Baltimore SS Jorge Mateo has lived multiple lives on fantasy planet, first as a beloved but complicated Yankees farmhand, then as the primary rerun for Sonny Gray in Oakland, then as a utility piece scrambling for ar bats in San Diego, and now as a human being with a pulse in Baltimore. I’m eager to see how this plays out. None of his previous organizations is particularly adept at actualizing their own prospects at the big league level. Baltimore isn’t the cat’s pajamas either in this regard, but unlike his previous clubs, the Orioles are in position to really invest in Mateo, both in terms of playing time and big league coaching. For his part, Mateo might well understand this could be it for him as a big leaguer. I wouldn’t say he’s had any singular career near-death experience, but he’s certainly been passed around enough to understand his clock is ticking. I’m not comparing him to Anthony Santander or Cedric Mullins, necessarily, but he’s in that mold as a player with talent that nobody expects to become a major league mainstay, and I think his natural gifts measure up well against either. He’s a buy for me in just about every league until proven otherwise.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but I’ve been feeling like the baseball season is all but over these last few weeks. I could guess at some reasons, I’m sure. Contenders are few and far between. Even teams that technically still “in it” don’t have much chance of actually making the playoffs. And even if they do, they’ll face the one-game wild card death match. 

If I’m honest with myself, real baseball has nothing to do with this late-season malaise. More likely, the feeling comes from trade deadlines in dynasty leagues. In all my leagues, I’ll have to dance with what brung me from this point onward, and that’s a powerless, uncomfortable sensation that runs a bit counter to what I think makes dynasty leagues great. I don’t even make that many trades and might even prefer to play in leagues without them, if I could ever find one, but that transition from the Willy Loman sales hustle to a life of slow-burn faab fliers hits me like a briefcase of bricks. 

The prospect pipeline that flows from May to August is out of season. Any call ups now are likely to be bench pieces or last-life 4A types trying to carve their path. I actually love this last bit, and that’s where we’ll begin today, hyping ourselves up to make some minor moves with high-end upside. 

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In 2021, most rookies are playing like Joe Strummer on a Ramshackle Day Parade, taking the freight elevator straight to the incinerator. 

This makes fantasy players reluctant to buy for the first time in a long time, a corrective measure many years in the making as we’ve been titillated by Tatis, Acuña, Soto, Alonso, Bichette and many, many more. 

Wander Franco is a disappointment, is all I’m saying, depending who you ask. 

Only if you’re watching his games, you probably think he’s incredible–a 20-year-old in the middle of the lineup for a World Series team. A 20-year-old who never gives an inch, always looks like a tough out, never gives away a pitch.

Perhaps your trade deadlines are all behind you. Half of mine are. But I mention the idea of floating a trade for Franco because I myself just sent Wander away this week. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A lot of the MLB trade deadline coverage I’ve seen has been comprehensive, or given the old college try at such, but I will do neither. 

Instead, I will zero in on the things I’ve taken away for fantasy function. Even so, I will miss things and obscure the reality of a player’s potential at times for the sake of finishing a sentence. Baseball is so limitless it’s really all we prospect few ever really do: obscure reality’s unknowable potential so we can take our snapshots and hit our deadlines. In accepting and embracing this chaos, I hope to stay a step ahead of the competition, and I hope you’ll join me like two wild runners in Pamplona gambling with their blood. 

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Much has changed since last we met to hash out the snapshot of prospect tower.

Today’s the day we’re on our way to Mortal Kombat, Dynasty Edition.

It’s more than a game of either or in a lot of ways but not more ways than it’s not.

You’ll skip all this if I risk any more sentences here, I fear, unless you’ve skipped it already, which is honestly fine by me. You’re gone by now, so I might as well say the work is in the spreadsheet. And perhaps in the comments section once we get rolling. Hours upon hours of happy hustle.

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I poured a couple liters worth of words into Hoy Jun Park and Trey Amburgey last Sunday only to discover that neither is going to play. Perhaps Trey was going to play, but he hurt himself on his second day, so the Yankees said hey we could just pluck Estevan Florial from Triple A. Two games in, that’s worked out okay, but it blows me away to see a player with a .315 OBP at AAA take the job from a guy with a .475 OBP. Not that Park ever had the job, per se, but I thought he’d get some kind of look. Sorry for our errant walk in the Park the other day. 

So should we add Florial where we need some speed? I guess it can’t hurt if you’ve got the room. He’s plenty tooled up, having swiped 82 bags in 444 minor league games to go along with 54 home runs and a .266/.348/.438 slash line. That’s inflated a bit by his low minors lines. Elite spin had thoroughly flummoxed Florial until, well, I guess it never stopped. His July line prior to promotion was .184/.263/.429 across 48 AAA at bats. Simply put, the guy can thump and run. He just can’t hit. Or never has, anyway. Could he bloom before our eyes on the big league stage? I suppose so. I hope he’s a pollinator. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m putting the finishing sheen on a Top 100 update for next Sunday, so if you’ve got any thoughts related to that, please slide on into the comment section. 

