formats, his power and average upside play.
It's tough to trust Nick Senzel based on past injury issues, but his 20/20 potential draws us in. Still:
Yoán Moncada left his last spring contest after he launched a home run but fouled a ball off his leg prior to it. Good news?
Moncada has a little soreness in his lower right leg, where he fouled the ball off, but nothing major. "Thank God I was able to hit a homer. That alleviated the pressure on my leg."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) March 27, 2021
Boston's Franchy Cordero could be on track for Opening Day:
Franchy Cordero will play back to back games on Sunday and Monday. ‘He feels great. There’s a good chance he’ll be with us Opening Day.’— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 28, 2021
Top catching prospect Adley Rutschman hit a double and drove in a run over five at-bats on Saturday. He's hit safely in three straight spring games but likely remains in the minors for 2021, Baltimore's in no rush to start his service time clock.
Kyle Isbel remains in the hunt for a roster spot with the Royals. He hit lead-off on Saturday going 2-for-3 with a run, two RBI and a walk. He's hitting .342 with .975 OPS, two home runs, five RBI and two stolen bases through 35 at-bats.
Five more sleeps until Opening Day. It's happening. Speaking of which, roster updates populate the news cycle in the MLB, a highlight on young catchers worth tracking, sad trombone for prospects demoted and surging hitters of note in today's hitter update.
It appears the Tigers will enter the regular season without a permanent first baseman:
Barring something unexpected, Opening Day roster is set. Hinch said they opted for versatility in not keeping Núñez. They also wanted to be flexible for possibility of a 14-man pitching staff later, perhaps when Turnbull is ready. https://t.co/UkelarvNny— Jason Beck (@beckjason) March 27, 2021
Cutting Renato Núñez may provide a fluid infield as today's lineup displays:
Jonathan Schoop at first base, he's also played third and owns second base eligibility. Niko Goodrum gets more playing time since he can move all over the infield and they seem committed to Jeimer Candelario .
Not too many surprises unless targeting Bobby Bradley due to his strong spring with this final roster:
Cleveland's Opening Day roster shaping up to look like this: pic.twitter.com/pz6sPRwO3V— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) March 26, 2021
Could they kick the tires on Núñez at first base? In case they do, here's his line drives and fly balls from the last three years with Cleveland as the overlay:
Last, but not least, remember about Robbie Grossman later in drafts, especially in on-base percentage (OBP) formats. He went 1-for-2 with two runs, his third home run and a walk. Hitting safely in four of his last five contests along with a home run in consecutive starts. Wait, there's more, congratulations to Akil Baddoo (four home runs and four stolen bases in 35 at-bats) on making the roster as a Rule 5 selection.
Pederson's hitting .366 with a robust 1.377 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) this spring. Players should be mic’d up more as well, wake up MLB. Speaking of which, manipulating player control through archaic benefits to ownership needs altering. Nico Hoerner received his walking papers, getting demoted despite playing second base well and producing at the plate. This tidbit hints at how long he may need to be off the Cubs major league roster:
I'll be on ESPN 1000 at Noon CT to discuss the move to send Nico Hoerner to the minors, which @JeffPassan and I reported on last night. Some observations here first without passing (much) judgment on the move. 1-— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) March 27, 2021
Stay hot Wil Myers :
He went 3-for-3 on Friday including his fifth home run raising his spring average to .415 with a 1.247 OPS through 41 at-bats.
Josh Bell crushed his sixth spring home run and owns a .419 average with Washington this spring.
Keston Hiura launched his third home run in as many games:
A Vladito (Vlad Guerrero Jr.) bomb:
And a side of a sweet Yoán Moncada swing:
Big hits only for international pop sensation, Yoán Moncada. ???? pic.twitter.com/nM09fQnh5V— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 26, 2021
Catcher remains the most frustrating position to fill, especially in leagues with two catcher formats. However, here's some young names to either stash or roster if possible depending on league and bench size:
12 Team Mixed: Alejandro Kirk, Blue Jays (22 at-bats, two home runs, .318/.360/.636 slash), Zack Collins , White Sox (39 at-bats, three home runs, .333/.422/.590), Omar Narváez , Brewers (28 at-bats, three home runs, .321/.457/.750)
15 Team Leagues, only formats, keeper leagues: William Contreras, Braves (17 at-bats, home runs, .353/.500/.647), Luis Camusano, Padres (37 at-bats, five doubles, .324/.419/.469), Willians Astudillo , Twins (34 at-bats, three home runs, .353/.389/.735)
Until next time, stay safe and be well.
Six more sleeps until Opening Day. Please keep players in bubble wrap with spring training winding down. A different approach today with eyes on stolen bases in the roundup.
There's no bargain anymore targeting C.J. Cron with the Rockies but he's still worth the risk. On Thursday, he went 3-for-3 with his third double and fourth home run over 43 at-bats raising his average to .372 with a 1.180 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Including his spring batted ball data including all fly balls and line drive with his last three years, his spray in Coors looks as such:
Again, last year's small sample seems to depress some players in average draft position results heading into the last draft weekend. However, do not forget about this Royal playing for a contract this off-season:
After Merrifield and Benintendi go down, Mondesi turns on the first pitch from Weaver. Solo homer 434 feet, 106 mph exit velo— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) March 25, 2021
If the shoulder's healthy, he may just turn in a season worth taking the chance on.
Adalberto Mondesi just hit a bomb. Have had scouts real impressed at how he’s looked all spring.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 25, 2021
Last, but not least, our own prospect guru Matt Selz (@theselzman) placed my focus on Kyle Isbel as an outfielder with upside this year for fantasy purposes. He's still in the mix to make the Opening Day roster:
Mike Matheny on Kyle Isbel, who is starting today in RF for the second straight game: "He's another guy who is in the mix and conversation (for the Opening Day roster). We're trying to get as many looks as we can before we make our final decision."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 25, 2021
So far this spring, he's produced two home runs and two stolen bases with a .314 average. There's a nice blend of speed with a little bit of pop if he breaks through.
Remember the warm fuzzies felt seeing Victor Robles lead-off most of spring training, the rug may be pulled out from below:
#NatsNotes— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) March 25, 2021
????Castro day-to-day w/ mild left hamstring strain
????Martinez taking look tonight at Turner 1st/Robles 9th, with Robles like a 2nd leadoff hitter
????Avilán to pitch 1+ innings, could be potential opener. Martinez wants him to face Major League hitters as starter tonight
So many counting statistics get lost moving from first to ninth in the lineup due to plate appearances. Pay close attention to this.
This may be a terrible team in the standings, but runs will be scored. Check out how some of the young players in the outfield mix fared on Thursday:
- Austin Hays - 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, a triple and a home run, three RBI, hitting .409 with three home runs plus two stolen bases this spring
- Ryan Mountcastle - 2-for-3 with two runs, his fourth home run, three RBI, and a walk. He's batting .286 with 13 RBI
Feel the need, the need for speed?
Today's highlights start in Miami, no pastels necessary to enjoy the smooth Jazz:
What to know from #Marlins W:— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) March 26, 2021
1. Sixto Sánchez threw 61 pitches, hit 100+ mph twice. The ? remains whether he is built up enough to make OD rotation.
2. Jazz Chisholm had 3 SBs, continues to showcase his athleticism.
3. Nick Neidert (55 pitches) is built up if Sixto isn't ready.
After this contest, Chisolm's hitting .273 with three home runs and four stolen bases. His average may fluctuate throughout the season but in deeper formats looking for category fillers, do not forget about him.
Tough night for Yu Darvish facing his old franchise. Texas stole SEVEN bases against him in three innings. Charlie Culberson stole a hat trick as did Jose Trevino stole a base, he's the catcher, and Brock Holt also swiped one. This may be more about teams getting aggressive versus the Padres starter but the Rangers will need to manufacture runs. By the way, both Eli White and Leody Taveras made the roster for Opening Day.
He stole two bases along with driving in the walk-off RBI in a win over the Yankees.
Thursday proved to be a tough day to own Eloy Jiménez :
White Sox OF Eloy Jiménez yesterday suffered a ruptured left pectoral tendon. The injury will require surgery and the expected recovery period is 5-6 months.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 25, 2021
With this timeline, at least owners do not need to be concerned about keeping him in redraft leagues. It's time to move on. It appears the White Sox do not learn from past mistakes either. Tony La Russa said Andrew Vaughn will start in left field tomorrow and “you’ll see him out there as much as possible” over final week. Be safe Andrew.
Two things to monitor but reports suggest the injury issues project as minor ones.
First from Washington:
From the Nationals regarding Soto leaving the game after drawing a 1st inning walk: "Juan was removed from the game. Davey will provide an update following the game."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 25, 2021
Then the collective sigh of relief from fantasy players across the world:
Told that Juan Soto "is fine" and was removed from the game for something very minor. Sounds like the Nats were being extremely cautious.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) March 25, 2021
Lastly, from Minnesota:
Mitch Garver is coming out of this game after taking a foul tip off his left hand. Looks like head athletic trainer Michael Salazar was looking at the index finger.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) March 25, 2021
Until next time, good vibes keeping players healthy, stay safe and be well.
One week everyone until Opening Day. No more consternation about where a player may hit in the lineup or roster battle updates. Games will matter and hopefully prospects get a chance to ply their wares in the majors. With the season on the horizon, here's the latest spring training hitter updates of interest.
Following up on Christian Yelich , it feels like he can be targeted with confidence with the depressed price in the first round this year, especially with pitchers getting pushed up draft boards:
Within Adam McAlvy's game notes on MLB.com, Yelich left the game with a robust .450/.542/1.000 slash line. He's homered in each of his last two games, drove in a run in three consecutive contests and hit safely in his last four. And for those still sleeping on Kolten Wong :
Chicago White Sox
Hopefully fantasy players do not need the sad trombone but this injury could impact the 2021 season for Eloy Jiménez :
While we hold our collective breaths, keep tabs on news which may follow later today:
The White Sox official announcement on Eloy Jiménez is left shoulder discomfort after catching his arm on the left field fence today. He will be further evaluated Thursday.— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 24, 2021
For the good news, Andrew Vaughn should break camp with the team.
