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2014 Draft Prep: Second base profiles

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Al's profiles: Cs | 1Bs | 2Bs | SSs | 3Bs | OFs | Ps

If you are drafting somewhere between the third and seventh spots, addressing your need for a second baseman is pretty easy. Pick Robinson Cano, if available.

If you miss the boat on Cano -- and most of us will -- finding your second baseman will not be a simple task. The position does not even have a clear-cut elite beyond Cano. Among the remaining second basemen, only Dustin Pedroia is a sure-fire early-round option in both Rotisserie and Head-to-Head leagues. Matt Carpenter and Ian Kinsler are not far behind Pedroia in Head-to-Head value, but both are flawed as Roto options (because of home run power and RBI, respectively). Stolen bases make Jason Kipnis and Jose Altuve rivals to Pedroia in Roto value, but Kipnis' strikeouts and Altuve's lack of walks render them as less valuable in Head-to-Head

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With each format possessing a top tier of just four players, most owners will have to settle for a lesser player to fill their keystone spot. The production thins out quickly at the position, and several of the second-tier alternatives, including Daniel Murphy and Aaron Hill, have plenty of risk to go along with their upside. As much as with any other position, it makes sense to wait on your second base pick, as middle-to-late-rounders like Jurickson Profar, Anthony Rendon and Kolten Wong offer great potential as bargains.

As players who are difficult to project due to the significant risk and reward they pose, both Murphy and Hill are profiled here. So are Profar and Wong, as both are slated to get their first taste of being a regular second baseman. Is Jedd Gyorko poised to challenge the ranks of the elite in his sophomore season, and is Kinsler no longer a top second baseman? Both questions beg for some analysis, so Gyorko and Kinsler round out our sample.

Daniel Murphy, Mets

2014 5x5 projections: .285/.321/.408, 12 HR, 74 RBI, 84 Runs, 19 SB in 645 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.7 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 5th among second basemen; 443 Fantasy Points, 7th among second basemen

Going into last season, Murphy went from being outside the top 10 second basemen to finishing among the top five in both Roto and Head-to-Head. Setting a career high in plate appearances helped, but even on a per-game basis, Murphy produced like he never had before. Part of Murphy's improvement was tied to an uptick in power, which led to a career-high 13 home runs and his highest home run-to-flyball ratio since 2009.

Given that Murphy was 28 last season, and that a power outage spanning 2011 and 2012 was preceded by a season-ending MCL tear, it's believable that he could have experienced a legitimate and sustainable power spike. Less clear is whether Murphy can build on his first 20-plus steal and 90-plus run seasons. Both of those achievements were likely aided by Murphy hitting higher in the batting order more frequently, but since he had never stolen more than 10 bases or scored more than 62 runs before, it's probably not realistic to expect a repeat. I have Murphy projected for mild downturns in those categories, but he should come close or equal to his 2013 slash line (.286/.319/.415) and home run and RBI output.

Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks

2014 5x5 projections: .277/.333/.466, 22 HR, 79 RBI, 88 Runs, 6 SB in 560 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.6 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 6th among second basemen; 443 Fantasy Points, 8th among second basemen

Because Hill missed more than two months of the season and played the last three months with a left hand that was not fully healed from being broken, owners could be tempted to toss out last season's stats and look for a repeat of 2012. Since Hill was the second-most valuable second baseman in Fantasy that year, we'd be talking about a return to elite status, should he pick up where he left off.

Apparently, owners aren't looking to Hill to reach 2012's heights, as he is currently ninth in average draft position. In fact, that was arguably Hill's best season, and owners are likely -- and rightfully -- scared off by a long-standing pattern of extreme inconsistency. Still, owners in early drafts have been selling him a little short, especially in Roto leagues. Hill's batting average and doubles rate have been all over the map, but he's been largely reliable as a home run threat. Even with last season's injury, he was close to a 20-homer pace, and he hit more than 25 homers in three of the previous four seasons. As a middle-of-the-order presence for the Diamondbacks, Hill should easily be in the neighborhood of 80 RBI and runs.

Despite success in the batting average and stolen base categories in the past, owners shouldn't count on big contributions there. Given his tendency to pop out, Hill's projected .277 batting average could be very optimistic. After going just 1 for 5 in stolen base attempts a year ago, there is no reason to expect Hill to return to double-digit territory.

