MLB Summer Camp Snapshots: July 18 - Players Arriving, Covid, and More
Greg Jewett takes a look around today's MLB Summer camps and breaks down the top news stories of the day.
Any free-agent signing or player acquisition needs to be taken with a grain of salt leading up to Opening Day. Case in point, while many debated the potential impact of Yasiel Puig agreeing to a deal with Atlanta, it never made it to the finish line:
Freeman returns, but Puig tests positive for COVID-19, will not be signing with Braves. Story: https://t.co/j84iL3yfTK— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 17, 2020
This clouds Puig’s return to the majors this season depending on another team’s need and his health going forward along with passing return to play protocols. Stay tuned. As for the rest of the major leagues, teams shift towards final tuneups in intrasquad scrimmages along with facing others in exhibition games leading up to the start of the season. This means roster moves could be important regarding the fantasy impact dependent on the final 30-man decisions. Here’s the latest Snapshots covering each team around the league with these thoughts at the forefront of the synopses.
Toronto Blue Jays
Unfortunate news from camp on Friday for Toronto, it may not be serious but soft tissue injuries will be to be accounted for by all fantasy owners in this sprint of a season:
Gurriel felt discomfort in his left side. He will be re-examined tomorrow. #BlueJays— Gregor Chisholm (@GregorChisholm) July 17, 2020
With roster decisions looming, one name which keeps coming up in the beat writer reports, Jordan Romero. He’s seen an increase in his fastball velocity and his sliders both working well in camp. As an opener, he recorded three strikeouts on 14 pitches including Bo Bichette among his victims. There’s a chance Toronto trades Ken Giles this year so keep Romero in mind for high leverage innings this season.
On Saturday, Hyun-Jin Ryu plans on working six innings to ramp up his readiness for Opening Day against the Rays. Tanner Roark plans on four innings with Tom Hatch slated for three plus the relievers all getting an inning in after.
While the rotation for Baltimore outside of John Means may be fungible, one name to track as a tandem pitcher, Kohl Stewart . He’s impressed all camp long and could work valuable innings between starters and high leverage pitchers. Confirming yesterday’s reports, it appears Brandon Hyde will deploy a closer by committee approach using Mychal Givens , Hunter Harvey and Richard Bleier to navigate the ninth inning.
Always overlooked, Hanser Alberto projects to hit near the top of the order as the starting second baseman. He hit .305 last year with 12 home runs. Also near the top of the order:
Hyde on Austin Hays : "I definitely feel he'll be hitting somewhere in the top of the order. Want him to get a lot of ABs. He has picked up where he left off in Sept. ABs in summer camp have been impressive. Really excited about the future for him."— Steve Melewski (@masnSteve) July 17, 2020
DJ Stewart will open the season in left field but could be a placeholder until the team promotes Ryan Mountcastle to take over later in the summer. For those interested, here’s how home runs could look this year around the league:
Socially distanced home run celebrations. pic.twitter.com/7yvOYvAi1e— Baltimore Orioles ???? (@Orioles) July 18, 2020
Tampa Bay Rays
Following up on Austin Meadows landing on the injured list due to a positive test for COVID-19, his Opening Day status remains fluid but trending towards doubtful. With this in mind, a new acquisition noted he’d be alright leading off:
#Rays Tsutsugo said he has hit leadoff before and will be comfortable doing so, or whatever else the team asks— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 17, 2020
Also, since Yonny Chirinos has yet to throw in camp, it appears Trevor Richards could move up to the fifth spot in the rotation with an opener in front of him for Tampa Bay. Armed with a deep bullpen, this enhances Richards as a stream option in this role until Chirinos can return. It also helps the roster chances for piggy-back arms Anthony Banda and Jalen Beeks to start the season with the Rays.