The #WhiteSox insist there will be no service-time manipulation games with prized prospect Andrew Vaughn, who has made quite the impression in spring training camp. https://t.co/STZhm1b6yr via ?@USATODAY?— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 25, 2021
Can he play left field?
It's been a weird spring for Austin Riley but he’s heating up at the right time:
He finished 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI, but played in right field?
While it remains to be seen if the franchise actually provides Garrett Hampson full-time at-bats, but he's ready to rack up precious stolen bases in a scarce market per Thomas Harding's game notes on MLB.com:
During Wednesday's game, he finished 1-for-3 with two runs, a walk and two stolen bases moving his spring total to four. Teammate Raimel Tapia went 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and stole his second base of spring as well. Could this be the go-go Rox?
From the life imitates art segment of the column, any fan of Major League should understand the terrific irony of this play from Wednesday:
Thought this looked familiar ... pic.twitter.com/EyoQF2zS4F— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) March 25, 2021
Also of interest from this contest, Franmil Reyes hit a triple but no video as of yet. He's hitting .324 through 34 at-bats with four home runs, a stolen base and a 1.145 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Josh Naylor snapped out of a slump with a combo meal going 2-for-3 including his first home run and second stolen base of spring.
Adam Frazier of the PIrates hit his second spring home run and carries a .563 average through 32 at-bats while hitting leadoff. That's good right?
Bounce back candidate Justin Upton also turned in a combo meal launching his fourth home run and stealing his second base. He's hitting a cool .394 with 10 RBI and a 1.293 OPS over 33 at-bats.
Stay hot Ketel Marte . He scored three runs, hit his third spring home run and carries a robust .353/.450/.765 slash during his 34 spring at-bats to this point. #ReboundSZN
Last but not least, keep tabs on Taylor Trammel, he may steal the job in left field until Jarred Kelenic's ready (cough, his Super 2 lapses, cough):
Only eight more sleeps until Opening Day. A very busy Tuesday on the injury front along with eyes on some player position battles taking shape. And this time, J.T. Realmuto being listed in the lineup did not result in a tease.
Starting with the good news before delving into the bad, Realmuto made the most of his first spring at-bat:
Appears the power may not be an issue going forward. Within Todd Zolecki's game notes following the game on MLB.com, a new leader for the center field job may be emerging:
Those searching for late speed options in drafts should keep Roman Quinn in the queue:
He's only hit .213 in each of the last two seasons but stole 12 bases last year with only 116 plate appearances.
Although it's trending towards a non-issue, when a star walks off with a trainer during a spring game, pay close attention.
Monitor this situation closely. While the article references Ha-Seong Kim or Jake Cronenworth could play shortstop along with Manny Machado , the Padres can ill afford an injury of this type if the shoulder issue persists for Fernando Tatis Jr.
While the strikeouts continue piling up, Keston Hiura may be getting his timing down with Opening Day on the horizon:
He struggled with elevated fastballs last year so his front foot timing and willingness to drive the ball to the opposite field could propel a return closer to the 2019 iteration of Hiura rather than last year's depressed production with a low slash line.
Also of note from this contest, Omar Narváez may be a terrific buy low option in two catcher formats:
He's homered in each of his last two starts pushing his on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) to 1.276 through 26 at-bats this spring. Speaking of OPS, Yelich's is up to 1.464 this Spring!
Buying low on Christian Yelich causes some trepidation with those burned last year, but he's a worthy target at his present price point.
New York Mets
It's hard to fade Francisco Lindor right now, he appears to be locked in:
He went 3-for-4 on Tuesday hitting his fourth home run in his last five contests. Presently hitting a robust .342 over 38 at-bats with a 1.074 OPS, it remains to be seen how he adjusts playing in the National League in a contract year. So far, so good.
How the playing time gets parceled out in the Cardinals outfield may determine the fantasy ceilings for a bevy of players. For instance:
Has had his most career success against lefties, so it's noteworthy that on a day when #Cardinals are facing a lefty (Lester), Dylan Carlson is playing CF. Also, of note is Carlson in CF would open RF for Williams .... https://t.co/dXv9ev3ocG @stltoday #MLB #stlcards— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) March 23, 2021
If Dylan Carlson can handle repetitions in centerfield, it allows the team to deploy Justin Williams or others in a corner outfield spot. Carlson's hitting .270 this spring but heating up of late with two home runs in his last three contests. Tyler O’Neill remains hot carrying a .400 batting average over 35 at-bats with a 1.090 OPS, two home run, eight RBI and two stolen bases. Post-hype alert.
- Hoerner: 31 at-bats, five rus, home run, five RBI, 3 stolen bases, 3:1 K:BB; .355/.412/.613
- Bote: 32 at-bats, seven runs, three home runs, eight RBI, 3:7 K:BB; .344/.417/.781
On the same day Starlin Castro makes the list as a player to watch:
Baltimore should not promote Adley Rutschman this year but he's going to one of the good ones:
Given enough plate appearances, he's a top-10 catcher in fantasy:
Yes, you heard me. Kirk's hitting .318 this spring over 22 at-bats with a .996 OPS with two home runs and six RBI.
Until next time, stay safe and be well
Only nine more sleeps until Opening Day. Roster updates continue to evolve including one of interest in our nation's capital. More home runs, an injury to track and more in today's focus on hitters.
Not able to stake his claim to third base so far in camp, Carter Kieboom faces the reality of potentially starting the season at the alternate site. Especially when viewing the lineup for Tuesday's spring game versus St. Louis:
This comes on the heels of a tweet suggesting manager Dave Martinez may be evaluating using Starlin Castro at third base at the onset of the season:
Martinez wants to get a look at Castro at 3B to cover all his bases during camp, Kieboom still is competing for starting job.— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) March 23, 2021
It's easy to forget he's a fantasy free space in drafts at second base and potentially adding third base to his eligibility means using him at four infield spots in most leagues (adding middle and corner infield to the equation). In 2019, Castro hit .270 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI.
While Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis battle for the last spot on the roster, each homered on Monday, it feels like the power upside of Bobby Dalbec flies below the radar. He launched his sixth home run this spring, over 36 at-bats (one in every six) and boasts a 1.317 on-base plus slugging percentage. Here's his spray chart so far:
There's a chance he hits 30-plus home runs in 2021 with a strikeout rate over 30 percent, so pair him up late with Nick Madrigal for a fantasy Frankenstein. It balances his average and gives one the potential for two 20/10 hitters.
Nick Solak cranked out his fourth home run of spring. Could this translate into a power breakout in 2021? It remains to be seen, especially when viewing where his home runs travel:
Maybe he's trying to morph into a poor man's D.J. LeMahieu since power breakouts usually occur when batters pull the ball. However, this comp may not be too far off when viewing the projections:
Do not be surprised if Solak moves his average closer to the .275-to-.280 range with the ATC home runs and stolen base totals in play.
As previously noted in these updates, the Mariners could be a sneakily productive team for fantasy purposes. Including lighting up Trevor Bauer in the fifth inning last night:
Evan, José and Mitch with some LOUD NOISES ????— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) March 23, 2021
Mitch Haniger currently owns a .314 average and launched his third home run of spring. Evan White also crushed his third home run. Steady Kyle Seager recorded two doubles driving in two runs and owns a .429 average thus far in spring contests.
Everyone likes targeting Rockies bats, especially at home. However, Ryan McMahon seems to slip in draffs. He hit his third home run yesterday and may rebound coser the 2019 version of production. C.J. Cron continues to rake basting his third home run as well.
Until next time, stay safe and be well.
It's moving week for players trying to secure roster spots with spring contests dwindling and Opening Day on the horizon. Here's the latest from around the majors in today's hitter updates.
Rule 5 selection Akil Baddoo continues to impress the Tigers front office. He went 1-for-3 on Sunday hitting leadoff recording a combo meal (home run plus stolen base). As for the home run:
Currently hitting .357 with a 1.352 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), he's launched four home runs while stealing two bases thus far in camp. There's no clear picture regarding playing time in the outfield except for Robbie Grossman , so keep close tabs on Baddoo, especially for rosters needing stolen base upside which can afford a batting average in the .240's.
Staying in the division, Cleveland optioned Oscar Mercardo to their alternate site, so he's out of the running for center field. Bradley Zimmer (remember him) may steal this job on Opening Day with Harold Ramirez and Amed Rosario still in the running.
Remember when everyone wanted Franmil (The Franimal) Reyes on their roster last year as a less expensive alternative to Giancarlo Stanton ? Although his nine home runs disappointed fantasy owners, Reyes improved his average to .275 and his on-base percentage to 34.4 percent in 2020. He still hits baseballs a very far distance and only turns 26 in July:
He's one season removed from 37 home runs over a full season entering his power peak.
Yes, there's other divisions other than the American League Central, but one cannot change the news cycle. Another post-hype candidate may be emerging with the Twins. Willians Astudillo went 2-for-5 on Sunday hitting his second home run. He's hitting .360 this spring through 25 at-bats with six RBI and a robust 1.127 OPS. Getting a catcher eligible player in deep formats who may get at-bats at first base and even the outfield with his team in a National League park on Opening Day presents a terrific opportunity for a player with a career 92.7 Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentage.
This team will not compete for a divisional title. However, it's players often get overlooked in fantasy drafts. Adam Frazier went 2-for-4 on Sunday, which lowered his average to .577 this spring over 26 at-bats. He boasts a 1.477 OPS with five RBI and a stolen base.
Bryan Reynolds cratered in batting average last year hitting a paltry .189/.275/.357. Between 2016-through-2019, he never hit below .300 at any level in the minors. During his rookie season with Pittsburgh he slashed .314/.377/.503 with 16 home runs in 134 contests. He launched his third home run of spring on Sunday and carries a .290 average with a .984 OPS during 31 spring at-bats. Batting average upside gets scarce late in drafts, do not forget about Reynolds.
