Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Training News: March 17th - Who's Hot & Who's Not

It's a new week, and spring training is more than halfway over. Even though I don't put too much value in spring training stats, they're still fun to look at, especially after a few weeks of games.

Hitters of Note:
-Grady Sizemore has hit 5 HR in only 23 at bats, and is having a sizzling spring; this is quite an improvement from his .115 avg & 2 HR last spring.

-While I'm on the Indians, two young OF - Franklin Gutierrez & Ben Francisco are having very solid springs. Gutierrez is hitting .409 with 2 HR & 8 RBI in only 22 AB, while Francisco, who is fighting to make the roster & be part of the rotation in the OF, is not harming his changes by hitting .382 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 1 SB (although he's been caught 3 times) in 34 AB. Gutierrez should be the every day RF for the Tribe this season (and be a very underrated fantasy performer, especially given his power / steals potential in this potent Indians lineup), with Fransisco making the roster & eventually taking over in left.

Being an Indians fan & a MLB Extra Innings subscriber, I watched quite a few games last season & honestly think Francisco will be an excellent major league player. He's got a good eye at the plate, and just appears to have a good feel for the game - keep an eye on him as the season progresses. He probably won't have much fantasy value this season, but you should keep him on your radars for 2009.

-Adam Jones, the future at CF for the Orioles, is hitting .379

-Yunel Escobar of the Braves has proven that he's more than capable of replacing Edgar Renteria at SS; he already has 12 RBI this spring. What's so great about Escobar from a fantasy perspective is that (at least in Yahoo leagues) he qualifies at 2B, SS, & 3B.

-Matt Kemp & Andre Ethier are playing like all stars. Kemp is hitting .310 with 2 HR, 12 RBI, and 3 SB in 42 AB. Ethier is .402 with 4 HR, 10 RBI, and 1 SB in 43 AB. It is starting to sound more & more like Ethier might be the starting LF this year, with the $44 million dollar man, Juan Pierre, being the odd man out.

-Howie Kendrick is hitting .317 & already has 4 steals in 15 games; watch for him to run more this year. More amazingly, he already has a walk! Look for him to put up 10-15 HR & 20+ steals.

-Corey Hart is hitting .250 with 2 HR, 10 RBI & 2 SB, although he has 0 walks & 15 K's thus far; hopefully that trend doesn't carry over into the season.

-Colby Rasmus, the CF of the future for the Cardinals, is hitting .300 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 SB, and most impressively, 12 walks and only 7 strikeouts. That's a great eye for a young player, especially during spring training, when many people just swing away at everything (like Rickie Weeks, who is hitting .125 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 SB, and 3 walks to 20 strikeouts or Brandon Wood, who is hitting .114 with no walks & 15 strikeouts!).

And last buy not least...

-Pudge has 6 HR in 13 games!

Pitchers of Note:
-Barry Zito, the $126 million dollar man, has a 14.92 ERA in 4 spring starts, and has allowed 21 hits in 12 1/3 IP, walking 10 & striking out ZERO. Ouch...

-Manny Parra of the Brewers is doing everything in his power to win the 5th starter's job, with a 0.64 ERA, along with 15 K's in only 14 spring innings. Kelly at Fantasy Gameday first made me aware of this star-in-the-making, but he's still flying under many people's radar during drafts. I expect his value to increase rapidly if he wins a job in the rotation, so keep an eye on this competition.

Kelly put it this way:

"Manny Parra is really, really good. Baseball Prospectus has him rated as a five star prospect, and is doing everything in his power to earn a spot in the Brewers rotation. How about these for numbers: 0.64 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 14 innings. i have him in two leagues and used a 26th round and a 27th round pick on him. Parra is rated as well as Gallardo was last year at this time."

That's all for now. Check back soon for more draft analysis & updates from spring training.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

2 comments:

Sports Page Atlanta said...

Terry Pendleton said Escobar was "strong as an ox"!

He's leading the Braves this spring in at least 6 offensive categories, including home runs and RBI.

Let's hope he keeps this up so we'll be able to keep forgetting about Renteria.

Ken said...

I think Escobar is really going to surprise some people this season. The Braves have an excellent track record of keeping the right prospects & trading away the ones that seem to not work out.

In addition to Escobar, I also think Kelly Johnson will continue to build on his solid year in '07 to give the Braves a very solid middle infield; many people seem to forget that he tore it up for a few weeks in his rookie season in '05; so much so that he was named the NL player of the week during the week of June 13th.

Living in Atlanta (and being a loyal Braves fan, unless of course, they're playing the Indians), I'm expecting a good year from Escobar & the rest of the Braves.

 
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