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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
Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna tagged with blown save Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:43 pm ET) Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna last just 1/3 of an inning Saturday in relief against the Braves. Osuna was tagged for one run on three hits with one walk and earned a blown save. Osuna didn't sound to worried about his struggle Saturday, reports MLB.com.

"I'll learn from today and I'm going to try to make those adjustments for the season," Osuna said. "I think it was a good day.

"That's going to happen in the season so I've got to get ready. I think everything was there. I just missed a couple fastballs a little bit up and they hit it."


Nationals' Stephen Strasburg roughed up in start Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:39 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is still washing off the effects of a sprained left ankle suffered last week in the weight room. It showed Saturday as Strasburg gave up four runs on four hits, including two home runs, in four innings of work.

"It's kinda like a trust factor," Strasburg said. "You sprain your ankle really bad you're bracing for it so it's hard to get over that. I didn't really feel anything alarming so it's progress. I've just gotta keep going out there and I'm sure it'll be an afterthought soon."

Strasburg still thinks he has enough time to get his ankle right for his first start of the regular season.

"Yeah, it's going to have to be," Strasburg said. "The thing is you make 33 starts. The biggest thing is having the stamina up there, and I'm just going to go out there and give everything I have and keep plugging along."


Reds remain without plan for Cuban pitcher Raisel Iglesias
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:35 pm ET) Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias is still in limbo as the final week of spring training looms, reports MLB.com. Iglesias may make the pitching staff as a bullpen arm or be sent down to the minors for some extra work, but manager Bryan Price won't say just yet.

"I imagine he might be a little of both this year, and where he does it, I just don't know yet," Price said on Saturday. "We'd be hard pressed to throw him out there for 30-plus starts at any level and think we're going to be able to control his innings to a level we're comfortable with."

Iglesias has made three starts this spring with three other appearances out of the bullpen. 

"He needed to be more effective with the location of his fastball," Price said. "That's something we did see in the [Arizona Fall League] and instructional league, better command of the fastball in the strike zone. We know it's in there. But his fastball command hasn't been as good as we have seen in the past. We're working on helping him improve."


Rockies OF Corey Dickerson leaves game due to back tightness
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:32 pm ET) Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson left Saturday's game after the third inning due to lower back tightness, according to the Denver Post.

His exit was said to be precautionary and he should be back in action soon. Dickerson told the media that his scheduled play on Sunday is now a "maybe." He added that if this was the regular season he would have played through it.

The 25-year-old is batting .273 with twelve hits, one triple, one home run, four doubles and six RBI in 15 games played this spring.


Tigers optimistic Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez ready for Opening Day
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:25 pm ET) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus expressed optimism he will have both first baseman Miguel Cabrera and designated hitter Victor Martinez available for Opening Day, reports MLive.com.

"I'd say, as of right now, I'm optimistic that we can have them both ready for Opening Day," Ausmus said. "But I'm probably more optimistic that at this point that Miggy will be ready to play."

Cabrera, who hit his second home run of spring training Saturday, missed nearly a month after surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle while Martinez underwent surgery in early February for a torn meniscus in his left knee.


Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom allows one run in seven innings Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom continued his roll through spring training hitters Saturday against the Nationals, allowing just one run on four hits with four strikeouts in seven innings of work.

"That's the most stretched out I've been all spring, and I felt really good out there today," deGrom said to ESPN.com.

He needed just 81 pitches to get through his outing.

"I struggled today a little bit," said deGrom, who sliced his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.45. "I don't know if I lost concentration or something with those two four-pitch walks. That's the main thing today, but the spring has been going pretty smooth. I'm still trying to work on things. I was getting under my changeup today. And that’s what I fell behind Bryce with before he hit the home run."


Royals' Terrance Gore suffers broken jaw in minor league game
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:15 pm ET) Royals outfield prospect Terrance Gore suffered a broken jaw after being hit in the face by a pitch in a minor league game Friday, manager Ned Yost said according to MLB.com.

Gore, who was sent down to the minors last week, is playing in Double-A Northwest Arkansas and his timeframe for a return is unknown.


Yankees Alex Rodriguez hits third homer of spring
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees hit his third home run of the spring in a 10-2 loss against the Orioles, according to MLB.com.

"That one felt good," Rodriguez said. "I was excited about that one."

The 39-year-old has had a successful spring, batting .306 with three home runs, one double and four RBI. 

"Numbers mean nothing, but you definitely want to pass the eye test," Rodriguez said. "That means moving around better, putting balls in play, and hitting balls in the mid-90s. Those are things I haven't done in over a year and a half, so everything for me this year -- this spring, at least -- is a test."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been pleased with his at-bats this spring.

"He's been pretty consistent," Girardi said. "A home run today -- I think his at-bats have been really good."


Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke scheduled to throw Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:12 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke will throw a minor league game Wednesday instead of his scheduled appearance Thursday against the Angels, reports MLB.com.

Greinke threw 76 pitches in 3 2/3 innings Friday, leading manager Don Mattingly to push for Greinke to work on his command in the minors.

"He's not thrilled about it," Mattingly said. "He'll throw Wednesday, the same day as [Clayton] Kershaw [against the Royals]. We feel he's not quite built up. He didn't get to do the ups and downs last night. He'll have an extra day before he starts [April 7 against San Diego]."


Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain developing more power at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:09 pm ET) Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain isn't considered a power hitter by any means. Cain has never hit more than seven home runs in any of his five seasons, but manager Ned Yost thinks he's capable of more, reports MLB.com.

"I think that would be a good bet," Yost said. "… I think he's capable of hitting 15. I really do. He's got a lot of power. You watch him in [batting practice] and he'll hit some vicious line drives as well as hitting the ball out of the park."

Yost just wants to see Cain add the power to become a more complete hitter in 2015.

"He's a more complete hitter than he ever has been," Yost said. "I thought there was a point in time where he could hit 20 in a year. But that would take away from who he is."


 
 
 
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