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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Kansas City Royals

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For a team coming off its eighth straight losing season, the Royals have generated a surprising amount of excitement this offseason.

The seeds of the anticipation for the 2012 campaign were sown in 2011, when the team gave regular roles to rookies Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella. A collective surge in production for the outfield of Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur didn't hurt either.

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While the Royals' young lineup started to attract some notoriety last season, the pitching staff compiled the fourth-highest ERA (4.45) in the majors. The front office made a few offseason moves to address the team's pitching woes. They moved Cabrera to the Giants, acquiring lefty Jonathan Sanchez, who could quickly become the team's best starting pitcher, and they re-signed Bruce Chen, who was last season's most effective starter. Jonathan Broxton and Jose Mijares were signed to bolster the bullpen. Joakim Soria, coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, will once again assume the closer's role.

The offense will have much the same look that it had at the end of last season, but the Royals will have to fill the hole in center field left by the departure of Cabrera. Lorenzo Cain, who got a brief look last fall, will get his first chance to be an everyday center fielder. Though the lineup hasn't changed much this offseason, it could be more productive this year if Hosmer, Moustakas and Giavotella can continue to develop in their sophomore seasons. However, the Royals will also have to rely on Gordon and Francoeur repeating their surprising success from 2011.

The young Royals are certainly a team on the rise, and they could break their string of losing seasons this year. With even more prospects -- including Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi -- on the way, it may not be long before the Royals find themselves in the thick of contention on an annual basis.

Bounce-back ... Jonathan Sanchez, SP

While Soria also gets the "bounce-back" label, no one is due for a more dramatic turnaround than Sanchez. His 2011 season was derailed first by poor control and then by disabled list stints for biceps and ankle injuries. Though Sanchez fell out of favor with the Giants organization, he had been as reliable as ever through early June last year. Though he has never been very adept at throwing strikes, he induces enough swings-and-misses to be valuable to standard mixed league owners. Sanchez will also get the benefit of playing his home games in a pitcher-friendly park, just as he did in San Francisco.

Rotisserie gem ... Lorenzo Cain, OF

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Cain finally showed some home run power in his first full season at Triple-A last year, but even if that doesn't translate to the majors right away, he is a worthy Rotisserie target. With good gap power and decent contact skills, Cain could toy with a .300 batting average. Though his minor league stolen base totals weren't gaudy, Royals manager Ned Yost likes to have his players run, so 25-30 steals are not out of the question. While Cain is strictly an AL-only option in Head-to-Head formats, he is a viable No. 5 outfielder for mixed Rotisserie leagues.

One-hit wonder ... Jeff Francoeur, OF

It's probably not fair to call Francoeur a "one-hit wonder" since he fared well in his early years with the Braves. Still, 2011 was a career year and entering his late 20s, one might be tempted to think that it was a breakout. However, Francoeur's improved batting average (.285) and run-production stats (77 runs, 87 RBI) were helped by a .330 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) -- a mark that doesn't square up for a player who pops out a lot and is a below-average line drive hitter. Even if he manages to be a 20-20 player again, Francoeur will have a hard time matching last season's production. He profiles more as a low-end No. 3 Fantasy outfielder than the No. 2 outfielder that he looked like last year.

2012 Kansas City Royals Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Alex Gordon LF 1 Luke Hochevar RH
2 Johnny Giavotella 2B 2 Jonathan Sanchez LH
3 Billy Butler DH 3 Bruce Chen LH
4 Eric Hosmer 1B 4 Felipe Paulino RH
5 Jeff Francoeur RF 5 Aaron Crow RH
6 Mike Moustakas 3B Alt Danny Duffy LH
7 Lorenzo Cain CF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Salvador Perez C CL Joakim Soria RH
9 Alcides Escobar SS SU Jonathan Broxton RH
Top bench options RP Greg Holland RH
R Chris Getz INF RP Louis Coleman RH
R Yuniesky Betancourt SS RP Jose Mijares LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 William Myers 21 OF Double-A Double-A
The former catcher disappointed in his first go-around at Double-A, but a good Arizona Fall League campaign and sharp batting eye bode well for a turnaround.
2 Mike Montgomery 22 SP Triple-A Triple-A
Montgomery is much better than his 5.32 ERA from Triple-A would indicate. Could figure into the Royals' rotation sometime in 2012.
3 Jake Odorizzi 22 SP Double-A Double-A
Odorizzi struggled after his promotion to Double-A, though park factors likely played a role. A long shot to contribute this year, he should be a target in long-term keeper leagues.
4 Bubba Starling 19 OF DNP Class A
The athletic prospect was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Though he is probably several years away, Starling is still a top keeper target in long-term leagues.
5 Cheslor Cuthbert 19 3B Class A Class A
Another long-term keeper league target, Cuthbert played extremely well as an 18-year-old in A-ball.
Best of the rest: John Lamb, SP; Kelvin Herrera, RP; Jason Adam, SP; Chris Dwyer, SP; Yordano Ventura, SP; Christian Colon, SS; Elier Hernandez, OF; Brett Eibner, OF; Bryan Brickhouse, SP; Kyle Smith, SP; Jorge Bonifacio, OF; Cam Gallagher, C; Clint Robinson, 1B; Timothy Melville, SP; Brian Fletcher, OF.

