2023 should be a bounce back year for Bernie and the Brewers, who finished 2022 one game behind the Phillies for a wild card spot and will retain all their elite pitching. Well, all their elite pitching except Josh Hader. The lineup is good, too. Rowdy Telez and Willy Adames combined for 66 home runs, which feels like an emblem of where this organization thrives: making room for talent that falls through cracks in other teams’ roster crunches. 


1. OF Jackson Chourio | 19 | AA | 2024

Chourio won’t turn 19 until March 11, giving him an outside shot to make his big league debut at age 19. It’s unlikely but within the range of possible outcomes for a player who has already defied the age-to-level curve in an extreme way, playing AA games at 18 and getting valuable winter league reps in a hyper-competitive environment. The numbers don’t matter a whole lot for a wunderkind like this, but the numbers are good: 20 HR and 16 SB in 99 games across three levels.

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Been an odd stretch for the red legs. Yasiel Puig. Trevor Bauer. Nick Castellanos. A couple sell-offs. Joey Votto the constant: a Jon Snow meme made incarnate on the baseball field. Brandon Drury and Raisel Iglesias and Jonathan India and Sonny Gray and Fidel Castro and Eric Davis and Pete Rose and Luis Castillo and why the fiery red hell is Hunter Strickland pitching with a lead in the ninth? 

It’s complicated, I guess. They’ve taken some big swings. And mostly missed. Fun that they tried for a while. Not sure what to make of their current direction. Solid pieces in place with Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Alexis Diaz and more. Some impact talents on the way. A few interesting in-betweeners at the big league level. You have to squint a little, but you can see a path back to relevance for the Reds, which is really all you can ask for on the downside of an unsuccessful cycle. 


1. SS Elly De La Cruz | 21 | AA | 2023

In his 2023 Fantasy Outlook for Jordan Walker, Grey refers to meta-human type athletes as Lab Babies. Next year, if he’s still eligible, that post is reserved for E to the DLC: Lab Baby. Prospect Thanos. Inevitable. Only thing between him and that kind of shine is a 2023 debut. The strikeouts and the Reds’ general level of competitiveness could conspire to delay his arrival, but if he does make the leap, we’ll want him on our redraft squads. The power and speed are elite, and I’m way less worried about the strikeouts (158 in 120 games) than what I’ve seen in some other prospect portals because I think the quality of contact is so extreme they barely matter until proven otherwise. De La Cruz is a switch-hitter at 6’5” 200 lbs who explodes his hips through the zone from both sides of the plate. Like Aaron Jude and Oneil Cruz before him, he doesn’t have to square up a pitch to send it seven rows deep. It’s unique. It’s uncanny. It helped him slash .304/.359/.586 with 28 home runs and 47 stolen bases in 120 games across two levels.

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Hey Chicago, whaddya say? 

Mervis is gonna mash today! 

1. 1B Matt Mervis | 24 | AAA | 2023

The 6’4” 225 lb Mervis hit 36 home runs in 137 games across three levels and keeps on hitting them in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s got five homers in 13 games. He has struck out and walked thrice a piece, continuing the case of the disappearing strikeouts after K-ing in just 14.6 percent of his Triple-A plate appearances. Should open 2022 in the major league lineup.

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If you’re gonna pull the early plug on a contention window, you better walk away with some future stars. To their credit, the Nationals did that. A better move might’ve been to hold Trea Turner in 2021 and hope for the best in 2022, but that wasn’t the play this team wanted to make, preferring to off-load Max Scherzer’s deferred money along with their star shortstop. 2022 then became an exercise in futility. It’s tough to imagine the front office saw the Turner trade as precursor to a Soto sale. I guess the checks keep clearing when an ownership group opts to quit an entire MLB season, but the cascading impacts of those tank-thoughts will be felt throughout the organization for years. Players might simply stop wanting to play. They didn’t have to move Soto, of course. Could’ve left him malcontent on the roster then watched him walk in free agency, but I don’t think any amount of free agent spending could undo the damage that had been done. 


1. OF James Wood | 20 | A | 2025

There’s a lot riding on the broad shoulders of the 6’7” 240 lb center fielder. If he remains a high-contact, big-power bat through the upper minors, the Juan Soto trade could look okay a couple years from now. CJ Abrams has a big part to play in that math as well, and he started hitting better down the stretch with regular at bats. Like Abrams last winter, Wood should be a consensus top ten fantasy prospect this off-season after slashing .313/.420/.536 with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 76 games this year. He also walked 50 times and struck out 75. So far, his game has no apparent weaknesses. Depending on the timelines of Jackson Chourio and Elly De La Cruz, James Wood could be baseball’s number one overall prospect early in 2024.

