Another year of searching out those hidden and not-so-hidden gems in the Free Agent player pool begins. There is always a sufficient number of players to consider early on, and picking the winners can lead to some rather huge prizes. Prizes that have the potential to reward you for the entire 162-game schedule.
Elvis Andrus, SS, CWS (CBS: 19% rostered, ESPN: 5% rostered): Elvis has not left the building, at least not yet, but he’s running around in it, and if the early results are any indication that both the White Sox faithful and Fantasy Managers will enjoy the results.
Will Benson, OF, CIN (CBS: 7% rostered, ESPN: not rostered): A strong Spring that included six stolen bases got him the job or at the least a job-share in the Reds outfield. A “golden sombrero’ in his first start won’t keep him there. The potential upside warrants a spot in deeper Leagues, but the leash will be short.
Aaron Civale, SP, CLE (CBS: 31% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): Civale got off to a great start, allowing only two hits and but a single walk over seven scoreless innings in his 2023 debut against the Mariners. The rumor mill has it that the Indians do a pretty fair job developing pitching. Know your parameters!
Roansy Contreras, SP, PIT (CBS: 43% rostered, ESPN: 7% rostered): One would think that the 95 innings of 3.79 ERA ball as a rookie would garner a bit more attention. I sure did. I know it’s the Pirates, but Contreras is a tremendous young prospect with upside potential. If he somehow alluded to the draft in your League, find a home for him.
Garrett Cooper, 1B, MIA (CBS: 10% rostered, ESPN: 3% rostered): Cooper is off to a great start, going 5-for-13 with a no-doubt homer in his first three games. In the Marlins’ offensive offense, Cooper is one of the least offensive.
Yainer Diaz, C, HOU (CBS: 5% rostered, ESPN: not rostered): The 24-year-old has won the backup job to Martin Maldonado and filling in at the DH slot until the return of Michael Brantley. Diaz might not have the highest pedigree at catcher, but the 25 HR, 96 RBI, and .356 OBP line produced down on the farm last year should have your attention, especially in Dynasty/Keeper Leagues.
Dylan Dodd, SP, ATL (CBS: 25% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): The battle between Jarred Shuster and Dylan Dodd this Spring for the fifth starter gig turned into a win/win as both Kyle Wright and Max Fried started the season on the IL. Shuster has the edge once the walking wounded start returning and for a good cause, but don’t ignore Dodd, especially in deeper formats.
Adam Duvall, OF, BOS (CBS: 22% rostered, ESPN: 14% rostered): He’s going to hit in the cleanup slot, which should guarantee plenty of opportunities to pad those RBI numbers. The two-homer five-RBI Saturday against the Orioles reinforces that potential.
Kyle Freeland, SP, COL (CBS: 7% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): He pitched well in the WBC and has carried it forward into the regular season, tossing six innings of three-hit one-walk, shutout ball this week against the Padres. Yeah, he’s a Rockies starter, but periodically one emerges that can provide some semblance of value as a #5/6 type starter.
TJ Friedl, OF, CIN (CBS: 16% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): The 16 home runs last year, split evenly between Triple-A and the Reds, combined with solid on-base skills and hitting in the two-hole, has the potential to provide sneaky value.
Robbie Grossman, OF, TEX (CBS: 6% rostered, ESPN: 1% rostered): A 3-for-6 start with a home run and 5 RBI is a good way to find your name penciled into the lineup card on a regular basis.
David Hensley, 2B, HOU (CBS: 17% rostered, ESPN: 1% rostered): For the next 6-to-8 weeks, David Hensley will replace Jose Altuve until he returns from the right thumb fracture. He managed to swipe 20 bases last year at Triple-A. Who doesn’t like the opportunity to pad those stolen base numbers?
Ha-seong Kim, 3B/SS, SDP (CBS: 47% rostered, ESPN: 12% rostered): Looking to build on a solid 2022, Kim looks to have secured the shortstop gig and could very easily find himself batting at the top-of-the-order in San Diego. There’s a lot to like as he adapts to the North American game.
Josh Lowe, OF, TBR (CBS: 8% rostered, ESPN: 1% rostered): After struggling badly in numerous past opportunities, Josh Lowe broke camp and, in his 2023 debut, went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. He has nothing left to prove at Triple-A and should get every opportunity to own the strong side of a platoon.
Jorge Mateo, SS, BAL (CBS: 32% rostered, ESPN: 7% rostered): Two games into the season, and Mateo already has four thefts. Even if he isn’t an everyday player, he could easily find his way into a 40-stolen-base season.
Tylor Megill, SP, NYM (CBS: 14% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): The injury suffered by Justin Verlander, a low-grade teres major strain, has created an opportunity for Tylor Megill and he responded in fine form Saturday, allowing only two runs while striking out seven over five innings in gaining the victory. He faces the Marlins in his next start and should be rostered and active in all formats.
Dylan Moore, SS/OF, SEA (CBS: 5% rostered, ESPN: not rostered): Moore is still a week or two away from returning to the Mariners lineup, but with 21 stolen bases in only 205 at-bats last year, he should be rostered and ready to roll when he returns from his IL stint. Jarred Kelenic is skating on thin ice.
