UPDATED: Wednesday, March 15 at 12pm ET
The 2023 MLB season is less than three weeks away and your fantasy baseball draft is rapidly approaching. We’ve given you a boatload of information in our free fantasy baseball draft guide, including fantasy baseball player rankings, draft strategies, analysis on the effect of the new MLB rules and fantasy baseball mock drafts. If you haven’t checked out the latest edition of the fantasy baseball cheat sheet, then be sure to do that now as you formulate your plans and be sure to download it right before your draft. It has everything you need to have a successful draft, including all the spring training updates you need to know. To further help you follow all the latest MLB news and sort through the array of spring training position battles, we’ve also created this piece which will be routinely updated between now and Opening Day.
2023 Spring Training Updates
Elehuris Montero went 2-for-3 with a homer and a pair of runs scored as the Rockies beat the Cubs 5-2 on Tuesday.
Look further down in this piece and you'll see the position battle at third base for the Rockies. This definitely helps Montero's cause, especially since he doesn't have any minor-league options left, but we are still hearing a little too much of Michael Moustakas' name this spring. Montero is now hitting .294 with three home runs and six RBI in Cactus League play so he definitely has an edge over Nolan Jones who continues to strike out at a rapid rate, but the veteran bat Moustakas provides could be the fly in the ointment. He's only had nine at-bats this spring, but he's 5-for-9 (.556) with one home run, so Montero would likely need a major slump and/or injury to Moose if he wants to land the starting job.
Zack Greinke racked up seven strikeouts over four innings in Tuesday's Cactus League start against the Reds.
Greinke now has a 2.00 ERA with a 0.67 WHIP and and 11/1 K/BB over nine innings this spring, but before you start thinking about elevating Greinke up your boards, let's understand that his spring competition hasn't exactly been all that stellar. The most formidable bat he faced in this match-up was Tyler Stephenson who homered off Greinke in his first at-bat. Also, 11 strikeouts over nine innings? Talk about padding the numbers with seven in this game. The Royals were happy to pick Greinke up off the scrap heap and give him a chance to finish his career with the team he started with, but it's really nothing more than that. Don't be fooled on Draft Day. Your ERA and WHIP will never forgive you.
Hunter Greene was in dominant form in Tuesday's Cactus League start against the Royals, piling up seven strikeouts over five innings.
Granted, the seven whiffs came against a soft Royals team, but we do expect this trend to continue for the second-year hurler. Greene has always been a high-strikeout guy and posted an 11.75 K/9 over 125.2 innings at the big-league level last season. We expect him to throw at least 150 innings this season and while the home park is definitely a detractor, he is still a candidate to post a mid-to-high 3.00 ERA and be in contention for the strikeouts lead in the National League.
Logan Gilbert looked sharp in Tuesday's Cactus League start against the Royals, racking up six strikeouts over four innings of two-run baseball.
Listen, I like George Kirby as much as the next guy, but to see him go before Gilbert in drafts is, to me, criminal. Yes, his strikeout rate diminished last season, but if you look at most young, high-strikeout pitchers, you will see a similar career trend to what we've witnessed from Gilbert. He posted great strikeout numbers in his first season, pulled back on the Ks but improved the command in Year 2 which lowered his ERA and he also gave up fewer home runs. With 185 innings under his belt last season, we're looking for 200 innings from him with more than a strikeout per inning here in Year 3.
Braves optioned RHP Ian Anderson to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Maybe a little bit of a surprise for some, but Anderson struggled mightily this spring, posting a 6.14 ERA with a 1.77 WHIP and just as many walks as he had strikeouts (eight). While he fixes himself in Triple-A, look for lefty Jared Shuster to grab that fifth spot in the Braves rotation which makes him worthy of drafting in the later rounds over the next two weeks. Dylan Dodd may be in the mix as well, but Shuster seems like the favorite.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters on Sunday that Jose Trevino has been sidelined due to a sprained right wrist.
Trevino isn't anything more than a second catcher in deep, two-catcher leagues, so there isn't much concern here. He doesn't present much in the way of power and the .250 average is run-of-the-mill at best. Kyle Higashioka will see the bulk of the work in the meantime, but he isn't worth all that much either. Slow news day? Maybe a little.
Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Tuesday that Gunnar Henderson is "pressing" this spring at the plate.
The favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors is not exactly having himself a banner spring, batting a dismal .095with no home runs and nine strikeouts over 21 at-bats. Hyde intimated that Henderson is feeling the pressure a little, but doesn't believe this slump is going to inhibit his status entering the season as the Orioles' starting third baseman. He was battling some wrist soreness to start, so that, plus adjusting his timing have been the issues. With two and a half weeks of spring games still to go, there is little concern right now. Continue to draft Henderson at his current ADP and maybe even see if this slow spring pushes him down some people's boards.
