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2013 Draft Prep: Non-roster invitees to consider

Senior Fantasy Writer
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If you're going to use the crop of 2013 non-roster invitees to just tell friends that there's a second Jesus Montero, or tweet out that there's a player in the Royals organization whose birth name is Sugar Ray Marimon, then there's probably no place for you in a deep Fantasy league. You don't even deserve a kind-of deep league.

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Non-roster invitees are a thing of beauty -- a collection of veterans trying to find a home with another team, injury returnees, former speedsters looking for third chances, and a host of familiar names trying to make some sort of impact -- all coupled with some of the organization's most prized prospects. Last year, an astute NRI follower might have pegged Juan Pierre as a player to watch; he was vying for a role on the Phillies against Scott Podsednik and able to take advantage of a hole in the roster and turn it into what eventually became almost full-time at-bats.

This year, there are a handful of players who could make an impact, from Chone Figgins to Erik Bedard. There's no guarantee they make the team, or will even play a major role if they do, but if there's room for a little risk-taking in your Fantasy-playing life, here are some names you may want to consider on Draft Day 2013.

Two formerly successful high-strikeout starting pitchers

Erik Bedard (Astros) and Rich Harden (Twins): Bedard had a nightmarish 2012, finishing with a 5.01 ERA before being released by the Pirates in August. But he actually got off to a nice start -- a 2.65 ERA through five starts -- before back issues in May sent him on a downward spiral. Bedard is far from a young fireballer (he's 35 years old), but it's interesting how quickly people forget that he has a career 3.85 ERA with just about a strikeout per inning. And in the five seasons prior to 2012, Bedard had a 3.44 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with a strikeout per inning. The Astros have plenty of holes in the rotation, and Bedard can slot nicely at No. 5. Where you want to take him: At the end of an AL-only draft.

Harden, 31, has a career 3.76 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, with a K/9 over 9.0. This is even more impressive considering he put up a career-ERA-damaging 5.36 ERA in 174 2/3 innings over his past two injury-plagued seasons. Harden missed all of 2012 after undergoing rotator cuff surgery and manager Ron Gardenhire has made comments that suggest Harden isn't ready for the rotation just yet. But the Twins are hurting for back-end pitching, and if Harden can prove worthy, he could be a nice boost to a deep Fantasy team by midseason. Where you want to take him: In the final reserve round of AL-only leagues.

A former speedster looking for a shot at redemption

Chone Figgins (Marlins): From 2005 to 2010, Chone Figgins hit .285 and averaged 46 steals per year, topping out with 62 stolen bases in 2005. But after three ugly years in Seattle -- the last two of which he hit .185 -- Figgins was cut loose. Now 35 years old, Figgins has joined the Marlins, a team decimated by unpopular trades and full of roster holes, in hopes of making a comeback. Figgins can play third base, second base, or any of the outfield positions. He gets a fresh start on a team from which nobody is expecting much. He's just two years removed from stealing 42 bases. There's not a lot of hope for Figgins to make a widely-felt Fantasy impact in 2013, but there is a chance that he at least makes the team and plays enough to steal 20 bases, making Figgins an asset in NL-only Roto leagues. Where you want to take him: At the end of an NL-only draft.

A pair of outfielders who could crack their teams

Rick Ankiel (Astros) and Marlon Byrd (Mets): Ankiel, 33, was no longer needed in Washington last year after the arrival of Bryce Harper. While his .244 lifetime average isn't the prettiest of numbers, he does have a 25-home run season under his belt (in 2008) and could snag a starting outfield spot as a veteran presence on a very young team. Ankiel may benefit from the smaller home stadium with the Astros, and could return the value of a reserve bid in auction leagues (although I wouldn't pick him there unless he absolutely has a starting role). Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in AL-only leagues if he wins a starting spot and gets off to a hot start.

Byrd, meanwhile, took a 50-game PED hit last year while hitting a career-low .210 in 143 at-bats. While he put up miserable numbers with the Cubs over his first 13 games, a trade to the Red Sox seemed to give Byrd a boost -- he hit .270 over 100 at-bats before the suspension. The Mets have a handful of younger and more exciting outfielders, but Byrd could sneak his way into the mix, knocking down someone like Mike Baxter in the process. Even if he makes the team, though, Byrd will probably not do enough (think a .265 average and seven-ish home runs) to justify a spot on all but the deepest of NL-only teams. Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in NL-only leagues if he wins a starting spot.

