Four names have left this list since its last iteration: Twins OF Alex Kirilloff, Cubs 2B Nico Hoerner, Pirates RHP Miguel Yajure, and today, Rays RHP Luis Patiño.

With a pang of goodbye riding astride the hope of new beginnings in our hearts, we turn the page to a new edition of the 2021 Stash List. 

Click here for a look back at 2021 Prospect Stash List Week 1.

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Having a big bank account certainly helps the Dodgers, but it’s guys like Zach McKinstry and Luke Raley who make them a juggernaut. You might’ve familiarized yourself with McKinstry at this point, but one thing to mention here is that he’s outfield eligible in most leagues now, even Fantrax’s Util purgatory, making him a nice option in leagues of all sizes. Second base eligibility should come next. He’s got six games there already. 

Side note: my Perts league team is thick with second basemen (DJ, Whit, Villar, France), so it’ll be special for the group when McKinstry earns that badge. Whit just got his. Ty France is in the waiting room with eight games at 2B as of today. Big Perts party incoming for team Itch. Michael Brantley finally added OF this morning. Woohoo for positions!

Back to Luke Raley, who started on Thursday and again Friday when he went yard against the Padres, likely earning himself a few more chances on a team that likes to play the hot hand. Los Angeles clearly liked Raley, having taken him out of tiny Lake Erie College in the 7th round of the 2016 draft. He wound up with Minnesota for a couple seasons as part of the Brian Dozier trade, but Los Angeles got him back about a year later in the Kenta Maeda deal. On the field, Raley is a plus runner who’s stolen 21 bases and been caught five times across his minor league career. In 2019, he stole four bases in 33 games without getting caught. While he’s not going to carry anyone in the category, he’s a sneaky source for deep league speed, and one that comes equipped with plus power. He has never posted a below average offensive season according to wRC+, living mostly in the 125 range, or 25 percent better than the league average hitter. All this is to say: while his name probably rings hollow for the average fantasy player on first first reference, Raley has serious upside if he can minimize the strikeouts. If anyone can get the most out of his rotisserie skills, it’s the Dodgers. 

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You could help us both a bit here by imagining the standard intro about 2020 being weird for minor leaguers. Unprecedented, at least in my lifetime. Well, I guess I was in grade school during the strike that stopped the Expos’ title run. I remember sitting in music class thinking about Steve “The Scab” Reed. That’s when I learned what a scab was. But you couldn’t just scrape ole Steve Reed off that wound and fling it in the garbage. On no, he hung around for a little longer than anyone wanted, a coagulated reminder of the strife that brought on the steroid era. Though that shutdown was much shorter on the minor league side, young players’ timelines were similarly wonked up back then, I suspect, but they persevered, and so will some among this covid-complicated crop.

Here’s a refresher link to the Top 100 Prospects for 2021 Fantasy Baseball.

In this space, I’ll bid farewell to the prospects on their way off the lists as we head into mid April and discuss my thoughts in building a new list for May.

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Look, I know I left some puns on the table there. Just feels like kind of a solemn moment, you know? We’ve been waiting for Tampa Bay RHP Brent Honeywell so long we might as well be Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbit’s doorway. And like Pooh, Honeywell is easy to root for: his elbow all stuffed with fluff. Cut to Eeyore murmuring “He’s only the opener.” But even Eeyore can’t dampen my enthusiasm. I’m like Christopher Robin out here skipping along in my tiny shorts. Weeeee!

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Yermin Mercedes looks like he’ll offer a smooth ride for the lucky few fantasy baseballers (Grey’s mom’s term) who paid up for him on the first faab run. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see him hit yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough. He’s got a high leg kick and a loose bat waggle that settles late and gives off the vibe that he’s going to be behind on every pitch. Instead, he generates good bat speed and pairs that with excellent barrel control to the extent that he’s pulling pretty much everything so far (55%) but has shown an ability to go oppo (just 10% this year) throughout his professional career. 

Whether he can keep up against premium velocity when a pitcher is hitting his spots remains to be seen, but the middle of that White Sox order is as cozy a lineup spot as there is in the game. If he can hold his own there, he’ll drive in a ton of runs. His sprint speed puts him in the 26th percentile, which is actually a little faster than I would’ve guessed, and he looks it on the field. It’s pretty fun to watch him scoot, where he appears to have pretty good baserunning instincts. Makes sense considering he’s been on base half the time for about a decade now. If you missed him in a league with trades, I suggest checking in with the team that got him. We’ve all seen this type of player flash and then fade like a Chris Shelton or one of the Duncans, so you’re taking on a good deal of risk in making legitimate offers, but those guys–and most who flame out–are power over hit who get hot for an early stretch before pitchers figure them out. The Yerminator is an amorphous being, at least in terms of barrel control–the T-1000 of the early-season face melters–and Judgment Day is coming for us all.

