2024 Spring Training Battles to Watch for Fantasy Baseball

Who's battling for a spot in 2024.

Spring Training is finally here and it couldn’t have come sooner. The other night I watched Anthony Solometo highlights for longer than I care to admit so having some actual baseball is a jolt to the system. Doesn’t he throw like Madison Bumgarner? Keep that kid away from dirt bikes.

What should we be looking out for this Spring Training? There are a few different position battles to be aware of ahead of the 2024 fantasy season. I have a few rattling around in my brain that I’d like to share.


Brewers offense


To be fair, it’s mainly the Brewers outfield that’s up in the air, but when taking a closer look at their roster, so many things feel subject to change.

To start, Sal Frelick has started taking reps at third base and he’s been a part of trade rumors with the Padres. I don’t see them trading him, but it does feel like they really want him at third so Jackson Chourio, Garrett Mitchell, and Christian Yelich can manage the outfield. The thing is, the Brewers still have promising young outfielder Joey Wiemer who had an underwhelming 2023 but has a lot of pop in his bat (not to mention a swing change, video courtesy of Spencer Michaelis). He doesn’t necessarily need at-bats, but the Brewers will want to find him some I’m sure.

If Frelick is at third base for the majority of starts, that could also mean we do not see Tyler Black, a promising young prospect with fantastic OBP skills, speed, and a little bit of pop. And, we cannot forget about the newly acquired Joey Ortiz who has spent most of his time in the minors at shortstop. He bounces all around the infield, and grades out well on defense, so he may be their everyday utility infielder switching between second and third mainly; that is if the Brewers do not trade Willy Adames before the season starts.

Chrisitan Yelich is penciled in at left field, Rhys Hoskins at first base, and William Contreras is their catcher. Besides those three, we may see a lot of shuffling in both the infield and outfield. Mitchell, Chourio, and Yelich feel like the starting outfield, and I’m going to wager Frelick is at third base, Adames at short, Ortiz at second, and Hoskins is at first. However, don’t be shocked if we see a lot of different lineups from the Brewers to start the year and the possibility of Wiemer and Black forcing themselves into these lineups.


Reds offense


The opposite of the Brewers, it’s mainly the infield that feels up in the air for Cincinnati, but when looking closer, the outfield doesn’t feel set either.

Outfield feels closer to set so let’s start there. Left field should be Spencer Steer, center TJ Friedl, and right field going to Will Benson, most likely. The issue with this is how well Jake Fraley played last year. In just 111 games he was close to 20-20 going 15 homers and 21 stolen bases and had a solid slash line of .256/.339/.443. He only plays the corners so there could be days we see Fraley in and either Steer or Benson out, although it seems like the Reds really like Steer and Benson. To start the year, it’s looking like Steer, Friedl, and Benson but keep an eye on it.

The real mess is the Reds infield. Here is the Reds infield: Matt McLain, newly signed Jeimer Candelario, Jonathan India, Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Right now, all of these players have shown enough to, at the very least, have a somewhat everyday job. Encarnacion-Strand was just okay in his time in the majors last year, India has been really up and down lately, and De La Cruz has shown some of the worst strikeout issues in recent memory, but also possesses tantalizing tools.

The Reds want all six of those players in their starting lineup day in and day out. Signing Candelario was a bit of a head-scratcher but he can help raise the lineup’s floor since so many of the above names are young and inexperienced.

RosterResource has Encarnacion-Strand on the bench to start the year, and I think this is how the Reds will begin 2024. This doesn’t mean he won’t get playing time, but he’s the most logical player to have out of the lineup with how things sit right now. That being said, I still highly recommend drafting him in fantasy. Especially because India is good for a few IL trips a season, and McLain is dealing with a lingering oblique injury.


Phillies closer


A bullpen can be a fluid situation when it comes to who’s the closer. The Phillies last year had Craig Kimbrel so naturally he was getting the glut of the save opportunities but we did see Jose Alavardo in the role a few times. Alvardo feels like the Phillies’ closer to start 2024, and if he can stay healthy, he gives the Phillies a solid option.

This is a battle because of two names: Jeff Hoffman and Orion Kerkering. I think they want Hoffman as their 8th-inning guy/stopper for 2024, but he had an incredible 2023 so he has to be mentioned here (2.57 FIP, Wowza). The name to circle is Orion Kerkering. I don’t think they anoint Kerkering with the closer role out of spring training, but he has the stats and stuff to become a fantastic closer for years to come. Across 53.2 innings through A, A+, AA, and AAA Kerkering had an ERA of 1.51, a WHIP of .894, and struck out 79. This earned him a promotion at the end of the year where he pitched three innings, allowed one run, and struck out six.

It may be Alvardo to start the 2024 season, but it feels like a foregone conclusion that Kerkering takes the reins at one point this year.


Angels closer


The Angels most likely won’t be very good in 2024 so zeroing in on their closer for fantasy purposes may not be the best idea. But if desperate for saves, it’s good to know who the Angels will turn to.

