The countdown is finally done; the 2012 fantasy baseball season has arrived.

It’s always hard to cut a guy before the games even start, so maybe this will serve as more of a watch list for a couple weeks. Don’t hesitate to play with your roster a little bit already though. My theory early is that I’m going to shoot for high-upside guys. These aren’t elite guys, but rather players that have the tools to bust out or have at least shown signs.

If in two weeks they are still batting .220, it makes them easy to cut. Don’t worry; players like Aubrey Huff are always on the waiver wire. He doesn’t need to be on your roster.

(The number in parenthesis is the percentage a guy is owned in a standard Yahoo Sports league. Only guys owned in less than 50% of leagues will appear in the column and I will always try to mix in deeper sleepers for competitive leagues.)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Boston Red Sox (21%)

It wasn’t that long ago this guy was a top prospect in the Texas farm system and he did hit 16 homers in 358 ABs last year. He now has the full-time gig in a potent Red Sox lineup and he’s still just 26.

Allen Craig, 2B, St.Louis Cardinals (27%)

He will start the year in a familiar spot, the DL, but when Craig is healthy he hits, 11 homers and 40 RBI in 200 ABs in 2011. It’s OK to grab him now though, so you can take advantage in a couple weeks.

Marco Scutaro, SS, Colorado Rockies (19%)

Scutaro has been surprisingly productive at run scoring and in batting average in the past. Now, he’s batting leadoff in Colorado half the time. In a full season in Coors, he could go 90-15-75-10-.290. That’s not bad for a shortstop.

Brent Morel, 3B, Chicago White Sox (5%)

Okay, so this might be against my strategy of big upside, but Morel did lock down the No. 2 spot ahead of proven run producer Paul Konerko. He did have 8 homers and 19 RBI in September last year.

Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants (47%)

Pagan doesn’t seem to get much credit for his talent, maybe it’s because his name doesn’t make any sense. He was hurt a lot last year but was 66thoverall in 2010 scoring 80 runs, stealing 37 bases and batting 290. He still stole 32 bases in a down 2011.

Cody Ross, OF, Boston Red Sox (10%)

Ross has had a big spring since joining Red Sox. He will start with Crawford out and could put up good numbers in that lineup. He hit 20-plushomers with good RBI totals in ‘08 and ’09.

Eric Thames, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (8%)

Thames won the left field job in the spring after hitting 12 home runs after a mid-season call-up last year. He tore up the minors the first half of last year and definitely has pop.

Chris Capuano, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (8%)

Maybe it’s because he’s a lefty and kind of looks like Ted Lilly, but Capuano seems like he could finally settle in spacious Dodger Stadium. He is a former all-star that’s had a couple Tommy John surgeries, but throws left handed and still strikes people out.

R.A. Dickey, SP, New York Mets (19%)

I think he gets downgraded because of the knuckleball, but the Mets should be a bit better on offense and he did post a 3.28 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season.

Greg Holland, RP, Kansas City Royals (40%)

With Joakim Soria officially gone for the year, I don’t see any way Holland doesn’t end up as the Royals’ closer. Jonathan Broxton might block him fora while, but he’s still Jonathan Broxton so it won’t last long.

Brad Lidge, RP, Washington Nationals (12%)

It’s only a temporary gig while Drew Storen recovers from a minor injury, but saves are a stat you can piece together all season, especially in Roto leagues, so take advantage.

Afredo Acieves, RP, Boston Red Sox (43%)

In a little bit of a surprise, Acieves will start the season as closer instead of Mark Melancon. Bobby Valentine does like to surprise though and he did by using his most versatile pitcher in the least flexible spot on the roster. You might want to keep an eye on this situation.

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Douglas Elish

Doug Elish is new to after spending four years as the Sports Editor of the LaPorte (IN) Herald-Argus and two years as a writer for the NWI Times. He has been a all-around fantasy sports addict for 12 years.

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