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2013 Fantasy outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In 2011, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the National League West with a 94-68 record. They were powered by a core of dynamic young players led by a gritty manager, Kirk Gibson, who had taken over for A.J. Hinch midway through the previous season. Last year, however, the Diamondbacks dropped to 81-81, with a third-place finish in their division. The result? A bevy of offseason moves that saw two of their starting outfielders jettisoned, their top prospect shipped off and their roster given a shiny new makeover.

The biggest move Arizona made this winter came in January, when they sent arguably their best player away in a highly anticipated trade. The team sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Braves for third baseman Martin Prado and a group of prospects led by Randall Delgado. It was the culminaiton of a longer-than-it-seemed winter, in which most of the baseball-watching world waited with bated breath to see how Arizona would deal with its embarrassment of riches in the outfield. They had a minor problem last year, with Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Chris Young (who was sent to Oakland as part of a three-team October deal that brought back reliever Heath Bell and shortstop Cliff Pennington) in the mix for three outfield spots. With Young gone, the team still had to find room for speedy outfield prospect Adam Eaton, who will start in center field for Arizona on opening day. But the team first pulled a head-scratcher of a signing by agreeing to a three-year deal with 32-year-old outfielder Cody Ross, who enjoyed a career year with the Red Sox in 2012 (.267 average, 22 home runs, 81 RBI, 34 doubles). With too many outfielders, the Diamondbacks first agreed to send Upton to Seattle -- a move he rejected by invoking his no-trade clause -- then found a way to unite him with his brother, B.J., in Atlanta.

2013 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

The result of all this fun? An Arizona outfield that now features Kubel, Ross and Eaton (as opposed to the defensively superior Kubel, Young, Upton combo of 2012), some long sought-after stability at third base with Prado firmly ensconced and a new shortstop in the form of Cliff Pennington, who may have an expiration date as a starter, depending on the expected readiness of Didi Gregorious. With the team and Pennington avoiding arbitration in January by agreeing to a two-year deal, as opposed to a one-year deal, drafters may want to consider Pennington as having more of a long-term orange juice-style expiration date than a drink-me-by-next-week milk one.

Wait, Didi Gregorius? Oh right. In the middle of all this offensive re-shaping, the Diamondbacks found time to send away their top pitching prospect, Trevor Bauer, to the Indians in a second three-team deal. This one brought back, among others, Didi Gregorius, a 22-year-old shortstop prospect who hit .300 in eight September games for the Reds last year. It also gave Arizona some room in the rotation to elevate Tyler Skaggs to the fifth starter role, barring Delgado winning the spot out of spring training.

If all this was too much to keep track of, you might have also missed the addition of Brandon McCarthy, who agreed to a two-year deal with Arizona in December. The owner of a 3.29 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over the last two years, McCarthy is a former top prospect who didn't quite reach his potential with the White Sox and Rangers, but found a groove the last two years with Oakland. One thing to be somewhat wary of, however, is McCarthy's tendency to induce plenty of fly balls, which could land in the stands with a little more frequency in Arizona's hitter-friendly venue than they did in Oakland's pitcher-friendly park.

2013 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Adam Eaton CF
2. Aaron Hill 2B
3. Martin Prado 3B
4. Jason Kubel LF
5. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
6. Miguel Montero C
7. Cody Ross RF
8. Cliff Pennington SS
Bench Eric Chavez 3B
Bench Eric Hinske OF/IF
Bench Gerardo Parra OF

The rest of the team projects as a gritty, power-happy bunch, buoyed by Kubel, Miguel Montero, and Paul Goldschmidt (whose 18 steals last season led all first basemen). The rotation is anchored by Ian Kennedy, who had a disappointing 2012, and Wade Miley, who will be pressed to re-produce his out-of-nowhere 2012 rookie campaign. One major strength is the bullpen, with no less than three pitchers who could close on any given day (although the saves will go to J.J. Putz). This should benefit the starters, who can leave the game in the sixth with a two-run lead and feel condfident they will have a great shot at the win.

Breakout candidate ... Adam Eaton, outfielder

After the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper explosion last year, Eaton kind of snuck into the majors in September without much hullabaloo. He hit .259 with two home runs and two steals before breaking his hand in late September and missing the rest of the season. All in all, it was a pretty quiet debut, which could work to the advantage of the smart drafter. Eaton, 24, has a career .355 batting average in the minors, with seasons of 20, 34 and 44 stolen bases (the numbers got better in each progressive season). He also hit 50 doubles last year over three levels of baseball. There's never going to be a perfect comparison, but at least consider these numbers:

Mike Trout, minor league career: 286 games, 1,117 at-bats, .342 average, .425 OBP, .941 OPS, 57 doubles, 34 triples, 23 home runs, 134 RBI, 108 steals

Adam Eaton, minor league career: 319 games, 1,210 at-bats, .355 average, .456 OBP, .966 OPS, 83 doubles, 16 triples, 24 home runs, 152 RBI, 98 steals

Granted, Eaton didn't have any of the accolades or appearances on prospect lists that Trout did, but the results -- in essentially the same leagues -- are close enough to make a case that Eaton could be a great Fantasy asset in 2013.

