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MLB Spring Training Notebook (3/18) - Montgomery, Alcantara Surging

Welcome to the 2021 edition of RotoBaller's Spring Training Notebook. Thankfully, we have real, live baseball being played every day again, and while it doesn't count for anything, these exhibition games gives us the smallest glimmer into players and teams heading into the new season.

We're into our third week of spring training games and that means we're in the thick of position battles, as well as roster and injury evaluations. The April 1 opening day will be here before we know it, which means fantasy drafts are already underway and if you're reading this, you're in the right spot.

As fantasy baseball managers, we must perform our due diligence in understanding every team's situation heading into the season. There's so many names to keep track of so it's crucial to find a place where the most important information is in one spot. Here at RotoBaller, we have everything you need for success this season, and I'll do my part here as I bring you a quick-read, one-stop shop of 2021 spring training information with a fantasy twist.

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Laureano Scratched

Oakland Athletics outfielder Romano Laureano (side) was scratched from Wednesday's lineup and the team announced they will hold him out until early next week. He was originally slated into the leadoff spot in the lineup and has been having a nice spring, hitting .333 with two homers and six RBI. His absence might pull back his opportunity to be the team's table setter for the time being, but for now his 143 ADP is a solid spot, so long as this side issue doesn't linger.

Whitley Undergoes Tommy John

Houston Astros prospect Forrest Whitley underwent Tommy John Surgery Wednesday. The hurler has been on the rise for some time now, and this injury is one of several he has dealt with, and now he'll be out until the beginning of 2022 at the absolute earliest. He's a dynasty asset many have been holding onto for some time, but who knows what his path looks like after this.

Valdez Doesn't Need Surgery

Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez (finger) isn't expected to need surgery that would have likely ended his season. He fractured his finger a week ago and it appears to be healing well, so the team is encouraged he'll just miss some time this season instead of the whole year. He's still being taken around pick 129 in drafts, but with new that he'll be out at least a few months, it's tough to stomach a mid-round draft spot for someone who has an unsure timeline.

Eflin's Injury Flares Up Again

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin (back) will be shut down again after his back was bothering him during a Wednesday bullpen session. The 26-year-old has been able to get six innings in this spring and amassed seven strikeouts, but this reoccurring back problem could spell trouble heading into 2021. He posted a career-low 3.97 ERA and a career-best 28 K% in 2020, so fantasy managers are apparently buying in as his ADP is currently 195, but expect that to drop a bit if this injury is a continuous issue.




Montgomery On Strong Track

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery threw five innings Wednesday against the Blue Jays. He held them to just one walk while also striking out four and over his 10 spring innings he has a 0.70 WHIP with seven punchouts. The southpaw has been limited over the past three seasons due to injury but was serviceable in 2020 over 10 starts, posting a 5.11 ERA, but he had a 3.87 FIP and 24 K%, so there was some bad luck there. He's sitting at an ADP of 225 right now, but with a continued spring campaign like this, he could creep into the low 200's.

Alcantara Still Hasn't Allowed A Run

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara posted five scoreless innings Wednesday, scattering just three hits and striking out nine New York Mets. Over 12 complete spring innings, the 25-year-old has struck out 19 hitters and hasn't allowed a single run yet, so naturally he's drawing some attention. However, it's important to note that in any of his major league seasons where he's thrown more than eight innings, his highest K% was 22%. He's getting the ball on Opening Day but is going 10 picks behind Pablo Sanchez in fantasy drafts, and if he continues this success into the season, a 140 ADP will be a great value.

Rodriguez Posts Impressive Start

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez allowed just one run over five complete inning Wednesday against the Twins. He struck out six and allowed just two hits in the outing; he lowered his spring ERA to 2.31. The southpaw is primed for a big year back after missing all of 2020 due to severe COVID-19 after effects. Of course if he can repeat his career 2019 season, his 224 ADP will be one of the steals of this draft season.

Dozier's Bat Has Pop

Kansas City Royals third baseman/outfielder Hunter Dozier went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer Wednesday against the Athletics. the Royals' slugger has just five hits this spring, but four of them are for extra bases, including two homers. The 29-year-old hit just six homers and drove in 12 runs in 2020, but his 26 homer, 84 RBI campaign in 2019 isn't far from him and this spring is showing the power he has in his bat. He's already eligible at first base and outfield, but he's been exclusively at third this spring so he'll eventually pick up a third position for fantasy. If the slugger can tap into that 2019 season's well, a 232 ADP will be a bargain for hitter in the middle of KC's order.




Keller Continues To Get Shelled

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller gave up eight runs, including three home runs, over just two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. He's just 24 and has just 69.2 IP to his name, but through his first five spring innings he's allowed 12 runs in just five innings to go with a 6/3 K/BB. Keller is expected to be the bridge on this Pirates rebuild but he's not building much confidence in himself or the rest of the organization. He's worth some looks in NL-only formats, but doesn't carry much mixed league interest until these issue are sorted out.

Buxton Off To Slow Spring Start

Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton went hitless again Wednesday against the Red Sox. The 27-year-old is hitting just 2-for-17 (.118) with a home runs and two RBI this spring. As always, spring numbers are to be taken with a grain of salt for the small sample size, but Buxton's 117 ADP isn't being backed up with his play right now. Since making his debut in 2015, he has just one season playing more than 100 games. However, when healthy, he has proven to be a post a solid combo of power and speed.

Bichette's Bat Quiet

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette went 1-for-3 with a strikeout Wednesday against the Yankees. However, the base knock was just his fourth of the spring, and he's hitting just .174 for the spring with a .495 OPS. He has yet to complete a full major league season, but prospects are high for the former top 10 MLB prospect. He's one of the top five or six shortstops going in fantasy drafts so far, and if he can continue to hit at his career .307 rate with a .241 ISO, the potential is high for the young star,

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