Fantasy Baseball 2012: Every Team's Biggest Spring Training Sleeper
There are guys that come out of nowhere in spring training every year.
They start raking or dealing, and make a name for themselves before the regular season starts.
A couple guys who stood out last year were Lonnie Chisenhall and Ryan Roberts. While Chisenhall only played in 66 games for the Indians, Roberts had a breakout season with 19 homers and 18 steals for the DIamondbacks.
Here's a list of each team's spring training sleeper for the 2012 season.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Gerardo Parra, OF
Gerardo Parra is hitting .297 (11-for-37) with a home run and two stolen bases.
Parra was going to platoon with Jason Kubel in the outfield, but there are reports that the Nationals are very interested in the Gold Glove outfielder.
That's great news for his fantasy stock.
According to the MLB Depth Charts website, Roger Bernadina is slotted in as the starting center fielder for the Nats. If Parra makes the move to the nation's capital, he should earn the starting gig.
Atlanta Braves: Mike Minor, SP
Mike Minor hasn't given up an earned run in 14 innings pitched in the spring. He also has 10 strikeouts and is holding opponents to a .156 batting average.
Even with the dominant spring, Minor is flying under the radar. People will look at his 4.14 ERA from last year and look for another option, but Minor was pretty unlucky last year.
His FIP was 3.39 and his BABIP was .350. The BABIP is sure to come down in 2012 that will result to an ERA closer to his FIP.
Baltimore Orioles: Endy Chavez, OF
Endy Chavez is hitting .462 (12-for-26) with a homer and a stolen base in the spring.
After playing fewer than 100 games in four of the last five seasons, Chavez should be the starting left fielder for the Orioles this year.
If Chavez can pick up 500 or so at-bats, he's a good source for stolen bases. Don't be surprised if he swipes 20 bags with an average around .285.
He's already a great fielder, but he's shown that he can mash in the spring.
Boston Red Sox: Ryan Lavarnway, C
Ryan Lavarnway is hitting .474 (9-for-19) in 11 spring training games.
Lavarnway was generating buzz even before spring training games began, as MLB.com named him as the 92nd-best prospect to watch for.
Last season, Lavarnway hit .295 with 18 home runs in Triple-A.
Lavarnway could be a key free-agent pickup some time during the season. The Sox will start with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate, but he doesn't have the upside that Lavarnway does.
So far this spring, Salty is hitting just .091 (1-for-11).
Chicago Cubs: Jeff Samardzija, RP
Jeff Samardzija is proving he can start the year in the rotation, having allowed just three earned runs in 10 innings in the spring.
Perhaps his most impressive stat thus far is his 9:0 K:BB ratio. He's also held hitters to a .176 batting average.
There are a couple of pitchers vying for the last rotation spot, but Samardzija seems to be the frontrunner right now. If he ends up with the job, he could be a good source for strikeouts.
Chicago White Sox: Brent Morel, 3B
Brent Morel is hitting .333 (10-for-30) in nine spring training games.
Morel's hot spring is just an extension to how he finished the year in 2011. A lot of people probably forget, or never realized, that Morel hit eight homers in September.
Since third base is not that scarce this year, Morel is only valuable in deep mixed or AL-only leagues. He has the potential to hit around 15 home runs with an average around .270.
You can't forget about his home run tear last year though, and he could start the year on fire in 2012.
Cincinnati Reds: Todd Frazier, 3B
Todd Frazier is hitting .281 (9-for-32) with four home runs this spring. Of Frazier's nine hits, seven of them have been for extra bases.
The former Little League World Series hero might get some solid playing time in 2012. He's behind Scott Rolen on the team's depth chart, but Rolen hasn't played more than 140 games since 2006.
If Frazier can get 300 plate appearances, he should be able to crank out 10-plus homers. Keep an eye on Rolen's health as the year progresses.
Cleveland Indians: Russ Canzler, DH
Russ Canzler is hitting .355 (11-for-31) with a stolen base in 10 spring training games.
Canzler is one of many candidates for the starting left field opening, and according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has impressed manager Manny Acta.
Canzler hit .314 with 18 home runs at Triple-A Durham last year en route to winning the International League MVP.
The only problem with Canzler is that he will most likely not have OF eligibility until a few weeks into the season. If Canzler gets ABs, he has enough raw power to hit 15-plus home runs.
Coloardo Rockies: Juan Nicasio, SP
Juan Nicasio has a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched in the spring. He has also picked up nine strikeouts.
Nicasio is looking good after suffering a broken neck and fractured skull when he was hit by a line drive at the end of last year.
Nicasio averaged 94 mph on his fastball last season, and has the potential to rack up a bunch of strikeouts. Besides throwing heat, he can induce a ton of ground balls (45.9 percent in '11), which is key at Coors Field.
Detroit Tigers: Delmon Young, OF
Delmon Young is hitting .485 (16-for-33) with four home runs and 18 RBI in the spring.
Young had a down year in 2011, but he should be in line for a strong rebound. Young played in 40 games with Detroit last year, but he hit twice as many homers (eight) as he did with the Twins in 84 games.
Young is slated to bat fifth behind Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, so he'll have plenty of RBI chances.
Houston Astros: Jordan Schafer, OF
Jordan Schafer is hitting .391 (9-for-23) with two stolen bases in the spring.
Schafer has always struggled in his stints in the big leagues, but he's off to a good start in 2012.
His biggest asset is obviously his speed. Schafer stole 22 bases in 82 games a year ago, so he should be able to get 30 steals this season as the Astros' starting center fielder.
Schafer won't have much value unless you're in a deep mixed or NL-only league. He could be a good source for stolen bases if you are in a bind.
Kansas City Royals: Lorenzo Cain, OF
Lorenzo Cain is hitting .500 (16-for-32) with two home runs and a stolen base in the spring.
Cain killed it at Triple-A last year, hitting .312 with 16 homers and 16 stolen bases. Now he'll take over as the Royals' everyday center fielder.
Cain was part of the Zack Greinke deal, and it looks like he's ready for a breakout season. His stock takes a hit with him hitting seventh in the lineup, but Cain has the ability to hit 10 home runs and steal 20 bags.
Los Angeles Angels: Erick Aybar, SS
Erick Aybar is hitting .389 (14-for-36) with a home run and three stolen bases in the spring.
Aybar had his best MLB career in 2011 (10 home runs, 30 stolen bases), and he's raking so far.
Aybar is going to be hitting leadoff for a powerful Angels offense. He'll have Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols hitting right behind him, so the opportunity for a bunch of runs scored is there. Aybar is a solid option midway through the draft.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Capuano, SP
Chris Capuano has a 3.12 ERA in 8.2 innings of work this spring. He has also held opponents to a .188 batting average and has a K:BB ratio of 5:1.
After getting a pretty hefty contract from the Dodgers, Capuano has been impressive enough to earn the fifth rotation spot.
Capuano is a decent pickup in deep mixed leagues and most likely a great streaming option. Dodgers Stadium is very spacious, which will likely help his numbers.
Miami Marlins: Wade LeBlanc, SP
Wade LeBlanc has only given up one earned run in 14.2 innings so far this spring. He's also sporting a ridiculous 15:2 K:BB ratio while holding hitters to an .083 average.
LeBlanc has simply been lights out. He's definitely been the most impressive pitcher at the Marlins' camp. Unfortunately for the young lefty, he will most likely start the year in the bullpen.
Right now the Marlins have Carlos Zambrano slated for the final spot in their rotation. If Big Z has another implosion, expect LeBlanc to be ready.
Milwaukee Brewers: Mat Gamel, 1B
Mat Gamel is hitting .300 (9-for-30) with three homers in the spring.
Gamel is trying to get rid of the Quad-A label that has been placed on him. He has never produced in the MLB, but he's had himself a good spring so far.
Gamel destroyed Triple-A pitching in 2011 when he hit .310 with 28 home runs. Prince Fielder is gone and Corey Hart is going to miss time, so Gamel will get his chance to finally silence the critics. He has tremendous power, but he needs to make more contact.
Minnesota Twins: Ben Revere, OF
Ben Revere is hitting .393 (11-for-28) with three stolen bases in the spring.
Revere broke onto the scene in 2011 and made his mark on the base paths. He stole 34 bases in 117 games for the Twins last year.
If you're in a pinch for steals, Revere could be your go-to guy. Also, it might be wise to stream him for the same purpose.
New York Mets: Jonathon Niese, SP
Jonathon Niese's ERA is 2.61 in 10.1 innings in the spring. He's also posted a very solid 9:1 K:BB ratio.
Niese's 4.20 and 4.40 ERAs in 2010 and 2011, respectively, may look disappointing, but he should be in for better numbers in 2012. Niese had a 3.36 FIP last year that can't be ignored.
His ERA should jump down below 4.00 for the first time in his career, but he should only be valued in NL-only or deep mixed leagues.
Funny enough, Niese's offseason nose job is receiving more attention than his spring performance.
New York Yankees: Eduardo Nunez, SS/2B/3B
Eduardo Nunez is hitting .364 (4-for-11) in four spring training games.
Nunez's sample size is very small, but there aren't a whole lot of Yankees tearing it up. In fact, Alex Rodriguez is the only Yankee to have more than one home run this spring.
Although he doesn't have too many at-bats, Nunez has looked good in the games he's played in. Nunez is very versatile, which means he'll be able to give the aging A-Rod and Derek Jeter days off routinely.
Nunez has the ability to hit around .275 and steal 20 bags as just a role player, but if there are any injuries in the infield, Nunez should be able to step in nicely.
Oakland A's: Josh Reddick, OF
Josh Reddick is hitting .333 (13-for-39) with two homers and a stolen base in the spring.
Reddick was part of the Andrew Bailey deal, and should find steady playing time roaming in the A's outfield.
Reddick is a free swinger, but he's got plenty of pop. He hit 14 homers in 52 Triple-A games last year and then belted seven home runs in 87 games with the Sox. He has the potential to hit 20 home runs in 2012.
