Position battles are beginning to shake themselves out and jobs are already getting locked down and that can only mean one thing, summer is almost here. A large contingent of rookies that opened up the spring with their respective clubs have already been reassigned to minor league camp and others promise to be right behind them. The youngsters that have survived this long have really impressed coaches in camp and have earned a legitimate shot to leave spring with the big league team. My rankings are largely unchanged from last week, but a few new names have popped into the discussion while a couple others have taken the proverbial dive. Read on and get learned.
1) Kyle Drabek – Tor (LW:2)
Drabek and Hellickson have switched spots in the rankings this week for no other reason than the fact that Drabek made an appearance this week and the Rays righty did not. Drabek tossed five solid innings on Wednesday against the Pirates and has all but locked in his rotation spot. He is probably the Blue Jays fourth best starting pitcher right now and will be given every shot to show what he can do once the season gets underway. The hasn’t been much talk of a innings limit thus far with Drabek, but as you well know that can change at any time.
2) Jeremy Hellickson – TB (LW:1)
A slight dip in the rankings this week for Hellickson, but he is on track to make his scheduled start Sunday against the Orioles. The blister on his right ring finger has proven to be nothing more than a small nuisance in his quest to be on the opening day roster. His start on Sunday will more than likely be for only two innings since he hasn’t made an appearance in over a week, but he promises to bring his best stuff. Check back next week for updates on his status.
3) Mark Trumbo – LAA (LW:4)
With news coming out this week that Kendrys Morales will almost certainly not be available when the season starts, Trumbo is the odds on favorite to begin the season as the Angels first baseman. He continues to swing a hot bat and now finds himself with five home runs on the spring. Trumbo was diagnosed with a slight groin strain this week and will be kept out of action for the next couple days. All signs point to this being a precautionary measure and Trumbo figures to be back in the lineup shortly.
4) Michael Pineda – Sea (LW:10)
I had Pineda tentatively ranked tenth last week, but he has made some great strides lately and deserves this bump in value. With Nate Robinson out of the equation due to elbow surgery and Luke French not throwing nearly as well, many in the organization feel the fifth spot in the rotation is Pineda’s to lose. While Pineda wasn’t particularly sharp in his three inning start earlier in the week against the Indians he has shown more than enough this spring to warrant a spot in the rotation when the sping is over.
5) Zach Britton – Bal (LW:6)
Britton currently sports an ERA that is absolutely non-existent and is making the Orioles decision whether or not to send him down when the season begins increasingly difficult. Britton hurled four more shutout innings earlier in the week against the Astros and has now compiled nine straight on the spring. The Orioles are hesitant to break camp with the youngster for financial reasons, but the desire to get off to a quick start might alter their thought process this time around.
6) Freddie Freeman – Atl (LW:3)
Freeman takes a small hit this week in value, but he is still slated to begin the season with the Braves and claim first base all to himself. His drop in the rankings can be attributed to the scorching play of his rookie counterparts around the league. Freeman is still showing the type of skills that many thought he would when the Braves anointed him the new first baseman. A nice average and gap power is what you can expect from this youngster and that doesn’t figure to change from here on out.
7) Johnny Venters – Atl (LW:NR)
Coming into the spring, Venters and fellow rookie Craig Kimbrel were locked into a battle for the closers role and thus far it’s been fairly tight. Both youngsters have been impressive, but Venters has some experience on his side and that might just win out in this case. Venters has allowed just one hit in six scoreless innings this spring and brings with him some valuable innings from last season as well. Venters appeared in 79 games for the Braves last season and came correct with some nice peripherals. The job appears to be his to lose.
8) Jake McGee – TB (LW:5)
Jake McGee hasn’t necessarily done much to hurt his stock in the last week, but he hasn’t done a whole lot to improve it either. He still hasn’t walked a batter this spring, but his .292 batting average against is concerning for a pitcher who will be called upon to miss bats this season. I still feel strongly that McGee will open the season as the Rays closer, but he would be best served to string together a few nice appearances in the coming weeks.
9) Ivan Nova – NYY (LW:NR)
Many have been critical of the Yankees choice to not add proven starters this offseason and give some of their kids a chance, but Nova is making them look real good right now. Nova tossed six no-hit innings earlier this week against the Orioles and really seems to have cemented his hold on a rotation spot in the process. Nova touts an impressive 1.29 ERA this spring and a nice K/BB ratio that has Yankees brass feeling very confident in their decision to give him a legitimate shot.
10) Brandon Belt – SF (LW:NR)
Brandon Belt was a very popular name amongst scouts and analysts this offseason, but no one gave him a real chance to break camp with the Giants. Belt has been spending some quality time this spring proving that he does in fact belong. As of me writing this there doesn’t seem to be a place for Belt anywhere in the lineup, but he is certainly doing his part to turn some heads. With a .302 average and 10 RBI over 43 at-bats, Belt is a name to keep an eye on from here on out.
Dropped Out: Lonnie Chisenhall (Cle), Madison Bumgarner (SF), Danny Espinosa (Was)
Tags: brandon belt, Fantasy Baseball, Fantasy Baseball Advice, Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy, Fantasy Baseball Sleepers, fantasy baseball top prospects, Freddie Freeman, ivan nova, Jake McGee, Jeremy Hellickson, johnny venters, Kyle Drabek, Mark Trumbo, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton