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2012 Fantasy outlooks: Cincinnati Reds

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Cincinnati's defense of its 2010 National League Central Division title never got on track, and the Reds finished the 2011 season with a disappointing 79-83 record. Strong seasons from former NL MVP Joey Votto and rotation ace Johnny Cueto were not enough to lift Cincinnati above a third-place finish.

The main culprit was starting pitching, as Bronson Arroyo flailed his way to a 9-12 record and 5.07 ERA, and Edinson Volquez and Travis Wood failed to perform to expectations. Though the offense tied for second place in the NL in runs scored the lineup had a few holes, with Scott Rolen playing only 65 games, Drew Stubbs morphing into a singles hitter, Paul Janish and Edgar Renteria contributing little from the shortstop position, and left fielder Jonny Gomes hitting a paltry .211 before getting shipped to the Nationals.

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Volquez, Wood and Renteria are all gone, as are starting catcher Ramon Hernandez and closer Francisco Cordero. The Reds have all but cleaned out their farm system in an effort to win now, trading prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Bradley Boxberger as part of a deal that netted starting pitcher Mat Latos from the Padres, and bringing in Devin Mesoraco and Zack Cozart to log a significant chunk of the innings at catcher and shortstop, respectively.

Reds general manager Walt Jockety went to the free agent market to find his new closer, ex-Phillie Ryan Madson, and he imported Sean Marshall from the Cubs to fill the set-up role. While the Reds had a busy offseason, they have kept the core of their '10 division title-winning team intact as Votto, Cueto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips will all return in key roles.

With their recent roster shuffling, the Reds will head into spring training with a few question marks. Namely, they will have to determine whether recently-signed Ryan Ludwick or Chris Heisey will be their left fielder, how much playing time they want Mesoraco to have, and if there will be room for Aroldis Chapman or Jeff Francis in the starting rotation. Ultimately, though, the Reds' chances for returning to the postseason will hinge not on these decisions, but on Latos performing like a legitimate No. 2 starter, the bottom of the rotation improving, and Rolen and Stubbs having bounce-back years. At least some of these developments should pan out, but it still may not be enough for the Reds to keep pace with the Cardinals and Brewers.

Breakout ... Homer Bailey, SP

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It has been almost five years since Bailey first arrived as a highly-touted minor-league call-up, and he still has yet to fulfill much of his lofty promise. While Bailey's performance has been spotty, persistent shoulder troubles have been the 25-year-old's biggest obstacle to progress. The Reds have been conservative with Bailey and the team hopes that their caution will pay off this season. If he can stay healthy, Bailey has an excellent chance for a breakout season, as he has made steady improvements in his pitch selection, control and efficiency. Though he may go undrafted in many mixed leagues, Bailey could be one of this year's top post-hype sleepers.

Impact 2012 prospect ... Zack Cozart, SS

Mesoraco projects to be the more impactful player over the long run, but Cozart will make more noise in 2012. If he can build on the gap power that he displayed in Triple-A last season, Cozart just might hit in the .280s. With regular playing time, Cozart is a safe bet to hit double digits in homers, possibly getting as many as 15. The Reds have a bevy of infielders on their roster, but the biggest impediment to playing time for Cozart is his ability to come back from Tommy John surgery quickly. He should play all or most of the regular season and is worth drafting with a late-round pick in standard mixed leagues.

Bust ... Ryan Ludwick, OF

Though Ludwick will compete with Heisey for the starting left field job, he could benefit from manager Dusty Baker's preference for veteran players. That may land Ludwick a starting gig to begin the season, but that's no guarantee that he can keep it. Some observers have pointed to Ludwick's career line at Great American Ball Park (.276/.321/.600) as a sign of an impending comeback season, and it's true that he has had the misfortune of playing in pitchers' parks for most of his career. However, Ludwick has just 19 plate appearances at GABP over the last two years, a time period during which he has seen an erosion of his power numbers, both at home and on the road. Heisey has simply been a better hitter over the last two years, and it will take a significant comeback on Ludwick's part to hold him off. While some owners may see Ludwick as a candidate for a late-round flier in mixed leagues, his recent performance suggests that he will be better suited for NL-only leagues.

2012 Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Outlook
Projected Lineup Pos. Projected Rotation
1 Brandon Phillips 2B 1 Johnny Cueto RH
2 Zack Cozart SS 2 Mat Latos RH
3 Joey Votto 1B 3 Mike Leake RH
4 Jay Bruce RF 4 Bronson Arroyo RH
5 Scott Rolen 3B 5 Homer Bailey RH
6 Ryan Ludwick LF Alt Jeff Francis LH
7 Drew Stubbs CF
Bullpen Breakdown
8 Ryan Hanigan C CL Ryan Madson RH
Top bench options SU Sean Marshall LH
R Devin Mesoraco C RP Nick Masset RH
R Chris Heisey OF RP Jose Arredondo RH
R Juan Francisco 3B RP Bill Bray LH
Rookies/Prospects Age Pos. 2011 high Destination
1 Devin Mesoraco 23 C Majors Majors
Mesoraco will start the season in the majors splitting time with Hanigan, but he has the power and patience to be a top Fantasy catcher in the not-too-distant future.
2 Zack Cozart 26 SS Majors Majors
Coming off Tommy John surgery, Cozart could be ready for opening day. He may not get on base much, but he has good power for a shortstop.
3 Billy Hamilton 21 SS Class A Class A
This is not a typo: Hamilton stole 103 bases in the Midwest League last season. His other skills are a work in progress, though, and he is likely to get shifted to second base before he reaches the majors.
4 Daniel Corcino 21 SP Class A Class A
Corcino has been much more dominant than what you would expect from someone who is 5' 11". He made huge strides in 2011, and now he will have to master the hitter-friendly California League.
5 Robert Stephenson 18 SP DNP Class A
Stephenson, the Reds' first-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, throws his fastball in the mid-90s but has plenty of work to do on his secondary pitches. He's still several years away.
Best of the rest: Todd Frazier, 3B; Didi Gregorius, SS; Tony Cingrani, SP; Neftali Soto, 1B; Denis Phipps, OF; Yorman Rodriguez, OF; Henry Rodriguez, 2B; J.C. Sulbaran, SP; David Vidal, 3B; Tim Crabbe, SP; Kyle Lotzkar, SP; Juan Duran, OF; Gabriel Rosa, 3B; Tucker Barnhart, C; Junior Arias, 3B; Andrew Brackman, RP; Donald Lutz, 1B; Donnie Joseph, RP.