Boston Red Sox
Boston received a boost with two arrivals on Friday though neither pitcher worked out with the team as of yet:
Rodriguez threw while away from the team to keep his arm built up but until he does so with the Red Sox, his activation and stamina remains in limbo. Hernandez will also start workouts, hopefully on Saturday, and help bolster a bullpen in need of an “electric” arm. During Friday’s scrimmage, incumbent closer Brandon Workman struggled again coughing up four runs, three on a home run by Michael Chavis . Workman’s yet to record a clean inning in the team’s scrimmage contests. It’s reported as struggling with command but games count in less than a week.
New York Yankees
A welcomed sight for fantasy enthusiasts with D.J. LeMahieu making his first appearance in summer camp:
DJLM is in the house ???? pic.twitter.com/WqJ0vV4qxS— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 17, 2020
Until he returns, Tyler Wade projects to start at second base then shift into a utility role when LeMahieu’s ready for game action. An interesting announcement on Instagram by Domingo Germán intimating he’s on the precipice of retiring? German could not play in the regular season this year due to suspension but remained eligible for the playoffs after missing them last year. Stay tuned.
Gearing up for Opening Day, Gerrit Cole logged 87 pitches over 5.2 innings giving up four hits, two earned runs and striking out seven. He yielded back-to-back home runs by Mike Ford and Miguel Andújar then returned to shutting down his teammates. Masahiro Tanaka could open the season on the injured list and if he does look for Chad Green to resume his opener role with Jonathan Loaisiga working as the bulk pitcher behind him. This means Loaisiga could be an intriguing early stream option for those mining wins.
While focusing on how healthy the Yankees outfield will be, many overlook Luke Voit and Gio Urshela in fantasy. Voit shed 13 pounds during the shutdown and owns a career .280/.384/.517 slash in New York with 35 home runs in 157 games. Urshela broke out last year slashing .314/.355/.534 with 34 doubles and 21 home runs in 132 contests.
Putting together the roster means tough decisions for manager Terry Francona and the team. In this truncated season, sticking with a slumping player will be difficult. Another item to track, Mike Clevinger continues to work through his knee surgery and tweaked his delivery. How well he trusts the knee and the delivery could determine his upside this season. Hone in on how he fares in Cleveland’s upcoming exhibition games against Pittsburgh.
Also worth noting, if the team puts César Hernández atop the batting order shifting Francisco Lindor later this evening. This move adds to the allure of taking Hernandez at a discount in drafts for a steady producer capable of boosting a fantasy roster with runs if he leads off. Stay tuned and focus on lineups as well as performance. More at-bats means more counting statistics.
Kansas City Royals
Keller missed time after testing positive to COVID-19 but threw a 30 pitch bullpen session on Friday and said he can ramp up quickly. Right now, the Royals will deploy Danny Duffy , Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery in Cleveland but Keller could slot in at Detroit the next series if all goes well.
With a rotation in flux, the debut of this pitcher could come sooner rather than later:
Singer went 4ip, 3h, 0r, 0bb, 3k.— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) July 18, 2020
Another potential setback for pitcher Jordan Zimmermann who did not throw on Friday due to tightness in his forearm. This news along with the injury issues of Daniel Norris thin an already weak staff in Detroit. Zimmermann landed on the 45-day injury list, so the team may use an opener with Tyler Alexander for the fifth spot in the rotation. Alexander has been impressive in camp and stretched out to work multiple innings as a reliever.
For the third time in the last two nights of games, this underrated power source left the yard:
Statcast darling C.J. Cron may provide 15-to-17 home runs if he adjusts well to Comerica. You heard me.
Not only will José Berríos start on Opening Day for the second straight year, he’s seen an uptick in his fastball velocity in summer camp sitting 95-to-96 MPH compared to his average of 93.1 MPH last season. Luis Arraez sat out on Friday with soreness in his right knee but fantasy owners stare at his .334/.399/.439 slash line from last year hoping he provides insulation in average for teams taking risks at power early on in drafts.
If Sano cannot be ready for Opening Day, look for Marwin Gonzalez to start at first base. As for the outfield, Byron Buxton reported soreness still in his walking boot, so if he’s out for the start of the year, Jake Cave moves into the lineup as well. This roster could be fluid up until first pitch.
