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03/31/08 12:00 AM ET
Roundtable: Hot springs to last into summer
Surprisingly strong camps could lead to regular-season breakthroughs
After batting .366 in Spring Training, Jorge Cantu could be primed for a renaissance with the Marlins. (AP)

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Among this spring's pleasant surprises, who are the best bets to carry their success into the regular season? MLB.com's fantasy gurus tackle that question in this week's edition of the Roundtable.

Jorge Cantu, 3B, Marlins

From a certain standpoint, it's not surprising that Jorge Cantu had a huge spring with a .366 average and 16 RBIs in 71 at-bats. After all, this is a player who racked up 28 homers and 117 RBIs for the Rays in 2005, and he's only 26. Of course, his numbers sharply dropped after that banner campaign, and he seemed to be headed for a journeyman career after batting just .252 in part-time play last year. A move to the hot corner seems to have revitalized the onetime defensively challenged second baseman, however, and his past success makes him a good bet to carry this strong production into the regular season.

-- Tim Ott, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Lastings Milledge, OF, Nationals

Milledge hit .316 this spring, and while the power wasn't there, it was very nice to see the six steals in eight tries. The new ballpark will only help his numbers, so I'm not concerned about the fact that he hit only one round-tripper in Grapefruit League action. Milledge is a high-ceiling player who needs to keep his head on straight while maintaining his youthful exuberance. If he can do that, he will become a solid fantasy outfielder in 2008.

-- Mike Siano, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"

Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds

With everyone foaming at the mouth over Josh Hamilton, who slugged an eye-popping .758 in Spring Training, there's practically no chance of getting the Rangers center fielder at a bargain price. Your best spring bet is Volquez. Unlike Hamilton, the right-handed flamethrower came into camp without a job, and he forced his way into the Reds rotation by dominating the competition with 26 punchouts against only four walks. If that's any indication of what's to come -- and if Volquez has truly taken steps to reign in his nasty stuff -- then now is the time to throw a dollar at him.

-- Alex Cushing, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Andre Ethier, OF, Dodgers

With all of the hype surrounding Matt Kemp entering camp, there was little to no talk of another young and talented Dodgers outfielder. Few thought Andre Ethier would have any mixed-league value, as the best-case scenario had him sharing time with Kemp in right. But after a mammoth spring (.377 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 16/5 BB/K), the 25-year-old has trumped Juan Pierre for the starting gig in left field. With consistent playing time, there's no reason to think Ethier won't be a valuable mixed-league commodity in 2008.

-- Matt Kerner, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Chris Snyder, C, Diamondbacks

Thought to be in competition with Miguel Montero for the bulk of the paying time in the desert entering the season, Snyder has built on last season's fine second half to springboard into the regular catching gig for the Diamondbacks. Snyder's power stroke is in fine form, as he had five homers and six doubles in 44 spring at-bats while continuing to display excellent plate patience with seven walks along the way. There is no reason to think he can't carry this success into the regular season, especially since Montero is hurt. Think Jason Varitek, circa 2004, with fewer strikeouts. Twenty homers and an average around .270 are not out of the question.

-- Todd Zola, Correspondent

Billy Butler, DH, Royals

If Billy were your butler, your dinners might sometimes arrive half-eaten. That said, the 21 year-old can flat-out mash. After hitting a scorching .341 with 24 RBIs in his first full big league month last season, the big fella cooled off a bit as speculation about his athleticism arose. His monster spring numbers should quiet that criticism, though, as he posted a .365 average, four homers and 13 RBIs in 74 at-bats. Expect Butler to provide the Royals with the big bat they desperately need in the middle of their lineup this year.

-- Corey Gottlieb, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees

Spring stats don't count for much when the season starts, but research shows that a spring spike in slugging percentage can indicate a big season forthcoming. Among established players who fit the bill this spring, watch for Robinson Cano, who flirted with a .700 slugging percentage in Grapefruit play. While he almost never walks, he doesn't strike out much either, and his incredible ability to make good contact so regularly could lead to huge numbers in the loaded Yankees lineup. Cano should once again easily top .300 this season, with career high power numbers across the board.

-- Cory Schwartz, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"

John Maine, SP, Mets

With a 1.53 ERA and 33/5 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 spring innings, John Maine is poised to make the leap to elite starter this season. After a surprising breakout last year (15 Ws, 180 Ks), the soon-to-be 27-year-old is ready to build on his spring numbers and approach 200 Ks and churn in an ERA around 3.00. So ignore all the preseason and media hype surrounding teammates Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez; the real gem and best bargain coming from the Mets rotation is Maine.

-- Dave Feldman, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

While Spring Training stats normally don't mean a thing, I think what you've seen from John Maine is in fact meaningful, and then some. Here's a guy who settled into his first year throwing every five days by winning 15 games for one of the best teams in the NL, including an absolute gem (and his best career performance) when it mattered most. Maine is a guy who simply trusts his fastball and says to the hitter, "Try and hit this -- if you do, I tip my cap." I love his mentality on the hill, and I expect a big 2008.

-- Casey Stern, Host, "MLB.com Fantasy 411"

Maine had a productive 2007 season with the Mets, but his performance has jumped to another level this spring -- no surprise, considering he's facing less pressure this year with Johan Santana in town and Pedro Martinez finally healthy. Expect the soon-to-be 27-year-old to keep the good times rolling and continue to improve his command in his second full season in the Majors.

-- Kyle Stack, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

Mike Morse, 3B, Mariners

Who is Mike Morse? He's a career 'tweener, a 26-year-old shortstop-turned-third-baseman-turned-outfielder-turned-super-utilityman who batted a ridiculous .492 with 15 RBIs in 65 spring at-bats. In fact, he's been so impressive, manager John McLaren plans to platoon him with declining veteran Brad Wilkerson in right. This job is Morse's for the taking, so keep a close eye on him in all formats.

-- Milosh Marinovich, Reporter, MLB.com Fantasy

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.