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This list is about being about a week ahead.

It’s about other things, too—like overall fantasy impact from current minor league baseball players—the key purpose is to shine a blinking light on the top names. By the time a player gets to the front of this line, you risk missing out on the early adopters discount if you don’t faab him during the next run. As you’ll see here, it’s mostly too late for the top names, but that’s the nature of week one in the prospect world. 

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Grey explored the essence of our contest in Grey’s RazzSlam Recap: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing and Neither Does Anyone Else.

The pith of that essence?

“Unlike roto leagues, I think Points Leagues are more about exploiting the format than about what players you draft.”

Dude.

Yeah.

Same.

Love it.

I wanted to recap a different points league I’m in with Grey and 29 other people are playing via Prospects Live, but we’re in round 32 of 50, and the will to continue is waning, so I guess that’ll have to wait.

But anywho, Grey’s quote up top perfectly describes how I’m playing that league. I’ve been mentioning it occasionally in this space: The Dynasty Baseball Championship. Played it last year, and it feels a lot more like a points league stretched across five years than a dynasty. Most of the league is taking players they like, irrespective of the five-year time frame. I’m playing it like a board game, or any kind of strategy game really. 

I feel an Eldritch Horror (board game) segment coming on here but suffice it to say that Eldritch is all about building up to a point and then sprinting for the finish before the turn clock runs out. I tend to walk that line too closely, preferring to build a buff enough character to actually seal the deal when the time comes rather than rushing into a battle I’m not ready for just because we might run out of turns. It’s a devastating co-op game that way. A hard cap of total turn cards and several soft caps the game can hit to kill your crew if it’s not keeping up with the pace. It’s all about timing that big push. 

Similarly, RazzSlam doesn’t give players the error bar of a season-long league or even a game of Pandemic, where the timeframe is dictated by the player’s competence. If you’re not good enough to finish top 3 during that first stretch of RazzSlam, that’s that. You’re done by July. Sure, there’s a consolation game for those who missed the cut, but who wants that? Nobody. That’s like adding turns to the Mythos deck after Eldritch Horror has ended your night. Not cool. Game’s over, bub. The elder gods have won. 

Alright, so with the fate of the world in flux, let’s see how I did.

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Once upon a time, we were uncertain how teams would handle their prospects in this the final season of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union. 

Today, I feel like everyone could’ve seen this coming. 

Given one last chance to squeeze their prospects for an extra year of team control, teams just can’t help themselves. Nico Hoerner will have to stay in the minors for about 37 days to grant the Cubs an extra year on his contract, so that’s that. Easy call. Let’s keep Eric Sogard and Ildemaro Vargas instead, bumping some other more promising pieces off the roster. 

Teams act like this is just free money, but that feels like folly if we consider the 41st man and 1st man off the roster who theoretically earned a spot he can’t occupy because of Ildemaro Vargas. 

And it doesn’t take into account another big question: will they even want Nico Hoerner six seasons from now? Perhaps his ultimate value is allowing the club to hold onto a promising young arm who might’ve otherwise aged off the 40-man roster. 

No time for tears, though. Lots to cover this week. 

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After being called up to start in a win-or-go-home playoff game to close 2020, Alex Kirilloff will open 2021 in the minor leagues. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. The minor leagues won’t exist. Kirilloff will be watching his Twins on Opening Day from the nether realm known as the alternate site, where some number of players will incubate for a month while actual baseball is played elsewhere, presumably. 

We in the fantasy baseball world thought Eddie Rosario’s winter departure meant Kirilloff would have a chance at everyday playing time come springtime.

Same old story. Same old song and dance, my friends.

Not really worth our lifeforce to go over it again, I guess.

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I play in some deep dynasty leagues. The kind where every at bat has value. Every pulse has value. In leagues like these, guys like Gio Urshella, Mike Yastrzemski and Tommy Edman get picked up before their first big chance. I love these large player pools and have discovered something of talent for climbing aboard the airbus just before real helium hits for the Trent Grishams, Randy Arozarenas, and Jake Cronenworths of the world. 

I’m not suggesting the players in this series are locks to produce like those names in the intro. I am however saying these are the freemium-level dynasty and draft champions pieces I’m acquiring now in as many leagues as possible because I like their intersection of proximity, opportunity and talent.

Please, blog, may I have some more?