Imagine you’re turning six years old and your birthday is right around the corner. It’s the day before the big celebration, and you’re pretty much wetting your pants just thinking about it. Actually, scratch that, you really are wetting your pants as you envision the festivities, thinking of the big family trip planned for tomorrow. If you were a super weird kid like me, here’s what it looked like: your family travels about an hour away, but it feels like an out-of-state trip to another land because you have a practically non-existent attention span. You’re going to see one of those interactive childhood shows where they grab kids from the audience to play random parts in the play (if I’ve lost you, you made it to the teenage years unscathed, congrats). But the grand finale of your birthday is that you get to go spend a whopping $100 at Toys “R” Us and pick out anything that falls within that budget. Damn. What a day.

The first part of this tale is a true story, as are all the anecdotes I share in my weekly fantasy articles. I remember to this day what I purchased with my $100: the Pokemon Silver Game Boy game and a new skateboard. Clearly, I was the fliest kid in town. But let’s rewind back, revert to the day before the long-awaited birthday when you’re wetting your pants. What if instead of the grand festivities detailed above, your mother or father came to you and said that they’d simply be giving you your Halloween costume instead. Sure, tomorrow will still be your birthday, but we’ve decided to focus on an entirely irrelevant celebration even though the big show is supposed to be tomorrow. Well, that’s kind of what this article is. The MLB season is just over one week away, but as one of Razzball’s prospect writers, I’m writing about something almost one full year in the future. Opening Day is within our grasp (or so we think), but today, I’m going to discuss my “way-too-early” college baseball prospects for the 2021 draft, while attempting to weigh their future fantasy value into the equation.

My top 12 have remained unchanged, although Jaden Hill has been moved from No. 12 to No. 9. There will be an incredible amount of movement on this list as we progress to next June, but for now, this is where I stand with the top 25.

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Alright, aright. Time to fess up. Who here has been that person who has inadvertently left a water bottle or thermos filled with their drink of choice in their bag for the TSA security check? I have to be brutally honest, I come into this week’s fantasy post with a two-flight coffee thermos streak. The first time, I managed to chug the entire (hot) coffee down and slide over to the plastic bins without causing any panic or delay. The second time, I began to repeat my previous actions before a particular TSA agent leaned over and said, “You know, you can just pour that in the recycling bin. We don’t recycle anything here.” I will leave that airport anonymous.

While I did my absolute best not to crap my pants during the ensuing flight detailed in scenario No. 1, the latter situation provided me with an equally intriguing story. Scenario No. 2 also left me with a much better appetite and more bearable stomach composition as we cruised through the air. As a result of these strange experiences, the theme for this week’s prospect security check will not be so much who to pack (or unpack) for your fantasy journey, but how certain prospects might play into the meal you enjoy (or throw up, depending on how you fare in your league) on your fantasy baseball trek along the way.

This will be the second installment in my prospect security check series, the first of which you can find here. As a reminder, the purpose of these pieces is to thoroughly break down fantasy baseball prospects that Razzball readers have specifically asked me to dive into more detail about. In this installment, I will discuss three top 50 MLB prospects that we may (or may not) see debut in 2020: Christian Pache, Sixto Sanchez and Tarik Skubal. But remember, no amount of fantasy advice I give you can outweigh my advice to never chug a full tumbler of coffee before a flight. You will thank me — and so will those who wind up within your vicinity on the plane.

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Who could be this year’s Chris Sale or Brandon Finnegan? Those two made their Major League debuts in the same year in which they were drafted: 2010 for Sale, 2014 for Finnegan. Sure, both of those players got their feet wet via abbreviated action in the Minors, but “feet wet” might be an overstatement. If anything, their spikes got a little damp, then dried off by the time they arrived in the realm of the AL Central. Sale made just 11 Minor League appearances for a grand total of 10 1/3 innings pitched, while Finnegan bested him with 13 appearances and 27 frames. 2020 draftees won’t have the same opportunity to prove themselves against MiLB talent, but they’ve also been gifted with the uniqueness of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which opens the door for all sorts of insanity and unprecedented strategies from MLB brass.

