I’ve been watching Pirates SS Oneil Cruz for a long time, but the sensory shock of seeing him run the bases stays fresh. As does the thump of seeing him square up a baseball. On big league broadcasts, we get more angles from better cameras than we see in minor league games. Some minor league broadcasts show mostly just the hitter/pitcher interaction, so I’d almost forgotten what Cruz looks like tagging from third base on a shallow flyball, or throwing a laser across the diamond from shortstop. I would say it’s probably too late to trade for him now, but I did manage to acquire him that way in two dynasty leagues this season, so perhaps it’s not impossible. I paid a lot, to be fair, but I’m happy with it.

In the 15-team Razznasty League, I moved Shane Bieber, Anthony Rendon and Gabriel Moreno for Cruz back on May 12. Bieber had just gotten touched up by Toronto, and I was worried about his diminished velocity. He’s since rebounded, but I’m happy with that. Always good if your trade partner has positive trade remnants from you on the roster. This deal might be an overpay, but I have a constant need to clear roster spots in that format, especially on the big league side. 

We’re not going to get four RBI every night from Cruz. He’s definitely going to struggle at some point, but the talent here is first-round fantasy gold type stuff. Prospect writers aren’t always great at differentiating between who’s a good prospect because he’ll be a major league regular and who’s a good prospect because he can help carry your fantasy teams. Even if they can see the difference, it’s complicated to articulate. Becoming a solid major league regular is an incredible outcome for any prospect, but guys like Cruz belong in a slightly different bucket. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We don’t spend much time with the stragglers around Prospect World, but a lot of highly ranked guys have struggled this season. That sentence reads like a timeless nothing-statement when I see it on the page, but it’s a pretty accurate description of my thoughts as I scoured the landscape to find the best 100 minor league players for the fantasy game. 

If you think of a name that you figured would be here, there’s a good chance they’ve scuffled to start this season. The Nicks, Yorke, Gonzales and Pratto, missed the list in surprising fashion. Perhaps I was more demanding of them because my human-person-walking-around name is also Nick, and I am subconsciously more disappointed with them than I would be with a non-Nick player. Seems unlikely, but you never know. 

Also a pretty good chance the player(s) you’re looking for were covered:

either here in the Top 25

or here in the Top 50

or here in the Top 75.

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Anyway, the buns are in the oven. No changing the recipe now. Smells pretty good already, now that the prep’s done and the kitchen’s clean. Ish. Clean as it’s gonna get anyway. Let’s dig in. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

26-year-old Oakland 3B Jonah Bride isn’t married to any one position. He’s even messed around at catcher the last couple seasons. Impressive that despite his wandering ways he’s posted plus offensive seasons at every extended stop (wRC+ scores of 122, 130, 149, and the 175 in 12 games at AAA this season). He played third base in his debut and isn’t going to unseat Sean Murphy anytime soon, but he could hang onto a roster spot as Billy Beane and the Athletics try to cobble together a baseball team, shouting “It’s Alive!” into an echoing, empty ballpark. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

List season continues this week here at Razzball. It’s a stressful time for yours truly, if I’m honest with myself, as I don’t have time to write about everything I’m noticing just under the surface of prospect world. Stress isn’t negative all the time. It’s also an exciting time. Tickles the geek inside my haunted carnival of a baseball mind to check in with each and every prospect and rearrange them rung by rung, tier by tier. 

51-75 was the toughest group on the list, in terms of my mind’s ability to settle on a decision and turn the page to the next task. It chewed through hour after hour of my life like the hungry caterpillar, and now I have a tummy ache. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Here’s a link to the Top 25, Prospect Rankings Update: Corbin Carroll Headlines Top 25 for June 22.

And here’s a link to the Top 50, Prospect Rankings Update: New Top 50 for June 2022

Please, blog, may I have some more?

List season continues this week here at Razzball. It’s a stressful time for yours truly, if I’m honest with myself, as I don’t have time to write about everything I’m noticing just under the surface of prospect world. Stress isn’t negative all the time. It’s also exciting in this case. Tickles the geek inside my haunted carnival of a baseball mind to check in with each and every prospect and rearrange them rung by rung, tier by tier. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Here’s a link to the top 25, Prospect Rankings Update: Corbin Carroll Headlines Top 25 for June 22.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This first published restructuring is always fussy to navigate. Even waiting longer than I wanted to didn’t even clear much space via prospect graduations. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Oh and here’s a link to Wednesday’s article, Prospect News: Dahian Santos is Coming to Town or Commencement Day, in which I discussed the graduates. 

We’ve got a new name atop the list and some fresh powder further on down the mountain.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve got things to cover in this post, but first things first (instead of second where I usually put first things), Toronto RHP Dahian Santos (A, 19 yo) has earned an immediate pickup (click-up?) in most dynasty formats. I can imagine some scenarios where he’s more of a mouse-hover than a quick click, such as the 20-team Highlander with 900-max total players rostered at any time and no minor league requirements, by which I mean I’m only rostering three minor leaguers right now, and one of them is Oneil Cruz. Santos wasn’t high enough to jump Nelson Velazquez on my claim list there, but the teenager is striking out 49.2 percent of the batters he sees in a league where he’s three years younger than the average age. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m not often surprised by the machinations of major league baseball teams because the road map is pretty well defined in stages by contracts and developmental norms, and it’s part of my job to know the lay of the land. 

Atlanta OF Michael Harris II being promoted from AA on Saturday surprised me. 

Can be underrated fun, surprises, especially in a baseball sense. And then I realize I should have seen it coming, so the surprise loses some sheen in the fog of negative self-talk, but it’s exciting nonetheless! 

