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Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING WRAPUP: MONDAY

-Another day and another debut for Los Angeles Angels Japanese rookie Shohei Ohtani.  This time Ohtani was hitting and not pitching and he impressed there as well by walking twice and hitting an RBI single.  Overall, the outlook on Ohtani as a hitter is a bit less valuable than pitching as the pitching side of things will take Ohtani out of more than a few games with the bat in his hands.  That will hurt his counting stats and considering the high draft cost with regard to the hype, Ohtani is best avoided as a hitter. 

-Whit Merrifield has to prove in 2018 that his 2017 breakout was no fluke and so far, so good on that front as he hit a home run and doubled Monday.  Merrifield will always steal a bunch of bases on the order of 25-30 but his average and power have to be proven this season since they were not part of his statistical equation prior to 2017.  The price is not outrageous here though and so Merrifield is not the worst investment even with the questions about his true talents. 

-Paul Goldschmidt homered and went 2-for-2 overall for the Arizona Diamondbacks but of course, the main piece of conversation here is how much the humidor will hurt his home run total.  That is a very valid concern as the humidor is expected to decrease the number of home runs in Chase Field by 25-30 percent and so Goldy will undoubtedly lose numbers there.  Without the humidor Goldy was the locked-in number 3 player for 2018 fantasy baseball but now he is sliding more toward the middle of the round.

-Francisco Mejia is the must own catching prospect for 2018 fantasy baseball as his bat is advanced beyond his year and the power is burgeoning as well.  Mejia homered Monday to give the Cleveland Indians more to think about in terms of how they want to handle the position to begin the year.  Right now the best guess is they will go with the veterans first and then give Mejia a call in May.  Be that as it may, Mejia is a sleeper you all want to have in bold this spring on your cheat sheets. 

-Jonathan Schoop cracked a home run Monday which was his first of the spring and put to rest any concern about the bursitis he was dealing with.  Schoop was a power monster at second base a year ago and it looks like he will be a top option there again based on that skill.  Count as among those who still want steals from their middle infielders but Schoop should be around .280 with 30 homers once again this season.

-Kyle Tucker homered for the second day in a row for the Houston Astros but don't get too pumped up since there is no chance he breaks camp with the team.  The Astros have no spot for Tucker at the moment and the earliest he would likely be up would be July if at all.  The talent is undeniable though and Tucker should remain at the top of all prospect lists. 

-Noah Syndegaard was back to his monster self as he fired off a string of 100-mph fastballs that helped him toss two scoreless innings in his first spring start. There was no hint of any physical issue with Thor and he should be a slam-dunk top five starting pitcher as long he is healthy.  The injury risk is extremely high though and so you need to say your prayers before investing. 

-Justin Verlander went toe-to-toe with Syndegaard in tossing two scoreless frames in his first spring start.  While I do worry about the endless amount of innings on his arm, Verlander will aim for 20 wins on the Astros this season and another 200 strikeouts. 

-Jameson Taillon has already been discussed here as a fantasy baseball sleeper for 2018 and he is looking even more attractive considering how he is being ignored in drafts.  Taillon tossed two scoreless innings with three strikeouts on Monday and so he is off to a nice start.  Bump Taillon up a bit in your rankings. 

-Michael Kopech looks like the next Noah Syndegaard as he fireballed his way to two scoreless innings Monday where he stuck out three Oakland A's.  Walks will be a problem as they are for almost every young hard-thrower but the talent is obvious.  Count on Kopech being up sometime in May or June and then look out. 


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