- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
I can't wait for spring training. I know, I know, it gets boring in the beginning watching grown men simply play catch, but hey, at least they're on the field again. But I'd rather have that kind of catching over catching a cold jogging in the snow and sub-freezing temperatures. In a matter of days, pitchers and catchers will report, followed soon after by the hitters and, of course, fans. Heck, I'll be there for a few games as well.
From a fantasy baseball aspect, there's a lot we can learn from spring training. It's generally not about the numbers, but rather how a player looks, how healthy he appears, what the manager says about him, and opportunity plays a large role. Philadelphia Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. could hit .450 this spring and still end up in the minor leagues. Happens all the time. Then again, he could also earn a starting job in right field.
Below are five hitters I will be paying close attention to this spring, because these guys have serious upside if they stay healthy and seize opportunity. Soon enough, everyone will be watching baseball again. Especially me.
Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: The range of possibilities for this rookie is vast. He could have a monster spring and win the starting job previously held by Jayson Werth, or he could struggle and be sent to the minor leagues. For now it appears most fantasy owners aren't believers; I haven't seen Brown get drafted in many leagues. But don't miss out on the potential next big thing simply because he hit .210 over 62 at-bats last season. It means little. That said, Ben Francisco's value is absolutely tied to how Brown performs, and don't laugh, but Francisco hit 15 home runs and stole 14 bases in 2009. Give him 400 at-bats and he'd probably do it again.