Strong Sunday from the Giants led by Mike Yastrzemski going 2-for-4 with a triple, his second spring tater driving in four runs. He's hitting a cool .308 this spring with no signs of slowing down after his breakout campaign. Evan Longoria hit very well below the radar last year and launched his fourth home run in this contest. However, he's still not ready to play third base putting his Opening Day status in question.
No extra-base hits yet in camp for fantasy Swiss army knife (multiple eligibility) Marco Dubon. But, he went 1-for-2 with two runs, a walk and two stolen bases. He's hitting .292 with a .486 on-base percentage plus four steals so far in spring training. Speed chasers unite.
It makes sense, but sad trombone for this alert:
But, you're saying there's a chance for the future?
Bobby Witt Jr. is among a select group.— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) March 19, 2021
Most PAs, 2nd spring training as a pro
1. Andrew McCutchen : 60
2. Javier Báez : 48
3. Jason Heyward : 44
4. Bobby Witt Jr.: 40
5. C.J. Abrams: 38
6. Justin Upton : 36
Can he make the Royals big league roster? https://t.co/eCYoikuXlB pic.twitter.com/lbY4zyu9yX
Took him as my first pick in the Tout Wars reserve round, I still believe.
By the way, save some for the regular season Corey Seager , put him in bubble wrap:
Stay safe and be well until next time
It's moving time for hitters trying to nail down spots on the roster, their swing or where they hit in the lineup. Fantasy players need to discern the tangible information with drafts in full effect and playing time about to be decided. Here's the latest from around spring training regarding hitters.
Look who's back, back again:
JT Realmuto will make his spring debut today as Phillies DH.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) March 21, 2021
Arriving to game action way ahead of schedule, J.T. Realmuto makes his spring debut as the designated hitter returning from a thumb injury. Key on his exit velocities if possible but this appears to be a positive sign for his upcoming season.
Update: Unfortunately, Realmuto has been scratched from today's lineup... The wait continues...
#Phillies changed their lineup for today's game vs. Tigers. J.T. Realmuto is not in there. Bryce Harper will DH instead. Joe Girardi said on @MLBNetworkRadio that Realmuto is not playing because of "general soreness."— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 21, 2021
Maintaining his groove all spring, Matt Olson would prefer the season to start tomorrow. He went 3-for-4 on Saturday including a double and his fifth spring home run:
He's hitting .406 through 32 at-bats with a robust 1.424 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Teammate Elvis Andrus chipped in with three hits in four at-bats as well scoring two runs, hitting a double and driving in two while batting second with Ramón Laureano still sidelined with an oblique tweak.
Just as hot as Olson above, Ty France also launched his fifth home run last night moving his OPS to 1.470 this spring:
Included in the article, Altuve appeared as the lead-off hitter in 380 contests.
Nate Lowe hopes the team does not decide to start the season with Ronald Guzmán at first base. Making this a race again, Lowe went 2-for-3 on Saturday with two runs, his first spring home run and three RBI:
super late night Rangers notebook if y’all are still awake like me:— kennedi landry (@kennlandry) March 21, 2021
- Nate Lowe ’s 2-for-3 night in the comeback win
- Benjamin faces some adversity on the mound
- Khris Davis walk starts a rallyhttps://t.co/MvDw0EsCEo
Stay tuned, this may go down to the wire next week.
Michael A. Taylor, went 2-for-3 in the same contest and batting .435 this spring through 23 at-bats with a swing change. He's a placeholder for Isbel but also underrated in deep formats. Kansas City also rates as a sleeper team in 2021.
Welcome to the spring training home run party on Saturday, hitting his first of many:
Toronto Blue Jays
Already highlighted in a past post, an update regarding Alejando Kirk breaking camp with the Blue Jays may be boosted by his connection with a starting pitcher hoping to bounce back within a game update by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com:
As for his home run on Friday:
Wheels up on Kirk as a catcher with upside if he makes this roster.
Christian Yelich , after being out of the lineup last few days, said, "I’m good. I feel like I’ll definitely be ready to go for the year."— Will Sammon (@WillSammon) March 19, 2021
In his first at-bat today, he hit a double.
As for Wong:
Assessing any Cardinals hitter based on the wonky season they endured due to COVID last year would be a mistake. Wong owns a .308/.373/.482 slash with 20 extra-base hits (12 doubles, two triples, six home runs) in 217 plate appearances in Milwaukee.
Combo meal (home run and a stolen base) for Christian Walker on Friday. He's launched four home runs through 27 at-bats this spring with a 1.004 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
When the team added Nate Lowe via trade this off-season, it appeared they moved on from Ronald Guzmán at first base. Fast forward, Guzmán's hitting a robust .346/.433/.769 and hit this home run off of Kenley Jansen on Friday:
Los Angeles Dodgers
It cannot all be good news, right? There's no denying the talent of Will Smith evidenced by his breakout campaign in 2019. However, my ranking need to adjust with this announcement:
Dave Roberts said he projects Will Smith to start "somewhere around 90 games" this season.— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) March 19, 2021
"I think with Will, with Austin, the combo, the sum, is very good and I'll take that sum against any combo in all of baseball, production-wise, offensively, defensively."
Volume separates the top catchers in fantasy, so this news presents a cap on Smith's counting statistics if it comes to fruition.
Need a feel good story before delving into the prospect roundup. Trey Mancini not only overcame his battle with cancer thus far, he also removed the seal from his power output in camp:
Even if he does not end up on any of my rosters, pulling for him to bounce back in 2021 for the Orioles.
Not only did Jarred Kelenic return to the lineup after suffering a setback with a minor knee tweak, he went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI:
Looks healthy to my untrained eyes. There's no timetable when he arrives in Seattle but, could he be a underrated speed target in drafts:
Jarred Kelenic, when asked if he thinks his baserunning and speed is an underrated part of his game, said that he wants to steal 30 bases this year:— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 20, 2021
"I think it's doable. I consider myself fast, and I try to put that on display as much as I can."
Speaking of speed, Jarren Duran will not start the year in Boston but he may finish it in center field:
He went 4-for-5 with two runs, a double, three RBI and a stolen base on Friday. Definitely a name to stash late in drafts with eyes on the future.
Willson Contreras moved to fifth in the lineup yesterday but hit his third spring home run and carries an impressive .346 average through 26 at-bats with a 1.259 OPS in them. That's good, right?
More lineup focus moving to the forefront of beat writer reports which impacts a player's value for fantasy. Some hitters worth noting, especially one trending up in the Great Northwest and prospect tidbits as well.
Toronto Blue Jays
It's been highlighted, but for a refresher, a potential Opening Day lineup for Toronto could appear as such:
Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic took this one step further breaking down the potential fluid batting orders based on the opposing pitcher's handedness. First, versus right-handed pitching:
Key note here, if Reese McGuire makes the team. Presently, Alejandro Kirk projects to beat him out for the last spot on the roster and potentially could be a steal in fantasy drafts at a depressed cost. Now, versus southpaws:
If this holds true, there's still fantasy goodness to be mined from Rowdy Tellez in two hitter friendly ballparks in home games (Dunedin and Buffalo) until the team gains clearance to host games in Canada. Also, many overlook the potential of Marcus Semien batting second in a robust offense. He's an underrated source of counting category statistics for 2021.
Chicago White Sox
Consider this lineup a process rather than set in stone. James Fegan of The Athletic explored how Tony La Russa could construct the batting order in Chicago this season. Here's two iterations:
Main decision seems to lie on where to slot Yasmani Grandal versus Adam Eaton , then the rest falls into place. There's a big difference in runs and RBI for these two based on the lineup spot. It also warms one heart seeing Andrew Vaughn in both projected lineups:
Stay tuned and if Vaugn agrees to a contract, wheels up on his fantasy sleeper status at first base.
Although this tweet contains hyperbole, ignoring Ty France based on his recent results may be a mistake:
Ty France with a RBI double to deep center that bounces up against the wall at 430.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 19, 2021
His Cactus League OPS is infinity
He finished 2-for-4 with an RBI but owns a .433/.514/.933 slash through 30 at-bats this spring with three doubles and four home runs among his 13 hits fueling a robust 28 total bases total. More impressive, his 5:3 K:BB rate backing his improved approach. Also hot, Taylor Trammell trying to force his way onto this roster. He finished 2-for-3 with two runs, a double, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base (his second this spring). Armed with a .310 average and .980 on-base plus slugging percentage, if his name appears on the final roster, deep league players need to take note.
St. Louis Cardinals
Returning to the lineup focus, things may get intriguing atop the Cardinals lineup:
Goldschmidt batting ... second? #Cardinals have done this before, he's won a player of the month aware hitting there before, and there's an obvious reason why they're looking at it.— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) March 18, 2021
It gets their top two hitters up in the first inning.https://t.co/0XZ4wPh57w @stltoday #MLB
Speaking of second, but not in the lineup, Nolan Gorman continues practicing at second base at spring training with eyes on a promotion as the season progresses. Last night, Gorman replaced Goldschmidt in the game and went 2-for-2 including:
Los Angeles Dodgers
During his second spring contest, it appears the swing adjustment made by Cody Bellinger may help him remain productive:
He finished 2-for-4 including the solo shot. Gavin Lux continues to rake in spring going 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. He's hitting .393 over 28 at-bats this spring with an .898 OPS (whispers post-hype prospect target).
If there's a late bargaining agreement putting the universal designated hitter back on the table, do not forget about this slugger in Milwaukee:
While Cincinnati ruminates who to keep on the roster and where they play, Jonathan India keeps on hitting this spring. He launched a home run last night and carries a .370/.500/704 slash line with two home runs and stolen base through 27 at-bats this spring:
Wednesday revealed potential Opening Day lineups across spring contests which reveal some intriguing ripple effects. I’ve covered three such instances along with some top performers in our latest spring training hitter update. Thanks for all the support so far with this running blog and if you enjoy the breakdowns, be sure to get our living Fantasy Alarm MLB Draft Guide for last minute prep before upcoming drafts and auctions.
First, the lineup which may mirror what happens in two weeks when the Cubs face the Pirates at home:
Two main takeaways from this potential lineup, Willson Contreras hitting second along with Javier Báez down to sixth. Every counting statistic matters so Contreras receives a big bump batting second while Báez loses some runs and RBI in this alignment If Wednesday's game indicates anything for a consensus top-five catcher, this may move him into the top-three in terms of production:
He went 3-for-4 with a triple, home run and five RBI raising his spring average to .348 with a robust 1.203 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).
With Eduardo Rodríguez firing on all cylinders, the Red Sox also provided a potential sneak preview of Opening Day with their lineup construction:
Not happy seeing Rafael Devers batting fifth and hope this changes but it needs to be accounted for. J.D. Martinez is currently batting .267 with three RBI over 30 spring at-bats with only one extra-base hit (a double) and three RBI. If he starts slow, Devers could be moving up sooner in this batting order rather than later. It's also shocking to see Bobby Dalbec batting last. He's launched five home runs this spring fueling a 1.345 OPS through 27 at-bats. There's huge swing and miss in his game but also huge power upside.
Last, but not least, the Reds also put forth their possible Opening Day lineup last night:
A potential Reds Opening Day lineup— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) March 15, 2021
1. Jesse Winker (LF)
2. Nick Castellanos (RF)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Eugenio Suárez (SS)
5. Mike Moustakas (3B)
6. Nick Senzel (CF)
7. Jonathan India (2B)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Luis Castillo
Nick Castellanos hitting second could fuel the bounce back season he's capable of. He's already heating up at the dish:
I believe Nick Castellanos is 8 for his last 11 at-bats, and he hit the ball over the camera well in center field.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) March 18, 2021
Over 23 at-bats, his average sits at .391 with a 1.199 OPs with two home runs and five RBI. As covered previously, Eugenio Suárez receives a boost in fantasy value if he's going to play shortstop and keeper league players need to keep eyes on Jonathan India breaking camp with Cincinnati.
Not much went right for Evan White during his rookie season in 2020. He tweaked his swing in order to capitalize on his burgeoning power and it may be paying off:
A slam so nice we gotta watch it twice. ???? pic.twitter.com/8mnjqNM2Hj— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) March 18, 2021
After a slow start, he's 4-for-his-last-11 with two runs, seven RBI and the grand slam. Not high on the average draft position radar, as a late round flier at corner infield, White could pay off in deep formats. Beneath his struggles last year, he finished in the 90th percentile in barrel percentage, 95th percentile in hard hit rate, 85th percentile in speed and produced the same barrels per batted ball event as Matt Olson .
Overcoming COVID and a slow start made assessing Austin Meadows 2020 season difficult. He cracked his fourth spring home run on Wednesday:
It's not all rainbows for his spring results. Hitting .240 with the four home runs and a stolen base, nice. However, his eight strikeouts in 20 at-bats cannot be overlooked either. Currently his strikeout percentage (34.7) should be accounted for when predicting his average. Meadows hit .291 in 2019 with 33 home runs and a 22.2 strikeout rate. Last year his average cratered to .205 with a 32.9 strikeout percentage. Perhaps splitting it down the middle accounting for more swings and misses within his projections may be just right?
Check back tomorrow for more lineup assessments (Cardinals, teaser alert) and more from the hitter updates for spring training. Preparation never ceases.
Another busy day in spring training contests. In two weeks and a day, games which matter in the MLB begin. Updates today include notes on players trying to learn a position on the fly, a lineup preview, and other performances of interest from Tuesday.
Healthy and producing, Ketel Marte went 1-for-2 with his third spring home run before being lifted as a precaution regarding ankle soreness. Prior to his departure though:
Seeing his exit velocity this high bodes well for a power bounce back in 2021.
New York Mets
Following up on a past post about Pete Alonso , he remains locked in this spring going 3-for-3 with his third spring dinger along with drawing a walk. Check out his recent exit velocities:
Of more importance, his 8:5 K:BB rate so far fueling a .533 on-base percentage. Teammate Dominic Smith joined the home run party as well on Tuesday:
He did misplay a ball in left field struggling going back to the wall, perhaps moving him deeper in the outfield forcing him to run in rather than go back may be effective. Stay tuned. There's still a chance he departs late in games with a lead for defense (seventh inning on).
Happy Birthday Vladito! Vlad Guerrero Jr. celebrated in style going 4-for-4 with three RBI and a triple?
4-for-4, 2 doubles and this triple for Vlad Jr.— MLB (@MLB) March 16, 2021
This is how you celebrate your 22nd birthday. ???? pic.twitter.com/krq1sKA1TC
He's looking spry and svelte. If the launch angles continue to rise, he may hit 30 home runs this season. As for the lineup, perhaps a sneak preview for Opening Day by the Blue Jays:
An injury to Brendan Rodgers paves the way for Garrett Hampson to play second and Sam Hilliard to stake his claim to center field. Remember who Wally Pipp was? Not sure this comes to fruition but Hampson went 2-for-3 with three runs, an RBI and a walk last night. Hilliard's hitting .267 through 30 at-bats with four stolen bases. Catcher Elias Díaz went 3-for-4 with two RBI as well in a win over the Reds.
Forcing Amed Rosario into centerfield feels rushed. Good news, he went 2-for-3 with an RBI leading off on Tuesday. Bad news, he committed three errors in the outfield resulting in eight unearned runs against Shane Bieber . Not sure how this evolves but if Rosario can adapt to the outfield, the added eligibility enhances his fantasy appeal. However, there are only two weeks to figure this out.
New York Yankees
Even though the team brought back Brett Gardner , it seems like it's time to find out the ceiling of Clint Frazier as an everyday player. He racked up three hits including his second spring home run on Tuesday.
His average through 23 at-bats rose to .304 with an .899 on-base plus slugging percentage. Stay tuned.
Updates, Injuries and News of Interest
It's apparent my love for Bobby Witt Jr. carried over into our show's interview with Dayton Moore yesterday, here's the soundbite making waves all over social media:
You're going to want to hear what Kansas City GM Dayton Moore had to say about #Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr. on @FantasyAlarm show today w/ @rotobuzzguy & @JimBowdenGM!— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) March 17, 2021
Listen to the full interview in the SXM app! pic.twitter.com/wxQC44WQpE
Another Victor Robles highlight, he's ready to breakout:
If the Cardinals players at second base struggle at the onset of the season, a top prospect may be ready to take over if needed:
Nolan Gorman says he feels game-ready at second base. Would prefer to stay on dirt but will add outfield if asked. Has a glove for everything but first. Has texted with Dustin Pedroia about 2B advice. Said multiple times he just wants to help #STLCards win.— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) March 16, 2021
Side issues usually mean obliques, and this would be horrible news if it lingers:
Laureano felt the left side soreness after taking a swing in the cage before the game. A's will be cautious with him. Should know more tomorrow.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 16, 2021
Monitor this closely.
Meanwhile, it appears Jarred Kelenic wants to play, and soon:
Kelenic testing the leg. With a flourish. pic.twitter.com/kKldjaXvxQ— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) March 16, 2021
Another day, another Shohei Ohtani bomb:
Exactly two weeks from the last spring training tuneups, it's moving time for players. News of a potential position switch for a power hitter in Cincinnati creates ripple effects. Three hitters remain scorching hot and how teams handle prospects in the coming days with eyes on arrival times all covered in today's hitter update.
Noting last year's effects on valuing hitters comes with less weight, Eugenio Suárez continues to be a top power source in the major leagues. He's one year removed from launching 49 home runs with a .271 average. If betting on which one repeats this year, it's the power. He's probably closer to a .255 hitter but here's the real news to monitor:
Reds Manager David Bell said Eugenio Suárez will start at SS on Tuesday against the Rockies— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) March 15, 2021
Chalk this up to a spring experiment but it may not be crazy to think the Reds fill the need at shortstop in house. During a shift, Suarez mans shortstop often:
Here is Eugenio Suárez definitely not playing SS in September, 2020 pic.twitter.com/IJxY1iCooV— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) March 15, 2021
As for the ripple effects, it starts with this:
David Bell says Eugenio Suárez has been working at shortstop throughout spring.— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) March 15, 2021
From what I’ve been able to see, I’ve noticed Mike Moustakas taking a lot of reps at third on his own. Here are the pieces moving together.
Also, this could open time for Jonathan India.
Mike Moustakas returning to third base, where he's comfortable could enable a rebound season for him. Jonathan India at second base makes him a worthy flier in 15-team mixed leagues and on the periphery of 12-team formats if he starts strong. Through just under 700 plate appearances in the minors he owns an on-base rate of 37 percent with some power and speed. In spring contests, he's hitting .333 through 21 at-bats with a 1.053 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with a home run and a steal.
Suarez potentially adding shortstop to his eligibility enhances his profile even if the batting average falls off and Moustakas could hit 35-plus home runs if comfortable on defense. Stay tuned.
New York Yankees
What a difference a year makes for Giancarlo Stanton . Representing my must avoid last year, he's actually a terrific speculative target in 2021. A reduction in price point along with health could lead to a monstrous season, finally taking advantage of Yankee Stadium. Yesterday:
120 MPH! ???????????????????????? pic.twitter.com/NBMBz7Mshu— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) March 16, 2021
If this were Dodgeball the movie, that would represent taser or laser or whatever one wishes to call a 120 MPH exit velocity line drive resulting in an out. According to Linsey Adler of The Athletic, Stanton projects hitting fourth in a deep and robust lineup:
Los Angeles Angels
As if the hype train needs more passengers:
Shohei Ohtani as a hitter this spring: 16 at-bats, six runs, three home runs, five RBI, 2:1 K:BB, .563/.556/1.125 slash line. Mercy. Know how your league handles his eligibility since he's most desirable in daily moves formats or best ball leagues but this could be the year many imagined for him in fantasy.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Following up on yesterday, as Britney Spears taught us, “Oops, I did it again…”
For those scoring at home, that's five home runs in six games for Corey Seager . LOCKED IN. He's hitting .478 (11-for-23) with 11 RBI and a ridiculous 1.130 slugging percentage.
Speaking of scorching hot:
After stating the spring 1-for-14, Ronald Acuña Jr. launched his third home run in four contests. As for his upside in 2021, check out this tweet from David O'Brien of The Athletic:
If Acuña stays healthy this year, I'll make the prediction now: He becomes the fifth member of the 40-40 club, and makes a strong run at being first 45-45 player.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 15, 2021
Pretty, pretty good.
Heliot Ramos , San Francisco
Over 23 at-bats this spring, he leads his team in home runs (3) while carrying a .435/.458/.870 slash line. It's unlikely he breaks camp with the Giants without being on the 40-man roster. However, in this camp report by Grant Brisbee of The Athletic:
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City
Making a splash once again at major league camp, Witt Jr.'s hitting .333/.374/.667 with three home runs and two stolen bases over 27 at-bats. Alec Lewis of The Athletic penned his thoughts about a promotion in 2021:
C.J. Abrams, San Diego
Already chock full of players in the infield, if anything happens to Fernando Tatis Jr. , Jake Cronenworth or Manny Machado , another talented prospect in the Padres loaded system may be kicking down the door:
Enjoy Tuesday's contests and keep track of how Suarez performs in the Reds infield.
Players returning from injury issues, a potential signing in Baltimore and a prospect keeps raking. Stay up to day with the spring hitter updates on Fantasy Alarm by bookmarking the running live blog.
Although he only appeared as the designated hitter, Yordan Alvarez made his spring debut on Sunday. He hopes to play the field later this week though the team will handle him with caution:
Yordan Alvarez asked if he’d like to play in the outfield this spring along with working at DH: “Yeah, that’s the plan definitely. Today was just the first game for me...I think I told you guys before that I feel a lot better than people must think. I feel healthy.” pic.twitter.com/svmXC5R66Q— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 14, 2021
If he hits a couple of home runs, his average draft position (ADP) may soar by a round or two as draft season gets into full swing. Alex Bregman may return as soon as tomorrow:
Astros manager Dusty Baker said Alex Bregman will play Tuesday— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) March 15, 2021
Last, Jose Altuve entered the fray as a potential lead-off hitter with Carlos Correa hitting third on Sunday. Myles Straw counting statistic stock continues to trend down if this sort of alignment happens. Stay tuned.
During his first at-bat returning from dental work, Byron Buxton left the yard:
It'd really be nice to find out what a full season of his production looks like in 2021. Stay healthy, please.
Reports from Sunday night suggest Maikel Franco headed to Baltimore gained traction:
He's been a frustrating player from a fantasy standpoint, but check out his spray chart from the last three years of line drives and fly balls with his potential new home ballpark as the overlay:
There's a chance for a 25 home run season if he's the full-time third baseman.
Another day, another Bobby Witt Jr. highlight:
There's no guarantee he plays for the Royals this season, but through 27 at-bats he's slashing a robust .333/.379/.656 with three home runs and seven RBI. If Kansas City challenges for a playoff spot, will they stay with Nicky Lopez and Hanser Alberto at second base?
Los Angeles Dodgers
It's tough to believe Corey Seager only turns 27 in April. He's picked right up where he ended off during the postseason:
Injury issues in the past and a litany of talented shortstops depress his price point in drafts. However, ignoring the huge gains in exit velocity and power last year would be a mistake:
Exit Velocity - up 4.4 MPH in 2020 (97th percentile)
Hard Hit Percentage - 55.8 percent in 2020 (98th percentile)
Expected slugging percentage - .645 (99th percentile)
If trying to protect batting average during a team build along with adding elite counting statistics, if healthy, do not sleep on Seager entering his power prime in 2021.
Tough news for the Padres on their projected starting catcher:
For now, his owners should try to roster Luis Campusano as the backup. He made his major league debut last year going 1-for-3 with a home run and two strikeouts. But, during 110 games in High-A in 2019, he hit .325 with 15 home runs.
Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic resumed workouts at camp:
Jarred Kelenic took batting practice today for the first time since being sidelined with an adductor strain nine days ago.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 14, 2021
Last one here was an opposite-field HR with Ichiro throwing: pic.twitter.com/WLeht1fAqq
Do not fade Rafael Devers comeback season for Boston in 2021:
Inching closer to Opening Day, shooting for some upside plays in today's updates along with an underappreciated bounce back about to occur in Arizona.
A "deadened” baseball could make power numbers a bit lighter in 2021 but Hunter Renfroe can hit a baseball out of any park. He's a volatile player in head-to-head formats due to his streakiness but when locked in, puts up home runs in bunches. His first home run of spring happened on Saturday:
Since 2018, Renfroe's averaging a home run every 16 plate appearances (67 home runs in 1,074 PA) and his according spray chart of fly balls and line drives with Fenway as the backdrop:
New York Yankees
In an effort to break up the right-handed dominant lineup, Aaron Hicks may hit third in one of the best offenses in the majors. He went 2-for-3 on Saturday with a double and an RBI. Plus, his average may rise if he keeps this up facing a shift:
No, bunting does prove to be sexy, but taking what the defense provides with no one makes perfect sense. His last healthy season, Hicks slashed .248/.366/.467 with 27 home runs, 11 stolen bases and 169 runs plus RBI. This sort of production with an average at or above .250 equals fantasy goodness at his price point in drafts.
A rollercoaster of average draft position (ADP) for Alejandro Kirk based on if he makes the Blue Jays exists:
From the NFBC ADP database, he's moved up in recent drafts trending towards breaking camp with the team going as high as 206 in the last three days. Through ten spring at-bats, he boasts a 1.338 on-base plus slugging (OPS) going 2-for-3 on Saturday with a double:
Among catchers on Statcast, Kirk ranks second so far in maximum exit velocity (110.3 MPH).
Giving players a pass on 2020 makes sense given the nuances the shortened season provided. One prime example, Ketel Marte . He launched his first spring home run on Saturday:
During his 18 spring at-bats, he's toting a 1.439 OPS with four batted ball events of an exit velocity of 112 MPH or higher with a maximum of 113.6 MPH.
Tim Locastro returned to the lineup going 2-for-2 hitting second and deep league players need to monitor Trayce Thompson . He notched a combo meal on Saturday hitting his third home run and stealing his second base this spring.
Fernando Tatis Jr. missed a couple of games due to general soreness, welcome to getting old, right? In his two games since, Tatis Jr. homered during his first game on Friday and yesterday pulled one of my favorite feats from playing slow pitch softball, tagging from second on a shallow fly ball to the outfield:
Baserunning instincts cannot be taught. This only enhances his power and speed profile.
Keeping track of past hitters highlighted in the living blog, some notable performances from Saturday include:
- Victor Robles , Washington: Went 2-for-3 raising his average to .316 along with four stolen bases through 19 at-bats.
With Opening Day just over two weeks away, teams should start honing on their potential lineup spots as players log at-bats in preparation for the marathon 26 weeks which await fantasy players. Keep this in mind when going through the box scores. Where a batter hits in the lineup affects counting statistics and approach. Now for the top five tidbits from Friday's performances.
In three of the last four lineups, Starling Marte slotted in at lead-off with Corey Dickerson second. Marte's motivated by his pending free agency and one year removed from a 23 home run and 25 stolen base campaign.
Sadly, don't have sprint speed data on Starling Marte 's second stolen base of the spring (from the first inning). He has seven hits in 16 spring at-bats and has scored four times. Gotta like those numbers if you're the #Marlins.— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) March 12, 2021
According to Statcast, Marte finished in the 89th percentile in speed last year and the 95th percentile in outs above average. If he bats lead-off, reduce his RBI but the runs category gets a boost along with his stolen base potential. His ability to adjust to the lineup spot should enhance his place in the market place in 2022. Could he hit 20 home runs with 30 stolen bases? Stay tuned. While many chase the upside of Trent Grisham, perhaps the less risky Marte makes sense in the fourth round for steals with a higher batting average.
Spring updates need to be digested with a grain of salt. However, when a hitter consciously working on his plate discipline:
Salvador Perez launched his third spring home run on Thursday, a grand slam and presently owns a .389 average with five strikeouts against two walks. From the article above, if he can reduce his free swinging ways, it may insulate his batting average in 2021:
Another free swinging power hitter may be on the precipice of a post-hype breakout in 2021. Tyler O'Neill launched his second spring home run Friday night:
With a clear path to playing time this year, it's put up or shut up for O'Neill truthers. Through 18 at-bats, he's hitting .389 with a robust 1.199 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) with five strikeouts versus one walk. His power plays, can he hit .250 or better enhancing his fantasy status?
Whether or not the Rockies decide to trade Trevor Story remains a tangible question. So far this spring he's producing in terms of power:
But, his three home runs represent all of his hits so far leading to a 1.154 OPS and a .231 average. Two potential late round fliers may be found at catcher as well:
Elias Díaz : 14 at-bats, .500 average, home run, 1.462 OPS, two strikeouts, one walk
Most of the focus lies in how many at-bats Dom Smith accrues in left-field if he gets replaced defensively late in games. It sort of shrouds a batting average rebound for Pete Alonso in 2021. Spring results do not guarantee any carry over effects, but he's hitting .333 with a 1.312 OPS after Friday:
In 2019, he hit .260 with 53 home runs in 161 games. Last year, his average fell to .231 with 16 home runs in 57 contests. There's no denying his power, so key on his four walks with eight strikeouts to this point as a positive development.
