2024 Fantasy Baseball Updates: Jackson Chourio makes the team and more from spring training

Spring Training isn’t over, but with the Dodgers and Padres set to play a regular-season game in South Korea on March 20 and the American version of Opening Day just a little over a week away, teams are very close to finalizing their rosters. In an effort to help fantasy managers who have been distracted by basketball, hockey and NFL free agency in recent weeks, here is a recap of the biggest spring storylines.

Late Signings

Several veterans finally found a home in recent weeks.

Cody Bellinger has been wildly inconsistent in recent years, but there are reasons for optimism after he returned to the Cubs on the heels of hitting .307 with 26 homers, 97 RBI and 20 steals as a member of the club last season.

That same optimism is hard to find for Matt Chapman, who will need to overcome the pitcher-friendly nature of Oracle Park in his bid to bounce back from a disappointing '23 campaign (17 HR, 54 RBI, 66 R).

Finally, Tim Anderson is worth a final-round dart throw now that he is the Marlins' starting shortstop. The 30-year-old was abysmal last year (.582 OPS) but had batted over .300 in each of the previous four seasons.

On the pitching side, Blake Snell signed with the Giants on March 18. The left-hander should post strong ratios on a team that calls an offense-suppressing park home, but he will struggle to post a large innings total after missing most of spring training.

Meanwhile, Jordan Montgomery continues to watch his fantasy value decline while he waits for a contract.

Pitcher Pain

The list of starting pitchers who will open the season on the IL seems larger than usual this year, as the following players have recently succumbed to injury.

The Yankees endured a dismal spring that was highlighted by losing Gerrit Cole (elbow) for a couple of months. Mets starter Kodai Senga should return from a shoulder injury in May, while the Orioles will be without John Means for most of April and Kyle Bradish for an undetermined amount of time due to elbow injuries. Baltimore is still in better shape than Boston, which has already lost Lucas Giolito (elbow) for the entire season.

And the biggest bullpen news is that the consensus No. 1 closer, Devin Williams, is now a late-round pick who will miss roughly half of the season due to a back injury. Finally, the Twins will need to cover the ninth inning for a while, as Jhoan Duran will miss a few weeks with an oblique strain.

Several other starters will miss a bit of time, including Justin Verlander (shoulder), Sonny Gray (hamstring), Taj Bradley (pectoral), Gavin Williams (elbow), Edward Cabrera (shoulder), Emmet Sheehan (general soreness) and Braxton Garrett (shoulder).

The biggest injury on the hitting side occurred to TJ Friedl, who will miss roughly half of the season due to a fractured right wrist. Elsewhere, Vaughn Grissom (groin) will have to wait until late April to debut with the Red Sox and Rays slugger Josh Lowe has no timetable due to an oblique injury.

Primo Prospects

Check out the following spring stat lines for some of baseball’s best prospects:

Wyatt Langford, Texas Rangers (ADP 187.1): 5 HR, 17 RBI, 12 R, .378 BA, 1.198 OPS

Langford may be the biggest story of spring training and is a cinch to make his major league debut on Opening Day. He will be a 20-20 player and should be drafted 100 spots ahead of his Yahoo ADP.

Evan Carter, Texas Rangers (ADP 103.0): 2 HR, 2 SB, .325 BA, .878 OPS

Although Carter hasn’t been as productive as Langford, he has done more than enough to make the team. His ADP feels appropriate, as he can be drafted shortly after Langford comes off the board.

Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee Brewers (ADP 150.8): 0 HR, 0 SB, .286 BA, .661 OPS

Armed with a long-term contract, Chourio seemed like a lock for the Opening Day roster before producing uninspiring spring results. The 20-year-old still made the team, but his current ADP is starting to feel overly aggressive.

Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles (ADP 210.0): 1 HR, 2 SB, .300 BA, .883 OPS

The No. 1 overall pick of the 2022 MLB Draft, Holliday is ready for the majors. The guess here is that Holliday cracks a loaded Orioles roster, but those who draft the youngster in deep roto leagues may want to pair him to a final-round selection of Jorge Mateo.

Jackson Merrill, San Diego Padres (ADP 240.2): 2 HR, 2 SB, .351 BA, .995 OPS

Merrill is locked into the Opening Day center field job. He has flown under the radar and is a great value pick at his current ADP.

Parker Meadows, Detroit Tigers (ADP 246.6): 2 HR, 1 SB, .314 BA, .997 OPS

Meadows should open the season as the Tigers' leadoff man. With a mediocre lifetime .323 OBP in the minors, getting on base will be Meadows’ challenge in holding a full-time role and becoming a 20-20 player.

Colton Cowser, Baltimore Orioles (Undrafted): 4 HR, 1 SB, .364 BA, 1.246 OPS

The fifth overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, Cowser needs to play. It remains to be seen if the Orioles have room to give him a role on their talented roster. Despite a spectacular spring, he may need to spend more time in the minors.

Cruz-ing back into action

Oneil Cruz has clearly recovered from the broken ankle that limited him to nine games last season. The towering 25-year-old has needed just 31 at-bats to sit in a tie for the Spring Training lead with seven home runs. Cruz has the highest ceiling of anyone in the range of his current ADP (72.0), as he could be a 30-30 player this year.

Too Bad He Can’t Skate

Although A.J. Puk would have been a great name for a hockey player, he continues to pitch for a living, and he has been turning heads in Marlins camp after converting from a reliever to a starter. So far in spring training, Puk has not allowed a run across 8.1 innings while striking out 15 batters. Destined to be in the April rotation, the southpaw should have at least double his current Yahoo roster rate of 23%.

Another spring riser on the pitching side is White Sox lefty Garrett Crochet, who has struck out 12 across nine shutout innings. The 24-year-old has earned the Opening Day nod and could have enough skills to overcome his lackluster supporting cast and become a fantasy asset.