Player Page Matches

The champ is here! The champ is here! Step aside, step aside y’all, we’re dancing into the winner’s circle to profile the top prospects of the World Series Champion Houston Astros. To say the Astros have built a winner through their astute drafting and international prowess is an understatement. Players like Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Lance McCullers all were developed in house, and plenty of additional homegrown talent was shipped out to reinforce the MLB club for the stretch run. So this is definitely a different system than the one profiled by yours truly over the last couple of offseasons. With a slew of graduations and trades, there’s a collection of high end talents from 1-4, followed by some above average high minors types, a handful of talented international lottery tickets, and a plethora of hard-throwing pen types. Houston seems to tread between a bunch of labels when it comes to pinpointing the best way to describe the system, but the most apt description is a good player development organization that needs to restock in the 2018 draft and international signing period. Without further ado it’s the Houston Astros Top Prospects.

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It’s my favorite time of the year, the time when I start to research the first taste of pro-ball for all recent draftees, and prepare for the first year player drafts in several of my leagues. Depending upon the league the rules can vary, but by in large, you’re picking players from the recent draft, the July 2nd International class, and the remaining players on the free agent pool. I’m going to be breaking this post into two parts, first the Top 25 today, followed by the next 25 on Sunday. If my math is right I’m ranking 50, but I had to use my hands three times, and my toes twice. Plus I have to double count my fourth toe, because I lost my pinkie toes after starting Kevin Gausman early in the season. So toe math aside, if you’re in a 12 team league with limited minors (5-10 per team), this is the only post you’re going to need. Ya dig? Moving on, I have to say, now that I’m finished with the top 50, and I’ve researched each team’s draft class from top to bottom, this year’s crop is far more interesting that I thought. There’s tons of talented hitters with combinations of power, and speed, high end power arms from all levels of amateur ball with ace upsides, and  some talented bats in the middle infield. These rankings are subject to change, but it’s unlikely, as all of these players are done with competitive baseball for the season. Feel free to chime in with players you love, players you think will bust, and the players you hope to see in the next 25. Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your first year player drafts this off-season.

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I know, you thought it was going to be 100 prospects right? Well, it’s a good news/bad news thing. The good news is I will be ranking the Top 100 Prospects and beyond, however I will be doing them in increments of 50. So the bad news is you only get 4,000+ words and 50 prospects to read. Lets be honest, we are amongst friends here right? Even 4,000 words is at least two, if not three bathroom sessions. I know that’s when you read these, and I’m cool with it. Now that we’ve made assumptions about your bathroom reading habits, lets move along. As always, I’ve tried to balance the right now value of “close to the majors” prospects vs the high end talent. While also trying to be somewhat objective, and conscientious of the general consensus, which is important to trade value. That’s not to say I don’t go rouge and aggressively rank some players I like. Ahhh, who am I kidding it’s all personal bias. So here you go, dig in. The next 50 will drop on Wednesday at the stroke of midnight.

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I fired up the trusty Razzball Stream-o-Nator to glean its wisdom about the pitching slate for today, and nearly fell over. The top-ranked pitcher of the day? Kyle Hendricks versus the Phillies, which in itself is not surprising; the surprising part is that he is 8.9 Stream-o-Nator dollars ($SON 8.9), which is oscillating wildly on the brink of “don’t start this guy.” To put this into perspective, things get back to normal with SON’s Sunday’s prospects, with the top-rated pitcher of the day being Yu Darvish at $SON 33.6. Uhhh… can we punt pitcher altogether today? Sadly, FanDuel’s not going to let us do that and still enter a valid lineup (harrumph; the cheek of it). SON’s number 2 (so to speak) for the day is Ross Stripling ($6,000 on FanDuel; SON$ 7.5), who has actually been Quite Good as a long reliever, but this is a spot start and he has a limit of 55 pitches. So, as much as I’ve made it my life’s purpose to follow the Way of SON, I’m going risky and starting Gio Gonzalez (a terrifying $SON 1.3), while trying to compensate by paying up for batting, with games going down in hitter-friendly parks like Arizona today. A.k.a.: time to stack and hope!

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In case you can’t tell from my dull, unoriginal title, I really tried to find a way to open this column with Saberseminar 2017 in Boston.

