The Caribbean Winter Leagues allow prospects to build their resumes, veterans to keep in shape and 2009 disappointments to improve. Heading into 2010 fantasy baseball drafts, what must roto owners learn from winter ball?
A broken hamate bone in the right hand of Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians) cut the prospect's season short after a few games. He recently started his post-surgery rehab and should be ready for spring training, but his big-league arrival probably will take longer than originally expected.
Worries of sapped power surrounding the Texas Rangers' Max Ramirez didn't stop him from clubbing 13 dingers in 210 at-bats. He'll try to once again break through, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia (if healthy) and Taylor Teagarden will probably block him heading into 2010.
Hip surgery probably will prevent free agent Carlos Delgado, 37, from playing first base, but he proved he can still wield the lumber (.298, four homers, 23 RBIs in 26 games in the Puerto Rican league).
Michael Saunders may have moved down the Seattle Mariners' depth chart, but he kept himself busy by hitting .353 in 85 at-bats. Saunders employed a new batting stance taught by M's hitting coach Alan Cockrell that focused on using his legs more.
Francisco Liriano was the biggest story from winter ball. The trimmer Minnesota Twins southpaw reportedly looked like his 2006 self in his fastball and slider. He's the consummate boom-or-bust pick in fantasy drafts, but his price tag will probably climb.
Another wild thing, the Cleveland Indians' Fausto Carmona, had a productive three-start stint as he tries to rectify his control problems. He showcased some mechanical adjustments and made strides in his strike zone awareness.
Carmona wasn't the only Tribe arm doing some work. Jake Westbrook, who had Tommy John surgery in 2008, is on track to be Cleveland's Day 1 starter after a pain-free winter trial.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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