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2011 Fantasy outlooks: San Diego Padres

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The Padres were baseball's surprise team last year, winning 90 games and leading the NL West most of the season only to lose their playoff spot on the very last day.

Yet as unlikely as their rise to glory was, coming at a time when many pundits picked them to finish in last place, it's even less likely to happen again.

The decision to deal franchise player Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox all but assured that. He was the lone superstar in a lineup of retreads and misfits, not to mention the only left-handed hitter to figure out PETCO Park, and the Padres' willingness to trade him for a trio of prospects shows how little they thought of their chances to repeat.

Now, they're left with just two legitimate Fantasy options: Hard-throwing ace Mat Latos, who finished eighth in Cy Young voting in what was practically his rookie season, and closer Heath Bell, who might be the best at his position, in part because the Padres didn't do much to improve their already lackluster offense.

You can't say they didn't try, though, bringing in Brad Hawpe, another one of those retreads and misfits, to fill Gonzalez's void. They also remade their defense up the middle, acquiring Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson and giving former Tigers and Marlins prospect Cameron Maybin first crack at the center field job. Throw in Ryan Ludwick, who was acquired at the trade deadline last year, and half the team's lineup has come together in the last eight months.

That doesn't make it any more exciting for Fantasy purposes, though. If anything good comes out of San Diego this year, it'll come out of the pitching staff, which has benefited from the tutelage of manager Bud Black with overachievers like Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer and Wade LeBlanc. But they're more peripheral options than anything else. The Padres won't develop any real game-changers until the haul from the Gonzalez deal arrives.

Late-round flier ... Tim Stauffer, SP

After years of injury woes kept Stauffer from living up to his potential as the fourth overall pick in the 2003 draft, the Padres finally got frustrated with the right-hander and moved him to the bullpen last year, hoping to get some kind of return for their investment. Turns out they got more than they bargained for. By the beginning of September, he had a 1.72 ERA and was pitching so well that the Padres decided he deserved another shot in the rotation after all. He allowed fewer than two earned runs in four of five starts to end the season and actually finished with a lower ERA as a starter (1.83) than as a reliever (1.87). Stauffer lacks the strikeout potential to be a frontline starter, but his reliever eligibility makes him especially valuable in Head-to-Head leagues. As long as he's pitching, he'll be worth having on a roster. And hey, it's not like he can't take another step forward at age 28.

Sleeper ... Kyle Blanks, OF

In less than a year, Blanks has gone from being one of the top up-and-coming sluggers in the game to a complete non-entity in Fantasy. Nobody's talking about him, writing about him or thinking about him, which is the perfect recipe for a sleeper. And really, his opportunity is better now than ever. Gonzalez is gone. Blanks' natural position is open. The only thing standing in his way of full-time at-bats is Brad Hawpe ... OK, and that pesky recovery from Tommy John surgery. But the procedure helps explain why Blanks got off to such a slow start last season -- as Mike Aviles in 2009 can attest -- and position players typically recover from it faster than pitchers do. If Blanks gets a chance to claim the first base job at some point this season, don't be surprised if he gets back to performing like he did as a rookie, when he hit 10 homers in 148 at-bats.

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Can't-miss prospect ... Casey Kelly, SP

Kelly was the key piece in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, which seems ridiculous if you're just looking at numbers. A 5.31 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP at the Double-A level doesn't seem like the stuff of legends. But you have to remember Kelly was in the process of converting back to pitcher after beginning his professional career as a shortstop. Considering he was learning on the fly against established prospects at one of the most competitive levels of the minors, his performance wasn't half bad. He showed improved velocity as his body filled out at age 20, making his frontline stuff even more formidable, so it's only a matter of time before it all comes together for him. If he progresses to the point that his numbers match his stuff, he could potentially reach the majors this year. And if that happens, Mat Latos will have to fend him off for the title of staff ace.

