Fantasy Baseball Draft 2014: Top 10 Players to Watch in Spring Training: Hitters
Jason's Fantasy Baseball Analysis: Top 10 Players to Watch in Spring Training: Hitters
February 25, 2014
Top 10 Players to Watch in Spring Training: Hitters
1. Billy Hamilton - Hamilton's fantasy value is more unstable at this moment than any other player in baseball, and he was an easy choice to top this list because his performances in spring training games will have a massive impact on where he is taken on draft day. Hamilton is being projected to be drafted anywhere from a 5th round pick to a 12th round pick this season. If Hamilton shows a strong ability to get on base this spring, then he could even go as high as the 3rd round in rotisseries formats. All fantasy owners need to keep their eyes on Hamilton this spring because his fantasy value will not stabilize until late into March.
2. Jose Abreu - Abreu is another rookie prospect that is going to be given the chance to play every day, and fantasy owners will need to watch this spring to see how well he adjust to major league pitching. Abreu seems to have as much hype about him as there is doubt, and now that spring training games are about to begin, fantasy owners will finally get some evidence to base their evaluations on. Abreu's fantasy value is nearly as unstable as Hamilton's value, and that is why he must remain on fantasy radars throughout spring training.
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3. Matt Adams - Adams is another slugger with big time power potential that is finally going to be given a starting job. Unlike Abreu, Adams has a minor league track record with which evaluations can be made, and he produced some solid numbers in his short time in the majors last season as well. Given the fact that Adams' fantasy value is fairly stable at this point, his fantasy stock could still see a massive boost if he has a strong spring training.
4. Starlin Castro - Castro is a two time all-star that is coming off a terrible season where he struggled in basically every aspect of the game. Most of Castro's problems last season can probably be blamed on youth and immaturity. Castro is now a year old and there is new management in Chicago. Castro could jump up a few rounds on draft day if he has a solid spring, and fantasy owners should monitor his progress as opening day approaches.
5. Manny Machado - Machado is said to be healing up nicely from his knee injury that ended his season last year. Machado was a top 5 third baseman for most of last season, but he is being ranked outside the top 10 entering the 2014 season. Machado's injury is the reason he has dropped so far down draft boards, and his draft stock will fluctuate depending on how healthy he looks throughout spring training.
6. Albert Pujols/Josh Hamilton - Pujols and Hamilton's careers have merged in Los Angeles, and based on the similarities of their last two seasons, it seemed appropriate to place them together on this list. It is no secret that both these players are capable of MVP seasons, and it is no secret that both of these players' careers have taken a nose dive since they've become teammates. Both of them have relatively low fantasy values at the moment, but that could all change over the course of spring training if ether of them shows signs that they are back to their old form.
7. Pablo Sandoval - Sandoval has not only lost a lot of weight to get in shape in order to prove to his team that he is serious about playing his best baseball, but he is also in a contract year. Since Sandoval lost so much weight, fantasy owners will need to monitor his spring training production to see how his game is effected by the weight loss. Sandoval could be on the verge of a massive rebound season as his speed and athleticism should be much improved in 2014.
8. Grady Sizemore - Sizemore could have arguably been put at the top of this list, but he has been gone from baseball for far too long to earn more recognition than the games brightest young stars. Sizemore was an electric ball player before injuries forced him completely away from the game. Now he is going to be given a chance to prove he belongs with the Boston Red Sox. There is a chance that he can earn a spot in the starting lineup as the Red Sox are now trying to fill the void left by the absence of Ellsbury. If Sizemore has a good spring training, then fantasy owners may want to consider drafting him as a late round injury risk with lots of potential upside.
9. Evan Gattis - Gattis is now set to be the Braves starting catcher in place of the perennial all-star, Brian McCann. Gattis has tremendous power, and he should be able to add enough offense to keep Braves' fans from missing McCann. However, the bigger issue for Gattis is how well he works with the Braves pitchers while he is behind the plate. McCann was known for his ability to call a game, and fantasy owners will need to watch Gattis this spring to see how well he works with the Braves young pitchers and not to see how far he can hit the ball.
10. Dan Uggla - Uggla has been added to this list for one reason, and that is the fact he probably has the biggest chip on his shoulder of any player in the major leagues. Uggla has been so bad since getting a big contract from the Braves that they decided to leave him off the postseason roster last year. Now Uggla is entering the 2014 with the bitter taste of a benching to motivate him. Uggla is on nobody's fantasy radar at the moment, but he was considered a top 5 second baseman just a few years ago. If Uggla can get his act together, he could potentially find his way back to fantasy relevance, and a strong spring training would make him worth a gamble in very deep or NL only leagues.
Player to Note:
Encarnacion is not considered to be in any danger of having a down season as he is projected to be a first round pick in most leagues this year. However, fantasy owners should remember he is recovering from wrist surgery. Encarnacion should be monitored this spring to make sure he is fully healthy and that he is 100% able to hit with his full power.
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