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You know what a sleeper is. You know what a bust is. But what do I mean by "most pivotal?"

Basically, I'm looking for the player on each team with the potential to change the Fantasy Baseball landscape the most, whether because of his own performance or how his role might impact others.

To put it another way, I'm particularly anxious to see how things turn out for these 30 players. They're among those I'll be monitoring the closest throughout spring training and even into the regular season. The gimmick is that I can name only one per team.

But I might sneak in some honorable mentions!

ARI Arizona • #31 • Age: 26
If Jake McCarthy's steals pace last year is to be believed -- he had 22 in 68 games once he was in the majors for good -- then he's a true difference-maker in that most coveted category at a position that's hurting for production of all kinds. His success is also contingent on him sustaining a high BABIP (.349 last year) since he's short on pop and lacking in on-base skills.
BOS Boston • #5 • Age: 23
The heir apparent to Dansby Swanson wasn't so apparent heading into the offseason, and the first question Vaughn Grissom has to answer is whether he can pass muster at shortstop. Provided he can, he then has to answer whether his minor-league production -- he hit .324 with 14 homers, 27 steals and an .899 OPS in 96 games last year -- can carry over to the majors. Though early returns are promising, the exit velocity readings are suspect.
BAL Baltimore • #30 • Age: 24
It's less a question of talent for Grayson Rodriguez, who has a spotless minor-league track record and impressive array of pitches, than availability. He lost half of 2022 to a strained lat and has never thrown more than 103 innings in a minor-league season. Even if he makes the Orioles rotation, will they be so invested in preserving his future that they limit him to four or five innings at a time, undermining his Fantasy utility?
BOS Boston • #36 • Age: 24
Triston Casas' time has arrived with surprisingly little fanfare given his past comparisons to Freddie Freeman and Joey Votto. In a late-season trial, he showed superlative on-base skills and the kind of opposite-field power that should translate to Fenway Park. But can he avoid the injuries that plagued his minor-league career? Are the Red Sox so committed that they're willing to play him against lefties? Would they maybe consider him for the leadoff spot?
CHC Chi. Cubs • #22 • Age: 26
The Cubs' decision to bring in retreads Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini let all the air out of the Matt Mervis balloon, at least as far as redraft leagues are concerned. Given the recent track record for those particular players, though, it's fair to say the countdown has already begun. Mervis broke out with 36 home runs across three levels last year, showing surprising contact skills for a player with his power.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #22 • Age: 25
You could instead make the case for Lucas Giolito and his hopes for a bounce-back, but Oscar Colas could be the missing link for this lineup as a left-handed power bat who slots neatly into right field. He's untested in the majors but brings experience from Cuba and Japan and hit .314 with 23 homers and an .895 OPS in his first taste of the minors last year. He makes for a fun fifth outfielder pick in Fantasy.
CIN Cincinnati • #4 • Age: 33
If there was anything that could restore hope in Wil Myers after so many years of lackluster production, it's a move to the Reds, who play in far and away the most homer-friendly ballpark and have no shortage of at-bats to offer him. They plucked Brandon Drury off the scrap heap and turned him into a Fantasy force last year, and Wil Myers is of a much higher pedigree.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #82 • Age: 27
Cody Morris is already dealing with a lat issue this spring after injuries limited him to 82 1/3 innings in the minors the past two years, but in those 82 1/3 innings, he put together a 1.64 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 14.4 K/9. He also had a 13.9 percent swinging-strike rate in the little bit he pitched in the majors last year, which would have ranked eighth among qualifiers. A little health, please?
COL Colorado • #14 • Age: 22
Enthusiasm for Ezequiel Tovar seems to be lacking in Fantasy even though the Rockies have all but promised him the starting shortstop job. It's not like he's some second-rate prospect either. He broke through with a .319 batting average, 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases in just 71 minor-league games last season, putting him in everyone's top 25. And with all the advantages of Coors Field going for him, there's legitimate five-category potential here.