Philadelphia Phillies: Freddy Galvis, 2B
Freddy Galvis is hitting .273 (12-for-44) with a home run and a stolen base this spring.
Chase Utley won't be ready for Opening Day, so it looks like the Phillies will turn to Freddy Galvis to fill the void.
Galvis is one the team's top 15 prospects, and has upside as a switch-hitting infielder with a plus glove. Galvis isn't going to work any miracles for your fantasy team with Utley out, but the 22 year-old hit could fill in as an emergency starter.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Alex Presley, OF
Alex Presley is hitting .343 (12-for-35) with one home run and two stolen bases.
Presley had a very good September last year, hitting .308 with three home runs and four stolen bases. He's been just as good to start the spring in 2012.
The Pirates outfield is crowded, but Presley is emerging at the team's starting left fielder and leadoff hitter. Presley will hit around .300 and has the speed to steal 20 bags. He also has a chance of hitting 10 or more home runs. He's a very good option in deep mixed leagues.
San Diego Padres: Cory Luebke, SP
Cory Luebke has an ERA of 2.00 in nine innings in the spring. He's also struck out 10 batters and walked just three.
Luebke is going to be one of the best sleepers for 2012. You can't ignore the fact that his FIP was 3.02 and his K/9 was 9.92 last year.
Luebke made the transition to starter during the second half of last year and pitched well. Looking at his spring performances so far, Luebke has settled into the role just fine.
San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt, 1B/OF
Brandon Belt is hitting .359 (14-for-39) with three home runs this spring.
To quote Yogi Berra, "It's déjà vu all over again." Last year, Belt was the sexy pick to have a great rookie season, but he flopped.
That won't happen again this year. Belt regained his composure after being demoted to Triple-A last year and hit .309 with eight home runs.
Keep in mind that Belt was just 23 years old last season. He's more prepared for the MLB now and he's fully capable of 25 home runs and 10 steals.
Seattle Mariners: Kevin Millwood, SP
Kevin Millwood has a 3.21 ERA with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings this spring.
Millwood continues to impress after having another very solid spring outing. Millwood should be in line to get the third spot in Seattle's rotation.
Millwood kept his ERA under 4.00 while pitching for the Rockies last year, so his future looks pretty good pitching in one of the best pitchers' parks at Safeco Field.
St. Louis Cardinals: Lance Lynn, RP
Lance Lynn has a 1.64 ERA with eight strikeouts and one walk in 11 innings this spring. He's also holding hitters to a .211 average.
Lynn made his mark in the bullpen for the World Series-winning Cardinals last year, but he could be used as a starter until Chris Carpenter returns from injury.
Lynn has been a starter ever since he reached Double-A in 2009, so stretching him out won't be a problem. His fastball used to sit in the low 90s, but he jumped up to the 97-98 range in 2011.
The velocity might not be there as a starter, but the chance of him moving to the rotation is a significant boost to his fantasy stock. He could be a worthy pickup until Carpenter returns.
Tampa Bay Rays: Jake McGee, RP
Jake McGee has struck out three in four scoreless innings this spring. McGee hasn't thrown a ton of innings in camp so far, but you can't ignore his 94 mph heat from the left side.
McGee started the 2011 season with the Rays and struggled. But in Triple-A, McGee found his mojo, picking up nine saves, a 2.70 ERA and a 10.26 K/9 in 24 games.
With a quirky manager and a likely closer-by-committee approach to start 2012, who knows what will happen with the Rays at the back end of their bullpen. McGee could be that guy who ends up closing by season's end.
Texas Rangers: Matt Harrison, SP
Matt Harrison has a 1.80 ERA with seven strikeouts and one walk in 10 innings this spring.
Harrison had a breakout year in 2011 (14 wins, 3.39 ERA), but he's not drawing much attention in fantasy drafts for 2012.
He's following up that '11 campaign with an impressive spring training. Along with having a great ERA, Harrison is holding opponents to a .143 batting average.
Harrison isn't going to do anything spectacular, but he plays for a team that has a loaded offense and he's coming off of a great season.
Toronto Blue Jays: Eric Thames, OF
Eric Thames is hitting .353 (12-for-34) with one homer and one stolen base in the spring.
Thames and Travis Snider are battling it out for the starting left field spot. Snider is also raking in spring, hitting .324 with four homers, but Thames appears to be the frontrunner.
Thames hit 12 home runs in 95 games last year, so he has the potential to hit close to 20 if he earns the starting position.
Washington Nationals: Steve Lombardozzi, 2B/SS
Steve Lombardozzi is hitting .303 (10-for-33) with with one home run and one steal in the spring.
Lombardozzi is one of the Nationals' top prospects after being drafted in the 19th round in 2008. He doesn't look like he'll be much of a power threat, but he's hit at least .283 since playing professional ball in 2008—including a .310 average last year in Triple-A.
The Nationals already have their middle infield blocked by youngsters, but there's rumor that Davey Johnson might want to put Lombardozzi in the outfield.
If he gets his ABs while in the outfield, Lombardozzi is a good source for average and stolen bases.
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