Chicago White Sox
Be careful when waving off the manager to face one more hitter Gio González :
this is so funny -- it seemed like they were bringing Alex Colomé into this White Sox intrasquad game so the TV broadcast goes to break. then Gio González waves Colomé off because he wants to face Andrew Vaughn. then Vaughn homers ???? pic.twitter.com/YcT9x6FKUR— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) July 17, 2020
Continuing to make a favorable impression in camp, Andrew Vaughn homered on the last pitch thrown by Gonzalez on Friday. Both Vaughn’s and fellow prospect Nick Madrigal debuts could be delayed by service time concerns but if Chicago needs a boost, both appear ready when called upon.
As for the rotation, the White Sox one remains tough to project with six starters primed to start. It opens the door for Rick Renteria to pair pitchers in tandems or proliferate the competitive atmosphere for a traditional five man rotation.
Tim Anderson seems primed to build on last year and especially in the power department. Fantasy owners want to know how much he will attempt stolen bases, but if Anderson hits .285 or better with an uptick in power, there’s still value to be mined at his price point. However, those taking Luis Robert above his average draft position should be ready for a steady diet of sliders early on his career. How Robert adjusts to off-speed pitches will determine his ceiling and batting average.
Los Angeles Angels
First, the Angels announced reliever Justin Anderson will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL in his elbow. Then, this bit of injury news landed on the timeline:
Los Angeles can ill afford losing Anthony Rendon in the lineup facing one of the toughest schedules in the upcoming season. Oblique injuries can be tricky so warrant all news regarding Rendon’s progress this weekend and early next week.
Julio Teheran reported to camp on Friday but not received clearance to workout yet. He’s going to be a part of the six-man rotation but his debut could be delayed depending on how many pitches he can throw during his first bullpen session.
Without Yordan Alvarez in camp, yesterday’s column highlighted this opens the door for more at-bats early on for Kyle Tucker who could split time in left-field and designated hitter with Michael Brantley .
Injuries and strange circumstances keep plaguing the Astros bullpen. Framber Valdez remains on track to open the season as the fifth starter taking him out of the equation. Roberto Osuna has yet to face batters in summer camp despite “throwing long toss regularly”. Austin Pruitt and Brad Peacock both sidelined with injuries while Ryan Pressly should work in Saturday’s scrimmage if he can work through his recent blister issue. This leaves the door open for both Bryan Abreu and Cy Sneed to break camp with the team along with possibly contributing in high leverage if necessary. Stay tuned, especially regarding Osuna.
After a long delay, Jesús Luzardo made his first appearance at Oakland’s summer camp.
His role remains fluid due to his late arrival and Luzardo could open the year in the bullpen making him a Josh Hader -lite arm to still target for upside at a new discount in drafts. As for the rest of the A’s bullpen, this observation from camp may help determine if they can usurp the West from Houston:
JB Wendelken thinks the A’s bullpen could be “dominating” this season. “Everyone is throwing fuzz!” he says.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 17, 2020
Thursday’s scrimmage provided a glimpse of Seattle’s future and two parts of this year’s six man rotation with close friends Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield opposing each other prior to next Wednesday’s last tuneup before the season.
For a second straight day, Dee Gordon remained missing from camp with no word about his whereabouts. He’s projected to sit behind Shed Long Jr. at second base and backing up J.P. Crawford at shortstop.
A much needed improvement by Jordan Lyles in Friday’s scrimmage featured his curveball bite returning. Lyles did issue four walks during his 93 pitch outing allowing three hits, two runs and notching six strikeouts. Slated for the bullpen by need, Kolby Allard tossed three innings giving up a run with six strikeouts as well.
Playing the game with the roof open, here’s the view:
We could get used to this. ???? pic.twitter.com/PMAbjqD6Jd— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) July 18, 2020
Manager Chris Woodward said the ball carried better with the roof open so the team continues to adjust to its new surroundings. Nick Solak stayed hot racking up two more hits on Friday and moved to 14-for-39 (.357) in summer camp. As the roster takes shape, it appears Todd Frazier will start at first and Isiah Kiner-Falefa at third base. Yes please.