San Diego Padres Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Jason Bartlett SS 1 Mat Latos RH
2 Orlando Hudson 2B 2 Clayton Richard LH
3 Brad Hawpe 1B 3 Tim Stauffer RH
4 Ryan Ludwick RF 4 Aaron Harang RH
5 Chase Headley 3B 5 Cory Luebke LH
6 Will Venable LF Alt Wade LeBlanc LH
7 Nick Hundley C
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Cameron Maybin CF CL Heath Bell RH
Top bench options SU Mike Adams RH
R Jorge Cantu CI RP Luke Gregerson RH
R Chris Denorfia OF RP Joe Thatcher LH
R Aaron Cunningham OF RP Ernesto Frieri RH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2010 high Destination
1 Casey Kelly 21 SP Double-A Double-A
Numbers didn't impress in conversion from shortstop but has stuff of ace and should become one soon.
2 Anthony Rizzo 21 1B Double-A Triple-A
Acquired in Adrian Gonzalez deal and will eventually replace slugger. Not a bad power hitter himself.
3 Cory Luebke 26 SP Majors Majors
Doesn't have ace stuff but proved effective in late-season trial. Could win rotation spot this spring.
4 Jaff Decker 21 OF Class A Double-A
Diminutive slugger has walk rate to develop into OPS machine, but poor defense could delay promotion.
5 Simon Castro 22 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Strike-thrower should adapt quickly to big leagues but may lack ceiling to become top-of-rotation guy.
Best of the rest: Andrew Cumberland, SS; Reymond Fuentes, OF; Aaron Poreda, RP; Matt Lollis, SP; Donavan Tate, SD; Jason Hagerty, C; James Darnell, 3B; Juan Oramas, SP; Edinson Rincon, 3B; Logan Forsythe, 3B; Jarrett Hoffpauir, 3B; and Blake Tekotte, OF.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Team outlooks in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.

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Player News
Braves sign catcher Jesus Flores to minor-league contract
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:23 pm ET) The Braves signed catcher Jesus Flores to a minor-league contract Friday, which includes an invite to spring training, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Flores has not played in the majors since 2012 with the Nationals. He spent the 2014 season with the Royals' Triple-A affiliate at Omaha, batting .248 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 40 games.


Pirates sign Wilkin Castillo, Josh Wall to minor-league deals
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:18 pm ET) The Pirates have signed catcher Wilkin Castillo and pitcher Josh Wall to minor-league contracts, which include invites to spring training.

Rockies sign Betancourt, Quintanilla to minor-league deals
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:11 pm ET) The Rockies signed former closer Rafael Betancourt and infielder Omar Quintanilla to minor-league contracts Friday, per MLB.com. 

Quintanilla spent the last two seasons with the Mets, while Betancourt did not pitch in the majors in 2014 as he was working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He did pitch in the minors, going 2-0 with a 4.66 ERA.

"I have another chance," Betancourt said by phone from his offseason home in Orlando, Fla. "Compared to how it was last year or even when I was pitching in games, I feel a lot more normal now.

"When I threw for the Rockies last week, I threw all my pitches -- fastball, changeup and breaking ball. Last year, I didn't throw any breaking balls, because my arm felt weird. It's 16 months after surgery and everything is going well. I'm also happy the Rockies stuck with me; they have a new GM [Jeff Bridich] but still were there for me, and I appreciate that."


Ronald Belisario not likely to sign with Blue Jays
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:02 pm ET) Reliever Ronald Belisario is no longer likely to sign a contract with the Blue Jays, and it appears he will sign with another team, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Blue Jays sign veteran Ramon Santiago to minor-league deal
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:01 pm ET) The Blue Jays announced Friday they signed infielder Ramon Santiago to a minor-league contract, which includes an invite to spring training.

The 35-year-old Santiago has spent most of his 13-year MLB career in the AL. He spent his first season in the NL in 2014 with the Reds. He hit .246 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 75 games for Cincinnati last season.


Brewers designate Elian Herrera for assignment Friday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:59 pm ET) Brewers infielder/outfielder Elian Herrera was designated for assignment Friday to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for pitcher Neal Cotts.

