Wednesday, March 1, 2017


-A somewhat decent sleeper that nobody is talking about is hard-throwing Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz.  Still just 25-years-old, Folty was a former first round pick who was quite good down the stretch of 2016 and could be on the verge of a mini-breakout in 2017.  Having cut into his previously high walk rate and with a K/9 in the 8.00-range, Folty could be a last round pick that could pay off as your SP 5. 

-Jeanmar Gomez gave up a home run in his one inning of work which again is a reminder of how hittable the Philadelphia Phillies' prospective closer is.  The problem with Gomez is he simply is not suited to the ninth inning given his mid-6.00 K/9 rate that is way below average for a closer and it is only a matter of time before he blows up in ugly fashion.  Given the monetary arbitration issues surrounding Hector Neris, veteran Joaquin Benoit might be the handcuff to own.

-Felix Hernandez gave up one run in two innings in his first spring outing and overall his fastball velocity was decent at 92.  Consider that Hernandez was mostly around the 90 mark last season which makes what he did today a bit encouraging.  Still this is a guy who has a TON of mileage on his arm already and his fastball has been declining firmly for four years now.  The price has dropped more than a little here which might entice you to buy low but there are a ton of disturbing signs here that makes us leery of owning Hernandez as anything but an SP 4.

-Arizona Diamondbacks power pitcher Taijuan Walker reminded many of a young King Felix when he was making his way through the Seattle organization but he fell out of favor there off a serious of poor performances and injuries.  He gets a fresh start with the Diamondbacks and at least for one day, looked good as Walker tossed two scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts in his spring debut.  Still just 24, Walker is sort of an ill fit for Chase Field given his struggles with the home run ball.  On the other hand, Walker has every right to improve in 2017 and his power arsenal is still capable of an 8.50-plus K.9 rate.  Check the cost first but we would buy Walker as an SP 4. 

-Good signs are abounding so far for New York Mets catcher Travis D'Arnaud who hit his first spring home run Tuesday and is 4-for-8 thus far.  D'Arnaud still carries a smidge of upside appeal off a very rough 2016 campaign but health has never been his friend and the bat needs to be much more consistent.  In two catcher formats we would be quite interested but in singles you only should bother here if D'Arnaud is your backup.

-Masahiro Tanaka logged 2 perfect innings in his spring debut for the New York Yankees.  He remains scary to own with the partial UCL tear in his elbow but Tanaka was tremendous in performing like a top SP 2 last season.  If you do get involved, just know the K/9 rate of 9.00-plus from his rookie year in 2014 is never coming back.

-Gary Sanchez is on the board with his first spring home run as he picked one up Tuesday.  Sanchez is just 2-for-9 however to start the spring and I still have concerns about opposing pitchers adjusting to him and his propensity for striking out.  While I don't doubt the power, I see a .265 average and not .300 this season. 

-Mitch Haniger continues to hit everything in sight as Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais might have nailed it on this one.  I profiled Haniger the other day in telling you to add him to your cheat sheets and he is living up to the intrigue so far as he homered as part of a 2-for-3 day Tuesday.  Get on board.

-Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs in two innings in his second spring outing and now has yielded four runs in four frames.  Of course with Bumgarner you always toss his spring numbers away and keep in mind he struggled last April before becoming his usual ace-self again.  While we do worry about the innings the last few seasons, Bumgarner's overall performance speaks for itself. 

-It was a two homer day for slugging Yankees first baseman Greg Bird as he has shown his massive power is still intact after missing all of 2016.  I stand by my assessment of Bird as your classic shaky average/above-average power hitter and if that tickles your fancy then by all means.  Also Yankee prospects tend to be overpriced in drafts so you will have to pay here. 

-Ken Giles have up a home run to Derek Norris Tuesday, with the Nats still trying to trade the latter after agreeing to terms with free agent catcher Matt Wieters a few days ago.  Giles has massive strikeout stuff himself but he still has to prove he has the mind to close games which was up for debate all of 2016. 

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