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Conventional wisdom says you shouldn't pay attention to spring performance, and that's generally true.
But when there's something backing the performance -- like a mechanical change, a new pitch or a return to health -- you have to sit up and take notice. And then there are ways a player's stock might rise independently of performance, such as his team awarding him a job.
So you should absolutely pay attention to spring developments — the discoveries and revelations that are sure to mark our first look at baseball in months.
In case you tuned it all out, here are the players who upped their stock the most this spring:
Though recently recovered from Tommy John surgery and with little experience above A-ball, Chris Paddack so wowed the Padres with his combination stuff and command this spring that they decided just to keep him around, much to the shock and delight of prospect hounds everywhere.
Matt Strahm, P, SD - 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 20 IP, 5 BB, 25 K
Ryan McMahon figured to be an also-ran in the battle for the Rockies second base job, but it became evident from the outset that his efforts to shorten his swing this offseason had taken hold, transforming him back into the guy who hit .355 in the minors two years ago and moving him ahead of Garrett Hampson on the depth chart.
The Padres' decision to name Fernando Tatis their opening day shortstop represented the last big shock of spring training and took the 20-year-old from intriguing stash to must-have off the waiver wire. It's a Manny Machado-like skill set.
The Mets wanted Pete Alonso to claim the starting first base job this spring, and the 24-year-old did his part, not only flashing the 80-grade power that put him on the map as a prospect but showing surprising bat-on-ball ability. He's projected to bat second, which is a huge vote of confidence.
Byron Buxton has impressed in springs past, but never with the kind of power he showed this year and certainly never with such a low strikeout rate. At age 25, the former No. 1 prospect in baseball made a strong case for deserving one last look.
A prospect regarded near the level of Vladimir Guerrero coming in, Eloy Jimenez's stock actually began to slide a little when he didn't force the issue with his play. But then the White Sox locked him up with a six-year deal, eliminating any incentive to send him back to the minors.
Already armed with a swing-and-miss curveball and exceptional control, Shane Bieber flashed an impressive changeup this spring, which should go a long way toward making him less predictable and neutralizing left-handed batters.
Regarded as an elite prospect before having surgery to repair a torn shoulder capsule a couple years ago, Julio Urias showed up throwing harder than ever this spring, allowing him to carve out a spot in the Dodgers' revolving door of rotation options. Injuries have him on the right side of that door to begin the season.
Considered a long shot for a rotation spot after playing an important relief role last year, Brad Peacock emerged as the favorite after Josh James went down. He rode his slider to a 3.22 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings in 22 starts two years ago.
Having already demonstrated exceptional contact skills at the big-league level last year, Jeff McNeil flashed the kind of power this spring that was more in line with his minor-league production, and he did it while securing the primary third base job (at least while Jed Lowrie is sidelined).
Trevor Richards averaged 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings last year, mostly on the strength of his plus-plus changeup, but the addition of a curveball made him next to unhittable this spring. He was arguably the most impressive of three young Marlins pitchers who forced their way into the rotation with eye-opening numbers.
Austin Hays' prospect stock plummeted when he attempted to play through shoulder, back and ankle injuries last season, but his performance this spring looked like a return to form for a player who hit .329 with 32 homers and a .958 OPS between two minor-league stops two years ago. Even though he was ultimately sent down and is already contending with a minor thumb injury, he looks like a must-stash in five-outfielder leagues.
Brandon Lowe looked at first like he might get lost in the shuffle despite batting .297 with 22 homers and a .949 OPS in the minors last year, but he ensured he'll be a major part of the Rays' plans from get-go by signing a six-year deal toward the end of spring training. He was their most impressive hitter during the exhibition season, seeing time at first base, second base and the outfield.
Jackie Bradley is one of the latest subscribers to the fly-ball revolution, looking to maximize power with an improved launch angle, and the early returns were impressive enough to make an otherwise boring Fantasy player something of a sleeper in five-outfielder leagues.
Brandon Woodruff has a workhorse build and a good strikeout track record, so Fantasy owners have long awaited his opportunity to take a regular rotation turn. He's one of a couple exciting newcomers for a team that surprisingly opted for youth over experience at starting pitcher.
Corbin Burnes, P, MIL - 4.84 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 4 BB, 26 K
One particularly ugly outing skewed the overall numbers for Kyle Wright, but the Braves liked what they saw from their former first-round pick, enough to move him ahead of the much-hyped Touki Toussaint in the organizational pecking order (at least for now).
Max Fried, P, ATL - 2.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 15.1 IP, 5 BB, 16 K
Hoping to revitalize his career, Hunter Pence sought out Doug Latta, the hitting guru who made Justin Turner everything he is today, and showed enough improvement to make the most of a considerable opportunity with the Rangers. The steals (he went 7 for 7) are especially interesting for a player who used to run a bit.
Greg Bird did exactly what he needed to do to remain a relevant part of the Yankees' plans: showed up healthy, took his walks and hit. And though Luke Voit is still the better bet for the long run, Bird has a chance to earn a more permanent role with Aaron Hicks sidelined at the start of the year.