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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 closer Koji Uehara not utilizing fastball this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been throwing an unusual amount of offspeed pitches to start the season. Uehara has thrown fastballs on just 15 percent of his pitches this season, compared to 50 percent over the last three years, according to the Boston Herald.

Manager John Farrell isn't reading too much into it.

"He's going to go with what he feels," Farrell said. "Every 3 mph is about a foot distance in traveling to home plate. So there's a little bit different reaction time. But regardless of velocity there still needs to be the use of (the fastball) just to create separation between his fastball and his split."

Uehara is 1-1 so far this season with a 4.15 ERA and three saves in 4 1/3 innings.


White Sox send reliever Daniel Webb back to Triple-A
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) White Sox reliever Daniel Webb , who was called up Sunday as the 26th man for the team's doubleheader against the Royals, was sent back down to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. 

Webb pitched in 57 games last season for the White Sox but was one of the team's final cuts in spring training. 


Diamondbacks struggling to fill in void at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale knew his team wasn't going to go the entire season without an injury. But the skipper was hoping to avoid the issue he currently has at third base, according to AZCentral.com.

With Jake Lamb on the disabled list with a foot injury, Aaron Hill and Yasmany Tomas have struggled to put it together, combining for a .559 OPS in the last five games.

"Yeah, that's huge," Hale said. "You're going to have injuries all year. There's going to be a multitude of them for every team. If you can't make the adjustment — if guys can't come in and fill the void — then you're going to be in trouble as a club."

Tomas is hitting .286 in 14 at-bats this season while Hill is scuffling along at .156 in 45 at-bats.


Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allows seven runs in rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allowed seven runs in five innings of work in his third rehab start in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Philly.com.

Billingsley, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury, added three strikeouts and two walks in the appearance. He has yet to appear in a major league game since 2013 while dealing with multiple elbow injuries.


Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez still working out of funk
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has yet to put things together at the plate so far this season. Gonzalez is hitting just .197 with two home runs in 66 at-bats and it's wearing on him a bit, according to the Denver Post.

"I'm not in a good place. I'm still hitting (.197)," he said. "But I'm happy that I'm healthy, and that I'm playing, and that we are winning. I think we are having a good month so far as a team."

Manager Walt Weiss thinks he's really close to seeing Gonzalez get all the pieces together and go on a run.

"I saw real good signs from CarGo, hitting the ball hard the opposite way," Weiss said. "It wasn't just the couple of hits he got. It was the way he got them. Those are things that he had been working on. Then, to get results like that, is always encouraging."

Report: Josh Hamilton trade expected to be completed Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) The trade of outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels to the Rangers is expected to be completed Monday, with Hamilton then reporting to Texas' spring training site in Arizona to continue his rehab from offseason surgery, per MLB.com. 

The trade was rumored to have been completed Sunday, but complications arose in finalizing the deal. The Rangers are expected to hold a press conference announcing the trade on Monday. Hamilton is expected to play several games in Triple-A before being called up to the Rangers. 


Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins not concerned with early slump at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins isn't worrying just yet about his struggles at the plate, according to the Orange County Register.

"Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO," he said. "I have, what, 50, 60 at-bats, I'm not sure. So if these are my worst 50 at-bats this year – I'm glad they're happening now. (If they are his worst at-bats) it’s going to be a very good year."

Rollins is hitting just .186 in 70 at-bats so far this season. He believes he's still been taking good swings at the plate, just not finding the gaps in the defense.

"It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers," he said. "I'm getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it's coming. I'm hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It's just a click here, a click there.

"The process is good. You have to continue to trust in the process and believe in the process. You get oriented in just results – especially at times like this – then you're trying to make all these technical changes and that's when you go from one to two to 100. So the process is right. Executing it is about fine-tuning."


Angels OF Matt Joyce hopes hit signals end of slump
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Angels outfielder Matt Joyce saw his eight-game hitless streak come to an end Sunday with an eighth-inning single that ended an 0-for-26 skid. The right fielder, who figures to be a fixture in Los Angeles' lineup with the expected departure of Josh Hamilton, said he hopes the small start will lead to bigger things, according to the Los Angeles Times

"Sometimes it's a tough game," Joyce said. "It seems like you try everything, and you put in so much time and effort and work, it gets to be frustrating. It gets to be hard to swallow and accept it, and hard to keep showing up and grinding it out."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he will continue to stick with Joyce, who is hitting just .140 on the season. 


Mets starter Jonathon Niese struggles vs. Yankees
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Mets starter Jonathon Niese was not sharp Sunday in the finale of the Subway Series against the Yankees, lasting just five innings while allowing six runs and eight hits. Niese was betrayed somewhat by his defense, which committed four errors behind him, leading to two unearned runs. 

Niese was spotted a 2-0 first-inning lead, but he quickly gave it back, allowing a first-inning homer to Alex Rodriguez and then giving up four second-inning runs as the Yankees broke the game open. 

"You can't look into it too deeply," Niese said to MLB.com. "It's a loss. It's a tough loss. Obviously we want to win, but we've just got to get through it, learn from it, move on and play better."

Niese, who threw 86 pitches, saw his ERA rise to 2.74 in absorbing his first loss of the season. 

"I just wish I could have a couple pitches back," Niese said. "But I threw them. The results were what they were. I've just got to move on."

Niese will look to get back on track Saturday against the Nationals.


Nationals considering keeping Yunel Escobar at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Nationals manager Matt Williams will have a decision to make when his regular third baseman Anthony Rendon comes back from injury. With Rendon on the shelf, Yunel Escobar has shifted to third and Williams is considering leaving him there even after Rendon returns, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The team is unsure yet what will happen when Rendon returns, but one theory has Escobar staying at third and Rendon shifting to second base, according to Heyman.

Escobar is hitting .292 with five RBI in 65 at-bats while slotted at third base.


 
 
 
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