Elehuris Montero, 3B, COL (CBS: 30% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): Montero has now started back-to-back games facing both right and left-handed pitching has responded with an early-season homer. The fears of Mike Moustakas cutting into his playing time opportunities will prove to be unfounded.
Logan O’Hoppe, C, LAA (CBS: 34% rostered, ESPN: 3% rostered): A 2-for-6 start with three RBI won’t hurt O’Hoppe’s cause for the lion’s share of at-bats when veteran Max Stassi returns from the 10-day IL. He can potentially produce much higher than his current 34% CBS rosterability reflects.
Jurickson Profar, OF, COL (CBS: 46% rostered, ESPN: 23% rostered): A late signing combined with visa issues has delayed Profar’s debut with the Rockies, but it’s drawing close. He’s tentatively slotted into the leadoff gig, which should create solid runs-scored opportunities to go along with the 15-20 HR potential and a handful of stolen bases.
Esteury Ruiz, OF, OAK (CBS: 48% rostered, ESPN: 15% rostered): Last year, Ruiz swiped 85 bases in the Minors. There is no doubting the stolen base potential. He needs to hit enough to get the opportunity to put those wheels in play.
Blake Sabol, C, SFG (CBS: 17% rostered, ESPN: 1% rostered): Sabol was acquired from the Reds for cash and a PTBNL after being plucked in the Rule 5 Draft from the Pirates. A strong Spring locked up a roster spot, and the Joey Bart injury won’t hurt his cause for additional at-bats. Isn’t it a rule that all former Pirates excel in their new homes?
Gavin Stone, SP, LAD (CBS: 25% rostered, ESPN: 1.1% rostered): Ryan Pepiot was penciled into the fifth starter slot, but a left oblique strain has sent him to the IL. Michael Grove will move into the vacant spot, leaving Gavin Stone one step closer to the Dodgers rotation. When you struck out 14 batters over 6 2/3 innings this Spring, an early cheap bid is in order.
Bryson Stott, 2B/SS, PHI (CBS: 31% rostered, ESPN: 13% rostered): The middle-infield is deep with talent, but Bryson Stott and that 15 HR/15 SB potential should be drawing a lot more attention.
Brice Turang, SS, MIL (CBS: 18% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): There are many moving parts in Milwaukee, but the only moving Brice Turang should be doing is from first to second via the stolen base. The first one is already in the books, with hopefully many more.
Joey Wiemer, OF, MIL (CBS: 13% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): Luis Urias is likely to miss 6-to-8 weeks with a hamstring strain, meaning Brian Anderson will move over to Third Base, creating an opportunity for Wiemer in the Brewers outfield. Wiemer better hit right out of the gate, as Sal Frelick is on fire in the early going at Triple-A Nashville and chomping at the bit. Alex Wood, SP, SFG (CBS: 30% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): Wood has proven an effective option when healthy, with a 3.60 ERA and 24/6 K/BB ratio this Spring. The status of his health appears to have been answered.
The Closer Report
Andrew Chafin, RP, ARZ (CBS: 6% rostered, ESPN: 2% rostered): Scott McGough (27% rostered at CBS) had the first save chance, but one too many walks led to the DBacks turning the ball over to Andrew Chafin, who retired the side in order and earned his first save. It’s still very much a bullpen-by-committee in the desert, and Chafin hasn’t hurt his cause in getting future ninth-inning opportunities.
Michael Fulmer, RP, CHC (CBS: 43% rostered, ESPN: 4.7% rostered): Michael Fulmer and Brad Boxberger look to be the two principles in the Cubs bullpen-by-committee, and if the first close game is any indication, Boxberger pitched the eighth inning and Fulmer the ninth in a non-save situation.
Dany Jimenez, RP, OAK (CBS: 25% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): Remember when Trevor May was the favorite to man the ninth inning in Oakland this year? Dany Jimenez didn’t get that message and successfully shut down the Angels on opening day, earning his first save of the 2023 campaign. When healthy, Jimenez has proven to be a very effective late-inning option (11 saves in 2022) and one worthy of our attention.
Pierce Johnson, RP, COL (CBS: 3% rostered, ESPN: 1% rostered): Daniel Bard will miss time; how much is currently unknown, and Johnson, when healthy, has proven to be a solid option out of the ‘pen. He successfully converted his first save opportunity Friday night against the Pirates, and it won’t be his last.
Reynaldo Lopez, RP, CWS (CBS: 23% rostered, ESPN: 7% rostered): Kendall Graveman is off to a slow start and sporting a 16.20 ERA. Aaron Bummer is coming off a Spring that saw him with shoulder soreness. The fact that Reynaldo Lopez got the first save opportunity and got the job done successfully should have him in the driver’s seat for future opportunities.
A.J. Puk, RP, MIA (CBS: 24% rostered, ESPN: 4% rostered): In the Marlins’ first save situation, Dylan Floro pitched the eighth inning, leaving Puk the first save opportunity, which he shakily converted. It’s still very much a committee in Miami, but Puk appears to be the current front-runner.
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