Yesterday and today, the most analytically inclined minds in the baseball industry gathered in a college lecture hall on Boston University’s campus to mull over the most finite details in the game. Rick Hahn (White Sox GM) spoke candidly about his club’s rebuild and how he and his staff emotionally deal with “teardowns” – he even spilled some beans that Reynaldo Lopez might be called up for a start Friday (#LanceTheBeatWriter) – while Tom Tippett, Red Sox Senior Analyst, dove into all the details unaccounted for in dollar-per-WAR retrospective contract valuations. There was even a chemist by the name of Stephanie Springer – unrelated to George Springer – who closed her powerpoint with an ominous bullet-point implying players might have an advantage in PED screening (yowzas indeed). I plan on detailing my experience in a post for my brainchild BigThreeSports, but let’s get to the matter at hand.

We need to talk about Aaron Nola…

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Chris Sale, P: $11,800 & Max Scherzer, P: $11,600 – I’m not going to even waste your time telling you how good they are. Play them.

Wait a second…I’m sure all you faithful readers out there are saying “But this is a FanDuel article, we only get one pitcher!”. You’re right. So, Sale or Scherzer? This comes down to matchups and ballparks. Scherzer is facing a very good Arizona lineup, in Arizona – and unless it’s confirmed that the humidor has begun being used, Chase Field is a top-3 non-Coors offensive ballpark. On the other hand, Chris Sale is facing the pathetic Angels offense, which is approaching 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers territory for lopsidedness. For those who don’t remember, that’s the Cavs team that made the finals with Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a small forward that remains comically underappreciated and underrated throughout his entire career. The problem is, baseball isn’t basketball. One amazing hitter can’t carry an otherwise inept lineup. The 2002 San Francisco Giants demonstrated that absurdly lopsided offenses only work if you have the single greatest offensive player of all time and a second elite-level hitter (and have at least one or two other guys that aren’t complete embarrassments – that year it was Benito Santiago and David Bell). Trout’s trying his best to be Barry Bonds, and Andrelton Simmons, shockingly, isn’t a complete embarrassment, and neither is Luis Valbuena. But the lack of Jeff Kent means this offense isn’t going to give anyone trouble. Additionally, Angel Stadium is an offense-killer, although it does get credit for not selling its naming rights (although the Cubs played in Cubs Park, but then changed the name for the 1927 season to a gum company, which is now considered a non corporate name, so the lesson is, just last a long time). So while I couldn’t fault anyone for deciding that Scherzer’s their guy tonight, when you consider that Sale is facing a vastly inferior lineup and pitching in a far more pitcher-friendly ballpark, the choice (for cash) seems fairly straightforward. And yes, astute readers of mine should note that Scherzer’s GPP-value is through the roof as my hunch is that Sale’s ownership is far higher, and it’s entirely possible Scherzer outscores Sale as both are quite dominant and it may just come down to who gets 11 strikeouts as opposed to 8.

On to the picks as soon as Guaranteed Rate Field becomes a fun, cozy name…

New to FanDuel? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well be sure to read our content and subscribe to the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.  Just remember to sign up through us before jumping into the fray. It’s how we know you care!

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I was all set to open with Triston McKenzie’s 6 no hit innings, but then Rafael Devers collected his third hit of the night in his AAA debut. In the midst of writing this post while regretting my choice to spend my Saturday afternoon, and early evening, and night watching that Marathon Red Sox and Yankees affair, I had the alert pop up on my phone that Devers was about to make his 4th at bat of the night. So I turned away from McKenzie, turned away from Ronald Acuna (2 for 4, 2R, 1Bb, 1 RBI) and Ozzie Albies (1 for 5, 1R) vs Yoan Moncada (1 for 4, 1R, 2 SO’s) in the Charlotte vs. Gwinnett game, and tuned into the PawSox vs Syracuse affair to witness Devers 4th at bat of the contest. The Chiefs (Washington’s AAA affiliate) brought in veteran Neal Cotts of 10 years MLB experience to get the lefty on lefty matchup with Devers. Ahead of Cotts in a 2-1 count Devers hit a ball middle-up to right field for his first AAA homer.

The following inning he made a bare-handed play on the run, throwing out Pedro Severino.

The rumors are swirling regarding Todd Frazier to the Red Sox, with Ken Rosenthal deducing the trade was “almost inevitable”. I for one as a life-long Red Sox fan, and avid follower and fan of prospects, team-building, and organizational depth make this plea to one David Dombrowski. Sir, please don’t trade anything for Todd Frazier and his .210 batting average. Give Lin another week or two, let Devers shine in Pawtucket, and call the kid up around the trade deadline. It costs you nothing but a 40 man spot, why delay the inevitable for a rental? Xander Bogaerts came up late in 2013, and was better for his experience down the stretch and into the post-season. Much like Ronald Acuna has in the early stages of his AAA career, Devers may force the Red Sox hand, as he just looks so much better than anything they can acquire. Simple logic really, why give up assets when you don’t have to?… Anyway, here’s what else I saw in MiLB.

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Braves rookie phenom/shortstop/TV dinner mogul Dansby Swanson was 2-for-2 last night with his fourth home run and two RBI. Daaaaaaamn, B! YES! Keep doing this. If you held onto Swanson this long (especially in a redraft leagues) you deserve what is happening to you right now. What is happening is Dansby is hitting .360 with 4 runs, 2 homers and 6 RBI in the past week! When your draft day sleeper is finally making you look smart, but most people have already forgot. Sure, he’s still hitting just .201, but these are the kind of things you ignore when you have blind faith and are looking to ride the rookie train to some fantasy fame. I attribute some of this to the cleansing therapy we’ve been taking together. It’s pretty simple, bad vibes–bad, good vibes–good. Harness the good energy, block out the bad. Pretty easy, right? Also, let’s just meditate in this sweat lodge for 12 hours and have a “vision” about how not to strike out as much. After hitting just .156 in April, Dansby is hitting .286 in May. He’s also doubled his OBP, SLG% and has drawn twice as many walks as he did last month. Dan’s be good like that! He’s available in little over half of fantasy leagues right now and if Swanson happens to be out there on waivers in your league, this might be your last chance to grab him before the hype returns. Trust me, this kid’s gonna be a star! Ha-cha-cha!

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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On Sunday morning, I woke around 8 AM to read a text from Rudy saying, “Awful news, Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident.”  I put on my glasses, no time for contacts, and turned on the TV.  It was still on Fox Sports West because I was watching Vin Scully tributes all weekend.  Yesterday morning, Fox Sports was playing Anglers Chronicles, a fishing show, which is wrong in so many ways.  After switching the stations, groggy-eyed and still half asleep, I realized TV was not the place anymore to go for breaking news.  I shut it off and turned to the internet.  I’m still piecing together my thoughts.  He was 24 years old, even if he never played baseball this is a horrible loss of life.  I’m reminded of all the friends I lost to motorcycles in their twenties.  I’m struck by how inconsequential fantasy feels.  There’s a giant pit in my stomach.  Then, I think about how I never saw Jose Fernandez not smiling.  Not having fun.  I think about how on that boat, Saturday evening, you know Jose Fernandez was having a great time, because he was always having a great time.  That exuberance came through in everything he did.  I think about how he spent time in prison after one of his numerous failed attempts of escaping Cuba, and how, even then, he was likely making fellow inmates smile.  How the excellence he brought to the mound every fifth day was felt all the way back in Cuba to raise up even the darkest corners of Cuba’s prisons.  “That was us.  That is us,” the inmates, who are still incarcerated for trying to escape, likely said.  How baseball does that.  How special that is.  You see what you’re going to see in tragedy, but I see Jose Fernandez pitching, and baseball, and making himself and others smile.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Houston’s 32-year old Cuban rookie Yulieski Gurriel was 2-for-4 with his first stolen base Friday night. Or is it Guerriel? Gourriel? Don’t worry about spelling his name correctly, the media sure doesn’t–what’s important is Friday’s two hit night capped off an impressive week for the third baseman where he hit .321 with four runs, two home runs and drove in five runs. Debuting at the end of August, Yulieski got off to a slow start after struggling with a mild hamstring injury, but that looks to be a thing of the past and he’s now hit safely in his last six games, and has homered in two of his last three games. Players like Yulieski require praise, they demand it. As soon as manager A.J. Hinch let him know he was a good Gurriel, and started rewarding him with treats (he really likes Combos) Yulieski turned it on. Atta Gurriel! Yes, you are! Who’s a good Gurriel? You arrrre! Yulieski was less than impressive during his short minors stint (.250/.262/.429 line with two home runs and 14 RBI in 15 games), but he bat .500 with 15 homers in 50 games in Cuba last year which is a about as good as it sounds, so there is little doubt our boy is major league ready. Did you read Grey’s Yulieski Gurriel fantasy? I read it while conducting a scientific tasting of all the different Combos flavors. Pepperoni pizza won in a landslide. Lord Byron Buxton will be the hot-shot rookie pick up of the week, and by all means, if he’s available grab him, but Gurriel could be a nice add if you lost the Buxton sweepstakes, and he’s still out there in over 80% of leagues. I’d own him in any league where wanted to win. Yulieski can do it!

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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