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2013 Draft Prep: Al Melchior's Busts

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We all have players that we never, ever draft. For me, it's Alfonso Soriano, and it's because of my irrational fear that he will never live up to his draft value. If I had put that preconceived notion aside last season, I could have had a top 30 outfielder for a late-round pick.

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The point in bringing up my aversion to Soriano is to provide a reminder that identifying busts is a process that has to be repeated every year. Someone may have been overrated once upon a time, but while the Fantasy world usually adjusts the changes in a player's actual value, sometimes we don't adjust to changes in perception.

While Soriano is no longer a bust, there are plenty of other players whose recent trends don't seem to justify their current level of popularity, at least as measured by average draft position. I have picked out 12 of these players. In some cases, there are warning signs of impending decline that aren't easily spotted from a scan of last season's Fantasy stats. Some players made this list, not because they are due for a decline, but rather because too many owners expect more improvement than their recent stats would suggest is coming.

Just because a player is a bust doesn't mean he is completely undraftable. It just means that you will probably need to give up too much on Draft Day to make the acquisition pay off. However, every league is different, so if yours is a Rotisserie league where Austin Jackson is still available after Alejandro De Aza and Chris Davis have come off the board, then Jackson should be a welcome addition to your roster, even though he is generally being overrated. That's just not how things are playing out in a typical CBSSports.com league.

Note: The numbers in parentheses reflect average draft position (ADP) on CBSSports.com, assuming a 12-team league.

Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 11)

Rosario's power-driven rookie performance was completely legitimate, and it was good enough to make him a Top 5 catcher in Rotisserie and Top 10 in Head-to-Head. It's just that many owners seem to be expecting Rosario to take a big leap this season, especially in Head-to-Head, where he currently ranks seventh in ADP. Maybe, as a 24-year-old, Rosario can cut back on strikeouts, but it's hard to imagine him having a better power-hitting season than he did in 2012, when he blew away his level of production from his most recent minor league campaign at Double-A Tulsa. In points leagues, make sure both Monteros (Jesus and Miguel) are off the board before you use a pick on Rosario.

Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, Angels (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 8)

What I just wrote about Rosario also goes for Trumbo. Rotisserie owners aren't going overboard for Trumbo, but his homer-happy approach only takes him so far in standard Head-to-Head formats. If he carries over the poor plate discipline that re-emerged during the second-half of last season, Trumbo could actually have a substantially worse season this year than last. Even in Roto leagues, you might get better value going for a player with a more well-rounded skill set like Desmond Jennings or Carlos Gomez, both of whom will at least provide steals.

Danny Espinosa, 2B/SS, Nationals (Roto: Rd. 15, H2H: Rd. 16)

Espinosa's combination of power and speed is tailor-made for Rotisserie, but owners in Roto and Head-to-Head formats alike are drafting the fourth-year player as a solid second base or shortstop option in standard mixed leagues. As a Top 12 second base option in both formats a year ago, it's understandable that owners would expect a similar level of production from him again, but a dropoff could be in store for 2013. Espinosa has yet to show that he can be even a decent contact hitter, and last season, he relied on a .193 BABIP on flyballs to muster a .247 overall batting average. The major league average flyball BABIP was just .131, so there's a good chance that Espinosa' batting average will dip, and that could mean fewer opportunities to steal bases and produce runs. Let someone else take the risk that he will maintain or improve on last season's stats.

Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays (Roto: Rd. 10, H2H: Rd. 11)

I do see the allure of going after Lawrie in the middle rounds, as owners are hoping he will recapture the magic of his 2011 rookie season. He was a much more aggressive hitter in his sophomore season, though, and the results were not particularly flattering. Maybe Lawrie can adjust, but even if he achieves markedly better power numbers, he may not have enough clout to keep up with Will Middlebrooks and Pedro Alvarez in Rotisserie value. His contact skills give him more of an edge in Head-to-Head, but again, his current draft position only makes sense if he has a significant rebound. Granted, Lawrie is far from the only unproven third baseman likely to be available in the middle rounds, but with so many promising young players at the position, there's no reason to reach for him either.

Josh Willingham, OF, Twins (Roto: Rd. 11, H2H: Rd. 12)

A career-high 145 games plus an unprecedented burst of home run power made for a career year for Willingham. Owners aren't drafting Willingham like the Top 15 outfielder that he was in 2012, but he is still going a little earlier than he needs to. He should hit roughly 30 home runs, but he could lose some run production unless he can repeat an unsually good line with runners in scoring position (.287/.424/.535). Willingham's power is legitimate, but it's not enough to elevate him above more well-rounded producers like Alejandro De Aza or Norichika Aoki.