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Player News
Brewers bench LF Khris Davis on Saturday against Braves
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:39 am ET) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis has shown signs of emerging from his slump, but he likely won't have a chance to prove he's completely back in stride Saturday in Atlanta. He is out of the lineup.

Davis has hits in his last two games, including one that drove in two runs Friday night. But overall he is on a 4-for-33 slide. He has 18 strikeouts in 18 games this month.


Astros' George Springer continues multi-hit streak
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:37 am ET) George Springer is on an absolute tear for the Astros as of late. The right fielder extended his multi-hit streak to three games in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday.

Springer went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. In his last three games, he is hitting .500/.538/.750 with three doubles in 12 at-bats.


Rangers 2B Tommy Field records two hits, two RBI against Yankees
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:32 am ET) Rangers second baseman Tommy Field had his second multi-hit game of the season in his team's 10-9 win over the Yankees on Friday.

Field was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBI. The performance brought his batting average to .267 in 30 at-bats on the season.


Blue Jays RF Chris Colabello remains hot Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:30 am ET) The resurgence of Blue Jays right fielder Chris Colabello continued Friday night with his eighth multi-hit game since his promotion on May 6.

Colabello slammed three hits, including a two-run homer off Mariners closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning that made things interesting. He also singled twice to sweeten his already-sweet slash line to .381/.431/.556.

The blast gave him his first two-RBI game of the season.


Giants 1B Brandon Belt remains on roll with upper-deck HR
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:19 am ET) Giants first baseman Brandon Belt homered and had three hits for the fourth time in six games Friday at Colorado. He went 3 for 5 with one double, two runs, two RBI and one strikeout.

Belt connected for a two-run homer in the sixth inning off Kyle Kendrick. It was his fourth home run, which have all come in the last six games. Friday's home run landed in the upper deck at Coors Field.

"It's almost like you were hitting a T-ball," Belt said, per MLB.com. "You hear the crack of the bat and you know which way it's going."

Belt has been on an offensive tear since early May. He is batting .403 in his last 17 games, raising his average from .214 to .317 in that span. Belt also has a .459 on-base percentage, .746 slugging percentage, 1.206 OPS, one triple, nine doubles, 11 RBI and 17 runs in his last 17 games.


Reds' SP Raisel Iglesias to start in place of Cueto on Sunday
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:18 am ET) Raisel Iglesias will start in place of Johnny Cueto for the Reds when they take on the Indians on Sunday, per August Fagerstrom of MLB.com.

Iglesias (1-0) has a 3.94 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 16 innings this season.


Reds' Johnny Cueto will not make scheduled start on Sunday
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(11:14 am ET) Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto will miss his scheduled start against the Indians on Sunday, per August Fagerstrom of MLB.com.

Cueto has been bothered by general stiffness since his seven inning performance against the Royals on May 19.

Cueto (3-4) has a 3.03 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 65.1 innings this season.


Rays SP Matt Moore throws 36 pitches in extended spring game
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore (elbow) threw 36 pitches in two innings during an extended spring game Saturday. He allowed two runs on five hits -- which included one triple and two doubles -- while striking out one.

Moore has not pitched this season as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery last year.


Rays' Evan Longoria connects for three-run HR off Scott Kazmir
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) Rays third baseman Evan Longoria connected for a three-run homer off Scott Kazmir in the fifth inning of Friday's game against the Athletics, helping propel Tampa Bay to a 5-2 win. 

"He was throwing the ball really well, and it was a little bit different than what we had seen in the video," Longoria said, per MLB.com. "He was up as high as 96 [mph], which you knew he had that, and you know he was capable of doing those things, but it was something that we hadn't really seen.

"There were two strikes, and I was just trying to put the ball in play. I had a similar situation earlier in the game, where he threw two fastballs and they were both down in the zone, and I grounded out to third. The plan was just to try and drive the ball into the outfield and score one run, and I ended up getting three out of it."

Longoria, who went 2 for 3 with one walk and one stolen base, has a .270/.345/.473/.818 slash line through 20 May games. He also has three doubles, four home runs and 17 RBI this month.


Rays recall Enny Romero after demoting Tim Beckham to Triple-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:44 am ET) Following Friday's game against the A's, the Rays optioned infielder Tim Beckham to Triple-A Durham and recalled pitcher Enny Romero to take his roster spot. The Rays needed another bullpen arm after using all seven of their relievers the last two games, per MLB.com.

Beckham homered and tripled in Friday's win against the A's, but he was one of four middle infielders on the roster after Nick Franklin came off the disabled list Sunday. Beckham, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2008 MLB draft, hit .224 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 33 games.

The lefty Romero went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts for Durham prior to his promotion. He dealt with a back injury late in spring training, which delayed his start to the season.


 
 
 
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