2023 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Position Battles Update

by Connor Thomure
2023 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Positional Battles Update

Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Position Battles update.

In the first edition of this piece, five battles were listed with the candidates for the job. Each of these will be discussed and updated.

Three more Fantasy-relevant Spring Training position battles are listed, along with those being updated.

Among the battles included are the Chicago Cubs' fifth starter, New York Yankees shortstop, and St. Louis Cardinals outfield.

2023 Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Position Battles Update

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Arizona Diamondback Fifth Starter

Drey Jameson/Ryne Nelson

This is a close battle between two young pitchers who were both impressive in 2022. The problem, however, is that they have struggled mightily this spring. It's tough to say who has the advantage right now, but both are worth a late-round flier in most leagues.

Arizona Diamondbacks Starting Catcher

Gabriel Moreno/Carson Kelly

There's not too much going on here. Both have played well in their time at the plate. It's likely to be a timeshare during the 2023 regular season, but Moreno is the long-term answer for the Diamondbacks at catcher. Fantasy managers would love to see him get the starting spot sooner than later.

Chicago Cubs Fifth Starting Pitcher

Adrian Sampson/Caleb Kilian/Hayden Wesneski/Javier Assad

This started as a three-man competition, but Caleb Kilian has turned it into a four-man battle.

PitcherInnnings PitchedEarned RunsWalksStrikeoutsWHIPBatting Average Against
Adrian Sampson4.110332.31.350
Caleb Killian4.0102.50.154
Hayden Wesneski8.20211.81.161
Javier Assad4.0012.25.000

After seeing these stats, it's clear that Hayden Wesneski is running away with the job so far. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is legit and is something he can carry into the regular season. Fantasy managers should target Wesneski in drafts this year.

Chicago White Sox Starting Third Baseman

Jake Burger/Yoan Moncada

Jake Burger has seriously impressed this spring. His four home runs tie him with the lead among all players in Spring Training. If Burger can lock down an everyday role at third base or designated hitter, he has 30+ home run potential.

However, Yoan Moncada has been equally impressive for team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. He's recorded three hits in back-to-back games and flashed the leather on defense at the hot corner. Moncada is still the favorite for the starting third baseman, but Burger is also making his case to get playing time.

Oakland Athletics Outfield

Cristian Pache/Conner Capel/Esteury Ruiz/JJ Bleday

The Athletics have four outfielders that need to fill two spots. In center field, it's Christian Pache versus Esteury Ruiz. In left field, it's Conner Capel versus JJ Bleday. All of these players have spent less than 120 games in MLB, and Capel is the only one to find any success.

From a Fantasy Baseball perspective, Ruiz is the most enticing. This is due to his elite speed. According to Baseball Savant, Ruiz tied for the 13th fastest sprint speed in 2023 among all MLB players. If Ruiz can play 150 games in a season, he is one of few players that can attain 40+ stolen bases. Last year he led the minor leagues with 85 total stolen bases.

Bleday, Capel, and Pache are not worth drafting unless it's an AL-only format or deep league such as a 16-team league.

New York Yankees Starting Shortstop

Anthony Volpe/Isiah Kiner-Falefa/Oswald Peraza

Anthony Volpe is a top prospect forcing his way onto the Major League squad. At first, this looked like a competition between Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Oswald Peraza, but Volpe is now taking over. Kiner-Falefa is getting reps in at second and third base and appears to be out of the running to be the starting shortstop.

PlayerAt batsSlash LineRunsHome RunsRuns Batted InStolen BasesWalksStrikeouts
Anthony Volpe25.320/.433/.680622346
Isiah Kiner-Falefa19.263/.348/.474313424
Oswald Peraza15.200/.333/.267300223

After seeing the stats, one would think Volpe is the favorite here, but this is a case where we might see service time manipulation from the Yankees. In this case, the Yankees will send Volpe to Triple-A to gain an additional year of service time on the prospect. This means we may not see Volpe until at least the season's second week.

St. Louis Cardinals Leadoff Hitter

Brendan Donovan/Tommy Edman

Excluding top prospects Masyn Winn and Jordan Walker, Brendan Donovan is the most impressive batter in the St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp. Through 29 at-bats, he's slashing .310/.355/.724 with seven runs, four home runs, and 10 runs batted in.

Donovan also has the team lead for at-bats at the top of the order this spring. 27 of his 29 at-bats have come in games where he starts as the leadoff hitter.

Tommy Edman has spent time with team Korea in the World Baseball Classic, but they moved him down to ninth in the order. He has just three hits in 16 at-bats combined in Spring Training and the WBC.

I predicted Donovan would earn the leadoff spot, and now he is doing just that. He needs to be flying up 2023 Fantasy Baseball drafts.

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Outfielder

Dylan Carlson/Jordan Walker/Lars Nootbaar/Tyler O'Neill

These four players will occupy the outfield this season for the Cardinals, but it's still unclear who will get the bulk of the playing time.

At the start of spring training, Walker was seemingly expected to be on the outside looking in. He would need a fantastic Spring Training to make the opening-day roster. He's done just that, and now he needs to be the favorite to be an everyday starter in this outfield.

I believe Lars Nootbaar, Tyler O'Neill, and Walker are the likely three starters. The Cardinals, however, are giving Dylan Carlson every opportunity to keep a hold on the starting job.

Similarly to Volpe of the Yankees, there is still a possibility the Cardinals will start Walker at Triple-A to gain an extra year of service time. This means we may not see Walker until at least the season's second week.

Be prepared for the upcoming season by checking out all the 2023 Fantasy Baseball content on Fantasy Six Pack.

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