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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

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Continuing their up-and-down history that has included five first-place finishes to go along with four last-place finishes in 14 years, the Diamondbacks went from worst to first last year, capitalizing on several breakthrough performances on their way to 94 wins.

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The biggest development for them was the emergence of a pitching staff in the void left by Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson stepped up as legitimate frontliners, with Kennedy finishing fourth in NL Cy Young voting. The duo got help in the form of Joe Saunders, whose pitch-to-contact approach fared better in the NL than the AL, and Josh Collmenter, whose deceptive delivery allowed his numbers to exceed his stuff. The offseason acquisition of Trevor Cahill only adds to the mix.

But while Kennedy, Hudson and Cahill all profile as top-of-the-rotation arms, they're not necessarily the best the organization has to offer. Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, figures to take the majors by storm at some point this season, and with high-upside hurlers Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley right behind him, pitching figures to be the Diamondbacks' strength for years to come.

Fortunately, they already have a solid nucleus in place offensively -- one led by Justin Upton, who finally appears to have turned the corner and emerged as a perennial five-category player. Chris Young is a power-speed threat in his own right, and Miguel Montero is one of the 10 best offensive catchers in the game. If Stephen Drew can return from the fractured ankle that sidelined him for the second half last year, then the current iteration of the Diamondbacks lineup will look even deeper than the one that played in the NLDS last year -- and that's assuming slugging first baseman Paul Goldschmidt doesn't quite live up to his crazy minor-league numbers.

Yes, for all that went right for the Diamondbacks last year, they still have nowhere to go but up, giving Fantasy owners the promise of high-end talent for both the short- and long-term.

Bust ... Ryan Roberts, 3B

Roberts' rise to Fantasy prominence last year was about as unlikely as they come, which is reason enough to question whether or not he can do it again. After all, if a near 20-20 season was really a likely scenario for him, he wouldn't have been a minor-league journeyman. But going beyond just common sense, you can't overlook the fact that his breakout season hinged on an unsustainably hot April in which he hit .313 with a 1.007 OPS. He hit .239 the rest of the way. Power and speed numbers aside, if his batting average is lagging right out of the gate, the Diamondbacks have little reason to give him the benefit of the doubt. He's already 31. It's not like he's any sort of building block. With higher-upside third basemen like Ryan Wheeler and Matt Davidson quickly rising through the minor-league system, Roberts is on a shorter leash than his ranking would have you believe. He's a player to draft only if he falls to you late.

Sleeper ... Jason Kubel, OF

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Think back to 2009, when Kubel hit .300 with 28 homers and a .907 OPS. Hasn't been the same since then, has he? You know what else hasn't been the same since then? The Twins' home ballpark. Back then, it was the Metrodome, a hitter's haven where Kubel put together an OPS about 100 points higher than on the road in both 2008 and 2009. In the two years since, it's been Target Field, a park geared more toward pitching. The connection is easy to see, which is why the Diamondbacks were willing to give Kubel a two-year deal this offseason. They play in a hitter's park, much like the Metrodome, and recognize that a 29-year-old like Kubel is still young enough to salvage whatever he lost to expansive Target Field. Given his improvement against left-handed pitchers last year, a full season of at-bats could feasibly return Kubel to the 25-homer range. It's a reasonable enough possibility that he's worth a late-round flier in mixed leagues.

Impact prospect ... Trevor Bauer, SP

True, Bauer was drafted only a year ago, and yeah, he has just seven minor-league starts to his name, but he comes from UCLA with so much poise and polish that the Diamondbacks were planning to let him audition for the final rotation spot before bringing back Joe Saunders late in the offseason. Bauer gives the "student of the game" moniker a whole new meaning, studying concepts like biomechanics, effective velocity and pitch tunneling in an effort to maximize his delivery, and considering he's often compared to Tim Lincecum, he has apparently done just that. Though his quick promotion to Double-A last year didn't go so well, he was coming off a heavy workload in college and still demonstrated incredible strikeout ability. Given his history and pedigree, Bauer won't need long to maximize his potential. If Collmenter doesn't pan out or some other pitcher suffers an injury, Bauer will get the call midseason, and when he does, he'll be an immediate contributor in Fantasy.