At the center of many fantasy debates, Freddie Freeman made waves on Friday:
This is huge for the #Braves. One week should be enough time for Freddie Freeman to be ready for Opening Day. Another couple of days and perhaps it would've been too late. But with him, a solid week should be enough.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) July 17, 2020
Although the clock may be working against him, Freeman could be on track to man first base on Opening Day for Atlanta.
With the signing of Yasiel Puig falling through, the return of Freeman should not affect at-bats for Austin Riley who can log them at third base or in the outfield if necessary. However, since reports suggest the team prefers Marcell Ozuna at designated hitter, Riley needs more time at third to ensure at-bats.
Freeman’s return did not coincide with Will Smith getting back to camp yet. His status for the start of the year remains in limbo. Also back on Friday, Touki Toussaint which could benefit the bullpen if he builds up to work as a tandem reliever.
Facing a tough schedule, Miami’s roster could be filled with intrigue as the season progresses. One prospect made quite an impression on Friday:
Jeffrey Joseph Bleday home run swing.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 17, 2020
Jeffrey Joseph Bleday home run trot.
Jeffrey Joseph Bleday home run tweet. pic.twitter.com/q2rVehufPm
Also within the notes from the beat writers, a name to track in the bullpen may be Jordan Holloway . He possesses a triple digit fastball with some command issues last year but the team believes it’s partly due to his return from Tommy John surgery. As for the rotation, an upset for the last spot in it goes to:
New York Mets
As Jacob deGrom progresses remains at the forefront of fantasy concerns for many:
Assuming Jacob deGrom feels good tomorrow morning, he will throw a live BP session Sunday at Citi Field rather than start against the Yankees, according to Mets manager Luis Rojas.— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 17, 2020
It makes sense to let him throw a simulated game rather than face the Yankees in an exhibition on Sunday so how he does may determine his Opening Day fate. Just when fantasy forgets about a player, his potential for a rebound gets overlooked. Case in point:
Wilson Ramos showing off some power at summer camp. He just hit his second home run in two games, this one off Erasmo Ramírez .— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 17, 2020
Ramos had two homers in his first 45 games with the Mets last season, then 11 in his next 57. His career high is 22, set in 2016.
Similar to Opening Day, Max Scherzer will take the mound in tonight’s exhibition game against the Phillies leading up to his debut against the Yankees on Thursday night in prime time. Knowing Scherzer should be rock solid, how the Nationals construct their batting order may reveal some wrinkles for player’s values. Starting with where Trea Turner hits could affect his stolen base potential or overlooked power if he hits third rather than second or lead-off. With Victor Robles still absent from workouts, Turner should hit in one of the top two spots with Adam Eaton . Here’s to games with other teams, but this update yields results for Howie Kendrick and stud Juan Soto :
Patrick Corbin threw 4 shutout innings.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 17, 2020
Howie Kendrick got a hit in his Summer Camp debut.
Juan Soto got a hit in his Summer Camp debut.
Carter Kieboom went 2-for-2 with a 2B.
The World Series Champion Washington Nationals went 1-0 yesterday.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/ARWwrHqfSG
With an exhibition game looming against the Nationals, Zach Eflin will toss two innings of a simulated prior on Saturday to see if he’s ready for the start of the season. Eflin’s behind his teammates in regards to workload and could start the year on the injured list depending on how his session goes. Both Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez could start the season in the rotation if Eflin cannot.
Plus, Bryce Harper spoke openly about Spencer Howard needing to be on the mound in the team’s sixth game. Waiting until then allows the Phillies an extra year of control in regards to service time so how the franchise handles him and Alec Bohm remains to be seen.
