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By the Numbers: Better late than never?

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We Fantasy owners are an excitable bunch, and nothing gets us more revved up than the major league debut of a highly-touted prospect, as Wednesday's callup of George Springer reminds us.

Some players, like Jose Fernandez, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, start producing at a high level right away, or at least within a year of their arrival. Others take longer or suffer from inconsistency in their early years (e.g., Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo). And then there are those who get stuck in neutral for so long, we forget they were ever prospects.

Not every great young talent flourishes in the big leagues, but especially for those who may have been rushed through the minors, it can take several seasons to realize their potential. I was probably not alone in writing off Carlos Gomez, Adam Jones, Homer Bailey and Chris Tillman after a few years of struggles, but eventually each one has shown why their arrival was so highly anticipated in the first place. Gomez is probably the most dramatic example of a player who was all but forgotten by Fantasy owners by the time he was 24. That's the age Gomez was when he was dealt by the Twins as a three-year veteran to the Brewers. Then Gomez flailed for two more seasons before breaking out in the latter part of 2012.

So to review, it took Gomez roughly five full seasons before he became a reliable and relevant Fantasy option. He logged a mere 36 games at Triple-A before debuting at age 21, so much of Gomez's development took place at the major league level. The same could be said for Rick Porcello, who was a 20-year-old rookie with the Tigers in 2009, but his breakout didn't come until four years later, when he started to show some potential as a strikeout pitcher just last season.

Gomez's and Porcello's stagnation is old news, but there are plenty of present-day players in a similar situation. This column will focus on six of them -- all players who have debuted since 2007 at the age of 21 or younger, and all have yet to reach the potential suggested by their prospect status. Each also made Baseball America's Top 100 Prospect list at some point during his minor league career. Even so, given the protracted difficulties that each player has faced, none is a high-percentage play, but each is still young enough to be a potential breakout candidate.

Travis Snider, OF, Pirates: Though Snider is off to a good start, he has yet to draw much attention in CBSSports.com leagues, and his long history of disappointing performances likely has something to do with that. His major league career has not been entirely without the power he showed as a prospect; he did hit 14 home runs in 82 games with the Blue Jays in 2010. That's a distant memory, though, and Snider has never produced home run power at a rate close to that since. He also has yet to play more than 111 games in a season.

The potential for a power breakout is still there. In three of the previous five seasons, Snider has posted a home run-to-flyball ratio of at least 12 percent, which is higher than that of Todd Frazier the last two seasons. Snider just needs to hit fewer ground balls, and though his rate has been above 50 percent the last two seasons, it was just 42 percent in 2010 and is currently also 42 percent. While Snider still has to fend off the imminent arrival of prospect Gregory Polanco, he has enough time to establish some value for owners in deeper mixed leagues.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox: Viciedo turned heads as a 21-year-old in 2010, batting .308 with five home runs in only 106 plate appearances with the White Sox, but he didn't come close to approaching that level of production in his next three seasons. He did spend the bulk of 2011 at Triple-A Charlotte, but the extra time in the minors didn't seem to help him expedite a big league breakout. Viciedo did crank 25 homers in 2012, but he hit just .255, and in 2013, he was not much of a threat in any category.

Viciedo doesn't have the contact skills, the line drive proclivities or speed to be counted on as a .300 hitter, but a .275 average wouldn't be out of the question. He has already proven himself to be capable of hitting 25 home runs, so his appeal isn't all that different from that of Khris Davis, now that Avisail Garcia's shoulder injury has opened the door to regular playing time. Viciedo probably won't walk as often as Davis, but his breakout potential is just as great, as he is actually a year younger.

Daric Barton, 1B, Athletics: It's been three years since Barton was an everyday player, so it's hard to remember why he was once considered a top prospect. You have to go back to 2010 to see the promise that Barton held, as he finished with a .393 on-base percentage and 10 home runs in 159 games. That's obviously not much power, but he was just 24 for most of that season, so he had room to develop more power, at least in theory.

