Fantasy: 5 breakout candidates

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Identifying breakout players in fantasy baseball takes a bit of a leap of faith. Finding the right pieces at the right point of your draft could be the difference between winning it all and being an also-ran.

Here are five players who could break out in 2023 and help you win your league.

Average draft positions are from FantasyPros as of March 14

Vinnie Pasquantino, Royals - 1B (ADP 94)

Pasquantino struggled in the first month of his rookie campaign but closed the season as one of the league's hottest hitters. After hitting five home runs in August, Pasquantino raked in September, hitting .344 with just six strikeouts across 64 at-bats. The 26-year-old's power potential takes a hit playing in the cavernous Kauffman Stadium, but his ability to make contact and get on base at a good clip makes him a very appealing target as fantasy drafts move into the middle rounds.

CJ Abrams, Nationals - 2B/SS (ADP 223)

Abrams was one of the big prospects acquired from the Padres in the Juan Soto trade. The speedster struggled in his first 44 games for the Nationals, posting a .603 OPS with seven doubles, 10 RBIs, and six stolen bases. Abrams' speed combined with the larger bases could enable him to approach 50 stolen bases if he can get close to league-average offensive production. The 22-year-old posted a solid .360 on-base percentage at Triple-A last season and could improve in that regard as he gets more comfortable at the big-league level.

Matt Vierling, Tigers - OF (ADP 648)

Vierling was acquired from the Phillies in the deal that sent Gregory Soto to Philadelphia. The 26-year-old didn't show much in 2022 but has some sterling underlying numbers. Vierling ranked in the 86th percentile in average exit velocity last season and the 97th percentile in sprint speed, showing some power/speed upside. Combined with an increased opportunity in Detroit, that could allow Vierling to post some helpful numbers as a late-round flier. It wouldn't be a huge shock if Vierling records double-digit home runs and stolen bases in 2023.

Edward Cabrera, Marlins - SP (ADP 222)

After touting the Marlins' Jesus Luzardo as a bounce-back candidate last season, we're taking a look at another young hurler from Miami. Cabrera's 2022 was limited to just 71 2/3 innings due to injuries, but the right-hander showed flashes of his immense talent. The 24-year-old struck out more than one batter per inning pitched and was effective at limiting hard contact with an 8.6% barrel rate. Cabrera still has to iron out some command issues, but this level of upside is well worth taking a chance on.

Nick Lodolo, Reds - SP (ADP 128)

Lodolo burst onto the scene in his rookie campaign with a 3.66 ERA and 11.41 K/9 across his first 19 MLB starts. The left-hander appears poised to emerge as the ace of the Reds' rotation in 2023. Lodolo's ADP is rising, but he can still be taken outside the top 100. He utilized his curveball very effectively in 2022, and it became an excellent pitch to put away hitters with two strikes. Lodolo allowed a paltry .136 batting average against the curveball with an eye-popping 46% whiff rate. His strikeout upside, paired with pinpoint command, could enable him to become a household name in fantasy baseball this season.