Therefore, we have to call it a wash. If all goes according to plan and we do indeed get a 60-game season, 2020 is going to be super weird. As a result of that, I’m not the first person to openly predict we will see a 2020 draftee appear in the Bigs this year and I certainly won’t be the last. My expectation is that we will see one-to-two recently drafted players appear in the MLB this season. Although I can’t say with certainty who exactly that will be, I can attempt to do so using the information that’s out there. That’s precisely what I’ll be breaking down in this post by providing you with a list of pitchers who have an outside chance to contribute actual fantasy value in your league this year, ranked from the most likely to the least likely.

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Historically, players who compete for the USA Collegiate National Team do quite well in the MLB Draft. Despite the uniqueness of the event in 2020, this rule held true on June 10 and 11, as 41 USA Baseball alumni were selected across the 160 picks included in the five round draft. Of the 26 players to make the 2019 USA CNT summer roster, 20 – you heard that right, 20 – were drafted in the abbreviated 2020 draft. Further emphasizing the importance of USA CNT participation was the fact that each of the top five picks – Spencer Torkelson, Heston Kjerstad, Max Meyer, Asa Lacy and Austin Martin – were included on that 26-man squad.

Even if you suck at math, you have likely already used the art of deduction to determine that only six players from that team went undrafted two weeks ago. Two of those players, Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser and Mississippi’s Doug Nikhazy, were not even draft-eligible, as their draft year does not come until 2021. As a side note, Cowser is currently positioned as my No. 8 college player to target in the 2021 class. I have only ranked 12 players so far in the 2021 crop and although Nikhazy did not crack that list, he’ll fall within my top 20-25 when I begin to expand on those rankings.

That leaves us with just four 2019 USA CNT alumni that will now be reclassifying into the 2021 draft year: left-handed pitcher Andrew Abbott (Virginia), first baseman/outfielder Tanner Allen (Mississippi State), catcher Casey Opitz (Arkansas) and shortstop Luke Waddell (Georgia Tech). None of these four are expected to sign any kind of post-draft free-agent deal, unsurprisingly so, as all likely already turned down offers for more than $20,000 during the latter rounds of the 2020 draft.

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Ouch. *cues voice of a young British child named Harry* That really hurt! I can’t say I  actually know the level of pain Harry felt when his younger brother Charlie bit his finger that fateful day, but I do know this: last Wednesday really hurt. I mean, yes, it was glorious. It was day one of the 2020 MLB Draft, and it was real. It was baseball, or at least something relevant to the product we so desperately wish to see dancing before our eyes on the diamond during these summer months. It was consumable. It was on live television. It was something I needed and I know a lot of you needed as well.

But as it related to my 2020 MLB Mock Draft, it was a disaster — it truly hurt. It was like being brutally bitten by a bald-headed baby (alliteration on fleak!). I won’t even hide from it. There’s the link. Check it out. There isn’t a whole lot that I got right. Then again, most everyone who took a shot at it got it utterly wrong this year. I love Heston Kjerstad and he’s an incredible player. I believe he’s an excellent prospect to target in upcoming fantasy first-year player drafts (FYPD). But find me a mock that had him going No. 2 overall. Find me a mock that had Nick Yorke going No. 17 to the Red Sox. There were a lot of surprises, even within the top 10. And now, with it all over, we’re left to pick up the pieces.

Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you watched or not. Even if you didn’t, you can look up who was drafted where, get lost in the hype, and decide who you want to target in your dynasty league. I play in a few home leagues where I already know I’ll have the most efficient FYPD of anyone in my league. While many people select prospects based on where they were drafted, or what Harold Reynolds said about them on TV, I’ll be picking out the future fantasy gems hidden along the way. Just because someone went 30 picks later than another player doesn’t mean they should necessarily be drafted later in FYPD. Hopefully, if you’re in a high stakes league, you already understand that concept. But the MLB Draft, regardless of your own personal philosophy of how teams should pick players, does not provide an outline for the top 150 players to target, ranked from best-to-worst.

If I were you, I would draft Tanner Burns (No. 36) over Jared Shuster (No. 25), just like I would select Daniel Cabrera (No. 62) or Isaiah Greene (No. 69) instead of Hudson Haskin (No. 39). That doesn’t mean I don’t like Shuster or Haskin, it just indicates I won’t be letting MLB Draft position dictate how I draft, and neither should you. That being said, here are 16 players I think should be targeted much higher than their draft position indicates. No one within the first 25 picks was under consideration (I made an exception for Sabato, that incredible hulk of a man), as they likely come with gaudy FYPD stock as is.

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If you’re a hardcore baseball fan, you’ve probably already mulled through your fair share of 2020 MLB mock drafts. It seems like every website worth a damn posts one, yet no one really knows what to expect, and it only takes one curveball to throw the entire equation out of whack. Even so, I figured I’d give it a try for Razzball’s sake, if for no other reason than to give Grey some spicy motivation to tune in on Wednesday night. See, now it’s a mock draft.

There’s a lot of uncertainty with this draft. Nobody knows for sure just how college heavy teams are ultimately going to go with the unique situation created by COVID-19, and which teams will elect to play the strategic bonus tomfoolery game. It’s difficult to project just how these factors will play into each and every team’s respective strategy. We might see more teams than ever taking on the “best-available” approach.

But as it relates to fantasy baseball, Wednesday’s draft is relevant because it sets the stage for the ensuing trajectory of every drafted player’s stock as a prospect. Not only does draft position tend to influence how people value prospects in first-year player drafts, but who drafted said player can also go a long way in determining what their Minor League journey will look like and how confident we are as fantasy owners that they will develop successfully. That being said, here is my carefully-concocted mock draft of the first 29 picks this upcoming Wednesday. Mush! Onward into the unknown!

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Determining what truly constitutes as a sleeper is an age-old debate. Take Duke’s Bryce Jarvis from the 2020 MLB Draft class. About two months ago, I ranked him 15th in my top 25 college fantasy baseball prospects while other ‘perts’ were tabbing him with third round status at best. Was he a sleeper then? Maybe. Is he now? No, because he’s risen all the way to No. 25 on MLB.com’s top 200 rankings. How about Pete Crow-Armstrong in this year’s class? Is he a sleeper if he indeed falls to the latter half of the first round? Maybe he goes in the twenties and we spend the next 20 years comping the prep schooler’s draft fall to that of Trout’s in 2009 (unlikely, but you get the point). And what about your 57-year-old Uncle Ed who just passed out on his La-Z-Boy after pounding five Millers and ghosting a Juul hit? Now that is a true sleeper my friends.

For this segment, what qualifies as a sleeper is this: a player sitting outside the top 50 2020 MLB Draft prospects according to both MLB.com and Baseball America who is considered a long shot to be drafted in the first round by the industry consensus (with bonus pool tomfoolery, we can never ensure who won’t be a first rounder with 100% accuracy). Out of this group of players, I have selected several which I believe will outperform their draft position as a future professional. I then separated these players based on where I anticipate they will be selected in this year’s five round draft: early, middle and late.

But wait! It gets better. I’ve even expanded into the high school prospect pool by including one, yes you heard that right — one — prep prospect in this post. Although the college circuit is my specialty, I feel confident enough in my knowledge of the high school crop to dig into a name here and there. If you’re playing in a dynasty league and looking for some high-upside deep finds in this year’s draft to target moving forward, look no further. And wake up Uncle Ed while you’re at it. That guy needs all the help he can get.

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It all began on March 19. Of this year, that is. Not March 19, 1918, when Congress passed the first-ever law establishing daylight savings time. Fast-forward 102 years and we’re still acting like everyone’s a farmer. Nor are we talking about March 19, 1953, when the Academy Awards were televised for the first time. The Greatest Show on Earth was named best picture that year. On the same date in 1966, Texas Western won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship — the inspiration for the film Glory Road.

But on March 19, 2020 — I made my Razzball debut and began analyzing the best college prospects to pursue in fantasy baseball, beginning with the Top 10 College Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues. From there, that list expanded to a top 25 and then a top 100, at which point we began looking into which underclassmen might also be relevant to dynasty leaguers.

In this Complete College Top 100, I not only included prospects from the 2021 and 2022 draft classes, but also reworked my previous top 100 list to illustrate some changes in opinion I have mulled through leading up to the 2020 MLB Draft. The most notable moves occurred within the top 11, as I reshuffled much of what I refer to as “The Magnificent Seven” and also gave Heston Kjerstad a bit of a boost after getting some new intel on how MLB teams are evaluating the Razorback slugger.

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Exactly three weeks from now, the 2020 MLB Draft will be on its second and final day of selections and nearly all of the players in my Top 25 College Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues should be off the board. Commissioner Rob Manfred will be found reading off the names of draftees in his personal man cave located in the basement, as he slowly digests a large glass jar of cracker jacks for all to see. During the two-day event, he may even sit down on his leather recliner and announce a few picks while glugging down some Basil Hayden’s bourbon in between sets in a mild attempt to understand why he ever took his job in the first place.

As the draft winds to a close, fantasy owners will finally know which farm systems the players they’ve been targeting, or have already bought stock in, will be developing in. If said player is picked by the Miami Marlins, you get excited because you know they’ll be a star in the NL Central within the next four years. If they’re drafted by a New York team, you’ll be filled with mixed emotions, knowing it will be a miracle if that prospect’s arms and legs don’t mysteriously all fall off by year’s end. Let’s face it, even if that actually happened, the Yankees’ training staff still wouldn’t be able to properly diagnose it.

But in all seriousness, draft day will be a glorious day, as we so desperately need something, anything, Baseball. As you consume the 2020 MLB Draft next month, intently take in new information brought about by national coverage, but don’t get caught up in the hype. Know which players you like and are targeting regardless of class, and don’t put stock in a player out of raw emotion or recency bias. Just look at all the first round picks from the last five-to-ten years that still aren’t Major League contributors: you don’t want the “have-now” prospects, you want the right prospects – and if that means buying on a player in the 2021 or 2022 classes as opposed to this one – so be it.

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Over the past two months, I have immersed myself in the college baseball ranks and provided in-depth analysis in regard to which players to target in dynasty formats. As it relates to the priorities of my life, I refer to this project as the “Immersion Diversion,” in which I neglect all other areas of my life for researching college prospects. This began with my top 10 college prospects, which then grew into a top 25 before culminating into my top 100 overall. Then, I was slammed with arguably the largest hazing scandal Razzball has ever seen, as some questioned in the comments why I failed to address the underclassmen in these lists. Was it solely due to an underlying hatred for the newcomers? 

At the time, my response was two-fold: 1) the upperclassmen have added value due to the fact they will be attainable via first-year player drafts next off-season and 2) only those eligible for the 2020 MLB Draft come with complete and updated scouting grades. Not only do these scouting tools help us predict future MLB production, but they shed light on where players will be drafted, and where specifically a player is drafted goes a long way in determining said player’s perceived value in deeper formats. What I’m saying is that no first-year player fantasy drafts have 10th round talents being selected. At least they shouldn’t. Draft position influences hype, which influences who you and your league-mates target post-draft and beyond.

Still, this posed an intriguing dilemma. What about open world leagues, where everyone in the college circuit is readily available at present? In those cases, would I recommend Asa Lacy (2020 class) or Kumar Rocker (’21)? Would I advise anyone to pass on LSU’s Daniel Cabrera (’20) for Colton Cowser (’21) of Sam Houston State? Over the next several weeks, I will begin revealing college underclassmen not yet eligible for the MLB Draft who I recommend deep-leaguers begin targeting NOW, beginning with five names this week to put on your radar.

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