Jedd Gyorko, Padres

2014 5x5 projections: .261/.322/.467, 29 HR, 83 RBI, 78 Runs, 3 SB in 570 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.2 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 8th among second basemen; 418 Fantasy Points, 12th among second basemen

Gyorko's minor league stat sheet didn't leave us with much doubt that he could hit for power. If he did need to silence critics who thought his homer totals were fueled by parks in the California and Pacific Coast Leagues, Gyorko quieted them with 23 home runs in 125 games with the Padres. Assuming he won't miss more than a month with a disabled list stint, like he did a year ago, Gyorko could approach the 30-homer threshold, simply by virtue of additional playing time.

Gyorko didn't always hit for average outside of hitter-friendly minor-league circuits, and last season's .249 mark created a cloud of suspicion that hangs over his past .300-plus seasons. Especially concerning was the role played by a 25 percent strikeout-per-at-bat ratio. Gyorko wasn't a bad contact hitter in the minors, so he could possibly take a step forward and hit .270 or higher. Owners can expect some all-around improvement, but given last season's difficulties with making contact, to draft him as anything more than a .260 hitter is too risky.

Ian Kinsler, Tigers

2014 5x5 projections: .264/.335/.417, 18 HR, 68 RBI, 93 Runs, 14 SB in 645 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.2 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 9th among second basemen; 481 Fantasy Points, 4th among second basemen

Prior to last season, a combination of power and speed made Kinsler an elite among second basemen, even when he didn't hit for average. Then in 2013, Kinsler missed time with an intercostal strain, but the four-week absence wasn't solely responsible for his slide down the positional rankings. For the second straight year, Kinsler's stolen base efficiency declined, and he converted only 15 of 26 attempts. He also saw his home run-to-flyball ratio dip for the second straight year, slipping from 12 to 7 to 5 percent.

Kinsler's move from Texas to Detroit isn't likely to do much to improve either his stolen base or home run production. He gets a ballpark that is less hospitable to home run power, and while we have yet to learn how aggressive Tigers manager Brad Ausmus will be with the running game, it's unlikely that he will send runners as frequently as Rangers skipper Ron Washington did. Therefore, I have projected Kinsler for a third straight sub-20 home run season and a stolen base total (14) that would be his lowest since his rookie season.

Despite the predicted decline, Kinsler is still an elite option in Head-to-Head leagues. The one skill of his that hasn't declined is his ability to make contact, so a low strikeout rate will help him to retain much of his value in points formats.

Jurickson Profar, Rangers

2014 5x5 projections: .255/.332/.387, 14 HR, 59 RBI, 71 Runs, 11 SB in 545 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 9.3 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 18th among second basemen; 364 Fantasy Points, 16th among second basemen

Profar established himself as a top prospect by displaying a combination of speed, strong contact and on-base skills and good power for a shortstop. He even maintained this profile while being the youngest player in the Texas League in 2012. Perhaps expectations for Profar were tempered last year, since he didn't have a regular role with the Rangers, but with a claim to the everyday second base job, owners could look for Profar to break out in a big way.

While that's a possibility, Profar's projection for this season puts some stock in his 2013 numbers, as well as in the gradual pattern of improvement experienced by many top prospects upon their acclimation to the majors. Not every great prospect bursts onto the Fantasy scene by the age of 21 the way that Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera did. Profar is almost certain to make some notable gains after a mediocre showing last year, and his speed in particular should make a stronger impact in 2014. He should improve on a .162 batting average on ground balls, and he could do so to the point where he greatly exceeds his projected .255 overall batting average. To do that, Profar would need to maintain last season's 23 percent line drive rate, so modest expectations for his batting average are probably more appropriate. He could also exceed his projected 11 steals, but last season's total of two make Profar a less-than-secure play for stolen bases.

If Profar delivers on his considerable promise this season, he will provide an enormous return on a mid-round pick, but his inexperience and pedestrian rookie numbers make him too risky to draft among the top dozen second basemen.

Kolten Wong, Cardinals

2014 5x5 projections: .271/.334/.400, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 70 Runs, 16 SB in 460 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 9.0 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 20th among second basemen; 326 Fantasy Points, 24th among second basemen

Wong doesn't project to hit for much power, though he will be a cut above the Emilio Bonifacio/DJ LeMahieu class in terms of home run clout. What Wong should be able to do is keep strikeouts to a minimum, hit for a decent average and provide double-digit steals.

