RotoBaller Scott Slezak is hitting the Cactus League hard this Spring and has a lot of fantasy analysis to report...
Cactus League Opening Day Analysis
Day one of Cactus League games featured only a three-game slate Wednesday. I chose to attend the A’s against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, a 10-5 drubbing by Oakland. The A’s scored four in the first and six in the fourth to coast to an easy win This is what I saw:
Michael Morse was robbed twice on would-be home runs by Oakland’s Josh Reddick. Morse was once a fantasy sleeper before a 30-homer season in Washington. After an off year in Seattle, he may be a sleeper again. AT&T park doesn’t do any favors for power hitters, but Morse has the pop to hit anywhere. Though both his blasts improbably ended up turning into outs today, this could be a bounce back year for Morse, who figures to be the Giants’ regular left-fielder.
Sergio Romo was singled to death in the fourth inning, allowing six earned runs in an ugly spring debut. It could have been worse had he not been bailed out by a great play by Brandon Crawford at short to turn an inning-ending double play. Early spring performances are just that, and they can’t cause panic in your fantasy draft prep. Pitchers are not at full arm strength and many are just working on different pitches or mechanics on the mound – not necessarily pitching to make outs. This outing will certainly make Romo’s spring stats look ugly, but he’s still a top reliever and saves candidate.
Nick Punto went 2-for-2 and played a solid shortstop in the field. I don’t know if anyone is going to want to draft Punto, but if he remains a solid option at the plate, he will eat into Jed Lowrie’s playing time at short. Lowrie is the better bat, but his fielding leaves a lot to be desired. Bob Melvin and the A’s like to platoon and mix it up a lot over the course of the season. The better Punto performs, but more you’ll have to downgrade Lowrie on draft day.
Brandon Belt was one of the few bright spots for the Giants today, going 2-for-2 on two opposite-field singles. I am not a scout, but I loved the approach Belt had at the plate – taking two pitches the other way and confidently cashing in base hits. I think that Belt can parlay a strong second half, resulting from a new approach at the plate, to a true breakout in 2014. I don’t think he can homer at Paul Goldschmidt levels, but I can envision a Freddie Freeman-type season from him, best case scenario.