Flexing its lineup depth, the Blue Jays racked up ten runs in only six innings of at-bats launching four home runs. While the fantasy community seems split on how to project Vladimir Guerrero Jr. , he went 3-for-3 including one of the home runs driving in four runs:
Not only did he impress with the home run, here are the top exit velocities from the game courtesy of Statcast:
While this appears terrific, how Charlie Montoyo structures the lineup throughout the season affects counting statistics. This topic gets explored within this article by Shi Davidi for Sportsnet including this tidbit:
There's a chance Cavan Biggio hits seventh if Marcus Semien slots second in the lineup, though Bo Bichette could hit there or third. Then lining up the power bats behind them may squeeze out Rowdy Tellez . So many moving pieces for Toronto but it's a good problem from a team aspect. Not so much for fantasy.
Boston Red Sox
Taking into account it's spring results, Marwin Gonzalez turned in quite a day on Thursday:
Marwin Gonzalez went deep from both sides of the plate today.— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) March 11, 2021
He's only done it twice in the regular season (7/26/16 vs Yankees, 5/2/17 vs Rangers).
He also stole a base. During the broadcast, the announcers suggested he's adjusted his swing. His competition for playing time, Franchy Cordero , may not be ready by Opening Day. Gonzalez in Boston represents a fantasy free space as a last pick in drafts and if he struggles, cut him loose. But, his spray chart in Fenway may play:
Those looking for late round thunder in the outfield need to take note of Joc Pederson . Two more home runs on Thursday pushing his total this spring to five so far and he's boasting a robust 2.071 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) through his first 17 at-bats. Plus:
— Inside Edge (@IE_MLB) March 11, 2021
Noting the franchise's propensity to save money, Cleveland could send Andrés Giménez to the minors at the onset of the season. However, he's hitting .333 this spring with a 1.242 OPS and playing shortstop well. This affects not only Giménez, but teammate Amed Rosario as well. Could a path to playing time for both happen?
As Giménez excels, Rosario tries outfield https://t.co/wBL3O7qYTG— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 11, 2021
Already underappreciated in fantasy drafts, Rosario potentially adding outfield to his eligibility could be a boon if he rebounds in 2021. Do not forget about him, especially with everyone trying to find cheap stolen bases:
And wheels up on Giménez if he opens the year in Cleveland:
A downside to spring games, injuries. This may be a slight tweak but keep tabs on the Padres talented young outfielder:
Trent Grisham exits early. Looked like he pulled up a bit as he approached first base on a groundout. Immediately motioned to the dugout.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) March 11, 2021
During this contest, both Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer homered for San Diego. It's Myers third and Hosmer's second this spring. There's whispers of a potential platoon later this year if Hosmer struggles against left-handed pitching as referenced in this inbox segment on The Athletic with beat writer Dennis Lim:
Power, an underrated second baseman and two players who may receive a boost in fantasy production if they move up in the lineup highlight our spring training recap.
Kansas City Royals
Many forget Jorge Soler played through an oblique strain last year contributing to his low batting average. So far in spring, he appears to be at full health:
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) March 10, 2021
In 2019, Soler launched 48 home runs with a .265/.354/.569 slash driving in 117 runs and gets a better supporting cast around him 2021.
Many suggest second base gets shallow once the top options disappear. However, savvy fantasy players realize Starlin Castro can be targeted as a late round upside play for power with batting average insulation:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 11, 2021
Like Soler, Castro suffered an injury in 2020 (wrist) which depresses his current draft status:
His last three spots in average draft position (ADP): 298/308/328 and his minimum pick in NFBC contests sits at only 226th overall. Take advantage of the misplaced perception.
Strong 2020 campaigns inflate Trent Grisham and Randy Arozarena draft capital. Ramón Laureano struggled last year which puts him well behind these two but with some intriguing upside without some of the risk. Especially given the different price points. Laureano recorded a combo meal yesterday hitting his second spring home run and stealing base going 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Let others sleep on him and target Laureano for a rebound season in 2021.
Just when it felt safe to count on Myles Straw getting a shot to hit atop the Astros lineup, Carlos Correa tossed his hat into the contest fueled by a 3-for-3 game batting first on Wednesday. All teams continue to move guys around the order but if Correa hits first and Straw drops to the bottom of the order, things shift in terms of counting statistics for both. Stay tuned.
Not only did Isaac Paredes hit a home run on Wednesday:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 10, 2021
He's also been taking ground balls at second base as a backup plan for the team. Although Paredes struggled a bit during his debut last season, he's capable of 12-to-15 home runs with some pocket stolen bases. Fringe mixed league guy but could be productive in 15-team leagues or deeper.
Production in drafts can be provided from names who fly below the radar. Although, if Ty France keeps raking this spring, it will be tough to target him at his present price point in drafts. His 2-for-2 effort on Tuesday included a double, a walk and this:
— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) March 9, 2021
It would be pretty ironic if he launches more home runs than former teammate Eric Hosmer this year at a steep discount:
Note the recent spike up to 260th in the most recent NFBC draft result and plan accordingly if targeting him in your draft. Currently France's spring slash line of .615/.667/1.462 features one walk against zero strikeouts through 14 plate appearances.
New York Yankees
Release the "Kraken” struck again on Tuesday:
According to Statcast, this bomb left Gary Sánchez’s bat at 109.4 mph and flew 388 feet ???? pic.twitter.com/M7OBHcfhmw— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) March 9, 2021
A healthy and motivated Gary Sánchez may hit 30 home runs if he accrues enough plate appearances this season. This marked his third of the spring in only 11 at-bats and he's sporting a robust 1.643 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Perhaps a sneak preview to the top seven hitters in the lineup this year?
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) March 9, 2021
Fantasy players need to note Ozzie Albies trending towards hitting second which benefits his counting statistics (runs and RBI) for 2021. Travis d’Arnaud slotting in fifth in this lineup also gets overlooked when taking catchers in drafts.
Not only may the bullpen be fluid in Cleveland, the outfield may follow a similar path. Keep close tabs on Daniel Johnson for 2021 in terms of opportunity:
— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 9, 2021
Knowing how this franchise pinches every penny, Johnson likely starts the year at the alternate site. However, if the team needs to move Josh Naylor to first base, there's an avenue for Johnson to contribute when given the chance. Across two levels (Double-A, Triple-A) in 2019, he slashed .290/.361/.507 with 19 home runs and ten stolen bases.
It's hard not to root for Trey Mancini , a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Baseball needs more clips like this allowing insight to personalities to form bonds with the next generation:
— Baltimore Orioles ???? (@Orioles) March 8, 2021
Also news of a potential shift in the outfield in this report by Dan Connolly of The Athletic:
Knowing my propensity for batted ball data, it's exciting to see Statcast add spring exit velocities to the search engine:
— Daren Willman (@darenw) March 9, 2021
If interested, click on this link to peruse the names which aggregate on the list. Then start to believe in the Ketel Marte rebound season plus why the Rangers may start Ronald Guzmán at first base this year ahead of Nate Lowe . Think two streets ahead, my Fantasy Alarm nation. Until next time, stay safe and be well.
During the daily rush to accumulate the most poignant fantasy relevant hitter updates, neglected posting Cleveland putting two players into purgatory for breaking COVID protocol:
Terry Francona confirms that Franmil Reyes and José Ramírez are away from the team for breaking COVID-19 protocols. On Friday, Reyes got a haircut and the two went to dinner and ate inside a restaurant. Tito hopes to know when they can return later today.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) March 7, 2021
Last year, the team voted to take action against Zach Plesac , so it will be intriguing to see the quotes upon these two if they return to camp today. This marks the second incident in two years for Reyes. Now for the topics of note from Monday.
Kansas City Royals
Trying to figure out what to do with Bobby Witt Jr. may be a nice problem for the Royals. He crushed this home run with an exit velocity of 109 MPH:
— MLB (@MLB) March 9, 2021
Not much went right for Javier Báez last season. His slash line cratered to .203/.238/.360 with eight home runs and three stolen bases. He attributed some of his struggles to the lack of in-game video and a slump at the start of the year too tough to climb out of. So this may warm the hearts of Baéz truthers:
Playing for a contract, Baéz should be motivated to produce in 2021. Overcoming his plate discipline and contact rates may decide how well he does in terms of fantasy going forward.
Los Angeles Angels
Representing a fantasy free space late in drafts, a healthy Justin Upton could produce power in the upcoming season:
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) March 8, 2021
A "deadened” baseball may suppress power across the league but a healthy Upton could come close to these projection sets:
If he hits anywhere at or above .240, an Upton rebound season may be on tap.
Many focus on power or speed when building a fantasy roster but stable veterans with a chance to support batting average get glossed over. A gentle reminder a healthy Corey Dickerson deserves late round consideration:
Corey Dickerson with three hits in three at-bats. On Saturday, he stole a base. He stretched a single into a double his third time up today. Exit velo: 104.7, 107.4, 89.7 mph. A look at what he has seen at the plate vs. the Cardinals. #Marlins pic.twitter.com/n8ufeRgAdw— Christina De Nicola (@CDeNicola13) March 8, 2021
Prior to last year's batting average decline to .258, Dickerson slash lines in the three previous seasons get overlooked:
- 2017 - .282/.325/.490
- 2018 - .300/.330/.474
- 2019 - .304/.341/.565
Keep him on your late round radar.
An early injury to Kole Calhoun created an aftershock in how the team may handle its Opening Day roster. Due to his speed upside, Daulton Varsho could finish as a top-five catcher in fantasy but as Zach Buchanon of The Athletic explored, does Varsho benefit from more honing of his craft in the minors or log at-bats in the majors in the outfield?
For the risk averse, taking him at a reduced price point in drafts makes sense. Just be sure to get an extra catcher on the roster in case Varsho starts the season at the alternate site.
