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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
Red Sox 2B Brock Holt back in lineup after two-game absence
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:02 pm ET) Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt has returned to action for the Wednesday night game against the White Sox.

He had been out the last two games with a knee issue.


Red Sox put CF Mookie Betts on DL, promote OF Jackie Bradley
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:54 pm ET) A head injury has Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts on the disabled list and Jackie Bradley promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket, per Comcast Sportsnet.

Betts sustained the injury trying to make a catch in the Tuesday night game. It has yet to reported if he's on the 7-day concussion DL.

His loss is a blow to Boston. Betts owns a .265/.317/.438 slash line and has scored 52 runs this season.


Marlins SS Miguel Rojas (shoulder) remains out of lineup
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:42 pm ET) Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas is not in the lineup for his team's matchup against the Nationals on Wednesday. 

Rojas is out with a lingering shoulder injury and will be replaced by Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.


White Sox put 2B Emilio Bonifacio on DL, call up 2B Leury Garcia
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) The White Sox have placed utility man Emilio Bonifacio on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain and have promoted second baseman Leury Garcia from Triple-A Charlotte, per the Chicago Tribune.

Bonifacio, who sustained the injury Tuesday, has been a huge disappointment this season. He has played in just 45 games and is hitting .169.

Garcia played in only one game for the White Sox this year in a brief July stint and was sent down Sunday.


Royals SP Jeremy Guthrie collapses in sixth in defeat to Indians
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:29 pm ET) Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie pulled a Houdini act early in his Wednesday performance in Cleveland. But he couldn't escape a disastrous sixth inning and the result was a defeat that evened his record at 7-7.

Guthrie finished having allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

The right-hander gave up three hits and a walk and hit two batters over the first two innings, but trailed at that point just 2-0. But the Indians smashed six straight hits against him with one out in the sixth, including home runs by Giovany Urshela, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley.

Guthrie has been clobbered for 17 runs on 38 hits in his last 23 1/3 innings pitched and has raised his ERA to 5.65. His rotation spot could be in jeopardy in the wake of the acquisition of stud starter Johnny Cueto.


Indians SP Corey Kluber goes complete in defeat of Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Indians right-hander Corey Kluber has spent much of this season as the least-supported starter in the American League. But he could certainly relax Wednesday.

Backed with 12 runs, Kluber cruised to a victory over Kansas City for his second complete game of the year. He allowed only one run on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

He had a shutout going into the ninth, but then tired enough to surrender the lone walk, double and sacrifice fly. He finished having thrown 112 pitches.

Kluber has six quality starts in his last seven outings and boasts a 3.44 ERA.


Rays SP Chris Archer loses despite striking out 11 batters
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:16 pm ET) Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer got the short end of the stick during his start against the Tigers on Wednesday, and despite striking out 11 batters he picked up his eighth loss of the season.

Archer allowed two unearned runs on three hits in seven innings of work. The 11 strikeouts gave Archer his sixth double-digit strikeout performance of the season.

Archer (9-8) now has a 2.54 ERA with 173 strikeouts and 33 walks in 141 2/3 innings this season. 


Report: Mariners RP Charlie Furbush could start rehab next week
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) Mariners lefty reliever Charlie Furbush is expected to accompany the team on its road trip that begins Thursday and throw another bullpen session, per ESPN. He could then begin a rehab assignment on Aug. 6 or 7 for Triple-A Tacoma.

Furbush has been sidelined since July 7 with a biceps injury.


Tigers closer Joakim Soria picks up 23rd save of the season
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:04 pm ET) Tigers closer Joakim Soria recorded his 23rd save of the season on Wednesday against the Rays.

Soria closed out the ninth inning of a pitchers duel with ease, as he struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Soria now has a 2.85 ERA this season in 41 innings of relief.


Tigers SP Justin Verlander tosses gem in win over Rays
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(2:59 pm ET) Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander was absolutely dominant in his start against the Rays on Wednesday.

Verlander allowed just one run on four hits over eight innings of work. He struck out a season-high 10 batters, while flirting with a no-hitter through the first 4 2/3 innings of the game. Verlander's no-hitter was broken up by an Asdrubal Cabrera solo home run with two outs in the fourth inning.

Verlander is now 1-3 with the win. He has a 4.86 ERA this season with 35 strikeouts and 12 walks in 50 innings this season.


 
 
 
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