2012 Arizona Diamondbacks Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Stephen Drew SS 1 Ian Kennedy RH
2 Aaron Hill 2B 2 Daniel Hudson RH
3 Justin Upton RF 3 Trevor Cahill RH
4 Miguel Montero C 4 Joe Saunders LH
5 Chris Young CF 5 Josh Collmenter RH
6 Jason Kubel LF Alt Wade Miley LH
7 Paul Goldschmidt 1B
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ryan Roberts 3B CL J.J. Putz RH
Top bench options SU David Hernandez RH
R Gerardo Parra OF RP Brad Ziegler RH
R Willie Bloomquist UTL RP Takashi Saito RH
R Lyle Overbay 1B RP Craig Breslow LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Trevor Bauer 21 SP Double-A Double-A
The third overall pick in the 2011 draft has knockout stuff and a workhorse mentality. He could be to the Diamondbacks this year what Tim Lincecum was to the Giants in 2007.
2 Tyler Skaggs 20 SP Double-A Triple-A
The prize of the Dan Haren deal would be the ace of most systems, but he has to play second fiddle to Bauer with the Diamondbacks. He's a year further away, too.
3 Adam Eaton 23 OF Double-A Triple-A
Eaton is a player in the Shane Victorino mold: small stature, but big numbers, both in the minors and the AFL. He's an injured outfielder away from being a surprise contributor.
4 Matt Davidson 20 3B Class A Double-A
Davidson profiles as a middle-of-the-order hitter, but with perhaps the same shortcomings that Mark Reynolds had. Still, you could do worse in long-term keeper leagues.
5 Archie Bradley 19 SP Rookie Class A
Bradley went off the board four picks after Bauer in the 2011 draft and has nearly as much upside. But obviously, at age 19, he's a few years from contributing.
Best of the rest: Wade Miley, SP; Chris Owings, SS; A.J. Pollock, OF; Patrick Corbin, SP; Bryan Shaw, RP; David Holmberg, SP; Bobby Borchering, 1B; Ryan Wheeler, 3B; Marc Krauss, OF; Charles Brewer, SP; David Nick, 2B; Yonata Ortega, RP; and Keon Broxton, OF.

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Player News
Twins' Byron Buxton named No. 1 prospect by MLB.com
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:00 am ET) Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was named the top prospect in baseball by MLB.com Friday.

Buxton played just 31 games in 2014 due to wrist and concussion issues and finished with a .240/.313/.405 line along with four home runs, 16 RBI and six stolen bases in 121 at-bats with high Class A Fort Myers. He also went 0 for 3 at the Double-A level. Buxton is making his second straight appearance atop MLB.com's top prospect list.

The rest of MLB.com's top-five prospects (in order) are Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, Astros shotstop Carlos Correa, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell. None of the quartet appeared in the top five of last year's MLB.com prospect list, though all four cracked the top 12.


Red Sox designate Drake Britton for assignment
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox designated pitcher Drake Britton for assignment Friday, clearing a roster spot for pitcher Alexi Ogando.

Britton appeared in seven games with the Red Sox in 2014, tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four batters and walking two. He posted a 5.86 ERA and 37:38 K:BB ratio in 58 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Peter Moylan 'doing fantastic' in return from Tommy John
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Free-agent pitcher Peter Moylan indicated Friday that he's "doing fantastic" in his return from his second Tommy John surgery, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"I’m doing fantastic, mate. Dropped 35 pounds," Moylan said. “My goal is to be 100 percent by end of spring. Ball is coming out great, though. Probably have to throw for some teams right around the start of spring to gauge interest, but there have already been some nibbles, which is encouraging."