Following up on previous posts about the Texas Rangers, here's how Levi Weaver of The Athletic presently projects the lineup:
Almost a full slate of contests on Sunday with some players making a second appearance in our spotlight and eyes on some health updates.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It's yet to impact Cody Bellinger in terms of draft capital but he's yet to appear in a game for the Dodgers working his way from a shoulder injury. Here's the latest in his progress:
#Dodgers updates. CF Cody Bellinger played three innings of defense in a intrasquad game and is on pace to play in game around March 15. MGR Dave Roberts said Brusdar Graterol, despite late start, should be ready for one-inning role by opening day. Joe Kelly probably won't be.— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) March 7, 2021
Fantasy players may prefer to see him play before targeting him in drafts so this remains fluid since there's no way to presently gauge his power production for 2021.
After another injury riddled season, Josh Donaldson continues to drift in average draft position (ADP). No one questions his power:
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) March 7, 2021
However, how many plate appearances does Donaldson accrue this season? His projection sets reflect some dissonance along with the knowledge the Twins will not overwork him:
New York Yankees
Speaking of risk, it may be time to consider Giancarlo Stanton as a worthy risk profile since he's going at a much more tolerable level in terms of ADP. Especially due to his ability to produce hard hits:
Giancarlo Stanton has 302 regular-season batted balls with a 109.0+ mph exit velocity since Statcast began tracking in 2015— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 7, 2021
That's most in MLB
Today in Spring Training:
109.4 mph double
109.8 mph double ?? pic.twitter.com/B6NtDzssbA
Reports continually suggest Aaron Hicks may bat third in a robust offense, he's a steal right now in drafts.
For a second straight day, Howard Bender's heart throbs, the "Matts” of the A's clobbered baseballs:
We’ll take the Oly-Chappy Back-to-Back Special pic.twitter.com/TcUHNlzGqv— Oakland A's (@Athletics) March 7, 2021
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 7, 2021
Without ignoring the prospects, a Giants outfield prospect with power upside flashed it on Sunday:
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 7, 2021
Heliot Ramos enjoyed it so much, he launched a second home run as well. It's a crowded roster built for match-ups, so Ramos may not appear in the majors this year but if he gets a chance in the second half, he's an intriguing bat to monitor.
With kudos to Matt Selz who identified Michael A. Taylor as a worthy late round flier, he may be on to something:
It's easy to forget Taylor hit 19 home runs with 17 stolen bases in 2017. If he improves his discipline while refining the mechanics of his swing, Selz may be right.
Diverging paths to spots in the lineup emerged on Saturday despite rainouts in Florida. Could a Pirate be ready to bounce back in 2021, a first base position battle in Texas and may last year's runner-up for Rookie of the Year in the American League move up in the batting order?
Chicago White Sox
On Friday, Luis Robert hit second with most of the starters playing in Cactus League action. Yesterday, he took over at lead-off going 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. Noting where a player hits in the batting order affects counting statistics, if Robert hits at or near the top of the lineup for the White Sox, he should be taken over Kyle Tucker in drafts.
From second to home in a flash. ?? pic.twitter.com/VBikB24uPx— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 6, 2021
Welching on my promise not to provide daily updates about Victor Robles , he hit first once again on Saturday going 0-for-2 but scored a run after drawing a walk and stealing his third base this spring. His results so far in terms of average and slugging percentage do not look appealing, but his .417 on-base percentage while being active on the bases may signal a run to a 30-plus stolen base campaign. Be patient with post-hype prospects.
Part of the appeal of targeting Leody Taveras for fantasy? His blend of speed and power. However, he's off to a slow start:
Leody Taveras today struck out in all three of his bats, seeing 10 pitches in the process.— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) March 6, 2021
There's more to being a lead-off hitter than the ability to steal bases. Providing longer at-bats letting teammates see a pitcher's arsenal and being on base. Give Taveras some leash but monitor his approach closely. It's not about batting average in spring, focus on process, especially in walks versus strikeouts for young hitters.
Ronald Guzmán homered again today. The plot thickens. Here's our first base preview from yesterday. https://t.co/BecDXCsefd— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) March 7, 2021
Stay tuned but bake this into Lowe's allure during a draft.
Kansas City Royals
Reports speculate Adalberto Mondesi may be ready to play soon making progress from his foot injury. Presently, the Royals may platoon Nicky Lopez (career .556 on-base plus slugging percentage) and southpaw specialist Hanser Alberto at second base.
Bobby Witt Jr. continues to rake in Major League camp and may force his way into the conversation later this year in Kansas City's infield equation:
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 6, 2021
Do you feel the need, the need for speed? Check Witt Jr. out during an inside the park home run on Friday:
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) March 5, 2021
And if you just want to pull for a great kid to breakout in 2021:
— Josh Vernier (@JoshVernier610) March 6, 2021
If Mondesi or Witt Jr. start taking ground balls at second base, rush to the wire later this season for the talented prospect. By the way, Mondesi owns a checkered injury past.
No one targets boring old veterans coming off two injury riddled seasons. It's also easy to forget Gregory Polanco enters his Age-29 season. All reports indicate he's in good health with eyes on a bounce back season in 2021. He's been hitting well so far in spring too:
A combo meal in spring should not make Polanco jump up draft boards, but hitting a home run and stealing a base in the same game should signal he's ready to contribute this year. Representing a fantasy free pass, why not take a chance on a player who may hit anywhere between third-to-fifth in the lineup.
Since these updates do not solely focus on player performance so two teams lineup impacts will be explored as well.
Not only did Freddie Freeman make his spring debut on Friday, he hit third. Without the universal designated hitter in play for the National League as of this writing, Freeman’s RBI total could be reduced if he hits second like last year versus batting third. Why? With graphics courtesy of Alec Lewis of The Athletic. First, hitting third may result in fewer plate appearances for Freeman:
However, fantasy owners prefer him driving runs rather than scoring them. So returning to third with pitchers hitting makes sense as this illustrates:
Guessing those with Freeman on their fantasy roster prefer him hitting third in this scenario. Another thing to consider, if Freeman hits third, a healthy Ozzie Albies may bat second. Giddy up.
While the news above may enhance both Freeman and Albies, this potential lineup proposed by Lewis in his column on The Athletic may concern Adalberto Mondesi fans in the fantasy community. Mondesi owns the stolen base upside to win leagues but his volatile hitting profile and low on-base rates may result in him hitting seventh:
This translates into Mondesi potentially seeing 85 or more fewer plate appearances. Which means reducing his runs and RBI by about 13-to-15 percent if this happens.
Lewis also mentioned Carlos Santana , Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez may be fluid in their spots in the order based on performance. If Mondesi hits seventh, dial back his runs and RBI production in all of his projection sets.
Now for some good news times two from the A's. First, Matt Olson may finally flex his power breakout over a full season:
— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) March 5, 2021
Olson has launched two home runs in seven spring at-bats boasting a robust 1.857 on-base plus slugging percentage so far. His teammate does not seem too worried about his off-season hip surgery either:
Trusting your body after an invasive procedure like Chapman's suggests he's feeling great. Reach for him at his price point before it rises.
Will the Rockies move Trevor Story before the trade deadline? His team assures its fan base they do not intend to, but if they crater in the standings, it may be inevitable. For now, enjoy his spring debut:
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 6, 2021
Story told a beat writer he's trying for a 30 home run and 30 stolen base season. Stay tuned.
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 4, 2021
On Friday, Rojas hit two more home runs upping his spring total to three over 15 at-bats. Can he continue this torrid pace, absolutely not. However, could Ketel Marte shift to center field and Rojas get the majority share of second base plate appearances? Time will tell. Rojas’ hit 23 home runs with 33 stolen bases across two levels of the minors (Double-A, Triple-A) in 2019.
While promising not to hype up Victor Robles too much, he hit lead-off again on Thursday. Robles went 0-for-1 but drew two walks and stole two bases. This article speaks to his "Best Shape SZN” approach to 2021:
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) February 27, 2021
With so many fantasy owners trying to procure stolen bases on the roster, Robles’ stock continues to rise with each stolen base in spring:
Plan on targeting him between picks 119-to-130 or sooner if hoping to nab him in NFBC drafts.
Upside leads drafters to reach on the helium plays who litter the landscape. It's difficult to trust Mitch Haniger , but he's basically free in most drafts. This view suggests he's feeling good:
Things you love to see: This. pic.twitter.com/s8NI1p0GOm— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) March 5, 2021
Haniger generated 26 home runs with eight stolen bases in 2018 with 183 runs plus RBI and a .285 average with a .859 on-base plus slugging percentage. His teammate also does not provide flashy numbers but almost always overlooked:
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 4, 2021
From the second half of 2019 through the end of last season, Seager's launched 26 home runs driving in 85 with a .253 average and even chipped in six stolen bases. He may hit third. Over the last seven days in NFBC drafts, Seager's the 31st third base eligible player taken on average.
Post-hype prospect alert:
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 5, 2021
Due to a litany of injuries, Brendan Rodgers does not enter 2021 with the buzz tied to similar players of his ilk. However, Rodgers produced 17 home runs with 12 steals across two levels (Double-A and Triple-A) spanning 474 plate appearances. Plus, Rodgers hopes to steal 20 bases according to Patrick Saunders of Denver Post.
Just when it felt safe t target Avisail Garia late in drafts, Milwaukee agreed to a contract with one of the only outfielders left on the market:
Remember when the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain , traded for Christian Yelich and had “too many outfielders” in the spring of 2018? They are doing it again. Here's how it could work: https://t.co/mlJLp7DjCJ— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 4, 2021
This impacts anyone not named Christian Yelich . It appears two of Jackie Bradley Jr. , Garcia and Lorenzo Cain will play once the regular season resumes. As for Bradley Jr., Milwaukee's park plays friendly to left-handed hitters. Here's his spray chart of fly balls and line drives since 2018 with his new ballpark as the overlay:
Boston Red Sox
With Bradley Jr. not coming home, this may accelerate the arrival of this prospect:
Jarren Duran continues his hot spring with another HR, today off a 94 mph Dean Kremer FB. FB was elevated and he crushed it to RCF. Small sample obviously, but the early results are encouraging for how his new swing is playing against more advanced pitching.— Ian Cundall (@IanCundall) March 4, 2021
In deeper leagues, Duran makes for an intriguing walk-off pick. He stole 46 bases between two levels during the 2019 season and reworked his swing to produce more power. Stay tuned...