Overlooked arm ... Trevor Cahill, starting pitcher

Cahill has been on a somewhat annoying every-other-year pace so far in his career, rotating between good years and bad ones. But Cahill may be a better pitcher than he's given credit for. After producing a 3.78 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2012, he now sports a 3.87 career ERA and 1.31 career WHIP. These aren't the greatest of numbers and Cahill's strikeout rate is nothing to get excited about, but he does offer some nice durability (196 innings pitched or more in each of the last three years), lowered his home run rate last season to a career-low 16 and his ground ball rate (2.39 GO/AO) was the best in the majors among starters in 2012. With Pennington and Prado now behind him, Cahill could see even fewer ground balls get out of the infield, meaning more outs and a lower ERA and WHIP. He won't be the ace of your staff, but Cahill could be a nice back-end addition who will return great value for where he's drafted.

2013 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Ian Kennedy RHP
2. Trevor Cahill RHP
3. Brandon McCarthy RHP
4. Wade Miley LHP
5. Tyler Skaggs LHP
ALT Patrick Corbin LHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. J.J. Putz RHP
2. David Hernandez RHP
3. Heath Bell LHP
4. Tony Sipp LHP
5. Josh Collmenter RHP

Impact Prospect ... Tyler Skaggs, pitcher

With all the attention on Trevor Bauer as Arizona's pitcher of the future, Skaggs was, like Eaton, quietly brought up without much hype late last year and put up a 5.83 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in six starts. Don't let this be how you remember him. The 21-year-old lefty, acquired from the Angels in the 2010 Dan Haren trade, had a 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in just under 400 minor league innings pitched. He strikes out more than a batter per inning and has two straight seasons of 155 or more innings pitched, meaning he should be primed to handle a larger workload in 2013. Skaggs will likely be overlooked in drafts for three reasons: Everyone's focus last season was on Bauer, those who paid attention saw Skaggs put up mediocre numbers and because Skaggs could seemingly lose his role to Delgado -- or the returning Daniel Hudson -- at some point in the season. But this may not be the case. Skaggs is a top prospect who has nothing left to prove in the minors. He can get some nice strikeout numbers and it's certainly within the realm of possibility for him to produce a 3.50-ish ERA and 1.25-ish WHIP.

Prospects Report

With Bauer gone and Skaggs and Eaton likely ticketed for Arizona, the Diamondbacks' farm system isn't as bereft of talent as one might think. The team stocked up for the future in the offseason deals, bringing in Delgado and Gregorius, as well as Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury. ... Archie Bradley, a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, is likely headed to Double-A in 2013 and could make his mark in Arizona at some point over the next two seasons. The seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bradley should rise up as a nice source of strikeouts. ... Matt Davidson looks like he's ready for Triple-A in 2013. The third baseman has two straight seasons of 20-plus home runs. ... If the Diamondbacks weren't so stacked in the outfield, their signing of former top prospect Jeremy Reed to a minor league deal might have been a little more interesting than just brushing him off as "organizational depth." Reed, 31, was, at one point, the hitting gem of the Mariners' system, before injuries derailed his 2006 season and sent him into oblivion. He probably has some talent left in his tank, but there's no role for him on this team.

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 send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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(11:41 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was removed from Thursday's game against the Rockies due to recurring tightness in his right groin, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Ohlendorf tossed a scoreless inning and struck out two Thursday in his first appearance since March 15 but continued to battle groin issues. He's competing for a spot in the bullpen.


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(11:39 pm ET) Yankees third baseman Chase Headley has played the fourth most innings on the field for the team with 78, but he has only had 13 chances at fielding balls, reports the New York Times. He is hoping that he gets more opportunities going forward.

“It’s crazy,” Headley said. “I’m begging for ground balls.”

Headley came over from the Padres last spring having spent his entire career there. He seemed to suffer the same circumstances there with limited chances to field balls. He spoke to some of his current teammates and his infield coach.

“I’ve talked with Joe Espada,” Headley said of the Yankees’ new infield coach. “And Didi and Stephen — I just want a routine, easy ground ball.”

Headley, who won a National League Gold Glove in 2012, has been using his practice time to stay sharp.

