The Pirates are perpetually rebuilding and annually the only sixth-place team in baseball. They are equally an afterthought in Fantasy, but you should weed through the trash to find some late-round treasures this spring.
We try our best to do so here.
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Breakout: Andrew McCutchen, PIT
When writing this Pirates team outlook, we originally thought about making McCutchen a bust instead of a breakout. You have to be touted to even be considered a candidate to be either, so we tried to knock the highest-ranked Pirate in our Top 300. McCutchen checked in at No. 160. We concluded the sophomore McCutchen is just too talented to not outperform his draft position and continue to get better -- even if he is a raw 23 years old. We project a modest .263-15-65-88-30 campaign for him, but we could easily see a .290-20-75-90-35 line. He is a gem in Rotisserie leagues, even if his power (he hits a ton of triples) doesn't translate into homers in his first full season in the majors.
Bust: Garrett Jones, 1B/OF
First, we have to say: Jones is a potential sleeper as much as a potential bust. The problem is so many Fantasy owners are going to be looking at Jones' 21 homers and 10 steals in just over half a season a year ago and expect a full season of those performance rates. Jones, a 27-year-old breakout a year ago, has been a good player in the minor leagues, just not a great one. There is the potential of a bust if you expect more than our optimistic projections of .261-37-75-55-10. It will be very, very interesting to observe the range of his draft position this spring and watch him through his first full season in the major leagues. That is unless the likes of Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce, Brandon Moss, Ryan Church and perhaps prospect Pedro Alvarez don't push him back to a part-time role before the end of 2010.
Sleeper: Andy LaRoche, 3B
LaRoche was once one of the elite third base prospects in baseball, getting touted just behind the likes of Ryan J. Braun and Evan Longoria just a few years ago. His first full season with the Pirates last year made him look a lot more like Alex Gordon than those other two, though. It is far too early to give up on the brother of Adam LaRoche (son of former pitcher Dave LaRoche). Heck, Andy LaRoche turns 27 later this season. Sure, you can point to the expected mid-to-late 2010 arrival or Pedro Alvarez and see LaRoche losing his job, but a funny thing can happen to a talented young player who gets challenged and/or summarily dismissed: They tend to find themselves in a hurry. We see LaRoche doing that this year as a great NL-only sleeper and in-season waiver pick-up in mixed leagues.
Honorable mention: Jeff Clement retains catcher eligibility as his primary position on CBSSports.com. If he wins the starting first base job this spring, his power potential makes him a must-have catcher in mixed formats. Watch that situation very closely. He struggled with knee issues last year that ended his days as a catcher, but he was merely a DH in Triple-A last year and we couldn't list him at first base until he proves he can make that transition. His bat will play anywhere if he can get healthy and display his potential.
| ||Pos.|| |
|1||Andrew McCutchen||CF||1||Zach Duke||LH|
|2||Akinori Iwamura||2B||2||Paul Maholm||LH|
|3||Garrett Jones||RF||3||Ross Ohlendorf||RH|
|4||Ryan Doumit||C||4||Daniel McCutchen||RH|
|5||Andy LaRoche||3B||5||Charlie Morton||RH|
|6||Lastings Milledge||LF||Alt||Donnie Veal||LH|
|7||Jeff Clement||1B||Top bullpen arms|
|8||Ronny Cedeno||SS||CL||Octavio Dotel||RH|
|Top bench options||SU||Joel Hanrahan||RH|
|R||Bobby Crosby||SS||RP||Kevin Hart||RH|
|R||Brandon Moss||OF||RP||Evan Meek||RH|
|R||Ryan Church||OF||RP||Brendan Donnelly||RH|
|Arguably the best slugger in the minor leagues will force his way into the lineup some time this year.|
|2||Timothy Alderson||21||RH SP||Double-A||Triple-A|
|The Pirates stole this pitching prospect at the trade deadline for now-injured "All-Star" Freddy Sanchez.|
|3||Brad Lincoln||24||RH SP||Triple-A||Triple-A|
|He will compete for a rotation spot out of spring training, but the Pirates have time to be patient.|
|4||Daniel McCutchen||27||RH SP||Majors||Majors|
|We expect he will make the rotation out of spring training, which makes him a sleeper in NL-only formats.|
|He would be a lot more intriguing if the Pirates didn't switch him from being a catcher.|
|Best of the rest: Jose Tabata, OF; Gorkys Hernandez, OF; Daniel Moskos, SP; Rudy Owens, SP; Tony Sanchez, C; Chase D'Arnaud, SS; Starling Marte, OF; Zack Von Rosenberg, SP; Aaron Pribanc, SP; Jeff Sues, SP; Jeff Locke, SP; Brett Lorin, SP; Jarek Cunningham, 3B; Kyle Bloom, SP; Victor Black, SP; Brooks Pounders, SP; Bryan Morris, SP; Ronald Uviedo, RP; Evan Chambers, OF; Zack Dodson, SP; Shelby Ford, 2B; Nate Baker, SP; Matt Hague, 1B; Justin Wilson, SP; Josh Harrison, 3B; Jordy Mercer, SS; Quinton Miller, SP; Brian Friday, SS; Robbie Grossman, OF; Nathan Adcock, SP; Nelson Pereira, SP; Wes Freeman, OF; Jim Negrych, 3B; and Steve Lerud, C.|
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