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Despite winning the pennant in decisive fashion, Philadelphia’s excellence feels a little lost in the sauce of national writers belly-aching about the expanded playoff format. Reality is this Phillies’ lineup is as deep as anybody’s, their front-rotation arms are as dominant as anybody’s, and their bullpen can close out any offense. Despite their misleading regular season win total, they make a much better match for these juggernaut Astros than the 2022 Yankees. 

Philadelphia has also made gains on the farm, where the team features a few starting pitchers on the cusp for 2023. I was in the comments of my last article talking about how this system would make the Mets and Marlins look better by comparison, but I’m chewing on those words a bit today. It’s true that the young Phillies aren’t deep, and we won’t see impact offensive talents graduate anytime soon, but Andrew Painter pretty much makes up for that, especially considering the club’s positional depth at the major league level. 

Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2023 | Highest Level Played | Expected Time of Arrival


1. RHP Andrew Painter | 19 | AA | 2023

If I have to pick one minor league arm to become a no-doubt fantasy ace, I’m asking Sherwin Williams because it’s between Painter, Grayson Rodriguez and Eury Perez, and Painter is my preferred option at the moment. In 103 innings across three levels, Painter posted a 0.88 WHIP and 155 strikeouts and 25 walks, culminating in a successful month in Double-A where he struck out 37 batters and walked two across 28.1 innings. Philadelphia’s Double-A setting in Reading has battered a number of young pitchers in the past, so it’s especially exciting to see the 6’7” 215 lb Painter smother hitters who are 5.5 years his senior, on average. With a double-plus fastball, slider and curve, Painter hasn’t needed the changeup much but has shown an aptitude to command all four offerings. Probably could’ve helped the club in this postseason run–not that they’ve needed it so far.

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Like any good Coney Island carnival ride, the Mets’ 2022 season made fans feel some delirious heights of human existence followed by the doubtful dry heaves of an autumn hangover. The future looks promising though, assuming the club can secure this window by re-signing Edwin Diaz and Jacob deGrom. 

Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2023 | Highest Level Played | Expected Time of Arrival

1. C Francisco Alvarez | 21 | MLB | 2022

Though Alvarez was included on the playoff roster, Manager Buck Showalter went with Darin Ruf at DH for the most part, and Ruf happens to be under contract through 2023. Catchers James McCann and Thomas Nido are under contract through 2024. Alvarez battled injuries throughout 2022 and had ankle surgery this week. It’s possible or even probable that the plate-appearance seas will part once he’s back on the field and healthy, but the playing time outlook is a little tricky at the moment. I’m going this long way around to indicate that I think the concerns are real, but my primary read on Alvarez for a long, long time is that he’s an everyday major leaguer, and probably a middle-order bat for a contending team. Might be an opening to buy the slight dip in his perceived value coming off an injury riddled season. Scherzer and deGrom, if he comes back, will probably throw the guys they know, but Alvarez could be catching two or three times a week coming out of spring training and mixing in at DH as Buck sees fit. If I’m the Mets, for what it’s Wuertz, I’m working that rolodex all winter to move McCann and Ruf. Could clear about 15 million in a dream scenario where someone takes McCann off your McHands. Would also clear two crucial roster spots, or one if you had to take some money back in the form of a busted pitcher or something. They simply have to retain deGrom, is my thinking, and that might take 50 million dollars, so any effort to make that spend a little easier on old Penny Twitterbags and the ownership group could go a long way.

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Strikeouts have been the Marlins’ calling card the last several years on both offense and defense. A recent pivot toward contact skills has already rewarded them with a couple strong stretches from Bryan De La Cruz, but the team’s bread is definitely buttered on the pitcher’s mound, where the organization remains rich from top to bottom. 

Format = Position Player | Age on 4/1/2023 | Highest Level Played | Expected Time of Arrival

1. RHP Eury Perez | 19 | AA | 2023

It’s tough to keep Eury Perez in perspective. He’s 6’8” 220 lbs and started his second Double-A game on his 19th birthday. His control came and went this season, netting him a 4.08 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 75 innings as a 19-year-old facing hitters half-a-decade (5.4 years) older than him. He missed about a month late with injury but returned before season’s end, walking four batters in two innings on September 16 to round out his 2022. If you track prospects, you have to like this guy for his easy velocity and repeatable, athletic mechanics. He’s a unicorn. The only rub here is his perceived value. After all the off-season ink has dried, Perez could be the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball–a mantle frequently carried by players who wind up disappointing us in the long run. Last year’s top two were Shane Baz and Grayson Rodriguez, who will again be in the running for king of pitching prospect mountain after missing most of 2022 with a lat strain. For most of Perez’s trajectory, I’ve been hammering the gas, but I’ve backed off over the past few cycles as his name value has skyrocketed. I even traded him in the Highlander Dynasty Invitational last year. Brought back Camilo Doval who was crucial to me winning that league. I’d still want Perez wherever I could get him. I’m just wary of the price point and think he’s likely to struggle if he debuts in 2023. 

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This team features an embarrassment of riches at the major league level 

Churning out home-grown rotisserie monsters at an unparalleled rate over these past few seasons. Even had enough extra pieces to go get Matt Olson when they couldn’t convince Freddie Freeman to stay. Or however that went down. 

After trading for Olson then graduating RHP Spencer Strider, OF Michael Harris and SS Vaughn Grissom, the minor league system isn’t much to look at for our purposes, but that’s sort of irrelevant given the superteam they’ve built at the major league level, and this front office has been so hot for so long that we’d be wrong to leave any stones unturned in Atlanta. 

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The plan for today’s article is pretty complex in its simplicity. I set out to build a championship-level redraft team for 2023 using only rookies from 2022. 

C: Adley Rutschman

C: MJ Melendez

1B: Jose Miranda

2B: Vaughn Grissom 

3B: Bobby Witt Jr.

SS: Oneil Cruz

MI: Jeremy Peña 

CI: Gunnar Henderson

This infield is good. Might not win us the league, but getting steals all around the diamond puts us on a winning path. Not just because speed is increasingly rare but because these steals come from middle-order hitters with power.  

Catcher is a pretty clear win. I suppose the Sal Perez team has a leg-up on you if they’ve got anyone in the C2 spot, but aside from that, we’ve got a top-of-the-scale catching duo. 

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Tis the season to watch the scoreboard. My own teams are fighting down the stretch, and I’m looking their way more often than necessary. I’m hoping to write a postseason piece on my processes and outcomes, but I don’t want to jinx anything by starting early. 

For fantasy tweeters, it’s victory lap season. You might’ve seen a few threads already, typically in a shape like “What’d you get right and wrong this year?” Always worth our time to review the roads that brought us here, so I’ll be hopping back to March 30 to revisit my early season Brash Predictions 2022: Prospects Edition

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Guardians OF Will Brennan fits beautifully onto a playoff roster given his contact-heavy approach and solid all-around game. In 129 games between Double and Triple-A, Brennen slashed .314/.371/.479 with 13 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 69 strikeouts and 50 walks. They probably could’ve used him sooner, which would’ve given him time to adjust before the playoffs. It’s just three games so far, but he’s got three RBI’s, two stolen bases, zero strikeouts and a .364 batting average. 

As most MLB teams have moved ever closer to three-outcome lineups, Cleveland has traveled the opposite path toward roster construction, prizing low strikeout rates and all-field approaches. It’s working, and it could be a deadly brew to the fence-swinging clubs in October. Tampa gets a lot of love for maintaining a winner despite penny-pinching owners, but Cleveland is about to make its fifth postseason in seven seasons, and 2022 feels like the beginning of a dominant run through the AL Central. They’re up eight games ahead of the second place White Sox right now and eleven games up on the Twins. It’s not easy to see how those two bridge the gap next year.

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Oakland called up 3B Jordan Diaz after the 21-year-old slashed .348/.383/.545 with four home runs and a 12.5 percent strikeout rate in 26 games at the level. I love to see it and don’t think we would’ve in previous seasons. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement ain’t perfect, but it’s changing the way teams operate, and I’m feeling oddly thankful right now that we wound up with a full 2022 season that felt mostly like baseball. He started at first base in his first game, and he’ll likely stay there as long as the club keeps Dermis Garcia around. It’s an interesting set of corner men for 2023 redraft leagues. They’ll be starters in their fantasy lineups coming out of the auction in the real deep leagues. 

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