Last week, we hit the top 10 prospects for 2022 fantasy baseball, and now — we’ll navigate into the top 20. It’s filled with Q-Bert references, jokes about dinner plans, an homage to hippie culture, my new rendition of a Lorde song, and more. It’s what you need to keep your wits about you when trying to figure out which prospects will garner enough playing time to be fantasy relevant in 2022 in the midst of the ongoing lockout. Who makes the top-20 cut? Who gets omitted like chicken in a McNugget? There will be no shortage of fiery opinions here, and the piece is somewhat lengthy, so let’s get into it, beginning with one of the more fascinating names on the list.

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First things first: ever wonder why people say that? Of course, first things should be first, or else we’d call them second things. Can you imagine if I started this post, “first things second, let’s begin with thirds?” That wouldn’t make sense, and you’d probably disregard my introduction and move right on to one of Grey’s eloquently-written masterpieces. So, first things first: I am not The Itch. I am Hobbs: modern marvel of man and owner of over 500 antique bottlecaps. This brings us to second things second: these rankings, therefore, detail my own assessment of the top-10 prospects for 2022 fantasy baseball, and not Itch’s. Itch composes the official prospect rankings for Razzball and knocks it out of the park year after year. But here is how I see this year’s top-10 for both dynasty and re-draft purposes, with a heavy emphasis put on 2022 projections. You may be surprised as to how the first-few names came out this year.

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I’ve been fielding a lot of questions recently about my own playing career and former prospect status (I haven’t). What I’ve told people is that, unfortunately, there were no takers in the 40th round for a sub-.200 Division III college bat (this part is true). If there was ever a world where eighth-inning defensive replacements got a look, I was not around for that era. But what a truly fulfilling era that would have been. In the current landscape, it’s harder than ever to have your name called on draft day. Even with last year’s draft up to 20 rounds from five the year prior, fewer players are being drafted than 10, 20, 30 years ago. Not to mention, the quality of the talent from top to bottom is out of this world, forcing the competition for those spots to be fiercer than ever. I say this as a segue to this week’s unveiling of college prospects 6-10 in my way-too-early 2022 draft rankings. None of the players I will talk about today have hit under .200, and I’m pretty sure they all could have topped my collegiate OPS several days out of the womb. They are, however, somewhat unconventional in a draft landscape that can find a red flag in anyone. Here’s what we have: a five-foot-nine second baseman, a southpaw who allowed 13 runs to non-con competition in his first two starts last year, a catcher with 61 career games under his belt, an ACC corner outfielder (what an outlier!), and a pitching prospect that has thrown eight innings in two seasons. Bundle that all together, and you’re asking yourself why you take prospect advice from a guy named Hobbs. Or maybe you’re asking why some guy named Hobbs is openly admitting he sucked in college. Perhaps you’re even second-guessing if Hobbs is even a guy at all, and is actually a beautiful maiden from a faraway land called Miamidelphia. If you’re curious about the first two, fair. But if you’re wondering about the third, then you’re just plain weird. In which case, you’ve come to the right place. So here are college prospects six through 10 for 2022, without further adieu, just for you, and you and you and you.

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Instead of inserting a witty lede to kick of this week’s prospect post, I decided I would share three major breakthroughs I’ve made in life over the past 24 hours. Some may be more relevant to you than others, but the first is the most essential — and also the most blatantly obvious. One: if you’re building your dynasty league strategy based on MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospect rankings and not The Itch’s, you’re putting yourself at an incredible disadvantage. If you’re reading this, then you’ve navigated to Razzball for a reason — so utilize the resources we have for you. Without a doubt, The Itch’s prospect rankings are the best out there for fantasy purposes and I base my personal strategy off of them while incorporating my own evaluations. Two: moving forward, I will be alternating between a Prospect Watch piece (this week) and unveiling five new college prospects in my Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2022 MLB Draft. That makes one of each per month as every post will arrive on Tuesdays on a bi-weekly basis. Three: Colton Cowser is a somewhat-cool name aided by alliteration, but it’s even better and far-more fierce when you flip it backwards: Reswoc Notloc. How awesome? It honestly sounds like something out of a Lord of the Rings novel: Reswoc the Warlock. Anyway, Reswoc is the focus of this week’s Prospect Watch piece. If you’ve been following my collegiate prospect coverage the past two years, then you’re already somewhat familiar with him. Today, I’ll provide an update and let you know how you should be evaluating Mr. Notloc in your dynasty league moving forward.

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We’re all enthralled by the likes of Elijah Greene and Termarr Johnson, but who is best-positioned to be the first college prospect off the board in the 2022 MLB Draft? 2022 will be nothing like 2020 in terms of the college arms that come off the board, but could the top-five collegiate prospects ALL be position players next year? That’s the way I have it drawn up as of right now, with Florida’s Hunter Barco, Arkansas’ Peyton Pallette and Alabama’s Connor Prielipp representing the arms most likely to break into the top five. But for now, it’s all bats — and as always, I have some bold opinions in my prospect rankings. So let’s get to ’em.

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I first wrote about Cade Cavalli in March of 2020. It was my second-ever article at Razzball, in which I was ranking college prospects 11-25 for dynasty leaguers to target leading up to the 2020 MLB Draft. Equipped with a projectible frame at 6-foot-4 and 225 lbs., I ranked Cavalli at No. 13, sandwiched between Heston Kjerstad and Daniel Cabrera. At the time, Cavalli was coming off a COVID-shortened 2020 junior season where he pitched to a 4.18 ERA with a .281 BAA in 23.2 non-conference innings. That created some pause in industry circles, as Cavalli had a 6.75 ERA/.269 BAA as a freshman in 2018 — so there was really just one season of bottom-line success to go off of (2019: 5-3, 12 GS, 60.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, .238 BAA, 8.8 K/9, 5.2 BB/9). But even in that lone, successful 2019 campaign, the walks stood out as a concern, and there was reason to believe that Cavalli might be one of those pitchers who struggles to produce consistently despite having all of the tools to excel. Enter 2021. Now we have more to build off of. MiLB results. Information to pair with Cavalli’s college track record that might unveil more of the shadowy picture. And what we’re beginning to see is the makings of an elite prospect; an arm capable of commanding one of the top-two spots atop a major league rotation. Could Cavalli unseat former Chicago Bears quarterback Cade McNown as having the best athletic career of any Cade in sports history? I’ll dive into that today and as a bonus, I’ll reveal why an East Coast native such as myself once dressed up as McNown for Halloween as a child.

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Sunday was not your typical deadline. Any time you get an elderly man from Sacramento at odds with a front office run by the richest MLB owner with the most-perfectly oval-shaped head in pro sports, things are bound to get interesting. And that’s precisely what happened on the August 1 MLB Draft-signing deadline, when two of the premier prospects in all of baseball were left without pro contracts. One went unsigned by his own choosing: Jud Fabian. The other as a result of the aforementioned scenario: Kumar Rocker. That makes the elderly man mentioned above none other than the infamous Scott Boras, who was looking about as youthful as Eustace Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog if you happened to catch a glimpse of him these past few weeks. Botox is like $350, just sayin’. For Rocker and Fabian, the future remains tremendously bright, albeit drastically different from the path we anticipated just one month ago. Now, we get to sift through the fallout and ramifications as it relates to both of these future stars — and while we’re at it, we’ll check in on some of the top prospects in baseball.

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You can’t judge a prospect by his draft position, the same way you can’t judge a middle-aged man for walking around shirtless in your neighborhood. A player could get drafted 40th overall solely due to signability and financial asking price, but still be a top-15 overall player (more on that later). Along those same lines, that middle-aged man could have recently burnt his nipples on a saucepan while reaching across the stovetop to adjust a knob, and now walking around shirtless is the only comfortable way he can go for an evening stroll. You simply never know the underlying circumstances at play, which is why it’s always best to ask questions and gather reliable intel before rushing to judgment. That exact premise is the motivation for this piece: don’t treat the 2021 draftees as shirtless middle-aged men. Assess the tools and how each player aligns with your fantasy team’s winning timeline, and draft the top players available regardless of where they were selected in the 2021 MLB Draft. Draft position should not directly correlate with first-year player draft (FYPD) order and rankings.

So here’s a few shirtless, middle-aged men to target in your upcoming FYPDs — of the baseball variety, of course!

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I recently decided to rent a newly-built home and moved out of the city and into the suburbs. As a result, we now have a fenced-in backyard that overlooks a massive and overgrown wooded area. It’s a terrific upgrade for the dogs, but it also means I have the opportunity to observe local wildlife for the first time in eons. Just this past week, I had the great pleasure of taking in the process of allofeeding in person for the first time in my life. Allofeeding, for those of you who didn’t grow up in the age of Zoboomafoo, is basically a food-sharing behavior in which an adult bird regurgitates its food and feeds a hatchling mouth-to-mouth/beak-to-beak/insert proper terminology here. I’m by no means an expert, but a truly fascinating process nonetheless — and it’s a good thing baby birds have a much broader palette than I did when I was their age. If it wasn’t a burger, mac n cheese or ketchup, I wasn’t eating it. And I certainly wasn’t game for any regurgitated green beans. 

Let’s take this concept of allofeeding one step further. I’ve been researching the 2021 MLB Draft, which begins in just under one week and runs from July 11-13, for well over a full calendar year now. What I observe far too often during my research are countless self-proclaimed prospect/draft ‘perts’ who simply research players using existing rankings and regurgitate the same rankings, add a tweak here or there while writing their own brief blurb, and poof! Draft rankings. Amazing. Incredible. Well done. Allofeeding in the prospect world. Now, allofeeding is an amazing phenomena, but it shouldn’t be applied to the realm of fantasy baseball or to the draft. It destroys diversity of thought. Not only does it fail to properly educate fantasy owners, but it’s disgusting when applied to humans. No one wants to see allofeeding when they roll up to an Arby’s. That said, I can’t promise you my 2021 Complete College Top 100 for the MLB Draft is going to be dead-on, but I can promise that it is not simply industry regurgitation, and rather a product of original thought and well over one year worth of research. That is why you may question why I have certain players significantly higher or lower than where you’ve seen them, or perhaps a name you’re completely unfamiliar with ranked inside the top 50. And if you do have such questions, please hit me up in the comments. We won’t have time for a full breakdown on all 100 players, but if you use the links below, you’ll be able to find an excess of prospect analysis on just about every top player that should be on your radar heading into your upcoming first-year player drafts. Onward into the abyss!

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Omaha! Omaha! Either Peyton Manning just put together a quick game of pick-up flag football in my backyard, or the College World Series is officially underway in Nebraska. *editor buzzes into my earpiece* Manning is in fact in Canton learning how to properly construct a Super Bowl trophy out of a Wheaties box for the next incredibly average Peyton’s Places segment, so it must be the latter — which is good for him, because my backyard is currently infested with slime mold and being treated for turf diseases, so that simply wouldn’t be advised for the local neighborhood youths. But alas, the CWS is here, and we have the luxury of scouting an excess of 2021 MLB Draft talent from June 19-30. Six players in my top 30 were able to advance to college baseball’s ultimate event, but countless others such as Arizona’s Ryan Holgate, Vanderbilt’s Isaiah Thomas and NC State’s Luca Tresh made the Omaha cut as well. This not only means that these rankings are fluid and will undoubtedly change prior to the July 11-13 draft, but also that I recommend taking the below intel and doing some of your own personal scouting over the course of the next week-plus. So, who has made the cut as we inch closer to the release of the complete college top 100? Check it out below, as there are a handful of new names previously excluded from the preseason list that utilized excellent 2021 campaigns to springboard their stock — such as Washington State’s Kyle Manzardo and Florida State’s Matheu Nelson. Where they’ll ultimately fall in the draft, nobody knows! For that reason, I like to refer to such players as this year’s “unsupervised children flying off trampolines at the annual Memorial Day reunion.” There’s always bound to be one or two.

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Sam Houston State. South Alabama. Miami (OH). Just a short list of all the top Division I programs that you typically find first-round talent at, right? Either every premier Power Five program completely whiffed on these guys, or head coaches are scurrying around the recruiting grounds like a bunch of half-blind moles trying to find their own siblings. As I unveil college prospects 6-10 in my rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft, you’ll find players from each of the above mid-major programs entrenched in the top 10. We all know young players develop significantly while playing the college game, but it’s downright incredible to see this many top prospects coming from such schools. Last year, the top pitcher in the draft came out of the University of Minnesota and the No. 7 overall pick came out of New Mexico State — further evidence that you can’t live and die by the blue blood programs when assembling your prospect pool in dynasty leagues. In this edition, we’ll go in-depth on players 6-10 on my list while providing plenty of links to previous college prospect coverage to assist you in putting together the best first-year player draft board as possible. So take a seat in the optometrist’s chair, make like a cartoon mole with bifocals and check out the rest of this year’s top ten.

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And here we are. Our coverage of college prospect talent has finally come full circle, which is kind of redundant, don’t you think? Circles are fully completed to begin with, unless by “full circle,” we are describing the actual filling in of a circle, which in reality, would then effectively become a dot. So, you might say that here at Razzball, our coverage of college prospect talent has come dot. Ahh. That’s better.

What do I mean by this? On March 12, 2020, the college baseball world came crashing to a halt, as did numerous other sports entities and industries. My own existence was thrown into a whirl; a seemingly unfathomable reality all too sudden to believe — as I’m sure yours was, and your friends’, and your friends’ friends’, and your friends’ friends’ mothers’ friends and so forth. As I admittedly understand, the reaches of all that has occurred over the last year-plus comes accompanied with far more tragedy than the impact on sports. But even so, the events of March 12 pushed me into becoming a Razzball contributor and on March 19 — just seven days later — I released my Top 10 College Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues, otherwise known as my debut post on the site, otherwise known as the date I first started leaving Grey *67 voicemails. It was written while I stared deeply into Trevor Bauer’s eyes, indirectly of course, via a photo I took standing outside of his house unbeknownst to him.

Fast forward to present day, one year and two months later (Note: NOT a Yellowcard song), and I am tackling that same practice yet again. However, this year we are beginning with the timeline we should be. The college baseball season has NOT been canceled and there ARE conference tournaments and postseason play ongoing. The 2021 MLB Draft is just under two months away, scheduled for July 11-13. It will be 20 rounds this year, not five. Thank. Freaking. Goodness.

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