We are starting to hear news that will be helpful to us, the fantasy owner, on draft day, and I will do my best to keep you posted on the news as it comes. Friday brought us some interesting bits of news that could help you in your draft preparation, so let's get to it.
Johnny Cueto hurting?
Something happened to Johnny Cueto after his trade to the Royals last season. After limiting hitters to a .194-.242-.339 slash line and a 2.73 ERA in the first half, hitters teed off on him, hitting .292-.342-.443 with a 4.34 ERA. Moving to the American League where they have a DH could be part of the reason, but the mileage on his arm could be catching up to him as well. He has logged 212 or more innings in three of the last four years, and missed the majority of the 2013 season due to injury, so news yesterday that he is being skipped for his scheduled spring training appearance has to cause some pause. Here is a tweet from Alex Pavlovic yesterday afternoon:
Cueto is no longer starting tomorrow. Bochy said he's not hurt, staff just "backing him off a little" early in camp.— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) March 4, 2016
It appears it is nothing, but we should learn more next week if he doesn't pitch by Wednesday or Thursday. I ranked him as my 23rd ranked starting pitcher in our Consensus Starting Pitcher rankings that publish on Monday, but will dock him if he is injured or gets roughed up in a few spring training outings.
Maikel Franco: Set to break out?
I am pretty high on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, as I think he is being undervalued by the fantasy community thus far. According to the recent NFBC ADP rankings, he is the 10th third baseman off draft boards this season. I think he can be a .280-25-90 type hitter this season, but after his performance in the first few games of spring training, it appears his wrist is 100%, and he could be in for a big year. Here is more from SB Nation's Phillies fan site, The Good Phight:
ESPN's Jayson Stark said this on their website about Franco...
Maikel Franco just pounded his second home run in two days. He now has more homers this spring (2) than strikeouts (1) in 11 plate appearances. "If Maikel Franco plays 150 games," said one scout, "there's no doubt in my mind he'll hit 35 home runs."
I compared Franco to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant in this piece a few weeks ago, and I think the message still rings loudly. Franco is undervalued and could easily put up similar numbers as Bryant this season, yet he isn't a first round pick like Bryant is.
Billy Hamilton still recovering from shoulder surgery
I discussed Hamilton at length in this piece on Tuesday, and yesterday we received news that Hamilton is slow to return to playing games in the first week of spring training games. Here is more from C. Trent Rosencrans from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Hamilton scratched with sore shoulder, coming off surgery there.— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) March 4, 2016
I wouldn't be surprised to see Hamilton to start the season on the disabled list, as it is clear that his shoulder is not 100% and he is experiencing some discomfort. We already know he is a weak hitter when healthy, and a Billy Hamilton coming off shoulder surgery is just not appealing to me.
Nationals to run more in 2016
I have written several times in our Consensus Rankings series, opining that the Nationals hitters will be running more this season, and that is good for us fantasy owners. Well, yesterday we got this from Chelsea Janes at the Washington Post in here post game recap of the Nationals spring training game on Thursday:
One pitch after Ben Revere singled to lead off the Nationals' Grapefruit League home opener Thursday, he stole second base. Daniel Murphy walked behind him, and Bryce Harper singled him home.
One pitch later, the National League's reigning MVP, who hit 42 home runs and attempted to steal 10 times last season, stole second base.
"(It's good to see) aggressive base running," Baker said. "Davey Lopes is gonna be a great addition over there. Davey Lopes, he knows the keys, to go or don't go. I saw some guys getting some very good jumps, especially early in the game. Bryce, I know he's anxious to run. Then you got a table-setter like Ben Revere, I mean to start the game off, boom. Then steal a base, bam, with that run. That's big."
With Baker and Lopes on board, the Nationals hitters will be attempting more stolen bases this season, and that certainly helps the fantasy value of Bryce Harper, Ben Revere, Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, and others. The fact that Harper will be running more should push him to the #1 pick overall if he isn't already. I could see him putting up a 35-40 home run, 15-20 stolen base season in 2016. Revere is a speedster, but 45-50 stolen bases and 90-100 runs scored is not out of the question.
Marcell Ozuna: Underrated Fantasy Outfielder
I am surprised Ozuna is still wearing a Marlins uniform, but the fact that he will be coached by Barry Bonds and Don Mattingly this season makes me want him in every league. Ozuna reported to camp 20 pounds lighter this month, after reporting to camp last season overweight. He fell out of the good graces of the Marlins front office and was sent down to AAA early in the season. After his return, he hit .276 with 6 home runs, 20 runs scored and 18 RBI in 172 plate appearances. I see him returning to the 20 home run club in 2016, with a chance at a run at 30 in the more hitter-friendly Marlins ball park.
Ozuna is doing his best to put his 2015 fiasco of a season behind him this spring as he is 5 for 5 with a home run and two doubles in his first few games of spring training. The Marlins are batting him second in their lineup, so if that holds true come Opening Day, the RBI chances will drop a bit, but the runs scored should offset the drop. Ozuna is currently the 57th outfielder off draft boards according to NFBC, and that is about 15-20 spots too low in my opinion.
Cameron Maybin to miss six weeks
It was reported on Thursday that Tigers outfielder will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a fracture of his left wrist after being hit by a pitch from Yankees young starter Luis Severino. He will be replaced by Anthony Gose in the Tigers outfield till mid-late April. Maybin is coming off the best year of his career, and the injury could sap what power he has, so don't expect double digit home runs from him in 2016.
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