A player I'd really like to see start at second for the Royals

Brandon Wood: If you paid any attention to the minor leagues or prospect rankings over the last eight years, the name Brandon Wood means something to you. He tore apart pitching on his path to the majors, at one point ascending to a lofty ranking as the No. 3 prospect in baseball. Wood hit 43 home runs and 53 doubles over two levels in 2005 at the age of 20. He followed that with seasons of 25, 23, 31, and 22 home runs. He's gotten to double-digit steals three times. He has a .281 career minor league average. And then, when he saw the majors for the first time in 2007 ... nothing. He hit .152 in that first season. Over 55 games in 2008, Wood hit .200. He also has seasons of .195, .146, and .216. But he did see somewhat erratic playing time, and the constant failures had to have messed with his head a little bit.

Wood is now 28, and he has a legitimate shot at making the Royals as a utility infielder. He has played shortstop, first, and third base so far this spring, but with Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella doing a lesser-of-two-evils battle at second, it didn't seem totally out of the question to think Wood could have worked his way into that battle. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Royals have much interest in crafting a spring training redemption story for a once-prospect. But with the way Chris Davis -- another former top prospect -- came into his own last year after being all but left for dead, there's at least a glimmer of hope that Wood can stick around as a utility player and work his way into some playing time, possibly delivering on the potential that has been long forgotten. Where you want to take him: Off waivers, but only if and when Ned Yost pulls that whole, "we're going to try Wood at second base," line when things go awry for his starter.

That random guy who could stumble into playing time

Kensuke Tanaka (Giants): San Francisco's middle infield is pretty much locked down, with Marco Scutaro at second and Brandon Crawford at shortstop, but Tanaka is a slick-fielding product of Japan's Pacific League, who gave up a contract that would have paid him around $3 million to come and essentially try out for the Giants. He doesn't have the most exciting stats, but if injury strikes -- or if Crawford stumbles and Scutaro is asked to play shortstop -- Tanaka can slide right in, hit about .275, and steal a handful of bases. Don't expect a lot of power here, but Tanaka could score a decent amount of runs and be a cheap source of steals. Where you want to take him: Off waiver wires in NL-only leagues when the above scenario plays out.

A quick assortment of less-interesting players who still could make an impact

Kelvim Escobar (Brewers): The Brewers have enough holes in their pitching staff for Escobar to find a spot somewhere..

Kevin Slowey (Marlins): He'd be NL-only reserve material if he finds his way into the rotation. Slowey is a smart pitcher who could put up a decent line.

Kevin Kouzmanoff (Marlins): Kouzmanoff has hit 16 or more home runs three times in the majors, and the only thing really blocking his path to playing time is the oft-injured Placido Polanco.

Casey Kotchman (Marlins): With Logan Morrison out early, Kotchman could grab hold of that first base job and make an early impact.

Freddy Garcia (Padres): Garcia had interesting starter (5.93 ERA/1.48 WHIP) versus reliever (2.42 ERA/0.94 WHIP) splits last year, but his value will come as a starter. Don't expect much better than a 4.40 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, but as a starting rotation filler in a deep NL-only league, there may be something there to use.

Shelley Duncan (Rays): Given fewer than 235 at-bats in each of the last three seasons, Shelley Duncan still managed 11 home runs and at least 10 doubles per year in that span. Granted, his average has suffered, but Duncan has flexed some nice power. With the Rays employing a "moving parts" system, Duncan could actually see an at-bats increase, slotting in at first base, DH, and the corner outfield positions. With more at-bats and consistency, Duncan could see his average jump a little, as well.

Miguel Tejada (Royals): If Brandon Wood can't make the Royals, this would be a solid consolation prize.

Juan Rivera (Yankees):, 1B, New York Yankees : Fun fact! Juan Rivera has averaged 15 home runs per season over the last four years and has hit .263 in that span. He's also only 34 years old. And he has the inside track to start in left field for the Yankees, being one of the few right-handed power bats in the lineup. Rivera is AL-only fodder, and you can't wait on him to see if he'll produce -- with Curtis Granderson coming back, Rivera's going to be useful early, then probably settle into a role as sometimes-first baseman until Teixeira returns, eventually becoming a part-time DH in a platoon with Travis Hafner.

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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Player News
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart cracks second homer of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:21 pm ET) Reds shortstop Zack Cozart went 1 for 4 at the plate in Cincinnati's 6-1 win over the Brewers Monday. 

His one hit was key though, as he broke the game wide open with a three-run home run over the left field wall in the sixth inning off Wily Peralta to give the Reds a 4-0 lead. It was Cozart's second home run of the year and now boasts a .326 average with five RBI in 46 at-bats.