“Sometimes you’ll do a drill where the coach will flip the ball so you’re reading the swing and it’s a little bit more gamelike,” Headley said. “But there’s really no substitute for getting ground balls, and unfortunately that’s out of your control in spring training, so you do the best you can with it. The good thing is I’ve done it for a long time, so I’ll be fine.”


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(11:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez allowed just five hits and one walk in six scoreless innings while striking out four in Thursday's spring start against the Rockies.

Martinez is battling for the final spot in the team's rotation and did a good job making his case Thursday, limiting the Rockies to just one extra-base hit. He allowed a run in his spring debut but has delivered 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two appearances to lower his spring ERA to 0.84.


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"I saw a real good slider, the slider we saw last September -- the one that disappears, especially to left-handed hitters," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's in a good place. Maybe the velocity is not quite what it was when we saw him in September. It's ticking up. But the slider is a swing-and-miss pitch."

Friedrich has surrendered just one earned run in six innings while striking out two batters and walking two.

"The hard thing that every pitcher does when they feel they've got the stuff is, they want to show everybody they've got the stuff," Friedrich said. "I've had games where I was teetering on the edge of, 'I feel really good tonight; let's see what comes out,' then there's a lack of execution. As a starter, some days the two-seamer was 87, 88 [mph]. Now it's coming out harder, 90 [or] 91."


Diamondbacks' Peter O'Brien seeing time in outfield
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(11:03 pm ET) Diamondbacks catcher Peter O'Brien spent his second consecutive day in the outfield during a minor-league game Thursday, and he hasn't been behind the plate since developing throwing problems earlier in March, the Arizona Republic reports.

"I think he's going to play some outfield (once the minor league season starts) and catching isn't out of the question, but we're still talking internally to figure out what's best for him," farm director Mike Bell said.

While the team has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge O'Brien's catching issues, he's unlikely to be the long-term answer behind the plate, as general manager Dave O'Brien reportedly indicated in January. The Diamondbacks figure to roll with Tuffy Gosewisch as the team's primary catcher unless an addition is made.


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(9:57 pm ET) Reds pitching prospect Michael Lorenzen surrendered one earned run on four hits in three innings in Thursday's 13-2 win over the Indians.

"It went good," Lorenzen said after the outing, per MLB.com. "My fastball command was good. The tempo was good. That was the most important thing for me -- tempo and fastball command. I was able to go out there and accomplish my goal for the day."

Lorenzen came into Thursday's start having allowed no hits and six walks in two innings in his previous appearance. He threw 45 pitches in Thursday's game and another 20 in the bullpen to reach his pitch-count target.

"I worked on some breaking balls," Lorenzen said. "I gave up some two-strike hits with my breaking ball. I didn't finish them. They were a lot better in the bullpen with a couple of adjustments that I made."

The Reds are looking at Lorenzen for a long-relief role but could use him as a starter at some point this season.

"That gives him a chance to get to 80-85 [pitches] in his next outing, which to me, means he's ready to start," manager Bryan Price said before the game. "You can safely say he could throw 90-95 pitches in his first start of the season."


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"It's fine," Gillaspie said. "First thing [in the morning] and last thing at night, it's kind of sore, but as far as affecting me playing, it doesn't. It did a little bit when I first got here, but it has gone away. Credit to [White Sox head athletic trainer] Herm [Schneider] for working hard with me every day on that."

While Gillaspie will likely be dealing with discomfort in his foot for most of the season, he said it's nothing he can't manage.

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(9:48 pm ET) Mets pitching prospect Matt Bowman surrendered just two hits and one walk in five scoreless innings while striking out four in Thursday's 8-3 win over the Nationals.

"He was extremely impressive against a very good team," manager Terry Collins said after the outing, per MLB.com. "These guys, like all pitchers, are starting to get in shape. They're starting to get their stuff going and you see what they really have, and what they can really feature. I can understand why he's very much liked around here and how he showed up in this camp. From what I saw tonight, the command of his stuff, the poise, he's a pretty impressive-looking pitcher."

With the Mets set to open the regular season against the Nationals, the team held Opening Day starter Bartolo Colon out of Thursday's matchup and opted to use Bowman, who has posted a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings this spring.


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(9:25 pm ET) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits in 5 1/3 innings while racking up eight strikeouts in Thursday's spring start against the Cubs.

Weaver brought a 1.69 ERA into the outing and though that mark rose more than a full run Thursday, the starter has posted an excellent 18:1 K:BB ratio in his last three starts.

"It's always not to walk guys; it's something I've always taken a lot of pride in," Weaver said after the outing, per MLB.com "It's been coming along good. I'm not out there trying to strike people out, but it's happened a little bit. … Everything's coming along nice, location's good, offspeed stuff is good when I need it, so I'm happy with where I'm at."

Weaver is on pace to deliver his best spring numbers since 2008.


 
 
 
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