Top Fantasy Risers From Spring Training 2024

Spring Training is All About Hype, and I'm Hyping that Hype!

Every year we fantasy baseball players and writers have to ask ourselves how much Spring Training matters.  We focus on the position battles in camp, like Volpe vs Peraza last year.  We get excited about Michael Massey hitting five dingers and carrying an OPS north of 1.000 over 43 at-bats.  We fawn over the “best shape of his life” photos plastered on social media accounts.  And sometimes these tiny samples can give us a glimpse of a player’s future.  But one this is certain about Spring Training stats.  They get our attention and affect Fantasy Baseball drafts and auction values.  So for this article, I’m breaking out my crystal ball in order to predict what players will get our community all hot and bothered this spring.


All ADP data is sourced via NFBC from January 1st through February 13th 2024


Alek Manoah, SP, Toronto Blue Jays.

Current ADP:  370


Manoah followed his excellent 2022 campaign (16 wins, 2.24 ERA, .99 WHIP over 196 innings) with a belly-flop of a 2023 season.  He posted a 5.87 ERA, a 1.74 WHIP, and was ineffective enough to be sent to the Jays Spring Training facility during the season.  His current ADP of 370 is both an excellent gauge of fantasy managers’ low expectations and provides a ton of room for spring-hype inflation.

Manoah is taking the “Best Shape of His Life” approach pretty seriously as we can in this video of an off-season workout. The Jays have stated that they intend for Manoah to return to the starting rotation, and it’s easy to see how one or two solid starts in Spring would send his ADP skyrocketing from deep-league flier, to mixed-league late or mid-round pick territory.

If I’m drafting over the next couple weeks before spring games get started, I’m absolutely targeting Manoah late, before his price tag jumps.


Jackson Chourio, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Current ADP: 140 


Chourio is one of the top five prospects in baseball according to every prospect list I’ve seen this offseason.  He slashed .283/.338/.467 across AA and AAA last year while launching 22 homers and stealing 44 bases.  He was inked to an $82 million deal in December and thus faces no service time issues and has a great chance to start 2024 in the big leagues.

He’s currently being drafted in the twelfth round of mixed leagues, which isn’t too bad for a 19-year-old with 21 at-bats above AA.  But with how quickly we’ve seen young players like Corbin Carroll, Bobby Witt Jr, and Julio Rodríguez cement themselves as first-round values, it won’t take much for fantasy managers to get hyped about Chourio’s combination of power and speed.

My crystal ball tells me that by mid-March, Chourio will climb up to the tenth round, right around and maybe a little above other outfield options like Esteury Ruiz (117) or Jordan Walker (110).


Jarred Kelenic, OF, Atlanta Braves

Current ADP: 221


I didn’t say all of these were going to be good ideas, but Kelenic performed much better in 2023 (.253/.327/.419) than he did in 2022 (.141/.221/.313), and gets a welcome change of scenery since he was traded from Seattle to Atlanta.  The Braves’ recent history of successfully developing (and then extending for team-friendly deals) offensive talent is encouraging.

With Kelenic however, there is one major thing to look for in Spring Training: his plate discipline.  Kelenic struck out 132 times over 372 at-bats last season and 299 times over 872 at-bats during his career thus far.  He was in the bottom tenth of the league in both strikeout rate and whiff rate last year.  He makes good contact (90.9 mph average exit velocity) when he makes contact, however.

Kelenic, who will only be 24 years old this season, is pretty firmly in the post-hype player category. And post-hype players are one of the best sources to find value because most players don’t find success as quickly as the Julio Rodríguezes and Bobby Witts of the world.  A solid performance this spring will mix with his “change of scenery” narrative to refuel the Kelenic hype train and boost his ADP from bench bat to third outfielder territory.


John Means, SP, Baltimore Orioles

Current ADP: 276


We haven’t seen a full season from Means since 2021, thanks to some good ole’ Tommy John surgery and recovery.  A lot has changed in Baltimore since then.  The Orioles lost 110 games that season but won 101 last season.  They also vastly increased the dimensions of Camden Yards.  Back in 2021, Camden was the league’s second-best park for hitters, just behind Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and just ahead of Coors Field.  Camden saw more homers in ’21 than any other MLB stadium.

Flash forward to 2023 and Oriole Park becomes the 6th worst park for offense in the majors and ranks in the bottom third for home runs.  It has become a haven for pitchers.  Back in 2021, John Means posted a very respectable 3.62 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  He struck out 134 batters over 146 innings but managed just six wins, which was more than 10% of his team’s total victories.

We only saw Means for a brief while last season, but he was effective.  In four starts covering just under 23.2 innings, Means posted a minuscule 2.66 ERA with a microscopic .72 WHIP.  The only caveat is that he recorded just 10 strikeouts.

I think just showing up to camp healthy will springboard Means in the top 200 players, and if he manages to get his strikeouts back up near the 8k/9 inning mark he posted from 2020 and 2021 he could sneak all the way into the middle rounds.  Now is the time to seize the Means of run prevention!


Triston McKenzie, SP, Cleveland Guardians

Current ADP: 239


T-Mac was one of 2022’s best breakout players, posting a 2.96 ERA, and .95 WHIP while striking out 190 batters over 191 innings.  Sadly, McKenzie only pitched 16 innings in 2023 due to a number of injuries.  And those scant few innings came with an ERA over 5 and a WHIP above 1.5.  However, reports are that McKenzie is “good to go” for the start of the 2024 season.

McKenzie relies heavily on his four-seamer so his effectiveness with that pitch is what I’ll focus on this Spring.  Just being healthy again should be enough to get his ADP earlier than round 20.  If he looks strong and produces spring numbers that look like his 2022 season, when he finished as the 21st most valuable starting pitcher in mixed leagues, he could climb even higher.


Carlos Rodón, SP, New York Yankees.

Current ADP: 162


Rodón’s first season in New York was not what managers hoped for when they invested, on average, a third-round pick on the Yankees’ big off-season addition.  After finishing 2021 and 2022 with sub-3.00 ERAs, Rodón delivered a brutal 6.85 ERA along with a 1.44 WHIP.  But hey, at least he only pitched 64 innings?

Clearly, health was a limiting factor for Rodón.  After pitching a career-high 178 innings in 2022, he dealt with a variety of injuries including a forearm strain that delayed his 2023 debut until July.  If he comes into camp healthy this season and looks strong through his first couple of turns, that ADP is going to inch closer to the first 10 or so rounds.

I think the theme of “pitchers rebounding from injuries” is well apparent here, and I’ll admit there is some built-in risk associated with that approach.  I don’t recommend rostering all of these pitchers at once, but one or two could pay huge dividends,  These are the type of players whose injury-related dips in value will disappear quickly if they perform well in Spring Training.


Featured Image by Kurt Wasemiller

Sam Lutz

A Pittsburgh native and long suffering Pirate fan, Sam turned to fantasy baseball to give him a reason to follow the sport after July.

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