The competition is between Carlos Estévez and Robert Stephenson. Estévez served as the Angels’ closer for just about all of 2023, losing the job a few times because boy, can he get wild. This off-season, the Angels signed Robert Stephenson to a 3-year deal worth 33 million dollars, so that should be a major indication of how they view his future with the team.

Stephenson is the better pitcher of the two and should be the closer. The issue is, so far, it’s sounding like Estévez is going to break camp as the Angels closer and it’s his position to lose. He could be good for a few saves early in the year but it feels like it will only be a matter of time before Stephenson takes over as the closer.


Dodgers 5th starter


This one is a lot of fun and could end up having a ton of fantasy implications.

The Dodgers rotation, as it sits right now thanks to RosterResource, is Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, Bobby Miller, James Paxton, and Emmet Sheehan. I do think this is Sheehan’s spot to lose but since the Dodgers have so many intriguing young arms, someone may beat the door down and snatch the fifth spot. Sheehan was no slouch in 2023 though (60.1 IPs, 4.92 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, 64 Ks), so unless the wheels fall completely off in spring, it’s his.

The two names to have on your radar are prospects Kyle Hurt and Gavin Stone. Stone got a taste of the majors last year and it did not go well. Through 31 innings he carried a 9.00 ERA and an insane WHIP of 1.903. Stone’s issues came from his over-reliance on his wicked change-up. It truly is wicked, but in order to use a wicked change-up, it needs to be set up with at least a decent fastball. His fastball got crushed last year to the tune of a .552 AVG against, and his cutter wasn’t any better at a .409 AVG against. If there is an improvement to Stone’s fastball this spring there is a chance he could leap-frog Sheehan. It’s a slim chance, but still a chance.

Kyle Hurt is the other intriguing name. he spent all of 2023 in AAA pitching 92 innings and holding down a 3.91 ERA and a 1.228 WHIP. Where Hurt shines is in the strikeout totals. Across those 92 innings, Hurt struck out 152 batters, which is, well, insane. He hasn’t logged a ton of minor-league innings, only 136, so I don’t see him taking this fifth starter role unless he completely wows. But he’s a name that needs to be on your radar for all of 2024. Slam that star button on Fantrax.

And something of note for all three of these names, Tyler Glasnow and James Paxton are in the Dodgers rotation as it sits now. Both are great pitchers, when healthy. They will hit the IL a few times this year so expect all three of Sheehan, Stone, and Hurt to log some innings.


Orioles middle infield


It’s only a matter of time before we see Jackson Holliday in the majors. The question we are after is will the Orioles start Holliday at short or second base to begin the year.

His competition at shortstop is technically Jorge Mateo, but Gunnar Henderson did log a lot of innings at shortstop last year. For what it’s worth, I think Gunnar plays a fair amount of shortstop and third until Coby Mayo forces the Orioles’ hand and cements himself at third base long-term.

So, will Holliday break camp in the Orioles lineup? Due to the new rules in place that give draft picks to teams if one of their rookies wins or places in the ROY standings, it feels like Holliday is going to start the year at second base, Gunnar will be at shortstop, and Jordan Westburg will be at third. Mateo is better suited in a utility role and with the upside of Holliday, the Orioles won’t be able to keep Holliday in the minors for long.


Rockies right fielder


Of course, I have to sneak in something with the Rockies. And this time, I actually think there is some deep league appeal.

Charlie Blackmon is going to start the season in right field for the Rockies. He’s a fan favorite, and when he can play, he still can put up solid numbers. The thing is, he’s in the twilight of his career and will serve as the DH more than a few times. So who’s going to play right field in his absence?

The name to keep an eye on is Sean Bouchard. To begin the 2023 season, it looked like Bouchard was in line for a starting role before rupturing his left bicep, keeping him out for the majority of the 2023 season. When he did make it back to the majors, Bouchard played in 21 games, hit four home runs, and slashed .316/.372/.684. The major league sample size is small but what we’ve seen so far is a penchant for getting on base, and the ability to hit a few home runs. Coors is going to beef up the on-base numbers thanks to it being a BABIP haven, and I think Bouchard can hit at least 15 home runs in a full season.

The other name to watch is Hunter Goodman. Goodman has prolific power and could thump his way into the opening-day roster. He got a cup of coffee at the end of the year and he wasn’t able to do much with it. His main trait is power, throughout 2022 and 2023 in the minors Goodman hit 70 home runs. The power is there and he’s shown he can at least be patient enough at the plate.

This isn’t the most exciting battle because the Rockies won’t be very good in 2024, but with how thin the outfield position is in 2024, Bouchard and Goodman are worth keeping an eye on heading into the season.

Seth Klusmire

Seth Klusmire is a Fantasy Baseball writer here at Pitcher List. His past writing credits were with BSN Denver (now DNVR). He is a certified Sommelier and would happily suggest which wine pairs with what team.

One response to “2024 Spring Training Battles to Watch for Fantasy Baseball”

  1. DDD says:

    Regarding the Dodgers, shouldn’t Ohtani be in the rotation? Also, when are Kershaw and Buehler hoping to return? Regarding the Rockies, I’m assuming Nolan Jones will primarily play LF, but will also play some RF and 1B – correct?


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