As a sneak preview of tonight’s match-up, being under the lights provides hope for baseball’s return:
Friday night under the lights ???? pic.twitter.com/CXeAo99Iu6— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 18, 2020
Veteran Ryan Braun sat out for a fourth straight scrimmage but will get in work at the batting cage during Milwaukee’s off day on Saturday. Braun asked for only 15 at-bats before the start of the season to prepare. Keston Hiura hopes to return to action on Sunday battling through a fatigued throwing arm. Last, Brett Anderson could find out his Opening Day status on Sunday or Monday depending on how he feels.
St. Louis Cardinals
While fantasy players try to figure out the role of Carlos Martínez this season in St. Louis, some help could be on the way to the bullpen:
Matt Carpenter , starting at DH this evening and batting in the middle of the order, pulls a 398-foot homer into the home bullpen for a quick spike of offense for #Cardinals Red team. Two-run shot after DeJong's leadoff walk.— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) July 18, 2020
A rebound of any type by Matt Carpenter would help this team in more ways than one can imagine, especially since he’s projected to hit fifth in the lineup to drive in more runs with Tommy Edman moving up to second in the order.
Despite the battle for second remains open, the team announced the following moves on Friday:
The #Cubs today made the following roster moves:— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2020
- Selected the contract of INF Jason Kipnis from Triple-A Iowa
- Sent cash consideration to Padres in exchange for rights to RHP Trevor Megill
- Outrighted Megill from 40-man roster and assigned him to South Bend Summer Camp Site pic.twitter.com/jhBr1ouuip
First, kudos to Gregory Polanco who felt a sore throat coming on and removed himself from workouts prior to this announcement:
Another loss in the outfield does not bode well for Pittsburgh so speculating on a move to the majors for Jared Oliva and his speed upside could ensue.
Staying hot in summer camp, last year’s helium player could be this year’s bargain:
With a swing made for this ballpark, the at-bats available at designated hitter and health could yield the type of season many hoped for in 2019 in the upcoming season for Jesse Winker . In a precautionary move, here’s to hoping Nick Castellanos will be alright:
Adding him and Mike Moustakas to this powerful lineup puts the Reds into contention if they can stay healthy this year.
Trying to finalize the roster, how to manage the bullpen could be a factor in the last decisions. It appears Merrill Kelly won the last spot in the rotation vacated by Mike Leake putting Alex Young into the long relief role. Christian Walker (groin) and Kevin Cron (hamstring) continue to progress with Opening Day drawing near.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Drowning out the noise regarding Walker Buehler and his potential workload early on, he only tossed 66 pitches his first outing in 2019 so this does not vary from his past experience. Even with less pitches early on, Buehler should progress as the season goes on:
Also looking sharp, Clayton Kershaw worked six innings giving up five hits, four earned runs and now walks with 10 strikeouts:
Working in tandem with Buehler, which could repeat this season when it starts, do not forget this guy late in drafts:
San Francisco Giants
Service time issues aside, enjoy this swing by Joey Bart from Friday’s action:
Whether or not fantasy players see Bart in 2020 or 2021, his intrigue grows by the day. Also of note from Friday, Tony Watson made his first summer camp appearance returning from shoulder issues hitting 88 MPH with his fastball in a scoreless inning. He projects to share save chances with Tyler Rogers this season.
San Diego Padres
While Chris Paddack , Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards will turn it loose in the rotation. San Diego could get creative at the backend of its staff with tandem starts by Zach Davies , Cal Quantrill , Adrian Morejon and Joey Lucchesi . Keep this in mind if targeting any of these pitchers at the end of drafts. Armed with a deep bullpen, the Padres will try to shorten games if given a lead.
Please, the trade of Franchy Cordero keeps alive the constant chatter about this under the radar player who could impact the Padres outfield early on:
Daniel Bard overcame the “yips” and a long layoff from the game to make the Rockies Opening Day roster. Also on it, Matt Kemp will try to last in the outfield with Daniel Murphy poised to garner most of the designated hitter at-bats. Brendon Rodgers remains in a battle with Chris Owings and Garrett Hampson for time at second base but all three could remain with the team going forward.
With the return of live games to watch, even exhibition ones, excitement becomes palpable. Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition across all fantasy formats and continue to be safe.