It’s March, people. Which means temperatures are warming -- for some of us anyway -- and real, meaningful baseball games are just around the bend.
This is Spring Training Daily, a column that will run every weekday morning over the next month with analysis of the latest news coming out of major league camps in Arizona and Florida. We think by reading it that you’ll carry a better base of knowledge into your fantasy draft this season. You’ll know who is injured and how long they’re supposed to be out. You’ll know who is raking in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues, and whether that’s just a mirage or a sign of good things to come. You’ll know which players are competing for spots and who has the leg up. We write. You read. And we all dominate our fantasy leagues.
My name is Drew Silva and I’ll be bringing you Spring Training Daily every Monday. Ryan Boyer will go Tuesday and Wednesday, and D.J. Short is up every Thursday and Friday. You can follow us all on Twitter and feel free to throw any sort of baseball-related questions our way:
You should also try our 2013 Rotoworld Baseball Online Draft Guide. In it you’ll find more than 1,000 player profiles with outlooks and projections, a Top 250 for mixed, AL-only and NL-only leagues, a full bullpen report for each team, an expert mock draft, ADP (average draft position) data, Top 25 sleepers and Top 25 busts, cheat sheets for draft day and much, much more. We pour hours upon hours into this thing, and I think it's a really great product.
Rangers’ Perez Fractures Left Forearm
Martin Perez was finally going to get his shot this year. A Baseball America Top 100 prospect every winter since 2009, the young left-hander was slated to open the 2013 season as the Rangers’ fifth starter with an opportunity to hold that job all summer. But he got struck on the left forearm by a comebacker Sunday during a Cactus League game against the Mariners and suffered a fracture of the ulna bone. He will be shut down for the next four weeks and is likely to miss the first two months of the regular season.
The Rangers have kept in contact with free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse and could now turn up that pursuit. Or they can try to fill the hole internally with a guy like Justin Grimm or Robbie Ross. In the tough American League West division, a deep and reliable starting rotation is a must.
Lohse, 34, went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 211 innings last season for the Cardinals. Signing him would cost the Rangers their 24th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, but they scored pick No. 31 when Josh Hamilton signed with the Angels so that might make losing that first-round selection a little more palatable.
Howard On Fire So Far In Florida
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was a big disappointment for those who practiced patience and stashed him in fantasy leagues last season. He posted a career-low .718 OPS, 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 292 plate appearances (71 games) after returning from a torn Achilles tendon in early July, and his .601 OPS in the month of September seeped bad vibes into the offseason. But the sudden hope around the Phillies’ spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida is that 2013 will bring a big resurgence.
Howard is forcing his way into manager Charlie Manuel’s Grapefruit League lineups and mashing balls with authority into the south Florida air. The 33-year-old has a .417/.444/.917 batting line, three home runs and 10 RBI through just nine spring games, and he’s moving fairly well around the bases.
Howard is undoubtedly on the decline and the fact that he’s owed $105 million over the next five seasons will only magnify the downward trend in his overall numbers. But there’s still serious fantasy value to be had here. Howard boasts immense raw power and his ADP (average draft position) right now is 114.8 in mixed formats according to RTSports.com. If he plays over 150 games this season, he’ll be an absolute steal.
Gyorko Making Strong Case In Padres Camp
Howard isn’t the only one making noise on the spring circuit. Jedd Gyorko is currently in the running for the Padres’ starting second base job and will win it if he continues his current pace of production. The talented 24-year-old infielder had three Cactus League home runs before the calendar even turned to March and currently boasts an .810 slugging percentage through 25 spring plate appearances.
Gyorko was a second-round pick of the Friars in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft and hit .311/.373/.547 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI in 126 games last season between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson. He’s major league-ready, and he is quickly becoming one of our favorite fantasy sleepers for 2013.
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