Sifting Through Spring Training News For Good MLB Futures Bets

Sifting Through Spring Training News For Good MLB Futures Bets

While many baseball fans find themselves thirsting for fresh news on their teams as they convene for spring training, team executives typically fret at the start of their camps. No news, typically, is good news.

With spring training games getting underway Friday, it has been a relatively quiet offseason when it comes to impactful injuries and the other kinds of lousy news that can dim fans’ and sports bettors’ hopes before opening day.

The Houston Astros have conceded that Lance McCullers Jr. likely won’t start the season on the active list due to a strained forearm muscle, but they’ve got lots of starting pitching depth and have learned to deal with lengthy absences from the oft-injured righty. Jacob deGrom still hasn’t begun his ramp-up for the season due to a strain in his side, but there’s no indication he’ll miss considerable time for the Texas Rangers.

Just because no devastating injuries have surfaced doesn’t mean there haven’t been crucial developments worth tracking if you’re shopping for MLB futures. Let’s take a look at a few plays that might be worth diving in on based on news from the 30 camps scattered across Arizona and Florida (odds via DraftKings):

What are the Dodgers’ plans for Dustin May?

Last season, Tony Gonsolin went 16-1 with a 2.21 ERA and made his first All-Star game at 28 years old. If you’re looking for the next Tony Gonsolin, why not look at the team that developed the first one? Plenty of signs point to a potential breakout season for Dodgers pitcher Dustin May, aka Gingergaard.

May came back from Tommy John surgery last year, but he had awful command and finished with an 11% walk rate and a 4.50 ERA in 30 innings. Command issues are normal, however, for pitchers returning to competition after spending more than a year recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery.

Sounds of Spring⚾️

— Dustin May (@d_maydabeast) February 20, 2023

May, 25, has the best opportunity of his career this year. The Dodgers need him in their rotation after losing Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney to free agency and with Walker Buehler still working his way back from injury.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently described May’s stuff as “electric,” and advanced statistics support that. May’s four-seam fastball averaged 98.1 mph last season and his curveball had more spin than that of any pitcher in the majors. Furthermore, May has been slowly abandoning a relatively mediocre sinker in favor of his zippy four-seamer.

While May might start the season as the Dodgers’ No. 3 or 4 starter, his stuff certainly plays better than that. He has the typical ace repertoire of high-octane fastball, devastating breaking ball, and a more-than-solid changeup. That’s a lot for hitters to deal with.

In a league with Sandy Alcantara, Corbin Burnes, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer, winning the Cy Young Award might be a stretch for May, but at +10000 it’s also not a bad lottery ticket to hold. Similarly, he’s available at +6000 to lead the majors in strikeouts. From here, it’s worth backing May in virtually any wager you can find.

Cardinals might have an absurdly easy path

The Milwaukee Brewers missed the playoffs for the first time in four years in 2022. That led to all sorts of turnover. President of Baseball Operations David Stearns resigned following a season in which he authorized the highly unpopular trade of ace reliever Josh Hader.

The team has since traded veterans Hunter Renfroe and Kolten Wong and is relying on a bounceback season from Jesse Winker, who had a -0.3 WAR in 2022 with the Seattle Mariners. This week they signed Luke Voit, a slugger who hasn’t slugged since 2020. They’ll deny it, but from here, it looks like a rebuild.

The Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates simply aren’t good. That means the St. Louis Cardinals might waltz into the playoffs. Given the potential to load up on division wins, they may even earn themselves a first-round bye.

The Cardinals aren’t necessarily an elite team. They probably should have done more to improve their pitching rotation given Jack Flaherty’s recent injury history, and how much longer can 41-year-old Adam Wainwright continue to do what he’s been doing? But with reigning MVP Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, Tyler O’Neill, and one of the top prospects in the game in outfielder Jordan Walker, they might have their best offense in nearly two decades.

As part of the draft kit (, ten young bats that could break out this season (including NOOOOOOOOOOOOTBAAR)

— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) February 22, 2023

With virtually the entire rotation heading into free agency in the fall, the Cardinals figure to work hard to add at the trade deadline before their window closes.

All signs point to the Cardinals as a good value in practically every futures market. They’re +1900 to win the World Series, +850 to win the National League, and -120 to win the NL Central. Their win-loss total is set at 88.5. Yes, please, to all of the above.

Rookies to nab before they get famous

Remember what we mentioned about McCullers? The Astros have a way of churning out replacements, and they’ve got a good one. Hunter Brown, 24, tore up the minor leagues for five months, then came up in September and posted a 0.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 22/7 strikeout-walk ratio.

The Astros already have announced he’ll break camp in the rotation, and while they might cap his innings, he still looks like a good value for American League Rookie of the Year as the No. 3 choice at +800. He’ll have stiff competition from shortstops Gunnar Henderson and Royce Lewis, but the Astros seem to have a good handle on preparing young pitchers to dominate.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are optimistic that Walker might be their best hitting prospect since Oscar Taveras, who died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic in 2014. In three minor-league seasons, Walker posted a .915 OPS, and the 20-year-old is ranked as the No. 4 overall prospect by He’s 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and many scouts think he’s only scratched the surface in terms of his power potential.

Walker’s main obstacle to National League Rookie of the Year might be competition for a roster spot and at-bats from fellow Cardinal youngsters Lars Nootbaar, Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan, and Nolan Gorman, but a talent this bright tends to emerge sooner rather than later. At +800, Walker appears to hold good value in this spot.

Photo: Getty Images

Author: Ryan Gonzales