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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
White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham finding his way
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:35 am ET) White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham may have needed to leave and return like the Prodigal Son to Chicago before he found success, according to the Daily Herald.

Beckham, in his second stint with Chicago, is hitting .350 with four RBI in 20 at-bats. Manager Robin Ventura is liking what he's seen from Beckham so far this season. 

"It can happen, it can jump on guys when there are expectations and the pressure gets there," manager Robin Ventura said. "For him, it might have been helpful to get traded away and go away for a while and come back with more of a clear conscience of who he is, where he's at. You get some information from somewhere else that maybe sticks in your skull differently than it did here.

"He's in a good frame of mind and that's the other big thing. All the stuff that has been said about him, but he can play baseball. We know that. He's a good player."


Mariners pitcher Danny Hultzen throws 3 1/3 innings in Double-A
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:31 am ET) Mariners pitcher Danny Hultzen was able to throw 3 1/3 innings Friday for Double-A Jackson, allowing one unearned run. 

"It was awesome," Hultzen said per MLB.com. "I've been looking forward to that day for a really long time. I did my best just to calm down and have fun and enjoy it. Sitting out for so long, you get the itch really easily. You miss being out there."

Hultzen, the second overall-pick in 2011, is working his way back from shoulder surgery in October 2013. His biggest priority for the rest of his rehab assignment will be to stay healthy.

"I've never been too much on velocity," he said. "That's been a little down, but I'm just real happy to be pitching again. If I'm throwing 85 [mph], I'm going to figure out how to get people out. I'm not too concerned about it. I'm happy that I'm out there playing again."


Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig tests hamstring Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:26 am ET) Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was able to do some light testing on his injured hamstring Saturday, according to MLB.com.

Puig, who is currently on the 15-day DL with the injury, is likely to begin his rehab assignment next week in the hopes of a quick return from the disabled list. Puig is hitting .279 with two home runs and four RBI in 43 at-bats this season.


Diamondbacks' Aaron Hill cranks first home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:57 am ET) Diamondbacks third baseman Aaron Hill went 1 for 4 at the plate in Arizona's 6-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday.

Hill did his damage in the fourth inning, smacking a 1-1 pitch from Scott Baker over the left center field wall, his first of the season. Hill is hitting .185 with four RBI in 54 at-bats this season.


Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt cracks sixth home run Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:54 am ET) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 1 for 4 at the plate in Arizona's 6-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday.

Goldschmidt did his damage in the first inning, ripping a two-run homer over the center field wall, his sixth of the season. Goldschmidt is now hitting .341 with 22 RBI in 85 at-bats.


Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner rips third home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:51 am ET) Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner went 2 for 3 at the plate in Los Angeles' 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday.

Turner got things going early when he ripped a solo home run in the first inning off of Jeremy Hellickson, his third of the season. Turner also doubled and scored three runs in the contest.

Turner is now hitting .300 with six RBI in 40 at-bats this season.


Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson hits fourth home run of 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:49 am ET) Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson went 1 for 5 at the plate in Los Angeles' 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday. 

Pederson got things going in the seventh when he ripped the first pitch he saw from Evan Marshall over the center field wall, his fourth consecutive game with an at-bat he's hit a home run.

Pederson is now hitting .292 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 65 at-bats.


Orioles C Caleb Jones continues impressive run Saturday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) The surprising season of Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph continued Saturday as the team awaits the return of starter Matt Wieters.

Joseph slammed his second home run of the season, a 408-foot solo job to left-center to cap the scoring in a 4-0 victory. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games and owns a slash line of .327/.409/.509.


Dodgers pitcher Chris Hatcher picks up second save of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:42 am ET) Dodgers relief pitcher Chris Hatcher allowed two hits in the ninth inning, but kept Arizona off the scoreboard in Los Angeles' 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday, earning his second save of the season.

Hatcher lowered his ERA to 6.75 in 9 1/3 innings of work.


Athletics RF Josh Reddick extends hitting streak to 10
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:35 am ET) Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick didn't merely extend his hitting streak to 10 games Saturday night. He did it in style.

Reddick, who began the streak with a three-hit performance, achieved another one against the Rangers. He singled twice and capped a six-run seventh inning with a three-run homer to right. He is batting .500 (17-for-34) during his tear.

He now owns an impressive slash line of .385/.444/.615.


 
 
 
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