B.J. Upton, OF, Braves (Roto: Rd. 7, H2H: Rd. 10)

Upton has become an increasingly impatient hitter, and it showed up in his .298 on-base percentage last season. That was also his OBP through Aug. 10 last season, and with just 10 home runs and a .378 slugging percentage at that point, there wasn't much upside to Upton's aggressive approach. Owners who stuck it out from mid-August on got a huge payoff, as Upton went bananas with 18 home runs over a 50-game span. While that hot finish could signal the beginning of a breakout, it could just as easily be a random hot streak. Given that Upton is already in his peak years and that he has a much longer history of moderate power and declining plate discipline, I feel safer assuming that we'll see the pre-August version of Upton in 2013.

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers (Roto: Rd. 9, H2H: Rd. 11)

I actually buy into the power breakout that Jackson experiened last season, and he has clearly established himself as a 100-run scorer, yet I don't see him as a Top 30 outfielder in Rotisserie, as he is currently being drafted. Maybe some owners are expecting Jackson to take another big step forward, but it's hard to see him making more than incremental gains on his home run and strikeout rates, and he could even stand pat or regress slightly.

Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants (Roto: Rd. 12, H2H: Rd. 9)

After last season's meltdown, owners are no longer treating Lincecum like a staff ace, but they're also not leaving him outside of the Top 80 starting pitchers, even though that's where he finished in 2012. By drafting him among the Top 40 starters, owners are basically splitting the difference, and maybe that's where Lincecum will wind up. Then again, he has had three straight years of eroding command and efficiency, so counting on anything more than a marginal rebound may be too high of an expectation. Maybe he can return to being a Cy Young Award contender, but I'd rather use a pick in the early portion of the middle rounds on someone whose numbers are moving in the right direction.

Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox (Roto: Rd. 12, H2H: Rd. 8)

To his credit, Lester is having a fine spring, but then again, so did Francisco Liriano, Jake Westbrook and Blake Beavan a year ago, and those performnces didn't portend great things for the regular season. That trio had not been as dominant as Lester has been in his five Grapefruit League starts, but the bigger point is that spring stats are not always a harbinger of what is to come. The plunge in Lester's swinging strike rate over the last two seasons is still a concern, so owners investing a pick within the first half of the draft may not be happy with the return they get from the lefty.

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets (Roto: Rd. 14, H2H: Rd. 12)

With a double-digit K/9 rate and a sub-3.00 ERA in his first 10 major league starts, why not take a chance on Harvey in the middle rounds? Well, there are a few reasons. Even if Harvey can maintain a higher strikeout rate than he had in the minors -- which is a pretty big assumption to make -- walks could present a problem, and he is likely to be more homer-prone than he was last season. Also figuring that he won't strand 79 percent of his baserunners again, Harvey looks due for a fall for the coming season. While Harvey should be better than a mid-round option long-term, it's far from a lock that he'll provide that type of value this year.

Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics (Roto: Rd. 18, H2H: Rd. 16)

Parker's strong finish in 2012 helped to boost his value in drafts this spring, but don't be too quick to dismiss the first four-plus months of his rookie season. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Parker threw only 61 percent of his pitches for strikes through the end of August, and if not for a highly favorable home run-to-flyball ratio, Parker's ERA could have easily come close to 4.00 instead of landing at 3.47. Though he was a highly-touted prospect, it's not as if Parker didn't have his struggles with command at times in the minors. Unless he can carry over his September success for the better part of a season, Parker may not prove to be a reliable standard mixed league option, at least not just yet.

Joel Hanrahan, RP, Red Sox (Roto: Rd. 13, H2H: Rd. 13)

Because of their limited innings, relievers' stats can be volatile from year to year, but last year's slippage in Hanrahan's walk and ground ball rates are particularly troubling. Struggles with control and keeping the ball down are not new to Hanrahan, and if he doesn't get back to his 2011 form (1.83 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, 54 percent ground ball rate), he could get punished, now that he no longer calls PNC Park home. Having Andrew Bailey in the wings as a potential replacement doesn't help to bolster Hanrahan's job security as the Red Sox's closer.

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

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Player News
White Sox SP Chris Sale could pitch in minors game in five days
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:26 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (foot), who threw a short bullpen on Wednesday, threw a 75-pitch simulated game on Friday, according to Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Sale is rehabbing from a broken foot, and called his outing a "big confidence builder." He could start in a minor-league game in approximately five days.

Alex Hassan available Friday; Josh Reddick could be back Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Athletics outfielder Alex Hassan was deemed available to play off the bench in Thursday's Cactus League game against the White Sox, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Hassan has been sidelined since March 11 due to the issue. Outfielder Josh Reddick, who was shut down earlier in March due to an oblique strain, could return as early as Sunday.

Cubs' Kris Bryant on Opening Day status: 'Why not me?'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has never started a rookie on Opening Day. Kris Bryant wants to be change that trend this season.

"I look at it as why not me?" Bryant said Friday, per MLB.com. "I think I'm the type of guy who can go out there and do it. I've made it a point of mine to show them that I can."

Bryant is in the midst of a scorching hot spring, with nine homers in 32 at-bats. On Thursday, the 23-year-old also showed some versatility by starting in left field against the Jered Weaver and the Angels.