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Now at 28, Barton is getting another chance as the A's primary first baseman. He still draws walks, though not so many that he's been able to exceed a .350 OBP in any of the last three seasons. Barton has also failed to hit for power, and that includes during his numerous stays in the Pacific Coast League. Power isn't as important as it once was, but even a 15-homer season looks like a stretch for Barton, and he doesn't provide a high enough batting average or OBP to come close to making up for that. Odds are long on Barton being this season's version of Garrett Jones, who broke out in his age-28 season with 21 home runs in 82 games and a .293/.372/.567 slash line. His absolute ceiling is that of a first base version of Daniel Nava.

Nate Eovaldi, SP, Marlins: Fantasy owners haven't exactly been waiting forever for Eovaldi to break out, but given his mid-90s heat, it seems like he should have started getting strikeouts at some point during his first three seasons. With 19 Ks in his first 19 1/3 innings this season, maybe we are seeing the first signs of a new and improved Eovaldi. Given that the last time we saw Eovaldi come close to a strikeout per inning was in Double-A, some skepticism may be warranted.

Eovaldi's owners probably won't welcome the news that he has actually been getting swinging strikes at the lowest rate (7.4 percent) of his major league career, but they can take comfort in knowing that this percentage was skewed by last Saturday's start at the Phillies, when he induced a mere three whiffs. That's the fun of drawing conclusions from early-season stats, but we don't have to limit ourselves to such a small sample. Eovaldi actually started to get swinging strikes (7.9 percent) and strikeouts (7.7 K/9) at a higher rate over his last nine starts in 2013, and that corresponded with an increase in the horizontal movement in his fastball. If you think you've seen Eovaldi pitch to contact for too long to ever buy into him as a strikeout pitcher, you just may be missing out on a breakout in his age-24 season.

Phil Hughes, SP, Twins: As Hughes progressed through the Yankees' farm system, he made his mark with high strikeout-to-walk ratios. The lofty home run rates that have been the hallmark of his major league career were nowhere to be found. In his seven years with the Yankees, Hughes was a better and less homer-prone pitcher away from the Bronx, so even though we've been waiting seven long years for him to break out, maybe the move to spacious Target Field is just what he needs to shore up his biggest weakness.

Hughes hasn't been effective in his first two home starts as a Twin, allowing eight earned runs and 13 hits in 10 innings, but he has been victimized by a .419 BABIP and a 53 percent strand rate in those games (per FanGraphs.com). He has not allowed a home run in either of those starts, and despite all of the hits on balls in play, few have been for extra bases, as he has allowed a .122 Isolated Power to opposing hitters (as compared to a .147 mark across the majors this season). Hughes is still a dangerous play in hitters' parks, but with his change of scenery, just maybe he can be closer to the pitcher we thought he'd be when he was a prospect.

Tyler Chatwood, Rockies: In three seasons, Chatwood has established himself as a ground ball specialist who offers little to Fantasy owners than the potential for a low ERA -- a potential he finally realized last season. Chatwood allowed only five home runs in 111 1/3 innings, posting a 3.15 ERA. While Chatwood's control isn't all that good, he did make some strides last season, putting up a respectable 3.3 BB/9.

According to FanGraphs.com, Chatwood has averaged at least 93 mph on his fastball in each of his first three seasons, so it seems like there should be some potential for more strikeouts. He wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher in the minors, but the Angels rushed him through their system, so it's hard to use that as an indication of his major league potential. So far this season, as in past years, Chatwood has thrown his fastball with a very low rate of spin, and that's something that correlates with a lower strikeout rate. It's also a trait that is typical of extreme ground ball pitchers, like Chatwood. Unlike with Eovaldi, it's not realistic to expect higher strikeout rates from Chatwood, even though his velocity suggests otherwise.

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
Red Sox's Henry Owens impresses during camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:19 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Henry Owens impressed during batting practice recently, according to the Boston Herald

Owens hadn't faced big league hitters since last spring training, and had something to prove. While Owens didn't have great fastball command during the session, his changeup was spot on. 