In Head-to-Head leagues, Wong's value could take a hit with Mark Ellis slated to take some of his playing time away, though over the long haul, doubles, triples and a low strikeout rate should give him value in that format. In Roto leagues, Wong is a viable late-round fallback option (at least for the MI slot) as his speed and baserunning skills could help him to deliver on the upside of 20-plus steals and a .290ish batting average buoyed by infield hits. That's a best-case scenario that Wong is unlikely to fulfill as a rookie, but given the options that are still available in the late rounds, he may be one of the more appealing endgame alternatives.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Mets P Jerry Blevins excited about chance with the team
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Mets pitcher Jerry Blevins is excited about his opportunity with the team, report ESPN.

"I see a huge opportunity with this organization," said Blevins, who is eligible for free agency next winter. "They've got a lot of talent and high expectations. I'm here to do my part. ... We have a chance to shock some people in the East. We've got such high talent. I'd put this rotation against anybody's, and this experience."

In eight innings pitched this spring, Blevins has an ERA of 9.00 with 11 strikeouts and two walks. He has given up eight earned runs and four home runs.


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by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA this spring. More importantly, he remained healthy, despite the partially torn ligament in his elbow.

But scouts contacted by the Daily News weren't impressed with Tanaka's stuff. 

"I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt based on what he did last year," one Major League scout said. "But would I be worried based on what I’ve seen lately? Yeah, I’d have to be a little worried. ... He’s either saving himself for the season or he’s protecting that elbow a little bit, because his fastball has been around 89-90 (mph), with no life on it today. Two-seamer or four-seamer, it was flat and hittable."


Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt goes yard in win over Angels
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt homered in the team's 8-7 victory over the Angels on Tuesday, reports Rotoworld.

Goldschmidt, 27, also hit two singles, going 3 for 5 on the day. His performance raised his batting average to .255 this spring. The right-hander also has two home runs and five RBI this offseason.


Clint Barmes shaking off slow spring start
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Padres infielder Clint Barmes is heating up as spring training closes. 

After getting just four hits in his first 23 at bats, Barmes is four for his last 10. Barmes had no extra base hits in his first 23 at bats, he has a double and a solo homer in the last 10. 

"It's just continuing to work on timing and get my legs underneath me, especially early on in the spring," Barmes said, per U-T San Diego. "Once I felt like, a couple weeks in, I started to get my legs underneath me, then it's just been a process of getting the timing down, defensively as much as offensively."


Braves A.J. Pierzynski catches all nine innings, drives in two runs
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski caught all nine innings on Tuesday for the club, reports MLB.com.

Pierzynski went 2 for 5 from the plate, adding two RBI. For the spring, the 38-year-old is batting .344 on 11 hits with one double and one strikeout.


Rays pitchers Colome, McGee, Moore throw bullpen sessions
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Rays pitchers Alex Colome (illness), Jake McGee (elbow surgery) and Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) were each able to throw bullpen sessions Tuesday as a part of their rehab, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

"(Colome) looks like he feels really good," manager Kevin Cash said. "It's exciting to see."

The trio has yet to see any action this spring as they recover from elbow injuries.


Report: Nationals will pay Rich Hill retention bonus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) The Nationals will pay pitcher Rich Hill a $100,000 retention bonus if he doesn't make the team, according to a report by the Washington Post, citing a source. As part of the collective bargaining agreement, Hill will receive a June 1 opt-out date, if he isn't called up to the Nationals by that date. 

Report: Kelly Johnson will make Braves' Opening Day roster
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Kelly Johnson will make the Braves Opening Day roster, according to a report by Yahoo's Jeff Passan.

Johnson's versatility helped earn him the spot--he can play three infield positions as well as the outfield. The decision to keep Johnson could be a bad sign for Joey Terdoslavich, who was believed to be competing with him for a bench role. 


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(3/31/2015) The Mariners have traded pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to the Rays in exchange for pitcher Mike Montgomery, the teams announced.

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Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman fine after 'miscommunication'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/31/2015) Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman was believed to have suffered a slight hamstring injury in Tuesday's game against the Brewers, but manager Bryan Price may have misunderstood the pitcher, reports MLB.com.

"We went out there to check on him and the hamstring came up, and just with that history we were extra cautious," Price said. "And by the sounds of it, it may be a non-issue completely."

Chapman was visibly upset with Price when he decided to remove him from the game after facing just one batter.

"By the time the smoke cleared, Chappy was back in the dugout and Brayan got back in the dugout after the half-inning, I just think there might've been a misunderstanding," Price said. "So it's fine. It's frustrating for Chappy but in the big picture, nothing critical."


 
 
 
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