Jordan Walker (shoulder) is back in the Cardinals' lineup for Tuesday's Grapefruit League contest against the Astros.
We were told not to be too concerned with Walker's shoulder strain suffered while sliding into second base head-first late last week and his return to the lineup on Tuesday only solidifies that. He is rapidly climbing up the ADP charts right now, so if he is a target of yours, be mindful of the increase. Also, keep in mind that he is still not guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster and could spend the month of April in Triple-A, especially if Dylan Carlson starts to heat up.
Starling Marte is back in the Mets' lineup for Tuesday's Grapefruit League game against the Nationals.
Encouraging news for sure as we have watched Marte deal with an abdominal issue to start and then a potential concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch the other day. His return to the lineup should assuage any fears, so continue to draft him as normal.
Kodai Senga (finger) progressed on Tuesday to throwing a bullpen session.
There has been a lot of buzz on Senga recently, but the tendinitis in his finger has kept him on the shelf for a little while this spring. Throwing another bullpen session at this time should make you feel pretty good about drafting him. He won't cost you a high pick, so keep watching him during these sessions and look for a possible Grapefruit League appearance soon.
Nick Gordon (ankle) will return to the Twins' lineup for Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Rays.
He's still nothing more than a depth play at this point, but with so many injuries on the Twins right now, opportunity could open up for him at some point soon. Gordon doesn't have a lot of power, but he could be a nice contributor for speed should he receive some playing time bith in the infield and the outfield.
Manager Dave Roberts said Monday that Mookie Betts will serve as the Dodgers' leadoff hitter in 2023
While this doesn't change Betts' value in fantasy, it is definitely encouraging regarding his speed potential. The stolen bases have dropped off in recent seasons and there was talk earlier this spring of him hitting further down in the order which would have hindered that part of his game. If Roberts is going to keep him in the leadoff spot, then we can all go to sleep at night dreaming of a 30-30 season, You know he's got the potential to do it!
Jose Quintana (rib) is expected to be shut down from throwing for at least three months
I mean…you didn't really want to draft him anyway, did you? Maybe if your league has unlimited IL spots, you can take a late-round flier and stash him away, but the veteran southpaw can be pretty erratic which may not be exactly what you want for your second-half pitching rotation.
San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin told reporters on Sunday that Fernando Tatis Jr.. Jr.. Jr.. Jr.. Jr. (knee) is expected to return to Cactus League play on Monday.
Tatis was a late scratch from Sunday’s lineup due to a left knee contusion suffered Saturday when he was hit with an errant pick-off throw. The Padres said his removal was strictly precautionary, so expect to see him back on the diamond this week. With 20 games still to go on his PEDs suspension, you have to factor in his missing almost the entire first month, but his current ADP, in which he remains a second-round pick in most formats, tells you that no one is scared. Five months of Tatis is spectacular, so long as he plays at his usual level, so go ahead and make that move for him early if you like. With shortstop being so flush with talent this year, it will be easy to find a legitimate placeholder for him to open the fantasy season.
Oakland Athletics optioned OF JJ Bleday to Triple-A Las Vegas
Bleday was a top outfield prospect in the Miami Marlins system but landed in Oakland last month after a trade in exchange for reliever A.J. Puk. Given how weak the Oakland lineup looked, it seemed plausible that the 25-year-old would make the team after he went 8-for-28 (.286) with one home run and one stolen base in 11 Cactus League games. However, the A’s are in no rush to start the clock, even with the incentive of a first-round pick should Bleday win AL Rookie of the Year honors. He should be up with the club at some point this season, but for now, he’s nothing more than waiver wire fodder.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Dustin May delivered a dominant performance in Sunday's Cactus League victory, piling up seven strikeouts over four scoreless innings.
This was a bog outing for May who is now 2-0 this spring with a 1.04 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 13 strikeouts over just 8.2 innings. He’s always gotten some spring hype, but has routinely been held back with the Dodgers and has never been consistently used as a starter. With Walker Buehler not expected back (maybe September if we’re lucky) and Tony Gonsolin nursing an ankle injury, May should get his big chance this season. Take him at his current ADP, but watch for some people jumping a round or two as his torrid spring continues.
Highlights from the World Baseball Classic
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Padres have eased up on their restrictions for outfielder Juan Soto during the World Baseball Classic.
