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Welcome to my juicy Grapefruit League Updates from Saturday’s Spring Training games! (Doug Anderson already took care of the Cactus League Updates here.)

I’m currently devouring apple fritter and a sour cream donut from Publix, two of the most underrated donuts in all the land, and washing them down with three cups of hot coffee – with sissy vanilla-flavored creamer (I’m ashamed).

We’re just three weeks away from the start of the season, essentially, and drafting is starting to ramp up considerably. I’m leaving for Tout Wars Thursday afternoon, and I’m expected to have a drunken afternoon and evening with Eric Mack and Nando Di Fino. We’ll see if that turns into a huge mistake, as Nando tries to talk Emack and I into joining him in-studio for Friday’s “Fantasy Funhouse” on SiriusXM.

I think I’m meeting up with Doug Anderson at some point on Friday, too. Then my Mixed League auction is in Saturday afternoon at Crab City, some restaurant in New York City. But whether you come to the boring draft or not, make sure you come out to Foley’s bar next to the Empire State Building Saturday night for the best night of Tout Wars weekend.

And now …

Grapefruit League Updates from Saturday

Pittsburgh (5), Boston (2)

Mike Napoli hit two bombs for the BoSox at Little Fenway in Fort Myers, Saturday. Remember that Napoli had his lower jaw broken during an 8-hour procedure to fix his sleep apnea in November. He says he has a lot more energy now, and he’s healthy, compared to last year, when he was dealing with a bad toe and a bad finger … Rusney Castillo (strained oblique) could get some batting practice soon, but the job in center looks to be Mookie Betts’ to lose at this point.

Gerrit Cole pitched 2 2/3 innings, striking out one hitter, and giving up four hits. Both of Napoli’s homers came off of Cole, who gave up 11 home runs in 138 innings last season. There were 107 other pitchers with a higher HR/9 than Cole’s 0.72 last season (among those with at least 100 IP)

Philadelphia (5), Detroit (4)

Anibal Sanchez gave up a pair of home runs to Brian Bogusevic in a split-squad game, and Sanchez now has a 6.48 ERA in three spring outings. He gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in four innings. He didn’t seem concerned about it, though, saying that he was working on his breaking ball and getting his arm strength up. These are the things you like to learn in these “Spring Training Updates” articles. Sanchez is still a player expected to rebound from a rough 2014, but BaseballHQ helped me learn we shouldn’t expect what Sanchez did in 2013 … Ian Kinsler (shoulder) is day to day, and both Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera ran the bases before the game, as they get ready to start playing soon.

Paul Clemens, who is battling for a rotation spot in Philly, gave up three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings … Aaron Harang is day to day with lower back discomfort.

Tampa Bay (3), Baltimore (2)

Nate Karns pitched four perfect innings in his bid to make the Rays’ rotation this spring. He struck out two batters, and he dropped his spring ERA to just 1.00 in nine innings. With just three hits allowed in three games (9 IP), Karns has allowed a .103 batting average, which is one of the best, behind Seattle’s Taijuan Walker (.077). Tap the brakes, though, as Jason Marquis also has thrown 9 IP with a .103 opponent’s BA. With Alex Colome (pneumonia) and Drew Smyly still a bit behind, chances look good for Karns as a Week 1 starter.

Steve Pearce homered late in the game, and he remains an interesting corner infielder for late in your draft … Reliever Brian Matusz pitched three scoreless innings as the Orioles’ starter, but he’s still not an option for your Fantasy rotation. He was, however, one of the seven players chosen right after Tim Beckham the Rays would rather thane than Beckham from the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft:

  1. Tim Beckham, SS, Tampa Bay
  2. Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh
  3. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City
  4. Brian Matusz, LHP, Baltimore
  5. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
  6. Kyle Skipworth, C, Florida
  7. Yonder Alonso, 1B, Cincinnati
  8. Gordon Beckham, SS, Chicago White Sox
  9. Aaron Crow, RHP, Washington
  10. Jason Castro, C, Houston

Detroit (1), N.Y. Yankees (4)

Michael Pineda threw three scoreless innings against a split-squad Tigers team, including four strikeouts, and one walk allowed. He had a 1.89 in 13 starts last season, and remains a Fantasy fan’s favorite – as long as he can stay healthy. Brendan O’Brien-Cockson did a great player profile on Pineda here, and Matthew Modica ranks Pineda 48th among starting pitchers this season … CC Sabathia (knee surgery) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session, and he’s set to make his first start of Spring Training on Tuesday against Toronto.

