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2024 Fantasy Baseball: Cactus League Update – Position Battles

Welcome back to another weekly Cactus League update. This week we’ll focus on several intriguing position battles that will have implications for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. By now, most teams have started to pare down their rosters to just leave a few reserves at each spot who are still in the mix to make the big league squad. For these players it seems every plate appearance or play in the field is make or break for their case to secure their spot. That’s why we will zoom in on those key battle to help identify players whose values will either rise or fall depending on their ability to make the roster or secure the starting role at their position.

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Cactus League Update for Week 5

1. Merrill Makes The Travel Squad

If there’s one team who wouldn’t surprise anyone by hyper-promoting another young prospect to the major league roster it’s the Padres. Much alike Tatis Jr. and Abrams rapid progression to the show, Jackson Merrill is now on the same speedway. This progression in spring training has only been expedited by his exceptional performance thus far, sporting a .351 batting average and plenty of counting stats to go with it. The first encouraging sign was his inclusion on the roster to travel to the early games in South Korea. However, it may be too early still to draft Merrill in the middle rounds under the assumption he has secured the everyday role. New reports indicate that the Padres are in talks with Tommy Pham, who could quickly step into the final outfield role instead of Merrill.

2. Luciano Loses His Opening Day Spot

Back in January it seemed a given that the Giants top prospect, Marco Luciano, would step into the everyday shortstop role. This wasn’t just a hunch but, rather, based on a public statement from Giants GM, Farhan Zaidi, last fall. However, those plans have seemingly changed with Luciano’s dismal performance at the plate so far in spring training, batting just .083 in 24 at bats as of March 16th. Unfortunately, his planned backup and season veteran, Nick Ahmed, is off to a red-hot start batting .529 with two home runs and six RBI in just 17 at bats. The latest reports from Giants camp indicate Luciano has lost his roster spot to Ahmed, plummeting his fantasy value in redraft leagues.

3. Wicks Works His Way into Cubs’ Rotation

Ever since Yu Darvish’s departure from the Cubs rotation there has been a bit of revolving door to find healthy and productive starters. One exciting surprise late last season and this spring has been the continued emergence of Jordan Wicks. So far in spring training Wicks has flashed his command and control to the tune of a 2.47 ERA over 17.1 innings pitched. Right now all signs point to him securing the fourth starter role, leaving Assad and Wesneski to scrap for the final rotation spot.

4. Foscue Forcing His Way to Opening Day Roster

Oftentimes it takes an injury to one player to create an opportunity for another player. That’s exactly the scenario playing out this spring for several players in the Rangers camp. With Seager, Jung, and Lowe all sidelined this spring the window has opened for several players to show their stuff for a chance to gain a spot on the opening day roster. So far Foscue has held his own but no wowed anyone like fellow rookie Wyatt Langford. Interestingly, the other player he is locked in a position battle with, Jerad Walsh, has been hitting a .300 clip this spring. Yet, while Walsh is fighting to extend his mired career, Foscue is flashing the high-upside potential that makes him a prime candidate to make the opening day roster.

5. Nick Martinez Makes His Case for Reds Rotation

Probably one of the biggest surprises in the Cactus League so far has been the rise of Nick Martinez among a crowded Reds pitching system. Martinez started camp with a near flawless five innings pitched allowing just one hit. Despite being slowed by a sore rib, Martinez has appeared to jump Abbot, Lodolo and Williamson in the battle for the final rotation spots. If he can hold the spot and maintain his hot start that would put Martinez well into the 15-team mixed league mix this year.

Keep checking back for our weekly Cactus League updates. Next week we’ll focus slumping or surging players this spring to see what is fiction versus reality. 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.

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