"Great deception, hard to pick up," catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "He got me on the changeup today because you can’t see the spin. It looks just like his fastball. That’s a huge advantage."

Pitching coach Juan Nieves agreed, but said he wasn't sure whether Owens was ready for the majors just yet. "Is anybody ready to come to the big leagues?" Nieves said. "I don’t know. We don’t know until they get there and experience the competition."

The 22-year-old Owens enters the year as the team's second-best prospect according to Baseball America. He posted a 2.94 ERA over two minor-league levels last year. 


Brewers GM confident Jean Segura will bounce back
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Brewers general manager Doug Melvin expressed confidence Saturday that shortstop Jean Segura will bounce back after a subpar 2014 season, the Journal Sentinel reports.

"I'm pretty confident he's going to bounce back," Melvin said. "He had a very good September. He had a lot of stuff going on last year. But everybody says he's a much happier person and everything. He's a good, athletic player that we need."

After delivering a .294 average, smacking 12 home runs and stealing 44 bases in 2013, Segura hit just .246/.289/.326 with five home runs, 31 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 513 at-bats in 2014.


Brewers' Dontrelle Willis making a good impression in camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Brewers pitcher Dontrelle Willis has made a favorable impression during camp, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In particular, Willis has impressed manager Ron Roenicke. "He's got a great attitude," Roenicke said. "The things he said are exactly what you want a player to say. He gets it." Willis has also made a strong impression on his new teammates.

Willis, 33, has not pitched in the majors since 2011. He's attempting to make a come back with the Brewers this spring. 


Blue Jays' Michael Saunders: 'No pain' day after surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders said Saturday that he's feeling no pain one day after undergoing knee surgery, the Toronto Sun reports.

"I feel great," Saunders said. "I couldn’t believe it when I woke up this morning and I was walking around just fine. I walked out of surgery just fine. I actually started doing some exercises today and just got checked out by the doctor and he was pleasantly surprised with what he saw. There’s not as much swelling as he originally thought. Everything is checking out so far and everything is good news. No pain. It feels like I banged my knee on a pole and it’s a tiny bit swollen."

Saunders suffered a torn meniscus while tracking a foul ball Wednesday, tripping over a sprinkler head and hearing a popping sound. After initially being told he could need to have the meniscus repaired, a procedure that carries a recovery time of three-to-five months, Saunders had the torn portion of the meniscus removed, which places him on track to return to action within six weeks. While the outfielder is excited to be back on the field in a much shorter time, he indicated he'll be cautious with his rehab.

"I’m going to miss some spring training but it could be a lot worse," Saunders said. "My ligaments are intact. For me this is the best-case scenario. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready to go. I’d love to say that I’ll be ready opening day. That’s my goal. But we’re targeting more mid-April, on the safe side. At the end of the day I have to listen to my knee. It’s a long season. I’m going to get this right the first time and not rush back."


Athletics' Doolittle hoping to throw in a week or two
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle is hoping to be cleared to throw in a week or two, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Doolittle was able to participate in strength tests on Saturday, and the results were positive. He has not been cleared to throw just yet, but is hoping that will come shortly. Doolittle has been sidelined by a shoulder injury during the start of camp. 

The 28-year-old posted a 2.73 ERA over 62 2/3 innings last year. 


Rays release OF Josh Sale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Rays have released outfielder Josh Sale, Baseball America reports.

Sale was suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2013 as well as for conduct detrimental to the team that same season. He received a 50-game suspension last August for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Before his most recent suspension, he hit .238/.313/.344 with four home runs and 46 RBI in 323 at-bats with high Class A Charlotte.


Yankees' Cashman downplays Bailey's chances of making team
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Yankees general manager Brian Cashman downplayed reliever Andrew Bailey's chances of making the 25-man roster, according to the Journal News.