Nothing exciting happened for the Tigers’ split-squad, so we’ll talk more about the Yankees. Dellin Betances, who is expected to win the closer’s job, gave up his first run of Spring Traning, and he wasn’t happy with his performance. Andrew Miller, meanwhile, struck out a pair of batters in a perfect inning. I still think Betances comes out of spring with the job, but I love Miller as a late pickup, because we still don’t know what Betances’ mental makeup is, as far as being a week-in/week-out closer.

Miami (4), Washington (0)

Gio Gonzalez gave up four runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings Saturday, but he had good velocity (93-95) and Nationals manager Matt Williams felt good about the start, as did Gonzalez. Gonalez had shoulder problems last season, and he’s happy to be healthy this spring.

David Phelps, who came over from the Yankees this past offseason, has a shot at the Marlins’ rotation. He allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings, which means he’s making a case for your NL-only rotation, as well.

Minnesota (6), St. Louis (3)

Miguel Sano, one of baseball’s best prospects – who is also coming back from Tommy John surgery, hit a long two-run home run off of Cardinals RP Tyler Lyons. He’ll probably start the year in the minor leagues, but he will be one of big call-ups of the year once he arrives, costing some pretty FAAB dollars. He also hit a long homer against Gerrit Cole earlier this week … Fellow prospect Alex Meyer looked good with two scoreless innings, as he tries to lock down the fifth spot in the Twins’ rotation … Ricky Nolasco gave up one run in three innings.

Michael Wacha allowed two hits in three scoreless innings, and he now has a five-inning scoreless streak going this spring. Hitters are batting just .118 against him in two games, and he remains an excellent post-hype sleeper entering 2015 … Adam Wainwright (abdominal strain) threw a successful bullpen session and he fielded some grounders.

N.Y. Yankees (0), Toronto (1)

Alex Rodriguez started at third base Saturday in Dunedin – then he struck out on three pitches in the second inning. He also singled later in the game with a drive off the right-field fence … Esmil Rogers gave up foru hits in three innings, with three strikeouts against his former club. He still hasn’t allowed any runs this season.

Daniel Norris gave up three hits and one walk, with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. He’s looking to fill Marcus Stroman’s spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation, and he now has a 3.86 ERA in seven spring innings … Edwin Encarnacion (back) is still a few days away from playing again, according to manager John Gibbons.

Washington (4), N.Y. Mets (13)

David Wright hit his first home run of the spring, and Lucas Duda (side strain) went 1 for 4 in his first game of the exhibition season. After hitting just eight home runs last season, Fantasy owners that pick up Wright at a discount this year would love to see a power rebound …

Tanner Roark said he made one bad pitch (to Wright), but that he felt strong in Saturday’s start. He won 15 games last year, but he might be forced to pitch out of the bullpen this year. He gave up four earned runs on four hits in three innings., and his ERA ramped up to 14.29. Interestingly, these two teams likely have the two best “sixth starters” in the game, with Roark and Dillon Gee … Anthony Rendon (knee) will not play for a few days after he injured himself diving for a grounder Monday. An MRI revealed a sprained MCL … Denard Span (abdominal surgery) looks like he’ll miss the first month of the season.

Houston (5), Atlanta (6)

2015 Fantasy Rankings & Tiers
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Shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit three hits (one homer) and knocked in three runs, and he’s looking good after missing the first week Spring Training games with a strained oblique … The Braves don’t have a locked-down rotation yet, and Wandy Rodriguez allowed just two hits in four innings, while walking three batters. His spring ERA is just 1.13 in three starts – but even if he makes the rotation, he’s still just an NL-only consideration.

Collin McHugh finally had a bad outing after two pretty good ones to start Spring Training. He gave up five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three, but walked just one, with six hits allowed. Smart Fantasy owners will still look to McHugh as a late-round sleeper, after he led all rookie starting pitchers with a 2.79 ERA last year.

Don’t forget to check out Doug Anderson’s Cactus League Fantasy updates from Saturday’s games!

Mike Napoli Photo Credit: Keith Allison

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David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.
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