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Under the Radar - AL/NL Only Leagues
Nate Springfield | Thursday April 12th, 2012
Danny Duffy's first start could indicate big things for 2012. (US Presswire)
Danny Duffy's first start could indicate big things for 2012. (US Presswire)
Each week, Baseball Press provides some "under the radar" fantasy players for AL-only leagues, NL-only leagues, and mixed leagues. We'll review the diamonds in the rough on the waiver wire that might help you boost your fantasy team in 2012.

This week's AL/NL-only waiver wire pickups features players who can provide some early season help to owners in need of stopgaps and youngsters with upside.  Whether your fantasy team needs homeruns, steals or strikeouts, or even if you're just chasing wins, this mix of players has you covered.

* Owned percentages via Yahoo!

AL-Only Players
Seth Smith - OF, Oakland Athletics  (8% owned)
Lefty Seth Smith will see the majority of the designated hitter duties when the A's are facing right handed pitching until Manny Ramirez returns and can prove himself as a useful major league hitter.  Even though he played half of his games in Coors field last year, he did enjoy a triple-slash line of .299/.365/.526 against right-handed pitching last season when playing for the Colorado Rockies.  Next week, Oakland will face some tough arms when the Angels come to town, but as of now, the projected starters for Los Angeles will be three righties, giving Smith plenty of at-bats and a chance to contribute.

Kyle Seager - 3B/SS, Seattle Mariners (11% owned)
Youngster Kyle Seager is getting a chance to play everyday thanks to an injury to Mike Carp, and is taking full advantage of the opportunity.  In his first five major league games this season, the current Mariners third baseman has three multi-hit games, good for a .438 average, with five RBI and a stolen base.  Initially, Seager looked like a short term option until Carp was healthy enough to return to the lineup, but if he continues to perform like this the Mariners will have a hard time keeping him out of a lineup that needs all the offensive help it can get.

Danny Duffy - SP, Kansas City Royals (5% owned)
It is hard to imagine that a little over two years ago, southpaw Danny Duffy told the Royals that he was going to walk away from baseball to reassess his life's priorities.  Luckily for him, and the Royals, he decided to return, and the once promising pitching prospect seems to now be ready to pitch at the big league level.  After enjoying a successful 2012 spring training, he threw six innings, struck out eight and walked four against the Athletics in first start.  Next week, he is slated to be a two start pitcher, but it will be against two tough offenses in the Tigers and Blue Jays.  If Duffy is able to perform to his potential this year, he could be a big help to any fantasy team rotation.


NL-Only Players
Ruben Tejada - 2B/SS, New York Mets (8% owned)
Going undrafted in 99-percent of all Yahoo! leagues, Ruben Tejada is starting to show owners that they made a mistake overlooking him on draft day.  Even though he offers little pop or speed, owners can count on him for plenty of at-bats that will come from the top of the Mets lineup.  His batting average won't hurt you, and his ability to get on base will lend him to a higher run total than any other long term option available on the waiver wire in most leagues. 

Jordan Schafer - OF, Houston Astros (13% owned)
Former Atlanta Braves prospect Jordan Schafer found himself in Houston after being included in the trade that sent Michael Bourn to Atlanta last season.  The speedy center fielder was dismissed by most owners on draft day because of his high strikeout rate and inability to reach base, making his talent at stealing bases useless.  But so far this season, in a small sample size albeit, he has been able to produce a more than respectable batting average and has stole three bases in his first five games.  It is doubtful that he keeps hitting this well, but the Astros don't have anyone to displace him from his spot in the lineup, and if he does reach base, he will be a very cheap source of stolen bases.

Barry Zito - SP, San Francisco Giants (12% owned)
Barry Zito has once again found fantasy relevance after an outstanding first outing in 2012, hurling a complete game shutout against the Colorado Rockies.  Even though he struck out only four batters, he walked none and allowed only four hits against a reputable offense.  Bouncing back from an injury plagued 2011 campaign, Zito thinks a change in his mechanics and a tweak to his pitch selection contributed to his success against Colorado.  Consistency has not been Zito's strength in the recent past, but he has been able to string together three or four good starts, and next time out he faces the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of the weaker National League lineups.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.