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While spring training stats are not important in most cases, our draft boards do tend to change based on Spring results for a variety of reasons. It can be a player showing health (or lack thereof there), a pitcher showing good velocity or a role change for a player based on an injury to the starter. Some players have moved up my board. Here are a few of them and the reasons.
OF Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
I was surprised at how low the market valued Bautista in drafts. He often fell to rounds 8-10 in 15-team leagues. Bautista is 36 and coming off a down year for him with a .234 average 68 runs, 22 home runs, and 69 RBIs in 423 at-bats. Bautista still had a 16.8 percent walk rate, .217 ISO, .366 on-base percentage and a 41 percent hard hit rate. The power skills are still there. He had injuries and that's always a concern for someone his age, but there his skillset does not appear to be in declide. Bautista’s better in on-base percentage leagues, but the power is coming at a discount. He has looked good in the Spring and World Baseball Classic. With a one-year contract, he has a lot to prove.
2B/3B/OF Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks
Drury should be the starting second baseman but can be moved around to play some outfield, especially with Yasmany Tomas dealing with an oblique injury. The versatility really helps and he has some power at 24 years old. The home ballpark is one of the best hitter parks and Drury will get plenty of playing time. He will go under the radar in some leagues.
SP Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
deGrom is coming off an elbow cleanup procedure and there were some questions coming into the spring about his health. The good news was the ulnar collateral ligament was fine. The next step was seeing him on a mound again. He was pitching with discomfort last season, but he has been dominant over Spring Training. deGrom has pitched 10 innings and allowed one run with 13 strikeouts and has touched 97 miles per hour with his fastball. He had a 2.69 ERA in 140.1 innings in 2014 and 2.54 in 191 innings in 2015. deGrom wasn't as dominant last season and said he never felt comfortable with his mechanics. His velocity went from an average of 95 miles per hour on his fastball to 93.4. It forced deGrom to pitch without his best stuff and he was still successful with a 3.04 ERA in 148 innings. deGrom is a pitcher I want in 2017.
OF Gerardo Parra, Colorado Rockies
Parra is moving up the rankings due to an opened up opportunity. David Dahl is dealing with an injury and Ian Desmond has a fractured hand, which will cause him to begin the season on the disabled list. Parra is coming off a disappointing season and missed two months with an ankle injury. In 2015, he batted .291 with 83 runs, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs before signing a three-year deal with the Rockies last season. Parra batted .253 with 45 runs, seven home runs, 39 RBIs and six stolen bases in 2016. Playing in Coors Field provides a boost and Parra can help early in the season while he's getting at-bats.
SP Taijuan Walker, Arizona Diamondbacks
Walker was extremely cheap in early drafts. I took him in the 20th round of a 15-team league draft two weeks ago. The price is rising. He has been dominant this Spring, but more important he's healthy. Walker couldn't push off his leg last season and had surgery to remove 10 bone spurs. In 13 spring training innings, Walker has struck out 21 batters while issuing just 1 walk. He has been hitting the mid-90s with his fastball and has a career 21.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.6 percent walk rate. The move to the National League is beneficial for any pitcher, but the concern is pitching in Arizona. If Walker remains this cheap in drafts, he's worth the pick.