De Aza and Viciedo quickly ascending the ranks

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The South Side of Chicago has played host to a season-long fantasy baseball magic show in 2012, cluttering U.S. Cellular Field with rabbits pulled from jet-black White Sox caps.

Perhaps new White Sox skipper Robin Ventura is less Connie Mack and more David Copperfield because among the biggest breakouts, comebacks and Fountain of Youth finders in the MLB this year, many suit up for the Chicago team that has actually won a championship in the past century.

Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy have returned to past glory, A.J. Pierzynski is having a career year, Paul Konerko is batting over .380, Chris Sale has a 2.34 ERA, Phil Humber threw a perfect game, Addison Reed has six saves ... the list of impact White Sox players goes on and on.

But the two biggest shockers for the South Siders are the two men who never had a starting job for a major league team prior to this season: Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.

De Aza and Viciedo have stood side-by-side in left and center field for the White Sox this season, which is fitting considering that's exactly where they both sat in the preseason -- side-by-side among the other unwanted waiver fodder.

You can bet they're both highly coveted now.

De Aza has been a disrupting force at the top of Chicago's lineup, batting leadoff all season and doing everything he can to make sure he touches home as many times as possible.

With Dunn and Konerko batting behind him, De Aza has scored 36 runs, tied for eighth in the majors.

He's stolen 11 bases in 15 attempts, tied for 10th in baseball.

Unlike some other speedsters who are one-dimensional -- Dee Gordon, Cameron Maybin and Jordan Schafer come to mind -- De Aza has been able to ply his craft on the base paths without lagging in other categories.

De Aza has a .284 average, four home runs and 22 RBIs, as well as a .784 OPS, good for the 46th-best Yahoo! fantasy line.

Up until recently, it was looking like De Aza was going to be leaving his teammate in the dust with the other unrosterable atrocities.

As recently as May 13, Viciedo, a former Cuban defector who signed a four-year deal with Chicago when he was 19, was hitting .196 with three home runs and a .530 OPS.

Out of nowhere, he's ripped off a power display that would even make Jose Bautista envious.

In the last 16 games, Viciedo has belted nine home runs while batting .444 (28- for-63). The 23-year-old has driven in 23 runs in that span. To put that in perspective, Corey Hart, Ian Kinsler and Jason Heyward have driven in 23 runs all season, while Robinson Cano has just 22 RBIs on the year.

The surge has raised Viciedo's batting average to .291 and his OPS to .827, gains of 95 and 297 points, respectively, from where they where on May 13.

Viciedo has cracked the top 100 overall in Yahoo! leagues, moving to 96th after going 3-for-4 with a double on Wednesday, pretty impressive considering he was less valuable than Michael Morse -- who hasn't played a game this season -- as recently as three weeks ago.

De Aza is still available in 29 percent of Y! leagues, while Viciedo is out there in 38 percent of them. Both of those numbers should be higher, as both of these players are locked into a starting role for one of the better offenses in baseball.

Even if both players go into a sudden nosedive, the price (free in most cases) more than justifies a speculative add.

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

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