In his first start of the spring, Drew Pomeranz went four innings, allowing only one hit and striking out four against the White Sox. A former starter in Colorado, Pomeranz struggled mightily before moving to Oakland and thriving in the bullpen. Initially projected to start the season as a long reliever, there is now a real chance Pomeranz claims one of the two rotations spots up for grabs in San Diego. Only 27, Pomeranz still has a strong arm and is mixing in some new pitches to his repertoire to surprise hitters. Pitching at Petco won't hurt either.
With a double and two more RBI against Houston, Freeman has a spring line of .320/.514/.880, including four homers. A wrist injury cost Freeman 44 games last year and led to concerns that it might sap him of some power. So far Freeman is putting those doubts to rest.
The bigger question is whether Freeman should be viewed as an elite fantasy option at first base. After signing a large contract two years ago, his numbers promptly dropped. After hitting 20+ HR in each of his first three seasons, he has failed to reach that mark the past two seasons. In fantasy terms, Freeman cracks the top ten at his position, but just barely. A healthy Freeman should show improvement over last year's numbers, but don't expect 30 HR or 100 RBI.
The Padres put up 17 runs Tuesday against the Rangers, led by Derek Norris, who doubled and homered, knocking in four RBI. Norris is entrenched as their starting catcher, but he has recently been the subject of trade rumors involving the Rangers. Both of San Diego's backup catchers, Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt, are defensive-minded players with limited offensive upside.
Unless Texas gets desperate and offers a top prospect to obtain Norris along with a starting pitcher (Tyson Ross has been rumored to be on the block), they will likely wait until the trade deadline. A move to Texas would give Norris a big bump in his fantasy projections. Not only is Texas a much better ballpark for hitters, the Rangers would offer a better lineup around him. If a deal does ever happen, look for Norris to move up the rankings.
With only two hits in his first 15 at-bats this spring, Nick Swisher's roster spot was looking precarious. Swisher is heating up lately to a line of .303/.410/.394. He may still be a long shot to make the team however, as the Braves have been trying unsuccessfully to trade him and his bloated contract all off-season.
If he proves his worth, he may stick as a backup and insurance policy to Freddie Freeman. Even so, the former All-Star provides limited value at this point even if Freeman were to suffer a setback with his wrist. Don't take a chance based on past performance, as Swisher's best days are well behind him.
After pitching only 33 innings in each of the past two seasons, former Blue Jay Brandon Morrow will make his 2016 Cactus League debut this Friday against Texas. A former first-round pick by Seattle, Morrow has an impressive career K/9 rate of 9.22 but has been inconsistent throughout an injury-plagued career.
In his brief National League debut with San Diego last year, he posted a 2.73 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. If healthy, Morrow has the type of potential fantasy owners covet when filling out pitching staffs in the later rounds. The question is whether he can truly stay healthy at age 31. He may begin the season on the DL, but for now monitor his progress and look for him to eventually claim a spot in the Padres rotation.
Jhoulys Chacin, in a bid to join Atlanta's rotation, had another solid outing Monday. In 3 1/3 innings against a Pittsburgh lineup filled with starters, Chacin surrendered only one run on four hits.
Surprisingly, the lone run came on a home run off the bat of pitcher Francisco Liriano. Chacin's 3.18 ERA and 8.76 K/9 this spring may be enough to earn a spot in a thin Braves rotation that is biding time for youngsters like Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint in the coming years.
The Braves signed Bud Norris this off-season to be their #2 starter, counting on a bounce-back from the veteran. Luckily, he won't have to face Detroit again until the final series of the season in October. Norris gave up six runs (five earned) on seven hits Sunday afternoon, after being tagged for six earned runs on nine hits earlier in the week to the same Detroit team. His Spring ERA now sits at an ugly 8.53. His K/BB ratio is a promising 11-3 and he has only given up one home run so far, but consecutive shellackings as we approach Opening Day should make Braves fans and fantasy managers wary.
After going 4-for-4 on Sunday with two runs scored and an RBI, Jon Jay is up to .359 this Spring. Padres manager Andy Green, when asked by reporters about Jay batting leadoff on opening day stated, "I think you can read the tea leaves." Jay spent six seasons in St. Louis and is a career .287 hitter. Although he offers little in the way of power and has never stolen 20 bases in a season, Jay could be a cheap source of runs and hit close to .300 at the top of the lineup.
The former University of Miami standout and brother of former Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is looking to catch on with the San Diego Padres. After spending last year in Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox system, Weeks was a non-roster invitee to the Padres camp. After Friday night's game, his average was up to .478 including seven runs, six RBI and four SB. Corey Spangenberg is slated to be the starting second baseman on opening day, but Weeks could provide depth at the position.
A day after being reassigned to the Braves' Minor League camp, top pitching prospect Aaron Blair got a vote of confidence from his manager Fredi Gonzalez. The Braves skipper told Blair he is "a blister, a torn nail or a blown calf away from being in the big leagues," according to MLB.com. Obviously Gonzalez feels that Blair is ready to face Major League hitters and could be factor earlier rather than later. Atlanta will remain patient with many of their top prospects this year, but Blair may be the exception. Keeper league managers may want to slot him slightly higher based on potential returns this year. He is worth monitoring in mixed leagues or stashing in deep leagues if depth at SP is an issue for your team.
Jason Grilli pitched for the first time this spring on Thursday against Houston. He surrendered two runs in his return from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Barring any setbacks, Grilli is expected to be the Braves' closer with Arodys Vizcaino waiting in the wings should he falter or suffer another injury.
Grilli saved 24 games last season and should be a decent source of saves again this year. He currently sits in the middle tier of closers, but may be a good draft bargain given his comeback from injury. If you draft Grilli, it would be smart to handcuff him with Vizcaino later on, especially in deeper leagues that require additional RP.
Atlanta cut five players from the major league roster Friday morning by sending them down to the minors, including number one overall pick from 2015 Dansby Swanson. In addition, Ozzie Albies, Aaron Blair, Lucas Sims and Mallex Smith were reassigned.
It was unlikely any of these prospects would see time on the big stage to start the season as the Braves are looking ahead to 2017 with the opening of SunTrust Park. Although Swanson is the big name here, Albies made the strongest case for playing time with a .371 AVG and .907 OPS this spring, along with a couple of stolen bases. With second base still unsettled for Atlanta, Albies could be worth a look as a late-season waiver wire pickup.
The duo of Gordon Beckham and Jace Peterson are battling for playing time at second base, with neither one distinguishing himself thus far. After a slow start, Beckham is four for his last seven in spring training, raising his average to .286 with zero HR and one RBI.
Peterson hasn't fared much better at .250 with zero HR and six RBI. If Adonis Garcia doesn't assert himself at third base, Beckham could land there, with Peterson manning second. Needless to say, the Braves are in rebuilding mode and with limited support in the lineup, it's best to avoid this situation altogether in fantasy drafts.
With another base hit on Thursday, Olivera is now batting .410 this Spring. Although the power hasn't shown up yet, Olivera is projected to have 20-homer potential if he plays every day. He has been playing primarily in left field, but he is eligible at third base in most leagues and could be a sneaky source of power at a relatively thin position.
The Padres' top prospect and center fielder of the future, Manuel Margot, was sent to Triple-A El Paso after Tuesday's Cactus League game.
In his last game before moving down, Margot was starting in center field and batting eighth in a lineup filled with starters. With a line of .318/.348/.545 including four extra base hits and a stolen base this spring, he may not be long for the minors. Margot was one of the top assets acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal last November.