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2013 Fantasy Baseball: 20 Players That Will Break Out This Season

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2013 Fantasy Baseball: 20 Breakout Players

Jerry Lai - USA TODAY Sports

Baseball fans have rejoiced over the past few days as teams have begun playing actual spring training games. The 2013 MLB season is fast approaching and with that, another exciting fantasy baseball season is upon us.

Last year, owners saw the emergence of a ton of young players -- both prospects and already established fantasy options -- into top-tier players. The season may have spoiled many, as guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are not waiting in the wings to take the league by storm every year. With that, people may be too excited to nab the next big thing and some young players may be over-drafted.

It’s not just prospects who burst onto the scene, but many young players who have been in the league a few years finally came into their own as well in 2012. Guys like Ross Detwiler, Ryan Vogelsong, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Willingham and Starlin Castro – among others – took the next step and became some of the better fantasy players in the game.

Once again this season, there are plenty of young hitters and pitchers who are poised to break out in 2013. Many guys may be entering their prime, while others have finally fallen into the right situation.

The key to winning a fantasy baseball league isn’t just grabbing the can’t-miss star with your first few picks and other “safe” options later in drafts. The difference between finishing in the middle of the pack and being crowned league champion often comes from stealing a breakout player later in drafts or off the waiver wire during the season.

The following are 20 players that are poised to take the proverbial next step and become fantasy stars in 2013.

Rich Arleo is a fantasy sports expert with Rant Sports. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and ‘Like’ him on Facebook

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20. SP Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

The former two-sport star at Notre Dame may have made the right choice after all. He'll build on his first solid season in the majors this year.

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19. RP Vinnie Pestano, Cleveland Indians

David Richard – USA TODAY Sports

Taking Pestano would be speculative, but there's a good chance the team trades Chris Perez during the year and Pestano is in waiting after a solid 2012.

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18. SP Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds

Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports

The former prospect has already established himself as a front-end starter, but this could be the year he becomes an ace. He showed last year that the move from the pitcher-friendly Petco Park to the bandbox Great American Ballpark doesn't hurt his value as much as people thought.

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17. RP Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

Ed Szczepanski – USA TODAY Sports

After doing a nice job as the closer at the end of the year, he should be a very steady source of saves this year.

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16. 2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

David Richard – USA TODAY Sports

While he did become a fantasy asset last year, he has a chance to be one of the better fantasy second basemen out there this year.

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15. SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports

Cozart did a nice job for the big club in 2012 and can be a good source of power at shortstop, especially playing in Cincinnati.

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14. SP Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves

Daniel Shirley – USA TODAY Sports

Many would argue that Medlen actually broke out last year, but the fact of the matter is he started just 12 games. What he did in those 12 starts was historic, but this will be the year he becomes a frontline fantasy starter and ace for the Braves.

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13. OF Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

The prospect had a cup of coffee with team late last year and showed off his speed with 12 steals. He's a candidate for 15 home runs and 30-plus steals from the outfield.

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12. 3B Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox

Bob DeChiara – USA TODAY Sports

Middlebrooks was poised to break out for the Sox last year before getting hurt. As long as he stays healthy he has the power to be a top-tier fantasy third baseman.

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11. 1B Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

H. Darr Belser – USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy owners have been waiting on Belt for what seems an eternity. If the power doesn't finally arrive this year it may not ever.

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10. 2B Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies

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Rutledge was quietly a good fantasy shortstop filling in for Troy Tulowitzki last year. Now playing at second base where options are thin, don't let him slip under the radar.

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9. 1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals

Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports

Hosmer took a huge step back last year after being considered a huge breakout candidate heading into the season. At the age of 23 there's still plenty of time to improve, and his speed as a first baseman is an underrated asset.

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8. OF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Joy R. Absalon – USA TODAY Sports

Harper got his shot last year and showed loads of potential, but at the age of 20 with a season under his belt he is primed for a huge season. The 30/30 potential is there, just be wary of the ever-present sophomore slump.

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7. 1B Allen Craig , St. Louis Cardinals

Joy R. Absalon – USA TODAY Sports

Craig was fantastic in just 119 games in St. Louis last year and with a full year under his belt could carry fantasy teams.

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6. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports

Here's another guy that many would argue actually broke out last year, but at 25 entering his third year he could explode. Last year he was solid in multiple categories and this season he's poised to make the leap in the power department from 20 home runs to 30-plus.

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5. C/DH Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners

Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports

The young catcher struggled in his first full year in the big leagues. He looks to be better suited as a designated hitter than full-time catcher, but he’ll get enough looks to qualify at that position and should be able to become a top-10 fantasy catcher, or better, in his second full season.

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4. SS Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers

Jake Roth – USA TODAY Sports

Profar is the name that could be this year's Trout . He is widely considered the top prospect in baseball, and if he gets the chance can make a major impact in the bigs. A big-name, five-tool prospect like Profar may be a tough get. If you can get him without reaching too far and stash him, however, the payoff could be huge.

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3. C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

It is very difficult to find consistent catchers in fantasy, so grabbing a young stud like Perez is a smart route. He was off to a big start in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Bouncing back from a knee injury could be a concern, especially for a catcher, but the potential rewards outweigh the risk here.

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2. 3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Anthony Gruppuso – USA TODAY Sports

Machado impressed in his stint with the Orioles last season, showing off a great ability to hit for power, drive in runs and come through in big spots. He needs to work on his patience, but there are few young hitters in the league with more potential.

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1. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs

Charles LeClaire – USA TODAY Sports

His name is going to be a familiar one to many fantasy players, but he could still be undervalued heading into 2013. After five years in the minors, Rizzo finally got a shot with the Cubs last year and all he did was hit .285 with a .342 OBP, 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in just 87 games. In a full season, Rizzo looks to be almost a lock for 30 bombs with a good average and solid peripherals. Don’t miss out on Rizzo’s breakout campaign…because it’s coming.