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Solid fantasy options plentiful on waiver wire

Young players on the way up and veterans bouncing back are still available
MLB.com

By the middle of April, fantasy owners start to lose patience with late-round draft picks, and they look to the waiver wire for replacements. While patience is still a virtue for top selections with a proven track record, here are a few options that can replace struggling back-end players.

Catcher, Devin Mesoraco (Reds): Cincinnati is counting on Mesoraco to handle a heavy workload, but an early DL stint dulled fantasy owners' enthusiasm. During his time in the Minors, Mesoraco hit for average and power, and he added a healthy walk rate, which gives him plenty of upside now that he has some Major League experience under his belt.

By the middle of April, fantasy owners start to lose patience with late-round draft picks, and they look to the waiver wire for replacements. While patience is still a virtue for top selections with a proven track record, here are a few options that can replace struggling back-end players.

Catcher, Devin Mesoraco (Reds): Cincinnati is counting on Mesoraco to handle a heavy workload, but an early DL stint dulled fantasy owners' enthusiasm. During his time in the Minors, Mesoraco hit for average and power, and he added a healthy walk rate, which gives him plenty of upside now that he has some Major League experience under his belt.

First Base, Adam LaRoche (Nationals): The 34-year-old owns a .217 career batting average in April, which is much lower than any other month. But he is off to a hot start this season, and fantasy owners who take a chance on LaRoche could get a nice bounceback season from a player who collected 33 homers and 100 RBIs in 2012.

Second Base, Kelly Johnson (Yankees): The 32-year-old's lefty power swing should play nicely at Yankee Stadium, and he can also swipe a few bases. Johnson will not hit for average, but his multiposition eligibility will help fantasy owners over the long haul.

Shortstop, Chris Owings (D-backs): Owings was mentioned in this space last week, but fantasy owners have been slow to add the 2013 Pacific Coast League MVP Award winner. Arizona's shortstop is off to a solid start, even if he has yet to hit for power. Owings should help in all five categories this season, and he could really take off in another month, once he finishes getting his feet wet.

Third Base, Trevor Plouffe (Twins): The 27-year-old is known for two things: power and streaks. Plouffe hit better than .290 in three months last season, and under .220 in three others. In 2012, he hit 11 homers in June, and then hit eight the rest of the way. The right-handed slugger is hot right now, so fantasy owners can add Plouffe with the intention of throwing him back to waivers once he cools off.

Outfield, Michael Morse (Giants): Morse hit .303 with 31 homers in 2011, and he followed that up with a .291 batting average and 18 dingers in '12. His poor strikeout-to-walk ratio seemed to catch up with him last season, but the 32-year-old has shown he can be a productive fantasy asset in spite of that shortcoming. The outfielder is off to a nice start this time around, and mixed-league owners can give Morse a chance.

Outfield, Kole Calhoun (Angels): Calhoun's lack of production in the first week of the season caused him to fall to waivers in many leagues, but his solid production in Week 2 has not put him back onto many rosters. The outfielder offers power and speed, and he hits in front of Mike Trout. As long as Calhoun occupies the Halos' leadoff spot, he should be on mixed-league rosters.

Outfield, Jason Kubel (Twins): The 31-year-old is sitting on waivers in almost all mixed leagues, but fantasy owners may have been too quick to write him off after an injury-plagued, unproductive 2013 season. Kubel hit 31 homers as recently as the '12 season, and he has a regular role with Minnesota. Looking ahead, 20 homers and 70 RBIs would not be a surprising for him this year.

Starter, Robbie Erlin (Padres): The 23-year-old was unfazed by an American League offense in his first start of the season, as he allowed just one run across six innings in Cleveland. Erlin lines up for two starts next week, with the first one coming at home in Petco Park. He could easily supply double-digit K's with at least one win.

Starter, Tyler Skaggs (Angels): This former top prospect was impressive in his first start, when he allowed an unearned run in eight innings against the Astros. Fantasy owners have been burned by Skaggs' hype in the past, but the lefty is still just 22 years old, and he may be ready to establish himself as a high-upside starter. There will be boring, veteran options on waivers all season. April is the time to take a chance on players such as Skaggs.

Starter, Aaron Harang (Braves): It will shock some fantasy owners to see Harang on this list, but a quick look at his 2014 numbers shows that he is keeping the bases clear and racking up K's. Atlanta has a terrific track record with starters, and they were wise to pick up Harang after he posted impressive Spring Training numbers. Those in deep leagues should be open-minded to using the 35-year-old in favorable matchups.

Starter, Jesse Chavez (A's): Oakland trusted Chavez with the fifth-starter spot, and he rewarded the club by allowing just two runs across 13 innings in his first two starts. The 30-year-old has punched out 13 batters and walked just two, so his initial success has been well-earned. He is scheduled to make two starts next week, so this is the perfect time to take a chance on the converted reliever.

Starter, Garrett Richards (Angels): Richards has opened the season with a 2-0 record and a 0.75 ERA after two starts. The 25-year-old struck out at least six batters in each outing, which is an encouraging sign that he is ready to help in four categories. Richards' eight walks is a warning sign that his ERA will likely rise in the coming weeks, but he is still worth a waiver-wire addition in most leagues.

Starter, Jose Quintana (White Sox): The southpaw owns a 2.77 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP after two starts, despite working in a pair of hitters' parks. Quintana whiffed 74 batters in 86 second-half innings last season, and he already has 12 K's this season. His healthy strikeout rate should make up for the occasional hiccup. Looking ahead, the 25-year-old could quickly climb fantasy rankings this season.

Reliever, Luke Gregerson (A's): Oakland's bullpen is full of talented power arms, but it appears that Jim Johnson is not one of them. The A's are planning on using a closer committee in the short term, and Gregerson is a name that deep-league fantasy owners should consider. The right-hander often was the arm the Padres turned to when San Diego stopper Huston Street was unavailable in recent years, and Oakland showed it holds Gregerson in high regard by trading for him during the offseason.

Reliever, Shawn Kelley (Yankees): David Robertson's groin injury gives Kelley some short-term value. The Yanks have not said that they will go with Kelley as their exclusive stopper, but he is expected to get most of the chances. For a very small cost, the 29-year-old could get fantasy owners a couple of saves in the coming week.

Reliever, Jonathan Broxton (Reds): Fantasy owners have been slow to pick up Broxton upon his return from the DL, but the 29-year-old is slated to save games for Cincinnati until Aroldis Chapman is ready to return. Broxton converted 23 of 27 save chances with the Royals in 2012, and he should be a useful mixed-league closer in the coming weeks.

Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com.

Jonathan Broxton, Kole Calhoun, Jesse Chavez, Robbie Erlin, Luke Gregerson, Aaron Harang, Kelly Johnson, Shawn Kelley, Jason Kubel, Adam LaRoche, Devin Mesoraco, Michael Morse, Chris Owings, Trevor Plouffe, Jose Quintana, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs