Spring training is now in full effect. Each day that passes, we have more news about player progress and occasionally injuries. Here are this week’s key updates you need to be aware of if you're drafting in the next few days:
Freddie Freeman: Two days ago, Freeman left his spring training game with what was reported as “wrist discomfort”. In 2015 Freeman missed 44 games due to a right wrist injury and many feared the worst when this news broke.
It has since been reported that the issue was more in his hand and he “feels good”, just a couple of days later. He returned to the lineup today and while he was 0-3, it was encouraging to see him back out there so quickly. I don't have a tremendous amount of concern, but would keep an eye on his performance through the upcoming week.
Lance McCullers: In a less encouraging report, Lance McCullers reported shoulder soreness earlier this week and was shut down. Reports are that he had an MRI and it came back clean, however a timetable has not been set for his return.
If you've already drafted and have McCullers, this isn't the news you want to hear. He's someone I was high on heading into the year and was expecting to take another step forward in the Astros rotation. Now, it's possible he'll be fine. When talking about pitching injuries, I'd rather hear shoulder as opposed to elbow, but neither are exactly comforting. I think best case scenario: he sits out the rest of spring training, even missed 1-2 starts in April, but gets back to 100% and is able to pitch to the level we were hoping to see in 2016. If I haven’t drafted yet though, I might think about a similar safer option rather than McCullers unless the price is right.
Carter Capps: Capps had Tommy John surgery Tuesday. Many had high hopes for this young flamethrower, but that will have to wait 12-18 months.
From a fantasy perspective A.J. Ramos receives the greatest impact. With Capps out for the year, Ramos even more solidified his role as the Marlins closer. With some speculation that there may have been a dual over the job, both were being drafted near the bottom of the relief pitcher list. I have bumped Ramos up a good amount to the middle tier of relievers and think he is a viable option now with a lot more job security.
Aaron Altherr: Altheer is essentially out for the season after having wrist surgery. He likely wouldn't have been drafted in shallower leagues. However in keeper, dynasty and deeper leagues, he was a prospect many were looking forward to grabbing this season.
His replacement isn't etched in stone yet, however whoever it is, I wouldn't expect a huge statistical impact. I think it's possible they sign someone to fill the role (like Marlon Byrd), but it's only speculation.
Jarrod Parker: Parker likely wasn't going to be drafted in most formats, similar to Altheer. I'm mentioning Parker mostly out of sheer empathy.
It was reported yesterday that Parker re-broke the same elbow that he broke last May, just 12 pitches into spring training. He's also had Tommy John surgery twice already in his short career. As a pure baseball fan, I truly hope he is able to get through this and have a chance to prove himself again. He has shown potential greatness when he’s been on the field and it would be amazing if he's able to come back from this yet again.