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2024 Fantasy Baseball: Cactus League Report – Early Standouts

Now a few weeks into spring training it’s finally appropriate to start reacting to initial player performances. Yet, the risk of overreaction always looms large with the limited sample sizes and split squad lineup competition. However, savvy fantasy baseball players usually start searching for their sleeper targets early into spring training and follow their progress throughout the next few weeks. To help you get started we’ve identified five players who are standing out early on in our latest Cactus League report.

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Cactus League Report for Week 4

1. Wyatt Langford Flashes Signs of Greatness

In just the couple of months since being drafted fourth overall last year by the Rangers, Langford has surged through the minor leagues. In fact, he even ended his season with a small handful of at-bats in AAA which is an uncommon feat. Although his stat line was limited to only 161 at-bats, he displayed his five-tool skillset quickly which propelled him into top overall prospect ranking conversations. Langford has already flashed those same skills in spring training by hitting for a .300 batting average and 3 HRs in 20 at-bats so far. If he continues this pace he will likely end up being a top 75 overall player in drafts.

2. Cole Ragans Continues His Surprising Breakout

Arguably the biggest second-half breakout last season, Ragans drew many feverous believers and also non-believers. So far in five innings pitched this spring, he has quickly converted many of the skeptics into stans. In those five innings, Ragans has stuck out eight batters with just one walk and no runs allowed. Most impressive is his dominating arsenal that has left many hitters stymied. Early reports out of Royals camp have indicated that Ragans has re-vamped his slider and added a two-seam fastball that has already touched 101 MPH this spring training.

3. James Outman Secures His Everyday Role

Outman was finally able to establish his semi-regular role with the Dodgers last year as a 26-year-old rookie. Now, he is competing to gain the everyday outfield role in spring training. So far Outman has seized the opportunity by excelling both at the plate and in the field. In his first 17 at-bats, he has mashed for a 1.241 OPS  along with swiping three bags. Equally impressive has been his range in the outfield where he’s filled Mookie Betts’ former role wonderfully.

4. Elly De La Cruz Quickly Quiets His Doubters

No player has more skeptics for their projected value this year than Elly De La Cruz. His early startling round average draft position so far has heightened the pressure for his believers to even greater levels. Fortunately for those believers, his early spring training performance is living up to the lofty expectations. In his first 22 plate appearances De La Cruz is hitting .412 with three extra base hits and three steals. Even more encouraging are the five walks so far, even if seven strikeouts still fuels the underlying plate discipline concerns.

5. Joe Boyle Makes His Rotation Spot Case

Boyle is the least notable of the names on this list but may end up as the most sought-after sleeper target. Early last season he was buried in the prospect rankings for the Cincinnati Reds with little fanfare. After being traded in late July to the A’s, Boyle started to thrive in the change of scenery by controlling his walk rates. Now he is in the lead position for the A’s fifth starter spot with continued strong performances this spring. In his eight innings pitched so far this spring training, Boyle is sporting a 2.16 ERA and a minuscule .72 WHIP.

As games continue in spring training we’ll be zooming in on noteworthy happenings in our weekly Cactus League reports. Catch up on last week’s Cactus League report here and next week we’ll focus on players in position battles to help fantasy managers choose wisely in their drafts. If there’s a player you would like us to feature in a Cactus League update article, please let me know by commenting below or reaching out on X @TheToddMpls.

For more of the great fantasy baseball rankings and analysis you’ve come to expect from FantraxHQ, check out our full 2024 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit! We’re here for you all the way up until Opening Day and then on into your championship run.

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