In the meantime, I feel like we should blast some Spacehog and catch-up on the happenings where grass is green and skies are blue.

New York Yankees SS Hoy Jun Park had nothing left to prove at AAA, slashing .325/.475/.541 across 44 games at the level. His BB/K rate checked in at 46/41 over that stretch. Also hit nine home runs and stole nine bags. Safe to say he can identify some spin, and at 6’1” 175 lbs (though I think he’s a bit bigger than that), Park brings real upside to a club in crisis. He’s 25 and he’s never produced like this before, but he did post a 68/69 BB/K rate with a .387 OBP in 2018 at High A, so the plate skills and vision feel real to me. 

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I know a lot of leagues start their First-Year-Player Drafts directly after the MLB Draft, so I figured no time like the present to rank the first round or so. 

1. Miami SS Kahlil Watson, pick 1.16

Watson’s interview with the broadcast team was a tough listen. Sounded like he was exhausted from being on the phone all night, telling his agent he wasn’t willing to sign for whatever fully leveraged, arm-twisting deals teams were offering, probably as early as the fifth pick. Probably negotiated with at least five teams before the Marlins landed him at 16. Sounded like he shut down the Giants, who pivoted late to College World Series star Will Bednar. 

As much as I love aspects of the draft, the reality of a multi-billion dollar corporations needling high school kids down as far as they’ll go exhausts me as well. No doubt they tell the kids what they’re not good at, why they should definitely sign this lowball contract, how they’re risking their family’s well being by betting on themselves. 

Between the lines, Watson can do it all: hit, field, throw, thump, run, and it’s this last piece that really ties the room together for us. Miami isn’t a great place to hit, but Donny Baseball’s fish sure like to steal. Can’t really predict he’ll still be there when Watson arrives, but the Marlins will always have to manufacture runs at home. 

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This day should be great for baseball. 

I’ve heard some groaning about the MLB amateur draft lining up with All-Star weekend, but I think it’s kind of cool. Might be the first decent marketing move I’ve seen baseball make since Bud Selig and company turned the other way for big Mac during the home run chase. 

Might be wise to say here that I don’t care about the All-Star game, or the Hall of Fame for that matter, and I don’t know many who do, but it’s viable to point out I hold no candles for the bygone days of Pete Rose running over a catcher during an exhibition game, so it doesn’t matter to me if the All-Star spotlight is weaker than it once was. That bulb’s been dimming since interleague play and got even duller when Selig tried to make it count for the World Series, a choice so dumb it rivals any of Manfred machinations. 

Anyway, if baseball can win some eyes and ears by talking about the draft when people are glancing that way for the Home Run Derby, that’s a win in my book. Same goes for the Futures Game, which creates a neat sort of synergy with the All-Star game and the draft. I suppose one could argue baseball should spread these events out to get the maximum media burn from them, and there’s certainly a case to be made about avoiding the NBA finals when scheduling big events, but that won’t happen every year, and baseball has to get its press while it can. The second football players start gathering in helmets, the national focus begins to shift, or in the case of most media outlets, continues to shift. 

One upshot of the schedule is that I’m not doing a mock draft this year. I was a little late to the gate compared to other popular outlets that are already on version four of their mocks. Here I picture Jim Carrey as Lloyd Christmas saying “four mocks, huh?” in the tone of “Big Gulps, huh?”

If seeking some draft day prep, check out the Natural, Hobbs, in his Top 30 Prospects for the 2021 MLB DraftInstead of a mock, I’ll be publishing an early ranking for First-Year-Player drafts after the chips have fallen. In this space, I’ll try to add value to your All-Star Weekend by creating a player-by-player primer for the Futures Game scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern today.

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I was watching the moment Manny Margot stretched to beat out a ninth inning infield single and pulled his hamstring, and I have to confess: I had the thought. The dream, really. And yes I did feel bad about it: that little surge of excitement at seeing a human in pain. Wow that sounds gross. I mean I knew Margot would be okay. This wasn’t a beanball in the face or some nasty outfield collision. Just a typical non-contact injury born from hustle but also perhaps the start of something magical. 

Either that or a horrific surprise only a hallucination-laced culture could manifest. 

I’m talking of course about the big league debut of Vidal Bruján, which is still mostly hypothetical as I type. 

Could be, in the end, he’s just sat in a tent somewhere waiting for today’s double header to end so he can trek back to Durham. Now that would be scary. 

Bruján has been my favorite player in the minors for quite a while now. Who’ll take his place if he stays in Tampa to become the July King? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?