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A friend of mine has this morbid fascination with the demise of Major League Baseball through TV ratings, and what’s most bizarre about his complex is the fact that he happens to work for a big league org. Every so often I’ll get a gchat from him that goes like, “dude, male viewership between ages 31 and 33 has dropped a quarter point off last year’s pace. Terrible news for baseball.” Such messages usually go ignored, but a couple weeks ago one of these IM’s caught me off guard: “You realize the WNBA draft drew a better rating than the MLB Draft last year?” I didn’t bother fact-checking this one, so perhaps my friend got his numbers mixed up, but in any case, if this news is even close to being accurate, I find it deeply disturbing. The MLB first-year player draft begins tomorrow at 6pm central time on MLB Network, and if you care enough about baseball to be reading a blog post about fantasy prospects, then you should probably tune in. Offering further intrigue, I’ve identified some early-impact draft prospects below. We’re sticking to college products for this exercise, as they carry a quicker path to the bigs and far less risk than their prep counterparts.

Arms to Know

  • Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State:  A front-end southpaw with elite pure stuff. He needs to grow in the command department, but upside doesn’t get much higher than Rodon’s.
  • Aaron Nola, RHP, LSU:  Nola doesn’t bring the frame of a future ace, but with a polished repertoire and a bat-missing changeup, he could be the quickest to the bigs in this class.
  • Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina:  With great size and stuff, Hoffman was one of the most intriguing arms in the class, but TJ surgery last month spoiled some of the hype. Athletes of this caliber tend to bounce back nicely after surgery, and Hoffman could be a steal if he slips out of the top 10.
  • Sean Newcomb, LHP, Hartford:  Newcomb is a 6-foot-5 lefty with a deep and refined power arsenal. That skill set makes him an extremely safe first round investment, and likely a top 10 pick.
  • Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt:  Another prospect with an innings-eating frame and huge stuff, but lacking severely in terms of control/command. Beede’s stock has suffered due to inability to spot his pitches, but the upside is too good to slip out of the first round.

Bats to Know

  • Kyle Schwarber, 1B, Indiana:  There doesn’t appear to be a Kris Bryant in this year’s class, but Schwarber is probably as close as we can get. Elite raw power and an above average hit tool should allow for some exciting fantasy production.
  • Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State:  His regular season line speaks loudly as to his ability at the plate: .364/.518/.578. College hitters tend to be a bit more risky than college pitchers, but Conforto’s hit tool is legit, and he could be raking in the bigs by 2016.
  • Max Pentacost, C, Kennesaw State:  Pentacost was MVP of the Cape Cod league last summer, showcasing his ability to swing with wood. Development behind the dish might slow his path to the bigs, but he’s going to hit once he arrives.
  1. Chris says:
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    Hey Scott, what are your thoughts on Jesse Winker? Seems like he is underrated by most scouting lists because he’s bound to be a corner OFer. However his bat seems very real, top 50 fantasy prospect for the future?

    • He has 4-category potential & I ranked him #4 in the reds org preseason. Solid ceiling, but what’s most exciting here is that even his floor will be useful.

  2. OneBadMetFan says:
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    Hey Scott! I have a 16 team dynasty minor league draft starting tomorrow, can you list off guys that where off the radar at the start of the year that have turned heads that should be ranked in the top 100 now or will be ranked in the top 100 by years end? Also of the guys you listed in your post would you draft any of them?

    Just looking for potential sleepers since I pick 10th over three rounds.
    Much appreciated.

    • Jason says:
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      @OneBadMetFan: If you click on Scott’s name above, you’ll have access to all of the articles he’s written so far this year (newest on top) – there’s a wealth of information contained in many of those posts that should supply you with the type of info you need.

    • Names that come to mind are Michael Taylor, David Dahl, Trevor Story, Ben Lively, Hunter Harvey, Aaron Blair.

  3. DonSlaughtOnslaught says:
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    I think an explanation would be that the WNBA draft airs on ESPN while MLB is on the MLB network. So WNBA gets all of the people too lazy to change the channel after “BLAH BLAH TALKING HEAD ROUNDTABLE WHO IS NEXT WHO IS NOW?!?OUTSIDE THE LINES SPECIAL” while you really have to be a diehard and seek out MLB Network on most carriers.

    Also 6 pm is an awful time to air something. Everyone out west is still at work, correct?

    • Jason says:
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      @DonSlaughtOnslaught: The MLB draft isn’t a major event because like 95% of the players drafted never reach the majors, or take years to even get the call. It’s fun for fans to follow their team’s picks in the first few rounds, but it’s not much more than a crap shoot. The NFL/NBA drafts are completely different stories.

      • The NFL draft isn’t much different… first couple rounds are interesting, but the rest seems like a crapshoot. Baseball can do a better job of hyping their draft, but truly it might need an outlet like ESPN to get involved.

    • Totally, but it’s disturbing nonetheless.

    • Spyre says:
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      @Scott Evans: @DonSlaughtOnslaught: without knowing networks, the first thing i thought is that ppl are tuning into the wnba draft to see all the high school girls haha

      • jesse says:
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        @Spyre:

        High school girls aren’t picked, pervert.

  4. BTXJ

    BTXJ says:
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    i’m stashing prospects on expansion team in keeper league. who do you like better, gray (col) or stephenson (cin)?

    • Hawk says:
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      @BTXJ:

      Hard to take any pitcher in Colorado over a pitcher somewhere else but Cincy’s no great pitchers park either.

      I’d say it’s a coin flip.

      • BTXJ

        BTXJ says:
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        @Hawk: yea both are studs in shitty situations…tails

    • Jammer McSlam says:
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      @BTXJ: Gray. If he wasn’t going to be in CO he would be even more exciting, but his arm is top tier and his style bodes well for CO (Swing and miss / GB pitcher).

      • Swfcdan says:
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        @Jammer McSlam: Have the Rockies ever had an ace, like ever? Jeff Franchise, Pomeranz, none of them work out pitching in that bandbox.

  5. Yescheese says:
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    Great list to add to my radar – thanks Scott!

  6. RapCity says:
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    Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville

    Can hit triple digits; plays in pitcher-friendly home stadium; with the right team, outside chance he could be quickest to the bigs in middle relief.

    Had trouble finding the zone last weekend in NCAA Regional play, but recovered well. Should get a chance to work at least one inning vs. Pentacost’s Kennesaw State this weekend in the NCAA Super Regional.

    • That matchup will be fun to behold. And I agree, Burdi’s skill set can push him to the bigs as fast as anyone if he’s spotting the fastball.

      • RapCity says:
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        @Scott Evans: I think both players will go 1st round; always interesting to monitor how players perform immediately after being drafted high.

  7. MB says:
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    Cool to trade Tapia and Miguel Almonte for Hunter Harvey in 15 team 5×5 dynasty with 15 minor leaguers? Thanks for the awesome article

    • Raimel Tapia? I’d hold…

  8. Jason says:
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    Scott – is Alex Jackson not on your radar? He’s one of the hitting prospects I’m most excited about (and hoping he can somehow fall to the Phillies at #7). He probably won’t stick at catcher due to his athleticism and plus arm, but everything I’ve read indicates he could have 30+ HR power in his prime.

    • Jason says:
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      @Jason: Ah, nevermind Scott, I missed the part about sticking to college prospects only. Makes sense given their ability to make a more immediate impact. Cheers as always!

    • Oh, he is most definitely on the radar, but I always like to introduce the more developed products first. We’ve got the next three years to discuss Jackson…

  9. DAN says:
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    Hey any time table for the next Minor Accomplishments?

  10. TobiasFunkeAnalRapist says:
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    AJ Reed? I’m a big UK guy so obviously biased but what do you see from this guy in the future? Thanks.

    • Some of the 1st round intrigue around Reed has to do with the fallback option of him working out as a pitcher if his bat doesn’t play… The power is exciting, but I’m projecting him as a Victor Roache-type college bat, who will be slow to adjust to wood bats & consistently powerful stuff in the pros.

  11. Scott –

    Nice article. Thanks for the work.

    Quick Minor League question — with Miguel Goanzalez likely having a strained oblique, you think BAL may call up KEVIN GAUSMAN? I know that Tillman is filling in for him vs. TEX… Was trying to get ahead of a call-up and speculate. Let me know your thoughts. https://twitter.com/masnRoch/status/474294640376827905

    Thanks

    • If nothing else, it puts him one step closer to a permanent role & he was already one of my top SP stashes…

      • @Scott Evans:

        Yeah; agreed… I made the move in my deep 15 teamer. thanks

  12. Count de Monetball says:
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    Scott, Thanks for the write up, your rookie nookie is well appreciated and quickly becoming one of my most anticipated blogs on Razz. Love the work bro!

  13. Yescheese says:
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    Thoughts on Eugenio Suarez just calle up by DET?

    • Very impressed at his progress at the plate. — big steps forward this year. Plus defensive profile makes him a good bet to stick in the bigs in some capacity too. I like.

  14. los locos says:
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    gausman pulled after one inning of a start tonight, is or should he be a pick up?

    • Jason says:
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      @los locos: It does look like he’s getting the call, so he’s certainly worth a pickup. Be careful though, he’s struggled at the MLB level previously, so you may want to give him at least a start or two before putting him in the lineup. His long term outlook remains sky high, but I’m not as excited about him in redrafts unless you really need SP help.

  15. mindicohn says:
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    have to drop someone this week due to various trades and whatnots in 14 tm dynasty…we are 8th out of 14 and have been making more moves toward future…

    at any rate, have to drop one of these guys:
    Mike Aviles,
    Espinosa
    L.Sims
    J.Nelson
    R.Montero

    leaning toward Sims or Nelson (Aviles or Espinosa start for us)…

    Also, is Sean Maneaa better option than Sims/Nelson/Montero?

    Thx!

    • Jason says:
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      @mindicohn: Given the scenario you outlined, I’d drop Sims – he’s struggled at A+ this year and his K rate is way down so I doubt he’s anywhere close to the majors (not to mention that the Braves have a plethora of young impact arms already in the rotation, injured or in the pen).

      I’d probably roster Manaeaa over Sims at this point, though not overly excited about him. Very high on Nelson, definitely keep him on your roster.

      • mindicohn says:
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        @Jason: thanks Scott!

        • Jason says:
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          @mindicohn: I’m Jason, but no problem. I’m definitely higher on Nelson than Scott is (and IMO is far closer to helping your team than Sims – both guys have had BB’s issues but Nelson has seemed to work through his and is dominating AAA this year). That said, if you’re conflicted, I’d always lean towards taking Scott’s advice, Sims does have a lot more fanfare than Nelson, I’m just not liking the returns at the lower levels this season so far.

    • Nelson brings the least impact here… Manea has a huge ceiling, but so does Sims…

      • mindicohn says:
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        @Scott Evans: thanks both of u guys…conflicted but this helps. Maybe i can package Nelson and Lindor for Baez or is that too lateral?

        • Jason says:
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          @mindicohn: If you can pull that off, do it in a blue second.

        • Getting Baez for that package would be tremendous value.

    • Jason says:
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      @EL BURRO: It’s possible, but Gray had a blow up start his last time out, so they may want to see him pitch again before making up their minds (he’s scheduled to start tonight, so we should know sooner rather than later).

      I’ve also been hearing about Tyler Matzek from AAA possibly getting the call, but he had a very poor start his last time out as well and doesn’t seem like a real exciting option given his historical command issues.

      The guy that’s been flying under the radar all season who has been the most consistent is Daniel Winkler at AA – solid K rate, nice command, has worked 7 innings multiple times this season, turned 24 back in February. He may be worth a shot if they feel Gray isn’t quite ready yet.

    • Gray or Butler… hard to say which.

      • Jason says:
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        @Scott Evans: Butler got the call the other night, he’ll be replacing Franklin Morales in the rotation. That would leave Gray or the other options I mentioned to potentially replace the injured Jordan Lyles, unless they want to go back to Morales (Yuck).

