- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Wise fantasy baseball owners know that spring training statistics usually don't tell us a whole lot, as those surprising Jake Fox performances usually don't lead to much regular-season success. But there's still plenty to watch. It's a critical time to check on the health of key established players and analyze position battles and lineup construction, and certainly if last year's No. 1 pitcher off the draft board boasts a 0.50 ERA after five starts as opposed to a 9.50 ERA, it's worth taking note. With pitchers and catchers finally reporting -- spring is nearly here! -- let's go team by team, focusing on relevant fantasy options whose draft-day value will fluctuate based on spring news, be it health, performance or managerial decisions.
Washington Nationals: All eyes will be on top-five starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, but he's already valued nicely. If Bryce Harper has a big spring, however, his value will soar. I already have him in my top 20 overall. Also, watch second baseman Danny Espinosa and his bum shoulder. If he doesn't hit, it could portend surgery.
Philadelphia Phillies: The ceiling for what former fantasy first-round pick Roy Halladay can do is obviously high. However, he'll probably be selected outside the top 20 pitchers in early drafts. His next six weeks could push him into the top 10 ... or irrelevancy.
New York Mets: Have you seen this outfield? It's a bit embarrassing. Fantasy owners know that means opportunity for a sleeper to emerge, so keep an eye on who hits between Mike Baxter, Andrew Brown, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Collin Cowgill and Lee Mazzilli. OK, maybe not Mazzilli.
Miami Marlins: It's up to you, Giancarlo Stanton, to either smile and hit many home runs, or sulk and beg for a trade. I think he'll hit, and we'll see what kind of lineup forms around him. Watch my sleeper fave Justin Ruggiano soar up the draft lists while protecting Stanton in the order.
Eric Karabell lays out the aspects of spring training he'll be watching closely, on a team-by-team basis, such as the health of Roy Halladay and Jose Bautista and the emergence of youngsters Shelby Miller and Adam Eaton.