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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
Angels SP Hector Santiago fails to go three innings Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:00 am ET) Angels pitcher Hector Santiago struggled throughout his start Monday against the A's, which the Angels lost 11-5.

Santiago received the loss after allowing five runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. He also struck out four and walked three.

Santiago is winless in his last eight starts.


A's pitcher Felix Doubront earns win Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:56 am ET) Athletics pitcher Felix Doubront did not receive a quality start Monday against the Angels, but he did receive the win.

Doubront allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings of work. He also struck out five, but walked four. He is now 2-1 with a 3.99 ERA.

Monday was his seventh start of the season and first win since July 7.


A's pitcher Evan Scribner leaves Monday's game with injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Athletics pitcher Evan Scribner was forced to leave Monday's game against the Angels after suffering an undisclosed injury, reports the Associated Press. Scribner left in the ninth inning after recording one strikeout.

Cardinals' Matt Adams suffers minor setback
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams suffered a setback from his quad injury when he tweaked a muscle in his leg, reports Fox Sports Midwest.

The issue is considered minor and the team is still targeting a mid-September return for Adams. He has been out since late May with a right quad injury.


Rangers SP Colby Lewis takes loss Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:03 am ET) Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis was not sharp during Monday's 7-0 loss to the Padres.

Lewis (14-7) received the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) over 5 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out two and walked two. His ERA is now 4.50.

Lewis has now lost his last two outings with no quality starts.


Padres SP Tyson Ross earns win Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:57 am ET) Padres pitcher Tyson Ross was masterful during his start against the Rangers on Monday, which the Padres won 7-0.

Ross did not surrender a run and only allowed three hits over seven innings of work. He also struck out seven and walked two. He was able to lower his ERA to 3.27.

Ross is 2-0 in his last four outings with two quality starts.


Giants DFA Ryan Lollis
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:52 am ET) The Giants designated outfielder Ryan Lollis for assignment, the team announced. The move was made to make room for Alejandro De Aza. Lollis hit .167 in 12 at-bats this season.

Allen Craig among September call-ups for Red Sox
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:47 am ET) The Red Sox will bring up outfielder Allen Craig on Tuesday when their roster expands, reports The Boston Globe.

Craig was demoted earlier this season after hitting .135 with one home run and two RBI in 24 games. Along with Craig, the team also called up Ryan Cook, Noe Ramirez and Sandy Leon.


Mariners trade Justin Ruggiano to Dodgers
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) The Dodgers acquired outfielder Justin Ruggiano from the Mariners for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the Dodgers announced.

Ruggiano was playing in Triple-A after hitting .214 with two home runs in 36 games earlier this season.


D-Backs RP Brad Ziegler receives loss Monday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(12:31 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Brad Ziegler could not record the final three outs in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Rockies.

Ziegler entered in the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead, but he allowed four runs on four hits over 2/3 innings. He also struck out one and walked one. His ERA increased to 2.48.

After the game, Ziegler revealed he suffered an ankle injury during the appearance and will receive treatment Tuesday, reports MLB.com.


 
 
 
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