Soto was dealing with a calf issue prior to his departure for the WBC and the team requested that he only play every other day for the Dominican Republic. After having run another round of examinations on Soto by their team doctors, the Padres are now allowing him to play every day. This, obviously, comes at an ideal time for the DR as they play Puerto Rico tonight in what comes down to being a win or go home game.
Freddie Freeman was pulled from Tuesday's World Baseball Classic battle against Colombia in the fourth inning due to a slight hamstring issue.
The Braves have already asked that Team Canada not push Freeman into playing today against Team Mexico which they have obliged, so expect Freeman to head back to Dodgers camp, barring a miraculous victory by Canada as well as a win by Colombia over the United States. This injury should have no ill-effects on Freeman heading into the regular season, so continue to draft him among the top first basemen in the league.
Jose De Leon combined with three other pitchers to record the first perfect game in the history of the World Baseball Classic as Puerto Rico defeated Israel 10-0 in 8 innings.
There really isn't much in the way of fantasy value here, but it is obviously a great story. De Leon will work out of the Twins bullpen this year, but with Jhoan Duran and Jorge Lopez locked in as the favorites for saves this season, De Leon doesn't hold much value, even in a league with holds as he profiles more as long-relief. Could he get a shot at the back end of the rotation should there be a rash of injuries? Maybe. But still highly unlikely. We can just chalk this up as a great moment for both Puerto Rico and the WBC, but that's about it.
Patrick Sandoval yielded one run over three innings on Sunday for Mexico in a World Baseball Classic start against the United States.
Just your daily reminder to keep an eye on Sandoval this spring. He got tons of hype two springs ago and stayed on most people’s radar last season as well. He hadn’t lived up to the billing in full, but certainly flashed his potential from time to time. At just 26-years-old, Sandoval is just hitting his physical prime, so we’re going to throw him into the potential post-hype sleeper category. His ADP keeps him at a nice bargain price, so while you’re rounding out your rotation in the later rounds of your draft, keep his name on your list.
Joey Meneses went 3-for-5 with two homers and five RBI on Sunday, leading Mexico to an 11-5 victory over the United States.
It was a rock-solid performance for Meneses who figures to split his time at first base and DH for the Nationals this season. There is nothing exciting about their lineup, but if you are looking for cheap power to add late in your drafts, he could serve as a viable corner infielder and provide you with some depth throughout the season. There is no speed to be had, but he also won’t hurt you in the batting average department.
Pablo Lopez was outstanding in Sunday night's victory over Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, allowing just one run on two hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Not only did Lopez allow just one run, but he also struck out six and didn’t walk a single batter. There have been obvious concerns over Lopez’ shoulder, but the Twins were ecstatic when they picked him up and you know they did their due diligence on his health. He has seen a nice uptick in velocity on his fastball this spring and he is starting to look like one of the more underrated hurlers this spring. Talk up his shoulder concerns at your draft and see if you can’t grab him at a discounted rate.
Jose Berrios was absolutely clobbered in a losing effort against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday, giving up six runs (five earned) on five hits in one-plus innings of work.
Not exactly what everyone was hoping for this season with Berrios. He’s struggled mightily since coming over to Toronto and things are certainly not looking better after this outing. Sure, it’s just the spring, but many people are still holding out hope and drafting Berrios on his name alone. Don’t fall into the trap. Let him be someone else’s headache this season.
Position Battles to Watch for Fantasy Baseball
Arizona Diamondbacks CF/LF/DH: Corbin Carroll vs Alek Thomas vs Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Jr. Jr. Jr.
This actually looks less like a position battle and more like an expected rotation of some sort. The club just handed Carroll, the favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year (+380 at DK Sportsbook), an eight-year, $111M deal on Saturday with a club-option in 2031, so with his strong spring, he’s probably got an Opening Day spot locked up. They could move him to left field instead of center with the way Thomas has looked this spring which would then push Gurriel to the DH spot most of the time. Given the fact that both Carroll and Thomas are lefties, you may see one of them rotated out against a strong lefty, especially if manager Torey Lovullo wants to give guys rest early in the season and use the DH spot as a way to rotate players. So long as Carroll continues to perform well, you can probably look to him as the least likely to sit when rotations begin.
Atlanta Braves LF/DH: Marcell Ozuna vs Eddie Rosario vs Jordan Luplow vs Eli White
Another rotation of players is expected here, but look for Ozuna and Rosario to get the bulk of the work. Luplow will only see time when the Braves are facing a lefty, so expect Ozuna and Rosario to see the bulk of the work here. White is probably only going to be used as depth, but given the age and state of decline both Ozuna and Rosario are at, manager Brian Snitker isn’t exactly tied to either one. These players should only be considered as late-round depth in fantasy.
