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Will Matt Kemp be ready to return by Opening Day?
Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Feeling lucky? A healthy Matt Kemp could gift bold drafters with a first-round star available at a fraction of the cost. Then again, there's good reason to be wary of a guy recovering from an injured left ankle and left shoulder.
His Opening Day status is up in the air, as he does not want to rush back like last season. From the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez:
"If I'm ready to play, I'll play. If not, I'm not going to play," Kemp said. "I don't want to come back at 80 percent and get hurt again. I want to be 100 percent the whole year and give everybody what I can give them with a full year of me being healthy."
Even if he suits up in March, monitor his progress to make sure he'll take the field come April.
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles
The news on the Manny Machado front is more encouraging. While he won't commit to returning in time for Opening Day, the young third baseman has recovered from left-knee surgery faster than expected.
A healthy Machado would probably be overvalued, but he's now a potential bargain. Making his 2014 debut in mid-April is not the end of the world.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees
If you're torn on how to appraise Mark Teixeira this year, you're not alone. The powerful first baseman has a dose of buy-low appeal going for him. If he plays 145 games, a cool 30 homers is a perfectly plausible result.
But we can't ignore the regression mounting before his wrist ailment knocked him out of commission last year. At this stage of the game, Teixeira is a fly-ball hitter whose average will hover around .250. Now owners have to fear worse.
Don't go overboard analyzing his spring numbers, but some power indicating he's operating at full strength should stabilize his average draft position.
Brandon Beachy, SP, Atlanta Braves
Upon resurfacing from Tommy John surgery, Brandon Beachy lasted just five starts before landing back on the disabled list. It's been a while since he notched a 10.74 K/9 ratio in 2011 and a 2.00 ERA in 2012, and some drafters mistakenly throw all their trust into last year's numbers.
According to MLB.com's Mark Bowman, Beachy will throw in spring training without limitations. His average fastball velocity dipped last year, but he didn't receive much time to regain his rhythm. If he can hit his stride during Atlanta's practice run, the former All-Star could reward drafters handsomely.
Brandon Morrow, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Remember Brandon Morrow? To those who answered yes, put down the torches and pitchforks. He flamed out spectacularly last year, getting shredded to the tune of a 5.63 ERA through 54.1 innings before a pinched nerve in his pitching forearm ended his season. Not the fondest of memories.
He also has a 9.42 K/9 rate throughout his career and most recently tallied a 2.96 ERA in 2012. This is a complete shot in the dark, but see if Morrow's spring warrants some post-hype sleeper consideration in deep leagues.
Other Players to Watch: Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies; Corey Hart, 1B/DH, Seattle Mariners; Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees; Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers; Josh Johnson, SP, San Diego Padres; Jaime Garcia, SP, St. Louis Cardinals; Jesse Crain, RP, Houston Astros