Spring Battles: Jayson Heyward Makes the Team

Today brings some moves that were unsurprising (Heyward) and some that I just don’t understand (Sliva).  Let’s take a look at the latest spring battles and how they will affect your fantasy team.
 
Braves starting right fielder
The winner: Jayson Heyward

Sometimes there is little else you can say about a player besides, “Wow.”  Jayson Heyward is that type of player.  The announcement that Heyward has earned the starting right fielder’s job in Atlanta comes as no surprise (to me at least).  He is arguably their best option both offensively and defensively right now.  Did you think the one player Bobby Cox was raving about this spring wouldn’t be on their opening day roster in what is to be his final season as the Braves manager? 

 
From an offensive prospective Heyward has all the tools to become a five category impact player.  Last season at all minor league levels combined Heyward hit .323 with 17 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 362 at bats.  He also displayed tremendous plate discipline ending the year with a 1:1 K:BB rate. 
 
At the ripe age of 20-years-old Heyward is sure to have his ups and downs, but the upside for 20-plus home runs and 15-plus stolen bases is certainly there.  Feel free to take a flier on Heyward after round 15 or whenever the outfield pool begins to look mediocre.
 
The losers: Matt Diaz and Eric Hinskie
When given a chance to play Matt Diaz has hit for a high AVG.  However, extended playing time would have likely exposed him against right-handed pitching anyway, though he would have been a nice NL-only flier pick. 
Eric Hinskie hasn’t been a big fantasy contributor for a while, but he sure has done wonders for real teams as he has been to the World Series for three straight seasons on three different teams.
 
Cubs fourth and fifth starters
The winners: Tom Gorzelany and Carlos Sliva
Gorzelany looked like a promising young left-hander for the Pirates back in 2007, but ran into arm problems shortly thereafter.  Last season he showed signs of a bounce back posting a 9 K/9 and 3.26 BB/9.  However, his 47 innings pitched was hardly a large enough sample size to go on.  Still, there is some hope that he can be a league average pitcher or perhaps even slightly better.  Target him in the late rounds of NL-only drafts and keep him on your mixed league watch list.
 
Carlos Sliva.  I was just going to say, “No comment”, but I’ll turn to his career 4.72 ERA and 3.71 K/9 instead.
 
The losers: Seam Marshall and Jeff Samardzija
Marshall has posted slightly better than league average K/BB numbers for two years running, though he has spent time in the pen both years.  I have liked him as a pitcher who could put up a 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP type season with a little luck.  If I were a betting man, I’d say he starts more games than Carlos Silva this season (for Cubs fans sake). 
 
Despite the hype that has always surrounded Samardzija, his peripheral stats show nothing more than a league average pitcher. 
 
Royals fifth starter
The winner: Kyle Davies
Davies started off the 2009 season striking out hitters in bunches, but it wasn’t long before things evened out and he became the pitcher he always had been.  With no real strikeout potential and below average control there is very little upside here, even in AL-only leagues.
 
The loser: Kyle Farnsworth
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