He sports a 0.64 ERA and a 0.36 WHIP with a 17:2 K:BB ratio over 14.0 innings this spring. Armed with one of the better sliders in the league, Bieber wasn’t flying under many radars after his FIP (3.23) was so much better than his ERA (4.55) last season, and his terrific pitching in the Cactus League is leading to an even further climbing ADP. It’s well-deserved, as he’s a top-25 SP on my board.
He’s been announced as Milwaukee’s starting second baseman this year, and while that may not be great news for Brewers pitchers, Moustakas’ value gets a boost now that he’s soon to be 2B eligible. He’s one season removed from hitting 38 home runs while playing in Kauffman Stadium, which has suppressed HRs for left-handed batters by 22 percent over the last three seasons (only AT&T Park has been worse over that span for lefty power). This season Moustakas will be hitting in Miller Park, which has increased HR for LHB by 24 percent over the last three seasons (third-most). That’s quite an advantageous change of environments for the future middle infielder.
He’s batting .444 with a 1.321 OPS over 36 at bats during Cactus League play, as his battle with Garrett Hampson (1.033 OPS this spring) for Colorado’s starting second base job is heating up. Whoever wins will have obvious fantasy value given the Coors Field factor, and McMahon has suddenly gone from underdog to favorite (Hampson is also currently dealing with hamstring tightness). It’s the positional battle fantasy owners should care about most leading to Opening Day.
One of last year’s biggest busts, Buxton is once again receiving buzz while posting a 1.467 OPS with four homers (and a steal) over 26 spring training at bats. The former No. 2 pick is healthy now, his strong defense should keep him in the lineup should his high K% lead to an inevitable cold streak, and there remains a ton of SB upside. The 25 year old is the fastest player in the game. Buxton is a last year’s bum whose arrow is now pointing back up.
A popular sleeper pick, Paddack dominated in his latest Cactus League start and now sports a 20:2 K:BB ratio over 12.2 spring innings. There’s a real chance now he opens the year in San Diego, as there’s even a strong argument he should take the ball for the team on Opening Day. Paddack is shooting up draft boards for good reason, as he’s going to be an extremely valuable fantasy starter the moment he gets the chance. Teammate Matt Strahm is also up to 12 Ks over nine shutout innings this spring (0.67 WHIP) after gaining 18 pounds of muscle over the offseason, so the Padres have a couple of highly intriguing young arms.
He’s off to a slow start at the plate this spring, but after losing weight during the offseason and openly stating he wanted to steal more bases this year, his ADP has been on the rise. Moreover, teammate Brad Peacock has pitched eight shutout innings and has likely secured the fifth spot in Houston’s rotation, at least to open the year. He’s a legit sleeper with the talent to keep the role all season.
By no fault of his own, Jimenez will open the season in Triple-A, likely spending at least three weeks there in order for the White Sox to gain an extra year of team control. Jimenez will hit for power and be an immediate fantasy asset when he gets the inevitable call in late April, but his ADP has taken a small hit after he was officially optioned to the minors. Jimenez is going to be great, but I’d draft Victor Robles ahead of him.
He might very well be among the best pitchers in baseball on a per-inning basis this season, but unfortunately his role with the Cardinals looks increasingly like a poor one for fantasy owners. Reyes isn’t even a lock to make the Opening Day roster, and if he does, it will be in middle relief. The team is going to take an extra cautious approach with their prized (and fragile) right-handed arm, who doesn’t fit well to act as closer and is looking at 80-100 innings max while in a transitional year this season.
His ADP was already on the decline after he allowed five runs (four earned) with a whopping five walks over 2.2 innings this spring (and had been out with the flu lately), and now Giles is unavailable after sleeping on his shoulder wrong. Ryan Tepera should be added in fantasy leagues while the closing situation in Toronto is closely monitored.
Craig Kimbrel/Dallas Keuchel
It’s officially inside two weeks until Opening Day, and both pitchers remain unsigned. Even in a best-case scenario in which they ink a contract soon, it will be tough for either to contribute to a new team by then (although both claim they are staying game ready). Both signings should happen soon enough, but the delay has lasted longer than expected, and the environment is going to matter quite a bit when it comes to their values (especially Keuchel’s). It’s certainly understandable why these two are dropping in drafts.