Herrera hit .274 with no home runs, one triple, seven doubles and five RBI in 69 games for Milwaukee in 2014.


Red Sox's Workman preparing to compete for a spot in rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:52 pm ET) With the offseason acquisitions of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Justin Masterson, Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman chances of making the opening-day rotation have significantly decreased. Workman knows his best chance of making the roster will be as a reliever, but he still expects to show up to spring training competing for a spot in the rotation, per ESPN.

“I’m going in there looking forward to competing, hopefully winning a spot,” Workman said. “I’d like to be in the rotation. I’m hoping I can win a job in the starting rotation but we’ll see how that goes. I’m doing everything I can right now to prepare for it and get ready to put myself in a good spot to compete for that job.” 

Workman struggled last season, going 1-10 with a 5.17 ERA in 19 appearances at the major-league level. Although, most of his struggles came as a starter. He went 1-9 with a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts, while going 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four relief appearances.

“My stuff kind of fell off at the end of last year,” Workman said. “I wasn’t bringing the same stuff to the table that I was at the beginning of the year and that made it tougher on me. But even with that, I feel like if I would have executed better I still would have been able to get the job done."


Brewers still interested in adding closer-type reliever
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:48 pm ET) Brewers assistant general Gord Ash said Friday the team is still in the market for a closer-type reliever, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said the team would like to make a move before spring training opens.

Ash said Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon and free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez are in play for the Brewers.

However, there is no apparent interest in signing former Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, and Ash said former Tigers reliever Joba Chamberlain doesn't fit their plans either.


Snider trade should free up at-bats for Pirates' Andrew Lambo
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) Saving money wasn't the only motivation for the Pirates to trade outfielder Travis Snider to the Orioles earlier this week, according to Pittsburgh columnist Dejan Kovacevic. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is eager to see what Andrew Lambo can do with 200-300 plate appearances at the MLB level, so trading Snider helped free up at-bats.

“I’m excited. I’m beyond excited for the opportunity,” Lambo said. “At the same time, I liked Travis. Everyone liked Travis. I know he was a big part of the team, a big part of the clubhouse and … well, I just have to be myself. I have to be the player, the person I am and show up every day to help the Pirates win. I’m grateful to be getting that chance.”

Lambo was sent to the minors last season after a rough spring training. He battled through a thumb injury, but once he returned to 100 percent, Lambo got on track offensively. He hit .328 with a .563 slugging percentage and .952 OPS in 61 games for Triple-A Indianapolis before he was back in the majors in late August.

“The way I look at it, I battled back, I came back,” he said. “I was there in Pittsburgh playing in games that mattered in front of full houses and against the Cardinals or Johnny Cueto, and I feel like I grew up there, like I matured.”

Lambo will now go to spring training looking to grab a bench spot as a fourth outfielder/backup first baseman.

“Honestly, this is the first time in my career I just relaxed, checked out a little bit," he said. "I was always running around the Arizona Fall League or winter ball and now … I don’t know, I feel like this has been good. I feel hungry. I want to get out there and prove … not to everybody but to my team that I can do the job. I can’t wait for that.”


Braves SP Mike Foltynewicz set to compete for spot in rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:58 am ET) Newly acquired starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, who was acquired in the Evan Gattis trade with Houston, will compete for the final spot in the Braves' rotation this spring. Bo Porter, who is now Atlanta's third-base coach after serving as the Astros manager, gave his scouting report of the 6-4, 220-pound right-hander to MLB.com.

"He definitely has the skill set," Porter said. "You look at the overall package -- he has an overpowering fastball, his breaking ball is something he started to use more once he arrived at the major-league level and his changeup is a work in progress. But when you look at his size and his competitiveness, he has that bulldog mentality."

Foltynewicz is considered the Braves' second-best prospect by MLB.com. He went 7-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 21 outings (18 starts) at Triple-A in 2014. He also made 16 relief appearances at the major-league level last season, going 0-1 with a 5.30 ERA.


 
 
 
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