It’s often said that Spring Training performances don’t matter. That’s not true if you look at the changes in Average Draft Position (ADP). Welcome to my Spring Training Stock Watch! Here are some players that have seen a change in their stock as we inch closer to Opening Day.
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
The 20-year outfielder has done everything possible to show he belongs. He played at each level of the minors last season as a 19-year old and excelled against players older than him. The plan is for him to begin the season in the minors, but most expect him to be up quickly similar to Kris Bryant’s rookie season. Acuna hit a moonshot of a home run over the weekend and is hitting .410 with a .744 slugging percentage with four home runs and four stolen bases. Acuna went 76th overall in the NFBC Ultimate Draft Friday night in a league where the entry fee is $5,000.
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals
Soler came up with the Cubs and was a highly touted prospect. While he has shown flashes, he has yet to produce in the majors. He will play every day with the Royals and has been mashing in the spring with a .271 average, 12 runs, six home runs, 11 RBIs, two stolen bases and a 1.072 OPS. Soler changed his diet and lost 20 pounds in addition to working on his defense. Soler was a reserve round pick in my 15-team NFBC auction Sunday.
Dominic Leone, St. Louis Cardinals
Leone was acquired in the off-season from the Blue Jays and could begin the season as the closer. Luke Gregerson has been dealing with an oblique injury and pitched Sunday with a 1-2-3 inning for his first appearance in 15 days. Leone is going late in drafts and worth a pick in the final rounds. He had a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a 10.4 K/9 last season.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
One of my favorite targets in drafts has been Polanco. I was hoping to get him in a NFBC mixed league auction Sunday and missed out on him. Later in the draft, the news broke that Polanco was suspended 80 games for testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug stanozolol. Polanco batted .256 with 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases last season, but in the final 55 games he batted .316 with 10 home runs, 42 RBIs and seven steals. Polanco was a Top 12 shortstop for me and now he becomes someone to add in June for mixed leagues and a reserve stash in AL-only leagues. Eduardo Escobar will replace Polanco.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Ohtani’s stock has fallen in a big way. He allowed seven earned runs in his last start and people have taken notice. He is 23 years old and the hype is high. He has allowed four home runs in 8.1 innings, but he has 19 strikeouts and has been clocked as high as 98 miles per hour. There will be an adjustment period, but there was some talk he could begin the seasons in the minors. At the plate, he’s 2-for-24 and looks overmatched.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
McMahon was rising up drafts boards as a late-round sleeper, but things have changed. The Rockies brought back Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra isn’t expected to miss too much time to begin the season. Ian Desmond will likely get most of the playing time at first base, leaving McMahon with little opportunity for at-bats. McMahon, who has hit well this spring in transitioning from his natural third base position to first base, is expected to begin the season in the minors, but he can make an impact at some point during the year.
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