DET Detroit • #31 • Age: 23
Between Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, both former top-five prospects who flopped as rookies last year, the Tigers seem to have a better handle on Greene. They've tweaked the dimensions of Comerica Park, which seemed to be holding him back, and have worked with him on improving his launch angle. The strides he makes in his sophomore season will go a long way toward forecasting his future.
HOU Houston • #58 • Age: 25
Lance McCullers' forearm injury leaves the Astros with little choice but to install Hunter Brown in the rotation right away, but he looked great in a late-season trial last year. The key is whether he'll throw enough strikes to get the most out of his high-octane arsenal. He threw 67 percent of his pitches for strikes in that late-season trial as compared to 62 percent in the minors. (Yes, that's a big difference.)
PIT Pittsburgh • #45 • Age: 36
Sure, we're all excited about what Vinnie Pasquantino can do, but Aroldis Chapman has the potential to be a real sower of chaos. He may have fallen on hard times last year, but he's one of the top closers of his generation and signed a one-year deal with a club so far out of contention that flipping him is the obvious goal. Having him close instead of Scott Barlow, provided he proves capable, would help to accomplish that.
LAA L.A. Angels • #23 • Age: 31
While Brandon Drury's overall numbers last year were great, the truth is he hit .298 with a .915 OPS in Cincinnati and .240 with a .746 OPS everywhere else. Then again, his new team, the Angels, play in a hitter-friendly park themselves and will field stud bats all around him. If he can get 80 percent of the way to last year's numbers, his triple eligibility could be huge.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #27 • Age: 24
After they denied us the pleasure of seeing Miguel Vargas time and time again last year, it seems almost too easy that the Dodgers would hand him the starting second base job this spring, but that's the plan after a surprisingly quiet offseason for the perennial juggernaut. He'll be an easy source of batting average, but with questions about how much power and speed he'll provide. It's possible he picks up third base and outfield eligibility, too.
MIA Miami • #14 • Age: 27
The Marlins have several contenders, but to me there is none more fascinating than Bryan De La Cruz, who for some reason is forced to compete with Jesus Sanchez for a job despite hitting .388 (33 for 85) with six home runs and 10 doubles in 25 games after returning from the minors last September. For the year, he had a better xBA and xSLG (.287 and .498) than Rafael Devers (.282 and .497).
MIL Milwaukee • #5 • Age: 25
While fellow center field prospect Sal Frelick is more of a sure thing, Garrett Mitchell seems to have captured the hearts and minds of the Brewers brass after hitting .311 with eight stolen bases in a late-season look last year. He's a physical marvel with off-the-charts speed, but he compromises his hitting ability with his tendency to drive everything into the ground. Any hint of burgeoning power, as we've already seen this spring, will get people buzzing.
MIN Minnesota • #19 • Age: 26
Are Alex Kirilloff's wrist issues at long last behind him following a procedure to shorten the ulnar bone? He says the discomfort is *mostly* gone, which is *mostly* good news, but with all the fakeouts of the past couple years, we're at a point where seeing is believing. Even while managing the issue off and on last year, he managed to hit .359 with 10 homers in 35 games at Triple-A St. Paul, so the upside remains.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #34 • Age: 31
Granted, the timelines for Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty are also of great interest, but even more hinges on Kodai Senga's acclimation to the big leagues. His strikeout rates in Japan put him in rare company, bolstered by a 101 mph fastball and splitter nicknamed "ghost fork," but so much is different about the American game, right down to the size and feel of the ball. A history marked by health and control issues clouds his situation further.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #91 • Age: 23
Shoutout to fellow shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe, but Oswald Peraza is the one in serious contention for the job right now and with the most questions to answer in the batter's box. He had 19 homers and 33 steals in just 99 minor-league games last year, batting .316 from June 11 on, which would seem to suggest stud city, but the scouting reports are only lukewarm about his power and speed. Meanwhile, Isiah Kiner-Falefa still exists.
OAK Oakland • #1 • Age: 25
In one of the most confounding cases of performance vs. evaluation, Esteury Ruiz hit .332 with 16 homers and 85 stolen bases in the minors last year while delivering truly dreadful exit velocity readings. Still, the Athletics accepted him as a key piece in the Sean Murphy trade and are all but handing him the center field job. If their hunch is right, he could become an impact speedster.
PHI Philadelphia • #76 • Age: 21
The Phillies are giving their first-rounder from two years ago an honest chance to crack the big-league rotation at the ripe old age of 19, and it's no wonder after he breezed all the way to Double-A last year while compiling a 1.56 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 13.5 K/9. As impressive as the stuff and numbers are -- and really, it's hard to find fault in any of it -- might we be jumping the gun here?
PIT Pittsburgh • #15 • Age: 25
It has to be Oneil Cruz. So much is riding on whether he can limit his strikeouts and live up to his first-round potential. A 30 percent rate, like he delivered in September, might be good enough given his superlative quality of contact. Also, don't sleep on Endy Rodriguez, who could add to the rapidly improving catcher position sooner than later after hitting .399 with 16 homers over his final 49 minor-league games last year.
SD San Diego • #23 • Age: 25
I mean, duh. The guy is potentially the best player in Fantasy Baseball -- his 162-game pace for home runs and stolen bases being 52 and 31 the last time we saw him -- but he's coming back from shoulder surgery, wrist surgery and a yet-to-be-completed PED suspension. We'll all be waiting on pins and needles during those first 20 games he'll be absent.
SF San Francisco • #39 • Age: 28
If Thairo Estrada's 14 homers and 21 steals last year were legit, then we're all sleeping on a potential top-100 player with dual eligibility up the middle. But he has no pedigree to speak of, his exit velocity readings are pitiful, and he plays for an organization that relishes the opportunity to move players in and out of the lineup. A strong follow-up would require him to remain an exception on multiple fronts.
ATL Atlanta • #24 • Age: 24
Some would say Andres Munoz, whose metrics make him a darling Fantasy pick even as he trails Paul Sewald in the closer pecking order, but Jarred Kelenic has been turning heads already this spring. Early drafters have been out on the former tip-top prospect, who has hit .168 in about a season's worth of at-bats. But he's 23 and still in the throes of development. Could a big spring restore his value?
STL St. Louis • #18 • Age: 22
It's almost too easy picking Walker, and there's a temptation to say Lars Nootbaar or Jack Flaherty instead. But of course, all eyes are on the 20-year-old phenom, whose push for a big-league job might be the biggest storyline of all spring training. The odds are longer than for Julio Rodriguez last year, with far more contenders in the Cardinals outfield, but it's not a stretch to say the upside is similar.
TB Tampa Bay • #59 • Age: 31
As a first-year starter, Jeffrey Springs had a 2.46 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 9.6 K/9 last year. Pretty great, right? Except that he went less than five innings just as often as he went six -- and never more than six. Is the plan to turn him loose this year now that he's more accustomed to starting, or are the Rays going to continue to cut him off after two turns through the lineup because, well, they're the Rays?
TEX Texas • #6 • Age: 26
What does it mean when a prospect whose hit tool was even more renowned than his power tool strikes out 38 percent of the time in his first taste of the majors? It means that Josh Jung will need to reverse the trend quickly since, at 25, he's basically a finished product. Maybe he was rusty after an injury-plagued year, or maybe we're making excuses because we're desperate for late-round third base help.
TOR Toronto • #17 • Age: 30
The most inexplicable downfall at starting pitcher last year belonged to Jose Berrios, who, after five years of steady production, suddenly lost it at age 27 without any obvious degradation in velocity, control or stuff. On the one hand, it shouldn't continue, but on the other hand, how did it continue for so long? Judging by ADP, faith is lacking.
WAS Washington • #45 • Age: 32
Though much attention will also go to C.J. Abrams and MacKenzie Gore, two prizes of the Juan Soto deal who sputtered as rookies, the most curious matter is whether Joey Meneses can follow up on his insanely productive two-month introduction the big leagues, a minor-league journeyman batting .324 with 13 homers and a .930 OPS. The data suggests he didn't over achieve by much, and playing time shouldn't be an issue.