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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UEFA Champions League. University College London. Ultra-conservative llamas. What do all three of these have in common? They’re all UCLs that instill less fear in an MLB front office than the ulnar collateral ligament. That is unless one particular ultra-conservative llama wakes up one morning only to realize his cud has been chewed by Steve, his ornery llama friend who seems to always be stirring up trouble. Now that, my friends, would be one fearsome llama. Even so, it’s the ulnar collateral ligament we’re most concerned about this week, as yet another UCL injury has struck the college game — and this one impacts the top-15 picks of the 2021 MLB Draft: Ole Miss RHP Gunnar Hoglund will miss the remainder of the season with a UCL tear and will be sidelined for 12-18 months as he undergoes Tommy John surgery and embarks on a long and tenuous rehab journey. Even with the catastrophic injury, Hoglund is primed to be a first-round pick this July, but just how far he falls remains to be seen. MLB.com’s most recent mock draft had Hoglund going No. 13 overall to the Phillies and he remains MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 prospect for the 2021 MLB Draft. Here at Razzball, I ranked Hoglund as my No. 12 preseason college MLB Draft prospect after tabbing him at No. 11 in my Way-Too-Early Top 25 back in July. The Rebel right-hander was in the midst of a solid third-year campaign, owning a 2.87 ERA with 96 strikeouts across 62 2/3 innings and 11 starts this season while holding opposing hitters to a .178 BAA. He works 92-95 MPH with a riding heater that he pairs with a low-80s changeup, average curveball, and hard slider that sits around 84-86 MPH. Although he appeared to be a fringe top-10 pick, the main story will now become whether the recent UCL injury allows him to best his 2018 draft position as a prepster when he went No. 36 overall to the Pirates.

More around the college game…

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Robert Martin. Not exactly a name that instills excitement and gets you feeling overzealous about a particular player’s potential like a Jazz Chisholm or Terrmel Sledge (sidebar: best baseball name of all time?), but Robby Martin? Sure, that’s a name I can get behind. At the very least, Robby Martin doesn’t immediately have me thinking of Robert Cecil Martin, an American software engineer better known as “Uncle Bob.” But enough with the name games, I’m here to tell you about Florida State outfielder Robby Martin and why he should be on your radar as the 2021 MLB Draft approaches in lockstep with subsequent first-year player drafts. Although I have touched on Martin in the past, I have yet to provide full-on analysis of his status as a prospect to this point, and with Martin entrenched in a terrific 2021 college season, there is no better time. For all you dynasty and keeper leaguers out there, be sure to utilize all of the analysis I have provided on the 2021 MLB Draft to this point — which can be found below. This information is intended to be used harmoniously to allow you to make the best possible decisions as you embark on your journey to dynasty dominance.

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What have you accomplished in the last two months? Personally, I’ve picked up roughly 350 bags of dog crap, learned how to make banana bread and endlessly yelled at Fessy on MTV’s The Challenge at the top of my lungs for being the world’s worst human being. Two major takeaways there. One: you just realized you take fantasy baseball advice from someone who quantifies time in terms of how much dog poop he has picked up. Two: none of those things are impressive. Hopefully, you’ve accomplished more the past two months, much like many of the incredible athletes currently competing in the college baseball realm have. Since the 2021 season began in mid-February, we’ve seen a lot of awesome things happen in the college game, from Jack Leiter’s ridiculous no-hit inning streak to the emergence of NC State catcher Luca Tresh as a legitimate first round MLB Draft prospect. We’ll get to both of those items in this week’s Collegiate Corner and more, as we touch base on six must-know names for this July’s draft. I’ll continue to provide a Collegiate Corner once-per-month leading up to my 2021 Complete College Top 100, which I intend to release in the weeks leading up to the MLB Draft as an all-encompassing guide to this year’s collegiate talent for all of you dedicated dynasty leaguers out there. Without further adieu, let’s get to it.

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It is I, Hobbstradamus, here to predict all things as it relates to the 2021 fantasy baseball season! Well, rather, here to make eight detailed predictions about the upcoming campaign, all of which have played some role in how I constructed my onslaught of 2021 fantasy teams. What if we call it Baseball Hobbspectus? Any better? No? Okay, I’ll keep trying. But no matter what we call this or how creative I try to get, in the end, these are not empty predictions. I have stock in all of these. While some are much bolder than others, all of the statements to follow, if true, will translate to a varying degree of success across my teams this year. So, close your eyes, walk slowly towards the creepy humming sound reverberating through the walls, and enter the void with me as we run through some of my favorite and more interesting predictions regarding the upcoming season.

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Now that we are officially in the third month of March, I can finally “celebrate” my one year anniversary as a Razzball staff writer. I began this beautiful journey back on March 19 of 2020, when the world was falling apart and I subsequently decided it was the perfect time to break into the fantasy writing realm with my top 10 college prospects to target in dynasty leagues. For those of you who are extra particular, yes, technically my one year anniversary is still one day away, but considering the last year has felt like 12, we’re counting it. Since then, I have engaged in deep dive after deep dive into the world of college prospects, at one point going so deep I got lost underwater and spent several days sparring with a giant squid named Edmond. That same aquatic journey continues on today, as we check back in with some of the top draft-eligible prospects in college baseball, while also examining some lesser known names as well as one player from the 2022 class. We’ll begin with the usual suspects (Rocker, Leiter, etc.) and move into more unknown waters thereafter, so be sure to pack your scuba gear and perhaps even a scimitar of some sort should we happen to bump into that nasty Edmond.

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It’s a relatively rare feat to witness a player finish in the top-two overall on the Razzball player rater as well as in NL MVP voting two consecutive seasons, then follow up such elite fantasy production with a 99th percentile exit velocity, 98th percentile hard hit rate and 88th percentile xwOBA in the third year to follow. That’s two years of high-end, top-two fantasy production followed by sexy batted ball metrics in the third year. What’s even rarer is to see a player with that exact profile currently possessing an ADP of 12th overall in drafts entering the 2021 season. Impossible, you say? Well, so is the story of Christian Yelich. And although we all know those batted ball metrics don’t tell the full story of Yelich’s 2020, we can at least all agree that his current ADP is straight-up bonkers, right? Especially when considering that Yelich’s two consecutive seasons in the top two on the Razzball player rater (2018, 2019) represented full seasons, while his disastrous 2020 campaign came in an abbreviated 60-game slate. What is this madness — and how can you capitalize on it as a fantasy owner this upcoming season?

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Ahh, college. What a magical time. I can still remember my roommate freshman year. He never showered, wore shoes and frequently left bowls of boiled noodles out, unrefrigerated, only to pick them back up several days later and eat a few. Ahh, yes. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think back fondly on the kid who dressed up as a bush every day so he could jump out and scare other student on their way to class. The college years truly represent a time when young minds grow and evolve, and the same goes for the college crop of baseball talent. The 2021 NCAA baseball season began just last weekend, which means many of the top names for the upcoming MLB Draft and subsequent first-year player fantasy drafts are finally back on full display. After coming out with my rankings of the Preseason Top 50 College MLB Draft Prospects at the beginning of February, several stars have already made headlines or showcased telling impressions after the first week of play. I’ll continue to follow all of these names from now until July, working towards a Complete College Top 100 in advance of the 2021 MLB Draft. But for now, let’s check in on a few key names and discuss what I saw in this week’s collegiate corner. All are welcome, so long as you don’t leave your noodles out.

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188 is a composite number with six divisors. It is also featured in the name of a main belt asteroid called “188 Menippe.” If you’re like me, you just pronounced that in your head as “many pee pee.” 150 is composite as well, and is in fact the sum of eight consecutive prime numbers ranging from seven to 31. It also represents the number of times per year in which my car’s warranty unexpectedly expires (or so I’m told). But I know you probably don’t care too much about Menippe, or my car’s warranty, and instead you’re wondering what the significance is of these two numbers. Well, to date, Cardinals third base prospect Nolan Gorman has played 188 career games in professional baseball. 150 have come above Rookie ball. That’s less than a full MLB season. For a power-first, left-handed bat drafted out of high school, that’s too small of a sample size to properly deduce what caliber of player Gorman is going to become. For a player of his prototype, it is reasonable to expect a steeper learning curve at every Minor League level along the way. Everyone needs to learn to adjust as a young player in the farm, but for a prospect with 60-grade power and no history of experiencing prolonged failure as a hitter in his life until reaching Single-A, that game of adjustments will be far bumpier. As a result, today we’re going to take an in-depth look under the hood and throw our TSA shirts on — and I’ll let you know if Gorman is a player to pack for your journey through dynasty dominance.

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For a two-time World Series Champion with over 40 years of experience in MLB front offices, Dave Dombrowski gets a bad rap. The consensus on the baseball operations veteran seems to be that his only formula for success is to either ink big contracts or swap top prospects for elite talent that comes accompanied with hefty salaries. However, Dombrowski’s maneuvers have largely come as a result of the hands he has been dealt and the relative competitiveness of his various organizations at the time of his hire. He turned the 1997 Florida Marlins, a 1993 expansion team, into a World Series Champion. He built one of the greatest starting rotations in modern history in Detroit. He came to Boston in 2015 with a mandate to take the Red Sox to the top and did just that in 2018. Is he perfect? Far from it. Can he win a championship? Clearly. You should desire the same.

I say this to explain why I frequently refer to my strategy in dynasty leagues as Dombrowski-esque. It is not simply because of Dave’s suave, shiny gray hair to which I look forward to sporting myself in my mid-50s. In these formats, managers are drafting using such polarizing strategies that the key is to seek out excess value by pitting your opposition’s own intelligence (or so it may seem) against them. Seek opportunity where it presents itself, and if that means honing in on proven talent to win now, then do so. There will always be newer, shinier (but not as shiny as Dave’s hair) prospects to target in these leagues down the line. That’s why today I will be reviewing my selections in the 12 team, H2H points dynasty startup mock that fellow Razzballer Dylan Vaughan Skorish and I partook in this past week. Although I will reveal all of my selections, my focus in this piece will be to review my strategy and discuss the prospects I targeted in this mock draft.

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If you’re a fan of college baseball, then you know the 2021 NCAA season is right around the corner. Exciting! *unexpectedly, clapping begins* Right around the corner: that’s precisely what I said. Now, for some fans, that corner is well within sight. *clapping slows down, still unsure of where it’s coming from* If you’re a fan of a major Power Five team, then the 2021 campaign likely begins in just over two weeks, during the weekend of Feb. 19-21. That is, unless you’re a die-hard Big Ten supporter, in which case you still don’t even have a 2021 schedule. *clapping stops* That’s right — there is going to be a lot of variance entrenched in 2021 college baseball schedules. Some teams are starting on time and playing a full non-conference slate, while others will experience a delayed start while partaking in conference-only competition. This year, we will be comparing apples to bananas (not a big fan of oranges, plus they’re far too close in appearance) more than we ever have. But even with that, we need to move forward, and it all begins with my Preseason Top 50 Draft-Eligible College Players to Target in Dynasty Formats. Onward! *looks back to see no one following* I said, onward!

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Baseball is in good hands. Look no further than Grey’s top 10 for 2021 fantasy baseball, where you can witness the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and Mookie Betts ranked ahead of the greatest player of our time, Randy Arozarena. Just kidding, I really do mean Mike Trout. Venture further into the top 20 and you’ll find Christian Yelich (No. 11), Bo Bichette (No. 12), Nolan Arenado (No. 16) and Luis Robert (No. 20). Side note: what a steal Yelich is going to be in 2021, amiright? But the point I’m trying to get to (and I really am trying), is that right now in baseball we have a beautiful mixture of established veterans performing at high levels (dare I say their prime?) at the forefront of the game and a deep group of emerging young players quickly breaking through into the top 20 talents in all of baseball. The sport, as a whole, is in tremendous hands and the picture only improves when one looks to the plethora of talent trickling down the prospect pipeline. Wander Franco, Jarred Kelenic, Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez and Royce Lewis are all pounding on the door, just to mention a few names, and I haven’t even broached the subjecting of pitching talent in baseball today. Long story short: it’s a good time to be a baseball fan, but still a bad time to be short, or tell long stories.

Of the five prospects named above, all could potentially debut in the Majors in 2021. I’m excited about them all. But as I began writing this piece, I realized that despite their varying long-term outlooks, there’s one positional prospect I’m more excited about owning in re-draft leagues this year than any of them — and their name might surprise you.

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