Tigers DH Victor Martinez says he's fine to play on Tuesday
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(10:20 pm ET) Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez told manager Brad Ausmus that he was fine after crossing the plate for the Tigers' winning run Monday and that he wants to play on Tuesday against the Yankees, per the Detroit Free Press.

Martinez went 0 for 2 with a walk in the win.

Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen still not cleared to begin throwing
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:17 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen has still not been cleared to begin throwing since suffering a hyperextended elbow April 11, according to MLB.com.

Wilhelmsen, who is currently on the 15-day DL with the injury, doesn't have any structural damage and is waiting for the dye from the MRI to clear out of his system and the pain to go away before resuming throwing.

"I'm feeling loads better," Wilhelmsen said. "All the fluid from the MRI is finally out of my arm. I was expecting to throw about a week after it happened, but they put the ink in there, and that lingers. Today is the first day where I haven't had any aches or anything due to it."

He is hoping to throw Friday.

"Structurally, everything is strong and secure, and I'm good to go," he said. "The plan now is to throw maybe Friday."


Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke to start Friday, not Thursday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:04 pm ET) Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke will make his next start Friday instead of Thursday against the Giants, manager Don Mattingly said per the L.A. Times.

Mattingly wants to be able to keep Greinke fresh early in the season and has nothing to do with San Francisco's early struggles, according to the report.

"It's too early for any of that," Mattingly said. "This is really just our guys getting rest."

Greinke is 2-0 in three starts this season with a 1.83 ERA and 14 strikeouts.


Rockies' Wilin Rosario still adjusting to first base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:56 pm ET) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario is still looking to figure things out at his new position, first base. Rosario misplayed a couple of ground balls Friday, but manager Walt Weiss still has faith in him figuring it out, according to the Denver Post.

"Both plays at first were not routine plays," Weiss said. "The ball down the line was a difficult play. ... The other was a throw in the dirt that he didn't pick. But he's working really hard and has a great attitude. I haven't backed off that all — having him at first."

Rosario is hitting .333 in 12 at-bats this season.


Mark Teixeira connects for fourth HR, ties A-Rod for Yankees' lead
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(9:54 pm ET) First baseman Mark Teixeira provided the only offense for the Yankees in their loss on Monday, a solo home run in the second inning.

Teixeira now has four homers on the season which ties him with Alex Rodriguez for the team lead.

Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun cracks first home run Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:47 pm ET) Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun went 1 for 4 at the plate in Milwaukee's 6-1 loss to the Reds Monday. Braun was kept quiet by starter Anthony DeSclafani, but found success in the ninth on Burke Badenhop. He ripped the first shot he saw from Badenhop over the center field wall for his first home run of the year.

Braun is now hitting .238 with three RBI in 42 at-bats this season.


Reds first baseman Joey Votto rips fifth home run of the year
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto went 2 for 4 at the plate Monday in Cincinnati's 6-1 win over the Brewers.

Votto struggled in his first two at-bats but was able to reach base in the sixth with a single. He was called out at home when trying to score on a grounder in the infield with the bases loaded. Votto then crushed the first pitch he saw from Wily Peralta over the left center field wall for a two-run blast, scoring Billy Hamilton.

It was Votto's fifth home run and 12th RBI of the year, leading the team in all offensive categories.


Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta allows six runs in losing effort Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta allowed six runs on eight hits in Milwaukee's 6-1 loss to the Reds Monday. 

Peralta worked efficiently through his first five innings of work before finding trouble in the sixth. He allowed the first three runs to reach base safely in the inning before getting Marlon Byrd to ground into an out at home plate. Then, Brayan Pena hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring in the first run of the game.

Then, Zack Cozart opened the flood gates with a three-run home run over the left field wall, driving in Byrd and Jay Bruce. Peralta also allowed a two-run shot to Joey Votto in the seventh before being pulled in the eighth.

Peralta, now 0-2, boasts a 5.68 ERA and will look for his first win of the year Saturday against the Cardinals.


Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani dominates in win Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(9:46 pm ET) Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani tossed eight scoreless innings in Cincinnati's 6-1 win over the Brewers Monday. 

DeSclafani worked efficiently throughout the start, allowing just two hits in the outing. He did not allow a baserunner to get past second base in his eight innings. DeSclafani, now 2-0 on the year, has allowed just two runs in his first three starts of the season and owns a 0.86 ERA.

He will look to keep rolling Saturday against the Cubs. DeSclafani allowed two hits in his last start against Chicago. 


 
 
 
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