Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos announced Tuesday afternoon in Dunedin, Florida that 23-year-old starter Marcus Stroman suffered a torn ACL in his left knee Monday during a round of pitchers’ fielding practice. The talented young right-hander needs surgery to repair the injury and can be ruled out for the entire 2015 season.
It’s a punch to the gut for the Jays, who were hoping they could lean on Stroman this season after he registered a promising 3.65 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 111/28 K/BB ratio across his first 130 2/3 major league innings last year. Toronto made a bunch of offensive and defensive upgrades this winter -- see: Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders, Devon Travis -- but the only addition to the pitching staff was veteran starter Marco Estrada, who had a rough 4.36 ERA (87 ERA+) in 2014 with the Brewers.
The free agent market is now barren and it’s hard to pull off spring trades for effective major league starters, so the Jays are going to have to look internally for Stroman’s fill-in. Aaron Sanchez, a 22-year-old top prospect, could very well get the nod.
Sanchez posted an outstanding 1.09 ERA and 0.697 WHIP in 33 innings last season as a reliever for the Jays and he has excelled as a starter in the minors. He just got a nice bump in our constantly-updated 2015 Rotoworld Online Draft Guide and the hard-throwing right-hander will likely continue to rise in our rankings if he pitches well this spring in the Grapefruit League.
Daniel Norris, a 21-year-old prospect, is another pretty good internal option. He struggled last season as a September callup and could probably use a little more marinating in the minor leagues, but the left-hander figures to join Toronto’s rotation on a full-time basis at some point in 2015. Keep him on your watch list.
Editor’s Note: Sign up to play Yahoo Fantasy Baseball today! Baseball season is right around the corner. Get in the game today. Play Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball
Soler, Baez, Bryant Go Back-To-Back-To-Back
Long-suffering Cubs fans had reason to grin widely after top prospects Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant slugged consecutive fourth-inning home runs against Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer in Tuesday afternoon’s Cactus League game.
Soler got it started with a shot deep down the left field line and then Baez one-upped Soler with a drive that nearly got out of Goodyear Ballpark, where the Indians host their spring training. Bryant finished off the back-to-back-to-back home run parade with a towering blast to right-center field.
Soler is locked in as the Cubs’ starting right fielder and carries huge expectations into the 2015 season after posting a .903 OPS, five home runs, eight doubles, and 20 RBI over his first 24 major league games last year. Baez struggled mightily at the big league level in 2014, racking up 95 strikeouts in 52 games, but he should be the Cubs’ primary second baseman this season and his rare bat speed allows for some lofty dreams. Bryant is probably going to spend the first month of 2015 in the minors to delay his arbitration clock, but he’ll take on immediate fantasy value once the promotion comes. Bryant hit .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI in 138 games last season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. His average draft position, according to our Rotoworld Draft Guide data, is currently riding high at 108.3.
Soler and Bryant are only 23 years old, and Baez is only 22. Exciting times are ahead on the north side of Chicago.
Tomas Having Trouble Defensively
Yasmany Tomas launched his first Cactus League home run Tuesday off A’s starter Sonny Gray and the Cuban import now boasts a .500 slugging percentage through his first 19 plate appearances this spring. But his defense at third base has been pretty ugly and doesn’t seem to be improving.
"I think he needs to be better than what we've seen," Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale acknowledged to MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert on Tuesday evening. "Mostly just the focus. I think the plays he's not making is because maybe he loses focus. He needs to know that every play at third base, every pitch he's got to be ready. … We don't need him to be Gold Glove. We need him to catch the ball. The routine plays he needs to make. The diving plays, that's a bonus right now. He just has to make the routine plays and hit."
Tomas had some experience at third base in Cuba, but his primary position on the island was corner outfield. He’s a big-bodied dude with a strong arm but not much lateral agility. Hale isn’t ready to cancel the experiment yet, though it’s worth noting that Diamondbacks third base prospect Jake Lamb homered twice on Tuesday and is regarded as a pretty good defender.
If the Diamondbacks do decide to shift Tomas to left field, Lamb becomes a decent fantasy sleeper. Lamb batted .327/.407/.566 with 15 home runs and 84 RBI in 108 games last season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, though he struggled over a small sample in the majors.
Tomas should be a good source of homers and RBI no matter where he’s playing defensively. The 24-year-old signed a six-year, $68.5 million contract with Arizona in November, so there's little chance he'd be sent to Triple-A to work on his defense at the hot corner. His current average draft position, according to the NBFC data in our Draft Guide, is 157.3.
Reed Is Expected To Be Ready
Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed showed up to spring training in mid-February with some soreness in his throwing shoulder and the right-hander remains limited to flat-ground throwing here in early March, but the expectation is that he will be fine by the beginning of the 2015 regular season.
Most relievers only need a handful of spring appearances to get properly tuned up, so Reed does have plenty of time. If some sort of setback occurs or he simply can’t catch up, submariner Brad Ziegler is a good bet to fill in at closer for the Snakes. Ziegler is actually a decent late-round grab in fantasy drafts this spring whether Reed is ready or not.
Reed registered a 4.25 ERA (89 ERA+) in 59 1/3 innings last season. Ziegler owns a 2.56 ERA (159 ERA+) in 460 2/3 career innings.
If you’re interested in playing daily fantasy baseball this season, you can sign up now with FanDuel and get a 100% bonus on your deposit at this link. NHL, NBA, and NCAA basketball games are going on at the moment and we’ll run a big contest here at Rotoworld for MLB’s Opening Day. It’s a booming industry and we plan to cover it more and more.