"Yesterday was good for me to go out there and face a pitcher like Jered Weaver who has incredible stuff,” Bryant said. "He's a different type of pitcher and it was really good for me to go out there and struggle a little bit, see what he’s going to throw me and learn from it. I took it as a learning experience."

Bryant has three multi-home run games this spring. He is hitting .406/.472/1.313 in 12 Cactus League games.


Brewers' Khris Davis crushes grand slam to continue torrid spring
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:02 pm ET) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis made a statement with his first home run of the spring Thursday against the Mariners, connecting for a grand slam off Roenis Elias in the first inning.

Although it took Davis 14 games to connect for his first spring home run, it's not like he is having a poor spring at the plate. Davis is batting .389 (14 for 36) with six doubles, seven runs and 12 RBI.

“He’s driving the ball; he’s having great at-bats,” manager Ron Roenicke said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I love what he’s doing right now. I couldn’t care less about home runs. If he continues this through the season, he’s going to have some big numbers.”

Davis has been working with hitting coach Darnell Coles this spring on making adjustments at the plate.

“I think last year I tended to get away from pulling my hands in but I can’t really explain it,” Davis said. (The change) is something that makes me more comfortable. It’s helping me be more consistent.

“I feel pretty lucky right now with a lot of broken-bat base hits and flashes of some hard-hit balls. I feel like I’m still 20 or 30 ABs from being where I’m ready for the season. I still want to do some things up there. Right now, I’m in the right place at the right time (to get ready for the season).”


White Sox's Nate Jones has 'pen session scheduled Wednesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:48 pm ET) White Sox reliever Nate Jones is scheduled for a bullpen on Wednesday, according to Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Jones is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last July. He will  likely stay in extended spring training through May, and is targeting a mid-season return.

Nationals' Williams continues to speak highly of Dan Uggla
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:42 pm ET) Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla continues to make a strong push for a roster spot, as he is batting .323 (10 for 31) with two home runs, two doubles and six RBI in 15 spring games.

"I just think his direction is good," manager Matt Williams said, per MASNsports.com. "It has been good, the fact that he's just taking balls to right field. He's shown some power the other way in spring, which is good. For him, that's key.

"I know that he feels good about where he's at, I know he feels good about seeing the ball. And the results are showing so yeah, I think he's performed really well. He's been a joy to have around. He's a veteran guy, understands the whole process of spring training, but he's worked really hard, too. So for me he's been real good."


Salazar demoted; McAllister, House, Tomlin will compete for final spots
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:40 pm ET) The Indians have optioned right-hander Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus, just a day removed from a dreadful Cactus League outing, according to the Plain Dealer.

Salazar coughed up seven runs -- six earned -- on six hits and no walks while striking out six over 3 1/3 innings of work against the Reds. The 25-year-old posted a whopping 8.18 ERA through 11 innings this spring.

"I don't know. The stuff is definitely there. It's not there yet consistently, whether he's locating or following a pitch up with two pitches in a row," manager Terry Francona said after Salazar's outing on Thursday. "Again, we'll keep working at it -- that's for darn sure -- but the results weren't the kind of what we're looking for."

The demotion narrows Zach McAllister, T.J. House and Josh Tomlin down to the two final spots in the rotation. House and Tomlin have options, while McAllister is out of options and could be in line for one of those two spots, per the Plain Dealer.


Reds' Marquis happy with way he is throwing baseball post-surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:30 pm ET) Reds starting pitcher Jason Marquis hasn't made a start in the majors since 2013 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery. But the 36-year-old pitcher has had a career resurgence this spring and is on track to open the season in the Reds' rotation.

"The ball is coming out of my hand in a way it hasn't the last five years," Marquis said, per MLB.com. "I've gotten some velocity back, but that's not the big thing. There's just more life on the ball.

"I'm throwing the ball instead of pushing it, guiding it. I think maybe I developed bad habits over those years to protect the elbow so I can pitch. More than anything, that's what I'm happiest with."

Marquis is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in five spring starts.


Swihart could be Opening Day catcher if Vazquez remains sidelined
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) Though he was optioned to Triple-A last week, Red Sox manager John Farrell indicated that he would be open to going with catching prospect Blake Swihart if Christian Vazquez remains sidelined with an elbow issue, according to the Boston Herald. Farrell will likely wait a little over a week before he decides on his Opening Day catcher.

"Anybody in our uniform is always under consideration," Farrell said. "We'll see how things play out in the next eight or nine days."


Bridich: Rockies' Gray's arbitration timeline won't impact decision
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:20 pm ET) Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said starting pitcher prospect Jonathan Gray's arbitration timeline will be a "non-factor" in deciding when the highly touted prospect will make his MLB debut, per The Denver Post.

"That is not part of our consideration," he said. "Jon has pitched very well, but there still are a lot of things to consider, but the decision will not be based on (arbitration)."

Gray, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation with Christian Bergman and Eddie Butler, is 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in five spring outings (two starts). He has nine strikeouts to one walk in 13 innings.


 
 
 
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