It may be spring training, but that doesn’t mean players' performances aren’t influencing our thoughts of them, does it? There are some obvious options, like Francisco Liriano or Delmon Young, who we have been talking about all spring. Let’s take a look at who else is rising and who is falling:
Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox, First Baseman/Outfielder: It is only spring training, but Dunn needed to get off to a good start in order to ease some of the concerns. He has done just that, hitting .250 with four home runs and 12 RBI over 36 at-bats. However, those numbers are not his most impressive to date. Thus far this spring, he has struck out just four times, with 12 walks (tied for the league lead with Rickie Weeks).
I wouldn’t expect him to be able to make contact at that good of a rate once the season starts, especially given his track record, but these types of numbers definitely make him a much better selection late in your draft.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves, First Baseman: After a slow start to his spring, Freeman has erupted in recent days. After going 2-2 with two home runs, 3 RBI and three runs yesterday, he is now hitting .262 with five home runs, 12 RBI and 8 runs. All five home runs have come in his last five games (and four have come in his past two). Prior to this hot stretch, he was hitting .174 with two RBI.
Hopefully, you didn’t give up hope on this being his breakout campaign. It’s not to say that five games should be enough to sell you, but things are definitely looking to be heading in the right direction. He has struck out 10 times in 61 at-bats this spring, which may be the best sign of all.
Last season, he posted a 22.4 percent strikeout rate despite a 14.8 percent mark over his minor league career. The power is going to develop, and if he can maintain the better strikeout rate (thus improving his average), the numbers should be impressive this season.
Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres, Catcher: He’s had a big spring, hitting .353 with two home runs, 11 RBI and five runs in 34 at-bats. While Nick Hundley did recently sign an extension with San Diego, we all know that Grandal is the team’s future at the position (having come over in the trade that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati). While he’s likely ticketed for Triple-A to start the year, his spring performance shows you why Grandal needs to be on all fantasy radars. He should make an impact by year’s end.
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals, Pitcher: He hasn’t made an appearance this spring, and at this point, it is anyone’s guess as to when we will see him on the mound.
According to Jennifer Langosch of mlb.com (click here for the article), “After four days of various exams in St. Louis, Carpenter was told that nerve irritation led to the weakness he was feeling in the shoulder earlier this week. That is separate from the bulging cervical disc issue that the club said was behind stiffness in the shoulder earlier in the month.”
A healthy Carpenter would’ve been considered a top-40 option, but the unknown limits his value to minimal at this point. When will he return? When he does, how productive will he be?
Consider him more of a late-round flier at this point.
Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians, Third Baseman: It’s possible that he breaks out at some point during 2012, but his spring performance isn’t helping him get off to a good start. In fact, he was poor enough to justify the Indians demoting him to Triple-A (along with Matt LaPorta). He hit .205 with no home runs, three RBI and three runs in 39 at-bats.
Even worse, however, are his 16 K vs. 1 BB. After hitting .255 with a 22.0 percent strikeout rate and 3.6 percent walk rate over 212 at-bats in 2011. He’s worth stashing in all deeper formats, though I wouldn’t expect much from him until later in the year.
Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: