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2012 Draft Prep: Names to know for Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Some of you reading this column may know me from my random role in the novel Fantasyland. Others might know me from my days at ESPN, or The Wall Street Journal.

There's a select group who fondly remember me as "the calm one" from MLB Network's Fantasy 411 earthquake video last season (check it out). Still, plenty may remember me from the short-lived web series, The A--hole Who Listed Off Fancy Places He's Worked In A Fantasy Sports Column.

But if you've ever played against me in a draft or auction, you probably know me as, "that guy who refuses to use a laptop."

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I'm a list guy. I love my research, and I love making lists. Every March, I have a notebook and I'll scribble notes like a madman in it. This year's notebook has everything from "Sean Burroughs/Steve Pearce on MIN" to "OLIVER PEREZ in Seattle." But it's not just non-roster invitee, blast-from-the-past types. Notes like "A-Rod going late" and something as simple as "Hanley" with an up arrow next to him dot the pages as well.

Eventually, I take the crazy scribbles and whittle them down to a smaller list. Maybe 20 or 30 players who I simply really like -- there's no set number or rhyme or reason to it. Last year's list included Jered Weaver, Curtis Granderson, J.J. Hardy and Brandon League. Just to show that the list isn't without its flaws, I should note that it also included Brandon Wood and Julio Borbon. Still, it had more hits than misses, and sticking to my guns eventually led to success in plenty of leagues. Sometimes it's as simple as "I like this dude;" other times, there might be some statistical hiccup that people are overlooking (or, conversely, I'm obsessing over). Regardless, it's part of the reason why I still use paper in my drafts -- I need to be scribbling. And the strategy has worked so far. Plus, scribbling on a laptop just isn't cost-effective.

The beauty of the scribbles, however, is that they can be easily transcribed to share with the masses, including the legions of laptop users. So, as a way to mark my first column here at CBSSports.com, I give you a randomly-selected group of players from my list. They're not quite sleepers and not exactly value deals. Just a bunch of players I'll go the extra mile for to get on my team in 2012 ...

Mark Buehrle, SP, Marlins: A lot of people are pointing to Buehrle's move to the National League -- and, in turn, a friendlier park -- as his strongest asset, but they're overlooking the best part about him: his consistency. For his career, Buehrle has a 3.83 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He hasn't pitched fewer than 201 innings, or made fewer than 30 starts, since 2000. Let that sink in -- Bill Clinton was still President when Buehrle pitched less than 200 innings in a season. He'll come cheap in auction leagues and go late in drafts and is essentially a guarantee to get those solid numbers over the course of 200-plus innings, creating a rotation anchor that allows owners to take some gambles on other, less-steady players.

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers: His average dropped 44 points from 2010 to 2011, which got him slapped with the "disappointment" label. But he more than doubled his home run output and will likely reap the benefits of Prince Fielder and Delmon Young being added to an already-potent lineup behind him. My new colleague, Al Melchior, agrees with me on Jackson, though his reasons are a little more abstract.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs: All this debate about whether or not he'll start at first base seems a little disingenuous to me. Rizzo hit a miserable .141 in 128 at-bats last year, but he managed an absurdly-high eight doubles in that span (over a full season with that rate, he'd challenge for the league lead) and his .281 OBP almost doubled his average. The most telling sign that he'll likely get the nod at first? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who drafted Rizzo as part of the Red Sox front office in 2007, traded for Rizzo under three months into their reign as President and GM, respectively, of the Cubs. Even if he starts in Triple-A, Rizzo will likely be up soon and make an impact in Wrigley's smaller confines.

Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays: The former first-round pick finished 2011 with 15 wins, a 1.14 WHIP, and a 2.92 ERA. He's progressively gotten better with every full season. Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez took a very similar route before their breakout seasons.

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Erik Bedard, SP, Pirates: Bedard quietly threw together a really solid season in 2011 before his trade to Boston. He's good for about a strikeout per inning and his low WHIP is seriously overlooked. Injury history aside, Bedard has two major things going for him: a move to the DH-less National League and the opportunity to work with Ray Searage, who is one of the game's best pitching coaches (Pittsburgh's team ERA dropped from 5.00 in 2010 to 4.04 in 2011 when he took over).

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: He's going at No. 22 overall in drafts, according to our current Average Draft Position data on CBSSports.com. That's embarrassing. For drafters. I wouldn't hesitate to take him in the top eight. If I'm sitting in the No. 7 spot in my draft, I might even consider taking him there (although it looks like I can get him on the way back). Ozzie Guillen shouting in one ear, the influence of Eduardo Perez in the other, and he was playing hurt in 2011. Plus, he'll be eligible at both shortstop and third base about a week into the season in most leagues. Are we forgetting the arguments we had the last two years about him being the overall No. 1 pick? One bad, injury-affected year, and he's dropped 21 slots?

Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays: The "change of scenery" argument had holes poked in it after a sub-par run in Toronto last year, but Rasmus is more of the player we saw in 2010 than the one we saw in 2011. I like where he's going in drafts, and I wouldn't be afraid to snag him 20 picks earlier.

