Under The Radar Red Sox To Watch

Will Daniel Bard be one of the better value picks out there for 2012 starting pitchers? (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

With fantasy draft season approaching, and the Red Sox mostly made up of super obvious fantasy selections, it's time to take a look at a few assets who might be under-appreciated in your leagues.

Daniel Bard: Bard is the most significant upside piece the 2012 Red Sox will field. Whereas you are primarily used to drafting Bard as the heir-apparent to Jonathan Papelbon as closer, this time around, you'll be looking at him as a starting pitcher.

Bard has not started in years, as he got just the one shot with it (with altered mechanics, no less) in the low minors before the Red Sox swapped him to the bullpen due to their own needs. He's got the repertoire and the stuff to start, but we don't know yet about the durability, or if his third pitch, a change-up, is as good as we've come to believe it is. Those are questions we won't have answers for until Bard gets to them on his own on the mound, but you have to make a decision on him before that point.

Bard is the kind of pitcher you can draft very late (or very cheaply at auction), who might justify his late position (and therefore not cost you much in any sense of the word) but just might also end up being one of your better value picks as a sleeper. The Red Sox have other starters who aren't guaranteed jobs yet (Vicente Padilla and Aaron Cook, among others), but none of them have the fantasy upside of Bard. Don't forget about him on draft day.

Mark Melancon: Andrew Bailey has something of an injury history, and while it's not necessarily one to get worked up about, the possibility is there that former closer Mark Melancon is going to end up in that role again at some point in 2013. He's the new Bard, the handcuff for the actual Red Sox closer. He doesn't have fantastic strikeout numbers, though, so he's not going to be able to help in the same way a Mike Adams or Koji Uehara could outside of a closer role. He's not bad by any means, though, so don't be shy if he's there late on the cheap in a league with deep rosters.

Ryan Kalish: Kalish will start the year in the minors, but he's one of the few pieces from the upper levels of the Red Sox system who might make an impact in 2012. There's a good chance Kalish won't be up until September, if Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross get the job done, but if he finally conquers both his health and Triple-A pitching, Boston might feel the urge to promote their outfield prospect closest to the majors. Kalish's fantasy value will depend a lot on how his batting average levels out, at least in a shortened 2012 campaign, so keep an eye on his progress during the season at Pawtucket before you commit.

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