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June 11, 2012

Value Picks

Second, Short, and Catcher for 6/11/12

by Josh Shepardson

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Departures
It brings a tear to my eye to bid adieu to my first two Value Pick graduates, Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Yahoo! 59%, ESPN 51.7%, CBS 79%) and Gordon Beckham (Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 50.2%, CBS 72%). Their continued strong play has pushed their ownership above the self-imposed soft cap for inclusion. May both turn into fantasy roster mainstays.

Sticking Around
The Rockies continue to award the bulk of the starts behind the dish to Wilin Rosario (Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 14.7%, CBS 52%) while Ramon Hernandez is sidelined. Hernandez has yet to begin swinging the bat, and Rosario has continued to swing a hot one since last week's inclusion here. He brings pop to the table and is a fine second catcher in two catcher formats.

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (Yahoo! 27%, ESPN 27%, CBS 66%) remains underowned. He won't knock your socks off with his production, but he's a capable middle infield option. Cozart has put a dreadful May behind him and is hitting .294/.368/.441 in 34 June at-bats. He has as many walks this month (four) as he had in 106 at-bats in May. He has also cut back on his strikeouts, nearly cutting his K rate in half from May, reducing it from 25.5 percent to 13.2 percent in June. If he is able to find a happy medium between both strikeout rates, he should be capable of hitting .260-.265 with mid-to-high teens home run pop.

Reports of Salvador Perez's (Yahoo! 6%, ESPN 1.5%, CBS 18%) rehab have been positive. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Omaha on Thursday and has played in three games. Perez caught all nine innings in Friday's game and followed that up with a designated hitter assignment on Saturday. In three games with the Storm Chasers, he is hitting .500/.500/.571 through 14 at-bats. Once he is deemed healthy enough to handle everyday catching duties, he should see a call-up to the parent club shortly thereafter.

Arrivals
The Twins have failed to get any modicum of production from their revolving door at third base. Enter Trevor Plouffe (Yahoo! 9%, ESPN 7.1%, CBS 21%), who has seen time at first base, right field, and of late, third base. In June, six of Plouffe's eight starts have come at third base.

Regardless of host fantasy site, Plouffe offers positional flexibility. Of course, positional flexibility matters only if that player is hitting the ball well, but Plouffe is doing just that. He has used an extreme fly ball approach in June (59 percent fly ball rate) to smack four home runs in 29 plate appearances. In all, he is hitting a scorching .370/.414./.926 this month. Even when he was struggling in May, his power was on display with four home runs in 71 plate appearances. He'll cool down eventually, but it is looking increasingly like his power explosion last season (23 home runs in 540 plate appearances split between Triple-A and the majors) is for real. Invest in the pop, but recognize that his propensity for taking to the air is probably going to lead to a low average, and his tiny BABIP isn't all poor luck.

After over 1,000 games played in the bigs, Rod Barajas (Yahoo! 5%, ESPN 0.4%, CBS 19%) is what he is. He is a catcher that owners are always looking to upgrade from but one that, when he's getting steady playing time, is a useable second catching option. As a member of the Pirates, Barajas has seen a steady diet of playing time, and he has made the most of it. His .246/.311/.410 line, but that is weighted down by a putrid April in which he hit .143/.222/.184. Over the last 30 days, he has ridden a blistering 29 percent line drive rate to a .358/.421/.597 slash line. Ride the hot hand out, and look for a replacement when he finally cools down.

Add Stephen Drew's (Yahoo! 22%, ESPN 15.1%, CBS 40%) name to the growing list of injured players nearing a return that are featured this week. He has yet to play in a game for the Diamondbacks this season while recovering from a broken ankle and ligament damage he suffered last July. He did, however, play in his first rehab game for Triple-A Reno on Thursday. He sat on Friday, which was a planned day of rest, and played again on Saturday. According to USA Today, the Diamondbacks plan to continue to have Drew alternate games played and days off as he begins a 20-day rehab assignment. It isn't required that Drew spend the entire 20 days in the minors while he proves his health, and with no timetable released for his anticipated return, reports are mixed as to how long he'll be in Reno. With Willie Bloomquist playing well at shortstop in Drew's absence, manager Kirk Gibson may choose to ease Drew back into action for the Snakes.

Drew is a name brand shortstop, and his ownership levels will soar as he gets closer to a healthy return to the majors. Owners with an available disabled list slot or some bench flexibility should add Drew whether or not they need middle infield or shortstop help. Even without a pressing need at his eligible position, owners may be able to use him as a trade chip to fill a need elsewhere upon his return.

AL-only VP
Brian Roberts (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 0.8%, CBS 21%) is once again the AL-only VP selection. With a return to the Orioles as soon as Tuesday possible, if not probable, expect Roberts to shed his AL-only VP status by next week.

NL-only VP
In the middle of May, the Padres dipped into the minors to nab hot-hitting Everth Cabrera (Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 1.2%, CBS 10%) to help jump start a sputtering offense and replace an injured Jason Bartlett in the lineup. Cabrera has seen enough playing time at second base to add that eligibility to his shortstop designation in Yahoo! leagues, which helps his cause. Cabrera has his faults as a hitter, striking out too often for a player with little-to-no power, but his ability to steal bases makes him worthy of fantasy ownership in large mixed leagues that use a middle infielder and, of course, NL-only leagues. He stole 15 bases without getting caught in Triple-A, and he has run his perfect stolen base total up to 20 in 2012 by successfully stealing five more with the Padres. Own Cabrera for his ability to swipe bags; anything else he adds is gravy. 

Related Content:  Espn,  Everth Cabrera

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