With spring training now upon us, there are numerous players that fantasy owners should be monitoring. Who in the AL East should owners be focused on?
Pitchers and catchers report this week, finally initiating the start of the 2018 season. There are still a ton of free agents on the market, storylines to be fleshed out, and more, but this is what every fantasy owner has been waiting for. In this article, we will look at players from every MLB club that fantasy owners should be watching this spring, starting with the AL East.
New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres
The Yankees have sky-high expectations heading into 2018. With an exceptional young core, and a stacked farm system, they should boast one of the best teams in the league. The core is powerful, but the team does have openings at second and third base. This opens the door for a prospect to jump in and secure a spot.
Everyone one in the fantasy realm knows Gleyber Torres. Long lauded in the Cubs’ system, and now the Yankees, he looks primed to make his MLB debut in 2018. Even though he did need TJ surgery last season, he has suffered no setbacks in his recovery.
He reported early for spring training, and scouts still rave about his talents. He posted a .287/7 HR/34 RBI/7 SB/.863 OPS line at AA over 55 games. The hope for fantasy owners is that he forces the Yankees hand this spring and the team has to carry him on the big league roster heading into April.
More than likely his service clock will be delayed until May, but he is undoubtedly a player that fantasy owners should be locked in on. He is already worth a late-round flier in drafts, yet if he can kill it this spring, his draft stock is sure to skyrocket.
Honorable Mention: Miguel Andujar
Andujar’s bat looked the part during his brief stint with the club last season. The defense may be shaky, yet the line drive stroke would infuse young talent at the hot corner that the Yankees have been without.
Boston Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez
This may seem like a lost cause, but I for one think that the Red Sox need a Hanley Ramirez in order to contend in the AL. It was only two seasons ago that he posted a .286/30 HR/111 RBI/.866 OPS line over 147 games. His 2017 campaign was rough, but he tried to soldier through a shoulder injury all season.
He limped to the finish line with a .242/23 HR/62 RBI/.750 OPS campaign. His BB/K rate stayed nearly identical to 2016 and even upped his LD, FB, and Med contact rates last season.
Ramirez had offseason shoulder surgery and has a chip on his shoulder to produce after hearing continually that the team needs a “big bat”. With Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, or even Rafael Devers hitting front of him, Ramirez could be primed to post another 100+ RBI season. It will all come down to his health and how the shoulder looks heading into the 2018 season.
Honorable Mention: David Price
We covered him earlier this month, but the same still applies. The Red Sox need a healthy Price to win the East. He battled injuries in 2017, yet ended it with a bang in the offseason. If he can avoid any setbacks, Price could be a steal.
Blue Jays: Aaron Sanchez
Four DL stints torpedoed any chance Aaron Sanchez had a productive fantasy season in 2017. He finished the year with a 4.25 ERA over eight starts and did not make a start after July 19. The blister issues are hard to ignore, but fantasy owners can not completely turn the page on Sanchez.
He won the AL ERA crown in 2016 with a 3.00 clip over 30 starts, and still possess some of the best stuff in the game. The Blue Jays are handling him with kid gloves, and he is ready to start the spring with no restrictions. Yet, either the blister issues flare up this spring, or Sanchez has found a way to limit the issue.
Sanchez’s fantasy value is tied heavily to how he looks over the next few two months. If he can avoid any flare-ups, he will be one of the best draft values. Keep a close eye on him.
Honorable Mention: Randal Grichuk
He is certainly an enigma, but now with the Jays, he could post 30+ HR numbers. If he can secure his job and look good this spring, he shapes up to be one of the best power fliers late in the draft.
Tampa Rays: Brent Honeywell
The Rays are known for churning out solid pitching prospects and their latest top minor league hurler, Brent Honeywell, fits that bill. We have been banging the drum since Nov. that he could be a sleeper heading into 2018, and with so many rumors swirling around Rays’ starters, his path could be all the easier.
Honeywell posted a 3.49 ERA/172 K/1.24 WHIP over 26 starts last season, across stints in AA and AAA. The swing and miss stuff is clearly there, he notched 11.3 K/9 last season. His command still needs to be refined, yet he is only 22 years old, and there is plenty of time to further hone it in.
Like Gleyber Torres, the Rays have enough arms to leave Honeywell in AAA to start the season, bringing about the idea to slow his service clock. But, he is easily one of the best young arms in the east, and the league for that matter. If he can light it up this spring, do not be surprised to see him join the rotation in late April.
Honorable mention: Christian Arroyo
Former top Giants’ prospect flopped hard last season. Yet, he was the main haul in the Evan Longoria deal, and the team lacks any clear-cut future at the hot corner. If the bat can come around this spring, look for the team to possibly expedite his promotion back to MLB.
Baltimore Orioles: Chance Sisco
The Orioles are in for a rough 2018. With questions all along the rotation and an aging core, the team has no choice but to look toward the future. Look gone are the days with Matt Wieters behind the dish, yet the team may now have their future backstop in Chance Sisco.
Sisco has methodically climbed the ranks in the minors and has shown an advanced approach at the plate. His solid OBP skills helped him even debut last season, and he impressed during his cup of coffee with the Orioles. He notched a .333/2 HR/4 RBI/1.232 OPS line over 10 games.
His defense is lackluster and may hold him back, but the Orioles in-house options, Andrew Susac and Caleb Joseph, are hardly any competition. The Orioles, on paper, are the worst team in the east. There is no reason for the team to not give him an extended look, and hopefully, he makes that decision all the easier with a solid spring.
Honorable mention: Austin Hays
Similar situation to Sisco’s, he has flown through the minors and was solid during his taste of big league action last season. The raw power is there if he can be more patient at the plate. Watch him closely as he could be one of the better sleepers in 2018.
The AL East is once again chalked full of talent. It looks to be a little more top-heavy in terms of competition amongst teams as years prior, but there are a ton of interesting players and storylines to watch this spring.