Harris earned this jump by playing well every step of the way, but also because Atlanta has run out of center fielders. Adam Duvall is slugging .274. Ronald Acuña Jr. isn’t quite healed enough to be an everyday defender. Guillermo Heredia is striking out 48.8 percent of the time. Travis Demeritte wasn’t playing center anyway but was demoted to make space for Harris after Demeritte fell into a 1-for-34 slump. 

I mention all of this not to diminish Harris’ achievement but to highlight his opportunity. A plus contact hitter with dynamic hand-eye coordination, the 21-year-old, 6’0” 195 lb left-hander has always passed the eye test with flying colors on offense and was slashing .305/.372/.506 with five home runs and 11 stolen bases in 43 games at AA, striking out 19.9 percent of the time and drawing an 8.7 percent walk rate. 

I think we can track way back to the Cristian Pache (Matt Olson) trade to see the footprints leading to this transaction. The club must think Harris’ defense has progressed enough to hand him the keys to their big league outfield. He’s a must-add where you can fit him. I’m about 60/40 that his swing-happy approach combined with the big-league heavy balls will prove too big a challenge for his first few hundred plate appearances, but stranger things have happened. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Today we continue highlighting prospects making the biggest jumps on the upcoming updated Top 100, soft-scheduled to hit newsstands on Sunday June 5. 

Cubs 2B SS 3B OF Christopher Morel has looked great so far, like a mushroom blooming in the damp baseball darkness of North Chicago, reaching base in all seven games he’s played, playing all the positions listed here and batting leadoff on Tuesday night. He’s got two home runs and a stolen base along with his .304/.407/.565 slash line. What initially seemed like some injury cover as Morel came up from AA has become a long-term appointment, as far as I can tell. He’s not quite the dynamo Royce Lewis can be, but it’s not totally insane to mention them in the same sentence, or at least I hope it’s not because I just did. I offered Tanner Houck for Morel in the Razz30, and Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes, a razor-sharp baseball mind and a Red Sox fan, rejected it, which offers some idea of how people might be feeling about Morel today.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Feels like we get big prospect headlines every weekend. Makes sense on the baseball calendar. Adley Rutschman, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore all got that call this week, and I got an invitation to reshuffle the stash list.

Graduated from Volume 2: Royce Lewis Rolls Into TownGeorge Kirby, Adley Rutschman, Alek Thomas, Vidal Brujan, Nolan Gorman, Ryan Pepiot 

If you cared to look back that far, you’d see two graduates in this list from the class of Volume 1, Oneil Cruz Control featured again here in Volume 3, but that’s just the nature of the nomenclature these days. Confusing times when the top guy on the stash list just got demoted after dominating for a couple weeks, but here we are, and away we go. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This week began with big news adjacent to the prospect realm: Kansas City fired its major league hitting coach, Terry Bradshaw, and replaced him with Senior director for player development and hitting performance, Alec Zumwalt, whose role will be bigger than that of a typical major league hitting coach. The Royals have seen big gains in the minor league hitters that haven’t carried over to the big league side, so this move makes a lot of sense from the outside looking in. 

Reading between the lines, the goal here includes creating synthesis throughout the system from the bottom up. One way the Giants and Dodgers have gotten ahead the past few seasons is having multiple voices saying similar things all the way up the development chain, so that when a young Dodger makes the majors, he’s not suddenly learning a new way to talk about the game at the same time as he’s adapting to the extreme leap in skill from AAA to MLB pitching. 

In short, this feels like good news for all Kansas City prospects but especially those with solid plate skills. In his press conference, team President Dayton Moore said, “We need to see nine players in our lineup that are committed to get on base any way possible. That means we cannot chase pitches out of the strike zone. When we do have pitches to hit in the strike zone, we can’t miss them.” Pretty good summation of baseball 101 there, but manager Mike Matheny seems due for a refresher every now and then, as he continues to run Ryan O’Hearn out there in the cleanup role for reasons that no human on the planet except Matheny can comprehend.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Prospect News: Rankings Redux: Eury and the Henderson

In a recent post, I found myself saying Milwaukee OF Jackson Chourio was on track to be a top 50 prospect by mid-season, which got me thinking, as I should be this time of year, about updating the top 100 list. 

I made a trade offer for Baltimore SS Gunnar Henderson this week in the 20-team Highlander Dynasty League. Was just Arizona DH Seth Beer straight up, but that league is weird, with a double utility spot. Deepest hitting set-up I’ve ever played, unless I ran that math wrong way back when I half-sprinted through it just to create some context. It’s a half-step or so deeper than the Razz30, and the full-week freeze of lineups adds another wrinkle I haven’t played with a whole lot in a superdeep dynasty format.  

Also went a little overboard in trying to secure Colorado SS Ezequiel Tovar this week. 

Anyway the natural first question for most readers at this point is who’s rising the fastest, like Chourio and Tovar. Or maybe that’s just the most enjoyable question because its opposite might be equally immediate to most fantasy players: who’s feeling that baseball gravity? 

I tend to avoid the second question, if I’m honest. Players lose mind-share of course but it happens kind of quietly in the back of my mind as I build a list. Herbert Perez, is a recent player I can recall who I never really soured on in any real way. The evidence at present just didn’t support some trust-based ranking. But I’ll try to be proactive on that front and chronicle it here as I work through the list. If it’s a little dry or boring in the end, I’m hoping you just fast-forward a bit because that’s way easier with reading than it is on, say, HBOMAX. 

So who’s rising as I start building a rankings reshuffle? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?