Bailey, 30, is attempting to come back from a shoulder injury. He has not pitched in the majors since 2013 due to the issue. While Bailey has been able to participate in bullpen sessions this spring, Cashman took a more realistic view of the situation. "It’s one of those things where, non-roster situation, it’s a flyer, and the odds are against it," Cashman said. "And it didn’t work out for us last year. But because of who he is, his makeup, his work ethic, all those things, it made it easier to say, 'All right, let's keep trying,'" he added. 

Cashman stressed that while things look good now, the team wants to see how Bailey will respond in game situations. Bailey, meanwhile, has been optimistic during camp, saying he feels like he's finally over his injury.

Bailey posted a 3.77 ERA over 28 2/3 innings back in 2013. 


Hinch: Astros' Torreyes has 'earned every chance to get a look'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Astros infielder Ronald Torreyes checks in at about 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, but his success at avoiding strikeouts has manager A.J. Hinch ready to give him a chance at showing what he can do this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"You like to see these guys play," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He can look to our starting lineup at the top or hitting first or second and he’ll see a guy who is pretty successful who is not the biggest guy in the world. I see a unique size for this level, but the way he’s hit and the way he’s performed he’s earned every chance to get a look."

Torreyes was added to the team's 40-man roster in November after hitting .298/.345/.376 with two home runs, 46 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 460 at-bats with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2014.

"He doesn’t look like a ballplayer because he’s little like me, but he’s a young bull," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said. "He hits a lot and plays good defense. Last year they put him on the 40-man roster because he has a good chance to help us. There aren’t many players like him so skinny and little in the big leagues, so when you see him for the first time you say, 'You know he has to be good to be here.' Then when you see him hit you realize the organization has a good reason to give him this opportunity."

Torreyes will look for an opportunity to latch on as a utility player this spring. He's capable of seeing work at second base, shortstop and third base as well as in left field and center field.


Yoga has Twins' Trevor May 'much fresher than ever before'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Twins starting pitcher Trevor May has looked to improve flexibility coming into his competition for a rotation spot this spring by turning to yoga to help repeat his delivery, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’ve been doing yoga for 30 or 40 minutes every morning, and I’m much fresher than ever before," May said. "Every scouting report I’ve ever seen on myself says, 'Has trouble repeating his delivery.' Well, yoga is literally repeating moves, keeping your body under your control. I do the warrior pose, which is [the same as] striding and throwing a baseball. It has to help."

May initially struggled in his major-league debut last season, but he hopes the perseverance he showed and his improvements near the end of the season help set him apart in the battle for a rotation spot this spring.

"Obviously I don’t know exactly what the people who are making decisions are thinking, but showing I can be successful after having my face beat up for two months, showing I can work through it, it’s a trait you have to have," May said. "I take pride in the fact that I didn’t give up. I didn’t let it get me down."


Twins 1B Joe Mauer happy with 'normal' offseason
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was happy to have a "normal" offseason after dealing with concussion-like symptoms the previous year, MLB.com reports.

"I had a very productive offseason," Mauer said Saturday. "The last couple years I had a lot of things to deal with, especially last year with the concussion. I didn't really get a good base heading into the year. I feel great this year and I hope it stays that way."

Mauer believes that his vigorous stretching exercises this offseason will help keep him healthy in 2015.

"You have to pay attention to your body. I'm getting older," Mauer said. "I'm finding out what works and doesn't work. Trying to make adjustments."

Manager Paul Molitor indicated that he's noticed a difference in Mauer this spring.

"I think it means a lot for him," Molitor said. "I think coming back last year after what had happened the previous season, you always have those questions. He's got friends that have gone through it with Corey Koskie and Justin [Morneau]. We all know how validated our concern is over concussion issues. I'm sure there was a little hesitancy there. Like I said when I had a chance to visit with him this winter, he's excited to be back and not have to be concerned about those type of things."

Mauer endured a down offensive performance last season, hitting .277/.361/.371 with just four home runs in 455 at-bats.


 
 
 
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