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This year's Matt Carpenter
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last season, Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals came out of nowhere to finish as fantasy's No. 2 second baseman and a top-20 overall player, but he'll cost you a fifth-round pick in 2014.

If you're of the opinion that spending a top-60 pick on a second baseman isn't worth it unless the player is named Robinson Cano, then finding this year's version of Carpenter may be a better option.

Looking at Cano's new double-play partner Brad Miller is a good place to start.

The 24-year-old Miller, who like Carpenter throws righty, bats lefty and goes to the plate barehanded, made his MLB debut for the Seattle Mariners on June 28 last season and quietly hit .265 with 11 doubles, six triples, eight home runs, 36 RBI, 41 runs, five steals and a .737 OPS in 335 plate appearances.

Miller, who already has eligibility at second base and shortstop, has owned the Cactus League this spring. His .412 average ranks seventh in all of baseball and his 1.373 OPS is third-highest.

The 6-foot-2 middle infielder has amassed four doubles, four triples and four home runs across 51 at-bats.

It's baffling that the former second-round pick didn't enter the league with more hype last summer after he hit .334 with a .925 OPS, 27 round-trippers and a 162/113 K/BB in 999 minor league plate appearances.

Nick Franklin, a 2009 first-rounder, was more highly touted than Miller and made the big leagues a month before him last season, but he batted .165 with 61 strikeouts and just two home runs in his last 170 at-bats after putting up a .276 average, 52 strikeouts and 10 homers in his first 199.

Miller and Franklin entered camp in a competition for the starting shortstop job following Seattle's acquisition of Cano, and while manager Lloyd McClendon hasn't made it official, Miller has basically locked up the spot with his torrid spring.

Franklin, meanwhile, has been mentioned in trade rumors since the beginning of spring training with the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays reportedly showing interest.

One of the reasons Carpenter was so valuable in fantasy last season was because he scored 126 runs, tops in the majors. That was a product of hitting leadoff in 136 games and second in 14 for a lineup that finished third in baseball in runs scored.

Miller is expected to get a shot at leading off for the Mariners this season, and while the M's only ranked 22nd in runs in 2013, the additions of Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison will immediately make the offense better.

If former prospects Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak can build on their strong finishes to last season -- Ackley hit .301/.369/.426 in his last 235 plate appearance and Smoak blasted 17 homers in his final 341 -- Seattle's offense will show even more improvement than expected.

Miller's average draft position (ADP) aggregated from Yahoo, ESPN, CBS, mockdraftcentral.com and nfbc.stats.com leagues is just 207.6, 19th among second basemen and 18th among shortstops.

If you want to prove that owning Carpenter last season was more a result of your fantasy genius than luck, picking Miller in 2014 will go a long way toward backing up your case.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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