  16. Mike b says:
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    ESPN doesn’t have Mookie Betts or Micah Johnson in player universe. Late last season they still didn’t have Polanco(much more of an issue). What gives with their available player universe? Anywho, what do you see Eddie Butler’s impact being in the immediate future. I read as a high floor- low ceiling type, is that correct?

    • Jason says:
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      @Mike b: Not sure about ESPN (don’t use it for baseball). About Butler – he has a chance to be pretty successful at Coors given his high ground ball % (hence the high floor projections). He’s also shown the ability to K batters at a pretty good clip, but from what I understand, the reason his K rate is down this season is due to the organization not wanting him to throw his slider as much (and given all the TJ’s going around lately, who can blame them).

      He’s continued to be successful despite the dip in K’s, so unless the organization allows him to unleash his full arsenal (similar to the Gerrit Cole situation in Pittsburgh last season with his curveball), he may not realize his full potential for fantasy for a few years (hence the lower ceiling projections).

      I’ve got a good feeling about him though – call it a gut instinct, but there’s something about his makeup that has me excited, and he’s coming aboard at a time when he should receive plenty of run support right away (even with the injuries to Arenado and Cargo).

    • High floor, for sure, but don’t sleep on the ceiling — could be a sneaky #2 type arm.

  17. joe says:
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    How much do you value polanco with his call-up about to happen?

    Wanting to get in on a little bit of that young magic….. (14-team 5-keeper H2H) And I’ve got too many pitchers. (K-rod, Janssen, Soriano, S. Miller, Eovaldi, Kuechel, McHugh are all tradeable)

    Would you invest heavily in Polanco like you would have with Springer earlier on?

    Thanks!

    • Jason says:
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      @joe: Polanco has a chance to be a perennial first/second round type fantasy player for many years given his power/speed combo. He’s absolutely someone you want to invest heavily in should you have the opportunity in keeper/dynasty formats. I doubt any of the arms you mentioned would land him, but feel free to try. If I owned him in a keeper/dynasty, I’d only accept a top notch talent that made sense for my team in return.

  18. Matt says:
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    If you had no chance of winning this year in dynasty, would you trade wisler for victorino in hopes he rebounds next season? 5×5 15 teams cbs rosters

    • Jason says:
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      @Matt: Not a chance IMO, I want nothing to do with Victorino in dynasty formats unless the price is super cheap (i.e. off the waiver wire). Victorino hasn’t played more than 140 games since 2010 and has had continuous hamstring problems, hindering his ability to utilize his best asset, his speed, on what will be 34 year old legs next season. I wouldn’t trade a prospect arm like Wisler for him that’s for sure.

  19. Swfcdan says:
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    Missed the blog this week, just checked now under the prospects tab and here it is.

    Not wanting to talk about new draftees just yet, but what do you think of Clint Frazier? Have a chance to get him in my keeper league. You were raving about his tools in the offseason, has his slow start changed your view on him at all? Upside still massive? Really need another high upside bat on my farm and seeing as the current ones on the brink of callups are becoming nearly untouchable, thought Frazier might be a good buy low prospect so to speak.

    • Upside hasn’t changed. He’s still a ways off & that carries some risk, but he’s a good prospect to target if you can get him cheap.

  20. Dave says:
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    Think Yelich could get demoted?

  21. Yescheese says:
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    Hey Scott – who here has the top 3-5 best realistic ceiling for fantasy baseball?

    OF Aaron Judge (NYY)
    OF Victor Roache (MIL)
    OF Tyrone Taylor (MIL)
    OF Steven Moya (DET)
    C Clint Coulter (MIL)
    C Max Stassi (HOU)
    3B Jake Lamb (ARI)
    3B Kaleb Cowart (LAA)
    SS Trevor Story (COL)
    2B Taylor Lindsay (LAA)
    2B Micah Johnson (CWS)

    • Story, Stassi, Lamb, Lindsay, Johnson

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