Panning for Gold in San Diego

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Nielsen takes a look at a couple of very interesting Padres players who have high upside along with a low cost.

If you're looking for huge upside late in your draft or auction then you should pay attention to a couple of Padres players who could potentially really impact the fantasy season in 2013. Spending a few bucks or a late-round pick on Jedd Gyorko or Andrew Cashner is like buying Apple stock in the late 80's.

I've already warned about going against your rankings and overreacting to Spring Training statistics here but I've been high on Gyorko for a couple of years now, especially recently with his move from third base to second base. As if Gyorko's bat needed any more confirmation, he has 3 HR's already this spring including a Grand Slam. The bat is going to play, and it might translate from his MiLB numbers better than one would think when taking into account the fences are in at PETCO. No, I'm not crazy. I realize he's not going to hit .311 with 30 HR in 2013, but that could be his career year in MLB. The bat is that good. I'm expecting around a .290 average with between 17-22 HR if he starts at 2B all year for the Padres. With the heart of the Padres lineup the way it is I could see Gyorko batting 6th behind Quentin, Alonso and Headley, not the worst spot to be in. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a handful of SB's to go along with those HR's as well, a nice little value boost. Gyorko isn't ever going to be a big stolen base threat but he did go 12 for 15 in his attempts in 2011 and even though his success rate was terrible in 2012 he managed to steal 5. That would be crazy value relative to where you would have to draft him or how much he would cost in an auction.

Of course, Gyorko is no lock to start the year as the Padres second baseman. His defense there is questionable. If he was definitely going to get 550 at-bats from the second base position then he'd cost a lot more than he is. But that's part of his allure and value. You don't have to overpay to find out if Gyorko is going to stick at second base and carry over his offensive success into MLB.

Andrew Cashner is another high-upside pick. Cashner injured the thumb of his throwing hand in a hunting accident during the winter. Factor in that he was going to be transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation and you have yourself a player whose upside remains incredibly high yet his price will not be. Cashner throws GAS. His fastball topped out at 102 MPH in 2012. As a starter he's expected to sit in the mid-90's. In 19 IP across 4 starts for the Padres he had a 23 K's with only 3 BB. In the minors he was just as impressive, compiling a 23:3 K/BB at AA over 3 starts with a 1.88 ERA along with a 8:2 K/BB with a 3 ERA over 3 starts at AAA while working his pitch count up for a return late in the season after a lat strain kept him out of action for a couple of months. On top of this, he has a groundball profile. He's a power pitcher who has exemplified at above average command in his recent work as a SP and he has a groundball profile. Sign me up.

It will be important to pay close attention to the reports on Cashner as he starts pitching in Spring Training which should come at the end of March. Although Cashner might miss a couple of weeks to begin the season he has been insistent that he can be ready for the opening week. If he stays healthy, which is hardly a given with his history, he can put up a line similar to what the fans are projecting over at fangraphs (130 IP 135 K 52 BB 3.66 ERA 1.25 WHIP 9 W). He's not going to pitch 200 innings or carry your staff but there's certainly #2 SP type of value with Cashner if you play him when he's healthy.

Fantasy Gold.

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