Moylan underwent the procedure last March after receiving a non-roster invitation from the Astros. He's throwing from about 70 percent strength off a mound and in the process of deciding whether to sign a a deal in the near future or after the season begins. He hopes to resume pitching in the big leagues by midseason at the earliest.

Moylan has made 309 appearances since debuting in 2006, compiling a 21-9 record, 2.80 ERA and 213:121 K:BB ratio in 276 innings.


Braves' Shelby Miller: Sinker is 'going to take me to the next level'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) Braves starting pitcher Shelby Miller had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2014. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 2.79 ERA before going 2-7 with a 5.11 ERA over his next 16 appearances (15 starts).

Miller, however, was able to finish the season on a high note, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .190 opponents' batting average over his final seven starts. Miller attributes his success down the stretch to incorporating a sinker into his repertoire, per FOX Sports South.

"I said I'm going to throw some of these, and we'll see where it's at," Miller said of a conversation he had with catcher A.J. Pierzynski before an Aug. 23 start against the Phillies. "It felt good so we just went with it. I started throwing it literally within three days. It's a good pitch that I picked up quick.

"I still need a lot of work with it. I need a lot of work with all my pitches. There's all sorts of ways to get better. But I think that's definitely a pitch that will help me be more efficient and take me deeper into games. That's [the sinker] going to be a huge pitch for me this year that's ultimately going to take me to the next level. Not only that but kind of mixing it all together, becoming more of a complete pitcher more than a thrower."

Miller added he will also begin to work more on his changeup, which he threw just 2.2 percent of the time in 2014, per FanGraphs.com.

"I know [Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] has been known for changeups," Miller said. "A lot of great pitchers have come through this organization, [and] that's a pitch I would love to pick up. I want to be able to throw it more consistently, [and] have a little bit more confidence in it."


Scott Baker agrees to minor-league deal with Yankees
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Yankees agreed to a minor-league deal with pitcher Scott Baker, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. If Baker makes the major-league roster, he will be paid $1.5 million.

Baker made 25 appearances (eight starts) for the Rangers in 2014, going 3-4 with a 5.47 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.


Rockies designate Jayson Aquino for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) After completing a two-team trade Friday, the Rockies decided to designate Jayson Aquino for assignment, the team announced.

Aquino spent 2014 bouncing around the minor league, pitching in 18 games with a 5.13 ERA in 107 innings pitched. He went 5-10 with 83 strikeouts in stints with both Double-A Tulsa and Class A Modesto.


Report: Red Sox express willingness to trade Edward Mujica
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have expressed a willingness to trade reliever Edward Mujica, a source told FOX Sports. The right-handed reliever is set to make $4.75 million in 2015.

Mujica, who was an All-Star with St. Louis in 2013, went 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA and eight saves in his first season with Boston in 2014.


Orioles 1B/OF Steve Pearce agrees to $3.7M salary for 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Orioles avoided arbitration with outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, agreeing to a $3.7 million salary for 2015, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Pearce reportedly filed for $5.4 million, while the Orioles reportedly offered $2 million.

Pearce is coming off his best season as a major leaguer, batting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, .556 slugging percentage, .930 OPS, 21 home runs, 26 doubles and 49 RBI in 102 games.


Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is 'staying put'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) A team source told CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "staying put."  Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told FOX Sports earlier in the week that it is "highly, highly unlikely" Tulowitzki will be traded before opening day.

Tulowitzki, who has been linked to trade rumors involving the Mets this offseason, is under contract through 2020 on a six-year, $118 million deal. He is also recovering from August hip surgery.


Red Sox agree to deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1/30/2015) The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It is a one-year, $1.5 million contract, which includes $1.5 million in bonuses, according to USA Today.

Ogando has been a free agent since being non-tendered by the Rangers in December. Ogando made just 27 relief appearances in 2014 due to an elbow injury. He went 2-3 with a 6.84 ERA.

Ogando, who was an All-Star in 2011, also has experience starting at the major-league level, going 19-12 with a 3.40 ERA in 48 career starts.


 
 
 
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