A day full of home runs suggests the new "deadened” baseballs have not yet pervaded the environment. Fantasy owners hoping for a universal designated hitter (Dom Smith owners in particular) may not enjoy this update:
Expanded MLB postseason, universal DH are dead issues for 2021, sources say https://t.co/5FkmFYsNQm— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 4, 2021
Now for the bevy of home runs and a spring training battle heating up.
Tampa Bay Rays
Doing his best to make me look bad for the bust insinuation in January, Austin Meadows launched his second home run of the spring already:
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 3, 2021
He's one season removed from 33 home runs with 12 stolen bases, 172 runs plus RBI and a .291/.364/.558 slash. Meadows cratered last year after a bout with COVID and if this keeps up, his reduced price in terms of draft capital may evaporate rapidly.
OUTTA HERE!— FOX Sports Sun: Rays (@FOXSportsRays) March 3, 2021
Are you surprised? Wander Franco with a 1st pitch home run for the @RaysBaseball in their spring training action against the Pirates!
Watch the action on FOX Sports Sun & FOX Sports Go: https://t.co/yvxWVKXzCb #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/4hvDOPcDFc
Adames enters arbitration in 2022 so with teams like Cincinnati in the market for a shortstop, Tampa Bay may be listening soon. Say around when the Super-2 date lapses to enact an extra year of control on the uber-talented Franco.
Speaking of talented prospects:
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 3, 2021
A lightning rod of controversy costing a Mariners executive his job after discussing keeping players like Jarred Kelenic in the minors for contract control, Kelenic vows to make the most of his opportunity when it's received:
In the category of words that went unpublished ... pic.twitter.com/Y0YmmEfcLi— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) March 4, 2021
Across three levels in 2019, Kelenic racked up 23 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He's going to make an impact soon.
Los Angeles Angels
Before paying full retail for Shohei Ohtani , know your league's rules on how to handle him. If he can be used as a hitter and a pitcher, this may be the coronation of his talent. Ohtani hit 99 MPH during a bullpen session and also connected on this mammoth home run:
In 2019, Ohtani produced 18 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 425 plate appearances. Pretty, pretty good.
???????????? ???????????? ????????????????— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 3, 2021
December 24: We acquire Josh Bell
January 9: We acquire Kyle Schwarber
March 3: Kyle Schwarber and Josh Bell homer #SpringTraining // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/A8qQgpUfzw
In terms of price point, Schwarber owns the higher average draft position (ADP) according to Fantasy Pros (197.2) with the following projection sets courtesy of Fangraphs:
As for Pederson, he's slated to play full-time for the Cubs in a division with only five southpaw starters in it. Here's his dinger:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 3, 2021
And projection sets with a Fantasy Pros ADP of 293:
Entrenched in a battle for center field with Cedric Mullins , Austin Hays recorded a "combo meal”, a home run and stolen base on Wednesday for the Orioles. Through 74 career major league games Hays owns a .272/.320/.424 slash with nine home runs and four stolen bases. If Mullins and Hays thrive this spring, could the team deal Anthony Santander to save money? Stay tuned.
Boston Red Sox
After spending the off-season improving his conditioning to handle first base, Bobby Dalbec brings easy power to the conversation for fantasy purposes:
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 3, 2021
Dalbec launched two home runs on Wednesday bringing his total in spring games to three already. Tempering his upside, one cannot ignore Dalbec's 42.4 strikeout rate last season. If he can overcome contact issues (56.5 percent in 2020) and maximize his 22 percent barrel rate, 30 home runs could happen this season. Can he hit .220 or better? If he does, Dalbec could be a sneaky power source in deeper formats.
Wednesday's five notes of interest include a lead-off hitter with stolen base upside, an injury update in Arizona and a rookie trying to make the White Sox as the designated hitter.
During a spring training recap, Levi Weaver of The Athletic shared how manager Chris Woodward feels about Leody Taveras entering the season: "I think Taveras fits the (leadoff) mold the best. I trust his ability to control the strike zone, especially when he starts hitting. When he starts creating fear (in) the opposing team, that if they leave over over the middle of the plate, he’s gonna do some damage. There’s a ton of power there. When he taps into that power is when he’s probably going to truly be the Rickey Henderson-type.”
Taveras projects to lead-off for the Rangers and swiped eight bases while hitting four home runs in only 33 games spanning 134 plate appearances in 2020. It may take some time for his average to normalize in the majors, but if his team lets Taveras play all season in centerfield, 30-plus stolen bases could be possible.
Remember when everyone tried to figure out how to draft a batter with a high average (D.J. LeMahieu) to cushion rostering power potential with a low average?
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) March 2, 2021
It's only spring training but Gallo seems motivated to improve from hitting below the Mendoza line last year.
Switch gears if targeting Kole Calhoun for power late in drafts unless there's injured reserve spots in the league:
Kole Calhoun will have knee surgery tomorrow morning. "That's as much as I know," Torey Lovullo said.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) March 2, 2021
Although a meniscus procedure proves less daunting than other knee injuries, Calhoun may miss a month or two depending on how his recovery progresses. Not sure this opens the door for Daulton Varsho to break camp with the Diamondbacks but it does not hurt. Stay tuned.
Speaking of two home runs so far in spring, Detroit's Willi Castro launched another home run on Tuesday:
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 2, 2021
Eligible at shortstop or third base in most leagues, Castro slashed .349/.381/.550 over 140 plate appearances last year with six home runs. He's unlikely to maintain a .448 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), but if he hits second there's a chance Castro could be a nice late-round flier, especially if he starts stealing bases (stole 17 in 119 Triple-A games in 2019).
Despite most being tantalized by Austin Hays , Cedric Mullins could win the center field job in Baltimore. Mullins gave up switch hitting and recorded this hit on Tuesday facing southpaw Jordan Montgomery :
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) March 2, 2021
For his career, Mullins splits appear as such:
- Versus LHP: .147/.250/.189, one HR, 111 plate appearances
- Versus RHP: .251/.305/.394, 6 HR, 279 plate appearances
Not earth shattering but then last season the chasm grew even more:
- 2020 against LHP: .171/.216/.286
- 2020 against RHP: .305/.348/.448
All told, Mullins hit three home runs in 2020 with seven stolen bases. He's basically free in most mixed league drafts.
Chicago White Sox
Vaughn impressed those at the alternate site last year and with the minor league season delayed until May, if he does not make the White Sox, he may not be promoted until June making him a lottery ticket, so monitor the news about his service time closely.
Entering only his Age-22 season, even if Soto increases his stolen base total to 15, it’s a huge boon to his already enticing skill set. A 35-plus home run season with 15 steals and an average over .300 puts him squarely in the top five picks in any draft.
Teammate Victor Robles has stolen base appeal but his batting average and spot in the lineup caps his upside. Unless:
His projections reflect 20-plus stolen base potential but a spike in runs would ensue hitting atop the Nationals lineup ahead of Trea Turner and Soto.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Taking spring training results to heart can be a mistake. However, when a team’s beat writer suggests a player could win a position, it’s worth noting. Setting up as a post-hype prospect, Gavin Lux struggled in 2020 for playing time and his results. Back in camp with a renewed work ethic and potential path to starting for the defending champions makes him much more intriguing. Juan Toribio of MLB.com penned this update from Monday’s game:
Across two levels in 2019 (Double-A and Triple-A), Lux appeared in 113 games with 523 plate appearances, 99 runs, 26 home runs, 76 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .347/.421/.602 slash line.
Early speculators on the Myles Straw bandwagon need to monitor how the lineup card by Dusty Baker evolves. Straw will get chances to hit lead-off in spring training but does this lineup put together by beat writer Jake Kaplan of The Athletic from a mailbag column project as the best Houston can do?
Take one guess who sent this question in. Now, compare this to if Straw does not hit first:
Key on the sentence above this lineup in regards to Straw getting the most plate appearances over the season. Straw owns a .327 on-base percentage in his major league career but an alluring .394 on-base mark during his time in the minors. He needs to be on base all spring to take over hitting first. Monitor closely.
Also, Kyle Tucker owns home run and stolen base upside but he’s projected to hit seventh in both of these scenarios. He’s being taken in the third round in most formats. Counting statistics do matter.
New York Yankees
There’s no denying Gary Sánchez or his power. He launched a bomb on Monday covered by Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 2, 2021
Fantasy owners prefer a catcher who does not drain batting average. Drafting D.J. LeMahieu as a cushion makes Sanchez easier to target in drafts, no doubt. But, Sanchez last three seasons yields the following:
2018: 374 plate appearances, 18 HR, 12.3 BB%, 25.1 K%, .186 batting average
2019: 446 plate appearances, 34 HR, 9 BB%, 28 K%, .232 batting average
2020: 178 plate appearances, 10 HR, 10.1 BB%, 36 K%, .147 batting average
Aaron Hicks also mused he could hit 30 home runs if healthy. Definitely in the range of outcomes but his plate appearances by season since 2018 in order (581, 255, 211). He gets a pass for 2020 due to the truncated season and coming off surgery. However, Hicks has accrued more than 400 plate appearances in the majors once, in 2018. It feels like the Yankees finally seem committed to Clint Frazier in the outfield and at the price points, prefer him to Hicks for 2021.
Forced to play center field in 2020 after Lorenzo Cain opted out, Avisaíl García struggled at the plate and his stamina. One of the best shape season candidates for 2021, Garcia flies way below the radar in draft capital but could be a league winner this year:
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) February 28, 2021
Garcia’s one season removed from 20 home runs with 10 stolen bases and a .282/.332/.464 slash line during his 2019 year with Tampa Bay.
Be sure to check back when this updates throughout spring training.
THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty
ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen
ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski