Get it at Home Depot. 

Unless “it” is a major league baseball team with a divine team theme. 

The Angels are no longer for sale, as of this week. 

I’m about 99.9 percent sure the non-sale is not connected to the club’s minor league system, but I can say this group was a pleasant surprise late in the process. Best system Los Angeles of Arte-time has seen in a long time, and the best part is that the best players look like high-probability major league hitters. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I have a confession to make, dear reader: I’m glad my wife doesn’t read my work here because I simply cannot stop thinking about . . . . Maikel Garcia

We’ll be having dinner, and she’ll be talking about her day, and I’ll be nodding along, or maybe even asking a follow-up question or two, but really all I’m thinking about is Maikel Garcia. 

Well, Nate Eaton, too. And Michael Massey sometimes. This week, Kansas City opened up 1,000 or so hypothetical plate appearances by trading center fielder Michael A. Taylor and shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. Word is the White Sox checked in on Nicky Lopez after that, and the Royals told them they view him as key depth. Sigh. Just when things were getting good. Roster resource plugged Hunter Dozier in at third base, and while that’s certainly plausible, how cool would it be if KC just kept trading these prospect-blockers? An infield of Witt, Garcia, Massey and Vinnie P looks like a lot of fun. So does an outfield of Edward Olivares, Drew Waters, and Nate Eaton with MJ Melendez at DH. Kyle Isbel and Samad Taylor factor in here somewhere, too. The club also signed Johan Camargo, so there’s no real reason to stop trading now. Can just play Camargo if they get scared of the youth movement.

Let’s build an ideal May 1 lineup.

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Houston prospects tend to get a little extra bump up the lists from me. My first year doing these, some readers on Reddit came at me for having Jeremy Peña too high (fifth) on the list. I might never forget it: my first time getting cooked in the comments. I wasn’t familiar with the ways of Reddit yet, and to be fair to the Redditors, I wasn’t particularly adept at writing these blurbs to reflect my reasoning yet either. The other comment-cooking that comes to mind was Houston related as well. I had ranked Alex Bregman 9th among third basemen for dynasty leagues coming off his 41 home run season. I think Astros fans were especially salty because this happened during those early pandemic days when the trash-can hate was still fresh, and there was no baseball on the field to distract us or force them to pay the full-stadium consequences for their fuckery. 

Sorry for the jaunt down memory lane. It’s just, both of these memories wound up being foundational for me as a baseball writer. Something might look wrong to most readers today, but that doesn’t mean you should hesitate to say it. This gig requires a fair amount of future-casting, and that requires a fair amount of confidence on top of the competence. Mostly I just want to say thanks to all of you who’ve read my work between there and here. Thanks to all of you who chat it up in the comments. And thanks to the Houston Astros for developing good baseball players. The automatic bump to a Houston prospect has been useful since Yordan Alvarez was left off the Top 100 lists heading into his rookie year. It’s helped us to roster Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier and Jeremy Pena among others. Decent chance a couple people from this group vastly exceed their present perceived value in a similar fashion. 

 

Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/23 | Highest Level Played | ETA

1. RHP Hunter Brown | 23 | MLB | 2022

Can Jose Urquidy hold this freight train off for the fifth starter spot? Hunter Brown is the most chamber-approved pitching prospect Houston’s had since Forrest Whitley. At 6’2” 212 lbs, Brown maintains impeccable balance throughout his delivery thanks to elite posture and strong legs. His ability to repeat has improved year over year to the point that his control is finally trending toward command. Hitting spots is still not his long suit, but Brown’s stuff is so dynamic, he’ll never have to be especially fine to retire big league hitters. In 20.1 MLB inning in 2022, he posted a 1.08 WHIP after recording a 1.08 across 106 Triple-A innings. The Houston development plan of piggy-backing mixed with starting all the way up prepares these guys for the life they’ll face as an Astro, waiting sometimes multiple seasons to truly crack the rotation. Whether or not Brown can buck that trend will come down to health across the roster, the club’s commitment to Jose Urquidy, and how Brown handles the back-and-forth role in which he’ll likely open the season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After trading from strength to shore up the major league roster and graduating Jose Miranda, this system looks thinner than usual. Royce Lewis brings a nice big name to the top, but he’s kind of a prospect in name only at this point. Would have graduated long ago if healthy. I like a lot of the guys they have. It’s just: they’ve missed a lot in the first round. Keoni Cavaco, Aaron Sabato, and I kind of want to throw Austin Martin in here, too, because if you’re missing on your big evaluations, you’re not likely to thrive for long. To their credit and savior, Minnesota has made some shrewd plays on the market, flipping a couple months of Nelson Cruz for Joe Ryan chief among them, and have built an impressive core group of under-the-radar, homegrown talents like Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Max Kepler, Jose Miranda and of course, Byron Buxton. They’re not all good all the time, but they’re pretty great when they’re good, especially for cost-controlled (gag me with a sock full of dimes for using the lingo) young veterans. The club has a knack for zeroing in on the hit tool to unearth the Astudillos of the baseball world, and while not every Astudillio is an Arraez or a Miranda, some of them can be, and godspeed to the Twins for trying to find them. I love the player type. Hardest thing in the world is to barrel up a big-league-level pitch. Could do much worse on the scouting front than separating guys who can do that someday from guys who can’t. 

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2022 wasn’t fun in the standings for Kansas City fans, but in the long arc of time, 2022 was a good year for the organization. MJ Melendez, Vinnie Pasquantino and Brady Singer all emerged as first-division starters. Melendez even looks like a functional defensive outfielder. Bobby Witt Jr. is also here and good. Needs work on the approach but who doesn’t. Every season brings them closer to the post-Dozier era, which is only addition by subtraction because the team insists he’s an everyday player. New Manager Matt Quataro figures to come in like a kind wind after years with Mike Matheny. Might be some playing-time surprises in our near future. 

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Even as 2022 was a great season for the Cleveland Guardians, their future looks brighter all the time. Nobody has more ready-soon, major-league-level starting pitchers in their system, which is a nice fit because you could make a case that nobody is better at developing pitchers, particularly in the early stages of their major league careers. 

 

1. RHP Daniel Espino | 22 | AA | 2024

Injuries kept Espino sidelined for much of 2022, but he was around long enough to leave a loud impression, striking out 35 batters in 18.1 Double-A innings and posting a 0.71 WHIP across those four starts. He’s listed at 6’2” 225 lbs and looks like a bodybuilder. Upside is as high as any pitcher in the minors thanks to an 80-grade fastball and double-plus slider. I’ve got 2024 listed as the ETA just because he hasn’t thrown that many innings, and the team is deep in pitchers both in the majors and on the cusp, but Espino could almost certainly help the major league club this season if he’s healthy.

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Hey all you cool cats and kittens. The groove has been missing from Motown for a few refrains now. Stalking the top of each draft the past few seasons hasn’t helped the big league Tigers yet, but hope remains, as ever, in the long grasses of their minor league system. 

 

1. OF Kerry Carpenter | 25 | MLB | 2022

I’ve written a lot about Carpenter in this space. The Tigers have been desperate to develop some bats for as long as I can remember, and so far Kerry Carpenter looks like their biggest developmental win. A 19th round pick in 2019, Carpenter made a leap in pitch selection, particularly in his transition from Double-A (6.1% BB) to Triple-A (12.3 % BB). His strikeout rate evaporated at the same time, from 27.5 percent to 12.3 percent and the result was a dominant run in Triple-A (.331/.420/.644) and a 31-game MLB debut that netted six home runs and a 126 wRC+. If I catch any Tiger by the tail for redraft leagues this year, it’ll probably be Carpenter.

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The south side features an underrated system for fantasy purposes with plenty of openings on the big league side for the intrepid young hitters. 

 

1. OF Oscar Colas | 24 | AAA | 2023

I suspect you’ll see Colson Montgomery in the one spot everywhere else, and that’s cool if you’re not in any rush to collect stats from your prospects. I’m open to the case that Montgomery is the buzzier prospect stock at the moment, but Colas has dominated every step of the way and finds himself on the escalator this winter, by which I mean he could start the season hot and cruise right up the lists. Montgomery could climb quickly as well, but he’ll be doing so in Double-A, which won’t help us win in 2023 unless we can flip him for a redraft asset. How long will it take the dynasty world to notice if Montgomery comes roaring out the gate? Not long, probably, but Colas could open a sell-high window early in spring training with just a few good games. And even then, with offers raining down on you after Colas hits his second spring home run, you might struggle to move the 6’1” 209 lb left-handed bat with a chance to make the opening day lineup. He hit 23 home runs in 127 games across three levels last year, batting above .300 at every stop. Chicago has been tough on hitters the past few seasons, but Colas has enough thump to threaten 20-plus bombs if he gets the gig early. 

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Timing really worked out on this one. This system lost some shine when it shipped out Gabriel Moreno the other day, and to a lesser extent, Jordan Groshans to Miami last season, but neither makes a dent in the long-term build of the organization, which remains impressive from top to bottom. 

1. LHP Ricky Tiedemann | 20 | AA | 2023

At 6’4” 220 lbs with an upper-nineties fastball, Ricky Tiedemann has been bullying batters throughout his baseball life but took it up a notch in 2022, traversing three levels of minor league play (78.2 innings) with 117 strikeouts and a 0.86 WHIP. He was every bit as dominant in 11 Double-A innings (0.82 WHIP) as he had been in 30 Low-A innings (0.80 WHIP). The only real worry here is that he won’t get tested until the majors, but as bugaboos go, that’s a preferable one. He’ll likely need better command, especially off-speed command, to survive big league lineups a couple times through, and he won’t need either of those traits in place to dominate again in the minors. The Jays put him on an aggressive timeline seeking someone to challenge him in 2022 and might do the same this year if they decide he’ll need to develop in the majors anyway. He’ll turn 21 in August and is on track to celebrate that milestone in Toronto. 

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The devil is in the details. Since dropping the hellish adjective, the Tampa Bay Rays have etched their way into the baseball zeitgeist by being better than anyone else at squeezing every last drop of value out of every single roster spot throughout the entire organization. They’ve made their fair share of mistakes skating at the edges of 40-man roster management, particularly off-loading Nate Lowe and Joe Ryan for little return, but it’s a difficult balance to strike, and I’d rather a team remain aggressive than disappear into their own silo. Tampa initiates a lot of transactions, and most of them work out to their benefit. 

On the other hand, they’ve been so good throughout the system that you could make a case for the club to stop trading for a season or two just to see how it looks for them to field a whole team of their own prospects. It’s not an option, of course. When you’re developing as many prospects as this team, you stand to lose them in 40-man waves every winter, so you reshuffle the deck, moving some ready-now players running out of minor league time for some far-away prototypes who’ll comprise another roster-crunch wave a few years down the road. 

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The shortstop question has hovered over this organization since Derek Jeter retired. That can’t be right. They’ve had a real shortstop since Jetes, haven’t they? Can we count Tulowitzki? 

A quick giggle search brought me to a New York Post article from 2021 titled “Yankees Still Searching For Derek Jeter’s Long-Term Replacement at Shortstop.” A year and change later, the search continues. 

The word “search” feels a little aggressive to describe how this has looked in the real. 

Nobody’s gathering groups with flashlights to comb the forests of upstate New York. Instead, they’re hoping a shortstop emerges from atop this list. 

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Remember when you could play as Yoshi for the first time in a Mario game? Maybe it was Mario Tennis. Maybe you could count riding him in that first SNES game? Remember how great it felt to win a Mariocart race as Yoshi? 

Boston members. 

Though they lack a truly elite prospect, the Red Sox have assembled an exciting group of hitters that should matriculate to Fenway in waves over the next few seasons. Best system I’ve seen here in four years doing these lists. Took me a long time to whittle down to these top ten. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?