Over the past 10 months, have you happened to hear Casey Stern mutter the iconic phrase, “prospects are cool, parades are cooler,” and thought, shit, prospects are waaaaaay cooler than parades now! Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good, old-fashioned homecoming float as a kid as much as anybody. But the Coronavirus pandemic has done quite a number on the attractiveness of modern parades. In today’s world, I think “prospects are cool, but watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alone while shoveling a full tin of baked corn into your mouth that you made for yourself is cooler,” is a bit more fitting, wouldn’t you say? Well, here at Razzball with The Itch and myself, prospects are always cool. They’re cool even when they’re not, say, in July when everyone else is getting psyched for the start of the 2020 MLB season and 2020 fantasy football drafts, and I’m busy writing a Way-Too-Early College Top 25 for the 2021 MLB Draft segment, inadvertently detailing how one-dimensional my life is. Or, if you read that particular post, how frequently I crap myself on airplanes.

In my Way-Too-Early College Top 25, I took an early shot at laying out the top 25 prospects for the 2021 MLB Draft in a year that had very little spring action and a summer filled with cancelled developmental leagues. Now, as college players returned to campus over the past several months, effectively receiving some varying level of fall training, practice and game action, we have a lot more data and scouting to lean on. But, before I begin rehashing my top college prospects list and start to build it into my annual (it’s year two, can I say that?) complete college top 100, let’s discuss some early risers that I may have either previously overlooked or under-ranked. Since I’m such a Carmen Sandiego fanatic, I’ll also go rogue and add some other notes of things I’m hearing, or seeing, that I don’t really agree with, or that I simply think are worth mentioning. That, my dear friends, begins at the very top of the 2021 Draft (guess who?), then follows with the likes of Ethan Wilson and Jaden Hill.

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Ahh, fantasy baseball. Coming back to writing baseball is more refreshing than a long swig of a double IPA after a day with the in-laws. It sure is good to be back, dear readers. After a seasonal hiatus during which I contributed to Razzball Fantasy Football, I’m finally back and ready to talk college draft hopefuls, prospects, rookies and beyond. Being away from you all, I felt like Pumba without my Timon. DJ Lemahieu without his chaw. Tony La Russa without someone to drunkenly yell at. You see, this is where I belong. And after reading some of Grey’s 2021 fantasy outlooks on the rookie class, there’s one debate I have been waiting and waiting to dip my Dunkaroos into: do I prefer Sixto Sanchez, Ian Anderson or Triston McKenzie for 2021 fantasy baseball? And where might be a good starting point to value each player heading into draft season?

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When it comes to strategy in dynasty formats, I deploy an unorthodox approach. Depending on where you play and the roster rules that accompany your league, my method may or may not be feasible for you, but it’s simple. I do my best Dave Dombrowski impersonation, fully equipped with a suave, silver wig, a coating of Jurgen’s Natural Glow and a Palos Heights, Ill. birth certificate. What I mean by this, is I like to make win-now moves while my league-mates are busy competing for the strongest prospect pool award and salivating over the talent that is waiting in the wings, each one desperately trying to convince the rest of the league that they are the very best at identifying young talent.

If I’m in any position to win in any given year, I’ll happily dump a few prospects, even ones with top 100 status, for a veteran player with a lower career ceiling in order to help my chances. Like I said, this may or may not be a possible trade-off for you depending on your league rules, but I’ve seen all too many league-mates dwell in the cellar year-after-year, stockpiling more and more top 100 names and never getting the production they were waiting for. Win when you can win — and be willing to sell your highest-rated prospects. That is, except for the select few that you should stash and forget, and wait on no matter the circumstances. This does not necessarily mean honing in on the top 10 in the MLB 100, but rather identifying the players who are young and quickly developing skill sets you just know are going to play at the next level. The fantasy gems. They play loud. Think of Ronald Acuna during the 2017 season, before he became the No. 1 prospect in the game.

Today, I’ll go in-depth on three players you could make this type of argument for: Julio Rodriguez, MacKenzie Gore and Matthew Liberatore. I’ll provide detailed, unbiased data along the way, before providing my own brief opinion at the end regarding whether or not you should pack this player for the long haul. As a reminder, all the players I’ll go over today were previously requested in the comments section by the readers of Razzball. If there is a particular prospect you would like to see an in-depth profile for in the future, please feel free to voice such in the comments section. Now saddle up, take off your shoes and belt, and join me over at the TSA security check.

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Is Ian Anderson rapidly pitching himself into top 40 starting pitcher consideration heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season? *turns down TV volume, cups hand to ear* “Hey, what’s that sound?” If it were 2019 and there happened to be another human within ear shot, they would respond, “yes, that’s the sound of someone screaming.” To which I would reply, “did Eduardo Escobar see a cat?” “No, that’s just Madison Bumgarner wailing down the side of a mountain after tripping and falling off a cliff, subsequently opening up a spot in next year’s top 40.” Luckily, he landed on an ATV and drove safely to the top 80 starter campground, where he’ll likely preside for the next four years.

As Anderson trudges his way up the same mountain, covered in brambles from the forest floor below, there are those who might actually think top 40 consideration is a foregone conclusion — and why not top 30? After all, the 2016 MLB Draft’s third overall pick is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings of work through his first four Major League starts. Does he deserve to be drafted as a top 40, or even top 30 SP next season? Today, we’ll dive into Anderson and some takeaways from his first taste of Big League action, including a refresher of his Minor League track record. At the end, I’ll answer that question.

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Of the two current Rookie of the Year front-runners, Jake Cronenworth (NL) and Luis Robert (AL), one was relatively predictable. In our 2020 Razzball Fantasy Baseball Staff Picks article, 12 of 22 writers tabbed Robert as their preseason choice for AL ROY (Kyle Lewis received one vote and remains in the race). On the other hand, none of those same 22 contributors picked Cronenworth in the NL, although current runner-up Dustin May garnered five votes. For a former seventh round pick that was on the 30-man roster bubble heading into Opening Day, there wasn’t much of a reason for him to be on anyone’s radar. But here we are with just about two-and-a-half weeks left in the unique 2020 season, and those two aforementioned names are leading the way down the stretch.

As one of Razzball’s two prospect writers, this got me thinking: 1) how have these two young hitters stacked up against other rookie bats in certain underlying metrics so far this year? 2) Does The Itch think about me throughout the day as much as I think about him? In regard to the former, the bulk of the 2020 season may be over, but there’s still useful batted ball data that can be implemented to make start/sit and add/drop decisions throughout the final two weeks. On top of that, rookie batted ball data is arguably even more important to look at for those who play in dynasty formats. Although the season is nearly in the rear-view, there are dynasty roster decisions looming for 2021, as well as the ever-present questions of “should I buy on Player A vs. Player B as part of my core moving forward?” In this post, I’ll present the top-12 rookie batters in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage and percentage of barrels-per-plate appearance through Sept. 8. If you have any further questions about any of the names that follow, I’m more than happy to discuss this topic further in the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.

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No sooner did I put together a post detailing my top 15 rookie starting pitchers for the rest of the 2020 season than the Yankees decided to call up one of my favorite pitching prospects in right-hander Deivi Garcia. Now, many of you may already know about my public love affair with New York’s Clarke Schmidt, but we haven’t discussed Garcia as much as we maybe should have over here on Razzball. For that reason, I’ve graciously offered to Clarke and Deivi that I am willing to turn said love affair into a love triangle, so long as Deivi answers my calls. But here’s my number, so call me Deivi. Please. No, really. I’m begging you. Call me. No? Okay. Anywho, here’s what I saw from Garcia in his MLB debut and what I expect from the youngster moving forward.

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Holy rookie starters! I swear, there are more rookies debuting on the mound in 2020 than there are jokes about dongs on this site. After hearing much conversation about rookie starters and seeing some of the love-at-first-sight that is happening in some fantasy circles, it got me to thinking: of all the rookie starters out there, how do they all stack up from now through the rest of the season? Our very own everywhereblair has already been providing you with awesome updates to Razzball’s starting pitching rankings each week, but I thought I’d take it a step further as one of the prospect gurus and hone in on the first-year hurlers. These are solely rankings for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season, although I plan to have updated dynasty rankings on these same names in the near future. Warning: my rankings do not directly translate to how everywhereblair has the top 100 starters ranked, therefore this article is not doctor approved.

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In my last prospect security check, I went over Atlanta’s Christian Pache, Miami’s Sixto Sanchez and Detroit’s Tarik Skubal. Since then, both Pache and Skubal have received the call to the Bigs, and I predicted we might even see all three in 2020 when I originally wrote the piece. The same is not the case for this week’s lucky luggage — Jazz Chisholm, Oneil Cruz and Blake Walston — although they are all equally thrilled to be featured in one of my articles. In fact, I actually just got off the phone with Jazz, who is one of the few remaining real baseball players left at the Jupiter training site. After thanking me for including him in my article, Jazz began telling me how even though no one else is left in camp except him, he made a new friend: a baseball named Bilson whose face he drew on with a Sharpie. Times have apparently been tough in Jupiter — Jazz also has an imaginary cat named Tom Mattingly.

As poor Jazz sends smoke signals to Derek Jeter from the training site, we must press on with this security check. Unlike the last installment, we’ll probably be waiting until 2021 to see Chisholm and Cruz crack the MLB, while Walston won’t debut until 2022-23. That said, I’ve done my best to gather information about all three of these players and provide my own personal spin on each, despite the fact that there is no new statistical information to reveal. As one last reminder, all three players I’ll go over today were previously requested in the comments section by the readers of Razzball. If there is a particular prospect you would like to see an in-depth profile for in the future, just say so. If you’re on the fence, please keep it to yourself because the more of these profiles I write, the more Grey will make fun of me for writing 1,000 words on a single player in his daily round-ups. Alright, before we get to cruzin’ and waltzin’ — let’s start it off with some smooth Jazz.

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Now that the 2020 MLB season has hit the three-week mark, we’re at the point where we can start looking into some sell-high and buy-low candidates. With sample sizes increasing from the “far-too-small” to the increasingly indicative, we begin to ask ourselves questions like: “is Dylan Bundy actually good now, or are hitters just being thrown off by his dusty, pathetic attempt at facial hair?”  Translation: are the results we’re seeing legitimate? If you’re willing to make a calculated gamble, this is as good of a time as any to find excess value in the trade market and/or dump an early star destined for decline to the league dingus. One such player I’m looking at adding shares of at present is Eduardo Escobar of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who entered the week of Aug. 10 batting .164/.233/.255 with just two extra base hits across his first 55 at bats of the season. After finishing draft season with an ADP of 113 overall as 2B13/3B17, Escobar looks to be an obvious bust from the outside looking in — but let me tell you why he’s a major buy-low candidate for me for the rest of the season.

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Here’s an excerpt from a real conversation I had with my sister last week:

Her: “Hey, have you ever seen Monty Python? You would like it.”
Me: “Is that the one where those guys get naked for child support money?”
Her: “No… that’s The Full Monty. Monty Python was about the Knights of the Round Table. Camelot. The Holy Grail.”
Me: “Ohh. Right. Well, I saw Spamelot live once at a theater. Does that count?”

It didn’t count. And besides possibly eliminating all remaining faith our readers might have had in my level of intelligence, this conversation provides an excellent segue into one of this week’s more interesting prospect call-ups: Miami Marlins outfielder Monte Harrison. Back on Monday, Grey wrote about Harrison in the lede for his weekend roundup, urging you to add him in every league “for some power and great speed, though he might hit .210.” I’m with Grey and have already added one Harrison share, but as I was doing so, I began digging a bit deeper into one of baseball’s more imposing and polarizing prospects. As a result, I present to you the findings from my report, The Full Monte, fully undressed and free of bias.

Please, blog, may I have some more?