Mike Leake, SP, Reds: I have him all in CAPS in both my scribbles and my final list. I'll probably triple-highlight him on my draft sheets. I'm a believer. He posted a 1.17 WHIP last year, his second year in the majors. I wouldn't be surprised if the strikeout rate came up a little bit from 2010 and 2011, with the pitch counts not being such a huge problem any longer.

Jason Bay and Adam Loewen, OF, Mets: This may be the last chance many owners give Bay, but with the fences moved in at CitiField, there's at least an argument beyond, "he hit 36 homers three years ago," for liking him. Loewen, meanwhile, is an intriguing play. In really deep leagues, the former pitcher could find some value. It's entirely possible he could play his way into a starting job, beating out Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda. Loewen could be a cheap source of some power, speed, and average.

Josh Fields, 3B, Dodgers: He'll probably start 2012 in the minor leagues, but the former White Sox prospect is worth keeping an eye on, as he has been destroying the ball in spring training for the Dodgers and has just Juan Uribe blocking his path to completing the feel-good story. Even though it's not likely, this has all the makings of one of those situations where Fields grabs the job out of camp and puts together a really solid season out of nowhere.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Reds making sure not to rush Jack Hannahan
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Reds infielder Jack Hannahan, who is working his way back from October shoulder surgery, has gone 3 for 9 (.333) with one double and one RBI in three games since beginning a rehab assignment with Class A Dayton. He has been the DH all three games.

"He's starting to do some things at first base and we're segueing probably from DH to first base and eventually to third base," Reds manager Bryan Price said, per MLB.com. "But he's doing some different throws -- like that 3-6-1 double play -- which requires a different arm angle and footwork. So every time we reintegrate something, there's typically a little more soreness afterward, as you would expect while getting into shape.

"So we're taking a step and then we're taking a day off for recovery. He felt great yesterday."


Ramon Santiago sits out due to sore shoulder
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:27 pm ET) Reds manager Bryan Price chose to keep Ramon Santiago out of the starting lineup Sunday vs. Pittsburgh after he hurt his left shoulder diving for a ground ball while playing second base Saturday, per MLB.com.

"I think he's probably a little bit sore, but he can play," manager Bryan Price said of Santiago. "He got a little beat up yesterday, as you saw. But [the medical staff] did all the tests and stuff on him in there, and he had good strength and swung the bat fine and seemed to be OK. But I think he has the chance to feel a little bit more sore today than yesterday."


Shin-Soo Choo needs to 'get himself back mentally'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:13 pm ET) Rangers manager Ron Washington kept slumping outfielder Shin-Soo Choo out of the lineup Sunday, saying Choo needs to "get himself back mentally," reports the Dallas Morning News. Shoo is hitting .152 over his lst 33 at-bats.

Tim Hudson replacing teammate on NL All-Star team
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(2:07 pm ET) Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson will take the roster spot of teammate Madison Bumgarner on the NL All-Star team because Bumgarner started Sunday vs. Arizona. It will be the fourth time Hudson has made an All-Star team.

Twins set rotation beyond All-Star break
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:04 pm ET) The Twins announced their rotation for the three-game series starting Friday against the Rays. Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia and Phil Hughes will face Tampa Bay, with the rest of the rotation still undetermined, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.


Tigers planning to get Victor Martinez back Friday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:00 pm ET) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he's planning on getting designated hitter Victor Martinez back in the lineup Friday, reports MLive.com. Martinez hurt his back June 29 while taking a swing and will go into the All-Star break having played in just two of the team's last 13 games.

He's hitting .328 with 21 homers and 55 RBI. Martinez will participate in All-Star festivities but not the game. He'll swing the bat in a team workout early Friday, hoping to get cleared for Friday's game against the Indians.


Alfredo Simon added to NL All-Star team
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:59 pm ET) Reds starting pitcher Alfredo Simon has been added to the NL All-Star team roster, a source told FOX Sports. It will be Simon's first All-Star appearance.

Jordan Lyles moved to 60-day DL, hand not fully healed
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles (hand) was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list Sunday. Lyles was set to begin a rehab assignment Friday, but it appears those plans are on hold after tests revealed his broken hand was not fully healed, manager Walt Weiss said.

"His hand showed he needed more time," Weiss said, per The Denver Post.

Weiss also revealed Lyles was involved in a car accident Friday. He was not driving, but he did receive cuts to his face.

"It was a minor accident, but he doesn't look real pretty," Weiss said.


Hitters to avoid in the second half
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:54 pm ET) Like what you've gotten from Josh Harrison, Casey McGehee, Kurt Suzuki or Erick Aybar so far? Hoping for a rebound from Allen Craig? You might want to look into alternatives.

Check out my latest column to find out why.


Corey Seager moving up to Double-A
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:52 pm ET) Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager has been promoted to Double-A Chattanooga, according to the Los Angeles Times

Seager, who is considered a top 100 prospect by MLB.com (No. 34) and Baseball America (No. 37), hit .352 with a .411 on-base percentage, .633 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS in 80 games for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He had two triples, 18 home runs, 34 doubles, 61 runs, 70 RBI, five stolen bases, 30 walks and 76 strikeouts.


 
 
 
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