Colorado Rockies 3B: Nolan Jones vs Elehuris Montero vs Mike Moustakas
Considering the fact that Jones has whiffed nearly 50-percent of the time in 25 spring at-bats, this may not even be a position battle. The Rockies like his defense at the hot corner, but he’s shown absolutely nothing at the plate this spring, batting just .120 with no home run or RBI. He does have one stolen base with six runs scored, but he needs to pick it up if he’s going to stay with the big club. Meanwhile, Montero, who is out of minor-league options, is slashing .276/.364/.517 this spring with two home runs, five RBI and seven runs score and could be considered the starter at this point. His fantasy baseball ADP puts him in the final rounds of most 12-team leagues, so keep a watchful eye. Having a guy who plays half his games at Coors Field is usually pretty helpful for your counting stats. Unfortunately, it could be a moot point should Moustakas actually make this team. The veteran power-bat might be a nice temporary fix for the Rockies in the power department, but considering this team continues to be in a rebuild, his presence at age-34 is doing nothing for their future. We’ll see what the team says, so watch this group closely.
This battle seems to be turning into a bit of a runaway as Colas continues his string spring, batting .407 with one homer, two RBI, four runs scored and one stolen base. He has been caught stealing twice already, so don’t overrate the running game too much just yet. But Colas seems to be the more well-rounded player while Sheets profiles more like a typical left-handed power bat to face right-handed pitching. Both are lefties, so a straight platoon seems unlikely, so it could simply come down to who owns the hot hand. Colas’ ADP has him going earlier than Sheets and that’s how we see it for fantasy, but if you can make daily roster moves, grabbing both late wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
This one is flying under the radar as not many people even know who Dirden is right now. The 25-year-old sailed through four levels of the Astros minor league system over the past two years and is having himself a strong spring, slashing .333/.467/.917 with two home runs, three RBO and three runs scored. His defense in center is rock-solid and while he may be a bit of a long-shot right now, general manager Dana Brown has indicated that he could be given an opportunity sooner than later, especially with the sound defense he is providing in center. McCormick isn’t exactly lighting it up this spring, so keep a close eye on this situation. It could get interesting while everyone is away for the World Baseball Classic.
Neither guy is someone you are drafting as anything but corner infield depth, but it’s definitely worth watching. Cooper is way too inconsistent at the plate thanks to a long swing and a lack of adjustments, but Gurriel is also getting a little long in the tooth. The Marlins are talking about Gurriel getting some work at second and third which could boost Cooper’s at-bats while also adding some extra position eligibility to Gurriel’s resume, but for now, it looks like these two are going to continue to duke it out this spring.
An elbow injury has put Tyrone Taylor on the shelf for at least the first month of the season and, depending on how things shake out here, he may never get his job back. Frelick is currently tearing it up for Team Italy in the WBC, batting .389 and helping his team into the next round, and is being strongly considered for the right field job. If not, the team could move Anderson off third base and into the outfield while Mike Brosseau helps out at the hot corner or they could go with the veteran in Naquin. From everything we are hearing out of the Brewers front office, this job likely won’t be settled until much closer to Opening Day.
Volpe only has 99 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, but the team is giving string consideration to him being their Opening Day shortstop. He is the better hitter between him and Peraza, but the latter is better defensively. The safe play for the Yankees is to go with Peraza at short and let Volpe continue his strong spring down in Triple-A, as no one believes Josh Donaldson is going to be able to carry enough water to stay at the hot corner for more than a month. There is no harm in starting Volpe in the minors and giving him another month of seasoning down there, but we should definitely expect to see him at some point in the majors soon. This position battle could get heated over the next three weeks, so pay attention and maybe think about bumping Volpe up your ADP boards a little.
St. Louis Cardinals CF/RF: Jordan Walker vs Dylan Carlson
This is another situation we likely won’t have clarity on until the WBC closes and the Cardinals get both Tyler O’Neill and Lars Nootbaar back. It comes down to Walker vs Carlson really as manager Oliver Marmol can move O’Neill to center and Nootbaar over to left if he really wants Walker to start the season in the majors. If you’ve listened to Jim Bowden and I during our Cardinals Front Office Insights episode, you know how bullish we are on Walker. It’s not a matter of “if” as much as it is “when.” Should Walker continue to out-produce Carlson, he should land the gig. If not, then expect him to push his way back up in May for a big-league return.
- Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide
- Drafting Stolen Bases
- How the New MLB Rules Affect Fantasy Baseball
- Front Office Insights with Jim Bowden and Howard Bender
- Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet