Well, we’ve made it. The winter is over. Maybe not in a meteorological sense, but for fantasy baseball managers, and really any baseball enthusiast, Friday’s start of actual Spring Training games has marked the true end. Players are competing again, fantasy leagues are filling their empty manager spots, and mock drafts rooms are just starting to heat up. Spring is here!
Though we all know we can’t get too wrapped up in Spring Training numbers, there will be many players whose average draft positions will hinge on the performance and results of the preseason. Most of them are the sorts of players you’ll be most excited to draft when the time comes so it’s important to monitor their value. Depending on when your for-real draft is, you may be able to take advantage of the changes before average draft positions catch up.
With that in mind, here are a few players you should keep a close eye on over the next few weeks.
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
10 Players Whose ADP Will Change
Fernando Tatis, SS, Padres (Current ADP 19)
It wasn’t too long ago that Fernando Tatis was at the very top of draft boards. And for good reason. He used his five tools to hit 42 HRs and steal 25 bases just two seasons ago. But injuries, surgeries, and a PED suspension (that ends on April 20th), have cast enough doubt to drop him all the way to late second-round status. A big spring, or really even a spring that doesn’t include any injury setbacks, plus impending OF eligibility, has the potential to launch him back to the first round. Plan accordingly.
Oneil Cruz, SS, Pirates (Current ADP 73)
Young talent doesn’t get much more fun than this guy. We all know the raw tools are there. Last year, he literally reinvented what we thought was possible for exit velocity. Oh, and he’s fast too. The potential is a five-category-contributing, upper first-round pick one day. With all the excitement, though, comes a lot of attention and mounds of hype. If Oneil Cruz rakes this spring, it’s not going to matter how many minor league pitchers he raked against. His draft price will go even higher. The question you should be asking yourself: should I pay it? Well, personally, I’ll be answering that with one of the few stats I do care about this preseason: what is Cruz’s strikeout rate? Is it the insane 35% rate he put up last year in the bigs? Or is it the more-tolerable 25% he posted during his minor league career? If it’s the latter, I’m comfortable with paying a higher price.
Vinny Pasquantino, 1B, Royals (Current ADP 94)
The word is already out on Vinny Pasquantino, based mostly on his very solid finish to the 2022 season. All he did was hit .362 over the last forty games with an OPS of .996. Because of this, and a minor league track record to back it up, many analysts list him as a favorite breakout candidate. The last two mock drafts I did this past week saw him go well above ADP at picks 80 and 63, respectively. With the hype train already pulling out of the station, a big spring could add a lot of ‘woot woot.’ Be prepared on draft day. If you want this one, you’ll likely need to pay more than asking price.
Lucas Giolito, P, White Sox (Current ADP 148)
One of the biggest busts of last season, Lucas Giolito burned fantasy managers who had to invest an early-round pick on what they thought was a perennial ace. They instead got a 4.90 ERA and an intolerable 1.44 WHIP. Ouch. Makes sense why he’s dropped about 100 picks in ADP so far. Giolito, however, has a plausible explanation for last season’s flop. He had bulked up with the intention of adding power to his pitches. Instead, it threw off his delivery and actually decreased his velocity. Fast forward to this spring, he’s now 35 pounds lighter and back to his old playing weight. Is he due for a rebound? That might be answered this spring. If the velocity returns and he’s effective, drafters are likely to take note. That ADP could slim down too.
Chris Sale, P, Red Sox (Current ADP 152)
For years we all worried that Chris Sale’s unusual delivery would eventually result in some kind of injury trouble. Now that we’re through Tommy John surgery and three injuries (two non-pitching related) last season, the worst case scenario has pretty much played out. It has left fantasy mangers highly concerned and pushed Sale’s draft value deep into the middle rounds. But just this weekend he threw live batting practice and experienced no physical issues. He has no restrictions this spring and plans to be ready on Opening Day. If that plays out, and if he looks anything remotely resembling vintage Chris Sale, better watch that ADP closely. You could be competing with a lot of managers looking for the Sale of the century.
Jameson Taillon, P, Cubs (Current APD 246)
Everyone knows Jameson Taillon is a back-of-the-fantasy-rotation option mostly for points leagues. He’ll give you some good innings if he stays healthy, he has a great walk rate, and with the right team will pick up a respectable amount of wins. Pretty milquetoast, to use a fancy word. But what if he found a new pitch to put away hitters? What if he had a nice K rate to pair with the BB rate? Could he be roto relevant too? Let’s find out this preseason. He’s been working on a sweeping slider that according to his new teammates has more break to it. If it does result in Ks, even to minor leaguers, there could be some buzz created. Buzz equals higher than round 20 draft position. Is that the opposite of milquetoast? Am I using this word right?
Miguel Vargas, 1B, Dodgers (Current ADP 283)
A popular industry sleeper pick, Miguel Vargas was already starting to move up draft boards before last week’s diagnosis of a hairline fracture in his right pinky finger. That could very well cool the enthusiasm for the time being. The Dodgers, however, are still proceeding as if he’ll be their Opening Day second baseman. In fact, he was even in the starting lineup, but only defensively (did you know they could do that?) on Saturday. So if he still has time to show off his five tools, expect the hype to spark back up. Doubly so when peeps find out he’s going to be eligible at 2B after the first week of the season.
Oscar Colas, OF, White Sox (Current ADP 302)
For a top 100 prospect, Oscar Colas has stayed fairly under the radar. Maybe it’s because he’s a little older than most prospects. Maybe it’s because he just entered the American system last year, via Japan, via Cuba. Whatever the case, if he beats out Gavin Sheets (not too hard) for the starting right field gig, you can expect some heavy traffic for Colas in the late rounds of standard 12-team drafts. Even if he hadn’t dominated three different levels of the minor leagues last year, or blasted 23 home runs in just 117 games, or slashed .314/.371/.524 while doing it, OF is going to be very thin at the backend of drafts. Some managers in your league will be desperate by then. If you want Colas’s upside, you better beat them to it.
Andrew Painter, P, Phillies (Current ADP 327)
Are the returning NL champs going to thrust their 19-year-old phenom into the spotlight as their number five starter? 155 Ks in 103.2 minor league innings is pretty impressive at any age. Still, probably not. That’s why his APD is buried in the outer solar system of the player pool. But OMG, look out if they do. He’ll quickly comet himself right into the top 200. If your draft happens before that announcement, he’s the perfect last-lotto pick of any standard draft. If not, go for the moon.
Mike Soroka, P, Braves (Current ADP 343)
Can you believe this guy is just 25 years old? I feel like he’s had a full career already and retired and is now coming back. I guess that’s because after a career year, he’s now missed basically three seasons with multiple surgeries to his Achilles tendon. But he’s back now. He’ll be competing for the fifth starter job in Atlanta. Two other suitors, Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder, will also be knocking on the door, so if Soroka does win the job, it’s probably because he’s back to the form that saw a mid-2s ERA. News travels fast around here. If and when that announcement comes, be ready to nab him before the final round of a standard draft. He won’t make it to the free agent pool.
Oswald Peraza, SS, Yankees (Current APD 296) + Anthony Volpe, SS, (Current ADP 363)
OK, I know I said ten, but I would be failing at my job if I didn’t mention one of the most intriguing position battles of the spring. It’s intriguing because if either Peraza or Volpe beat out Isiah Kiner-Falefa, there will be quite a kerfuffle in the late rounds. Peraza’s 19 HRs and 33 stolen bases in just 101 games in the minors last year, plus an impressive .306 batting average during his 18-game cup of coffee with the big league club in September, seems to place him as the favorite going into the first weekend of spring games. Don’t count out Volpe, though, the top prospect in the Yankees organization who in addition to 20 HRs, stole 48 bases between AA and AAA last year. He even stole two bases in his first spring game on Sunday. With Aaron Boone playing it close to the vest, the uncertainty is holding back both of their ADPs for now. It might be a good idea – and also a fun one – to watch this battle closely.
Whose ADP are you keeping an eye on? For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!