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Player News
Astros DH Evan Gattis goes deep, extends hit streak to nine games
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:42 pm ET) Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis extended his hitting streak to nine games with a home run and three RBI in Tuesday's 6-4 win over the Orioles.

Gattis launched a three-run home run off Mike Wright in the third inning to tie the game. Houston would tack on two more runs in that inning to secure the win. He added a single and finished 2 for 4 with a run scored and three RBI. He is hitting .237 with 12 homers and 36 RBI on the season.


Rangers P Colby Lewis bounces back with solid performance
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:39 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis gave up two earned runs in Tuesday night's 15-2 win over the White Sox. 

Lewis bounced back from three sub-par to poor performances in a row and put up a solid outing. He gave up six hits, struck out four batters and walked none. Lewis did allow a home run, however, which makes it four hit off of him in the past three games. 

Lewis, who had a 2.40 ERA on May 11, now has a 4.48 ERA this season. 

His next start is projected for Sunday against the Royals. 


Astros' Luke Gregerson Ks three to register save No. 15
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:37 pm ET) Astros pitcher Luke Gregerson allowed one hit and struck out three in a scoreless ninth inning to close out a 6-4 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday. Gregerson has converted 15 of 16 save chances, with a 3.42 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 27:6 K:BB ratio over 23 2/3 innings of relief this season.

Astros SP Collin McHugh collects sixth win on Tuesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:34 pm ET) Astros pitcher Collin McHugh worked past a rough inning and received enough run support to pick up his sixth win of the season Tuesday night against the Orioles.

McHugh (6-2) surrendered a run-scoring single to Steve Pearce, a two-run triple to Ryan Flaherty and a run-scoring single to Manny Machado in the second inning. He settled down the rest of the way and was charged with four earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six over seven innings of a 6-4 victory.

McHugh has allowed four earned runs in back-to-back outings. He owns a 4.33 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 58:13 K:BB ratio over 70 2/3 innings pitched. His next start will come Sunday at Toronto.


Royals' Salvador Perez takes foul tip to face mask, leaves game
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:33 pm ET) Royals catcher Salvador Perez exited Tuesday's game against the Indians after taking a foul tip off of his face mask, according to FOX Sports Kansas City

Perez left the game as a precaution. He finished the night 1 for 3 and a single. He now has a slash line of .282/.293/.435. 


Orioles' Mike Wright suffers first career loss
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:26 pm ET) Orioles right-hander Mike Wright dropped his first decision of his career on Tuesday against Houston.

Wright (2-1) allowed five runs in the third, including back-to-back homers from Evan Gattis and Luis Valbuena. He was charged with five earned runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings of a 6-4 defeat.

Wright has allowed eight earned runs over his last two outings, after starting the year with 14 1/3 scoreless frames. He owns a 2.96 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP and 16:4 K:BB ratio over 24 1/3 innings pitched. His next start will come Sunday at Cleveland.


Blue Jays option P Scott Copeland to Triple-A Buffalo
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:23 pm ET) Scott Copeland's most recent addition to the Blue Jays' roster didn't last long. 

The club announced late Tuesday that Copeland has been optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Copeland was added as the 26th man on the roster for Tuesday's doubleheader against the Nationals. 

The Nationals won the first game 2-0 and the Blue Jays won the second 7-3. 


MRI comes back clean for Orioles' J.J. Hardy
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:18 pm ET) Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy underwent an MRI on his injured oblique, which came back clean, per Baltimore Sun. Hardy, who has missed back-to-back games with the issue, has been listed as day to day moving forward, leaving his status up in the air for Wednesday's game in Houston.

"There's not the stuff you normally see there with an oblique, but there's still something," manager Buck Showalter said.


A's OF Ben Zobrist blasts grand slam in win over Tigers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(11:17 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Ben Zobrist a grand slam in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 5-3 win over the Tigers. 

The grand slam gave Zobrist his second home run of the season. He's now hitting .258 over his past 10 games. That compares favorably to his .243 batting average for the season. 

Zobrist finished the game 1 for 4 and also drew a walk. 


Astros' Deduno dodges hip surgery, to start rehab program soon
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:13 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch said following Tuesday's game against the Orioles that pitcher Samuel Deduno will not need surgery after visiting a hip specialist, according to the Houston Chronicle. Deduno, who suffered a setback during a Triple-A rehab assignment, will start a rehab program in the near future.

 
 
 
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