Called up from our last Stash List: Tampa Bay SS Wander Franco, Baltimore SS Domingo Leyba, Kansas City 3B Emmanuel Rivera, Chicago (AL) 2B Jake Burger, Chicago (AL) OF Gavin Sheets, Cincinnati SS Alejo Lopez, and Milwaukee LHP Aaron Ashby.

Always exciting to turn the page. 

But before we do so, I’d like to update the book on Reid Detmers, who had 46 strikeouts in 21 June innings, retiring 51.7 percent of his opponents via strikeout with a 46.1 percent K-BB rate. 

Adds up to a 19.71 K/9 with a 9.2 K/BB rate with a 1.14 WHIP and .229 opponents batting average despite his squad allowing a .455 BABIP with him on the mound.

Wow. 

I don’t think anyone saw this coming. If a 30-year-old, one-inning reliever in A ball were striking out more than half the dudes he saw for a month, he’d be opening eyes. Would certainly graduate the level. Detmers, seen as a control and command mid-rotation type on draft night, looks like Tarik Skubal out there on the stat sheet thanks in part to meaty velocity jump that makes his curveball even more Bugs Bunny-ish. If you have George Kirby or some other similarly ranked pitching prospect, I’d see if the Detmers owner in your league would be interested in a swap. That ballpark should be perfect for him, and even if he gets hit around a bit, the command and strikeouts will keep his rates in tip-top roto shape. 

Now onto the list. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Kansas City Royals can’t catch a break this year. Between Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier slumping and Adalberto Mondesi hurting and all the pitching prospects fumbling their first big chance, it’s all the Royals can do to put on a brave face and wave for their adoring public. 

Things seemed to take a turn for the better this week, with Ryan O’Hearn carrying his AAA fire over from Omaha and Emmanuel Rivera going 2-for-4 in his big league debut. But then, in his second game, Rivera took just one at bat before being removed due to wrist pain. No word yet on the severity, but wrist pain is bad for hitting. It’s a pretty irritating outcome. Rivera’s been hot all year as the Royals rolled out the corpse of Kelvin Gutierrez at third base. Can get fairly redundant watching this happen over and over again: teams drag their feet on promotions and miss their windows. Edward Olivares is still demolishing AAA while Nick Pratto and Bobby Witt do the same at AA. Royals could’ve had a whole new wave in mid May and be breathing fire by July. And maybe they would have if the young pitchers had played well. But hey their AA club won 19-to-4 on Tuesday, so they’ve got that going for them. 

Here’s what else I’ve been seeing around the game.

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I make a lot of notes to myself throughout the week in a Google doc as I build toward a full article. The word atop the document this week says “cryptocracy,” which reminds me today of something I’d gloriously forgotten: that Major League Baseball teased a big reveal this week only to announce it’s gone into partnership with a cryptocurrency company in a venture that will, almost certainly, make money for the owners. 

Huzzah. 

And wow the fans were so geeked and stoked and hyped for baseball now more than they’d ever previously imagined possible because the owners were going to, get this, make more money.

Just awesome stuff. 

If you’ll excuse me for a moment I’m due up fourth this inning, so I’m going to duck into the clubhouse and view my last couple of at bats against this pitcher.

Then I’m going to strap on my custom-made elbow guard, wristband and batting gloves before I select my custom-made helmet and bat so I can step into the on deck circle, where I’ll swing my weighted bat a few times before I tack up my custom bat with my favorite pine tar, tack up my batting gloves a bit on the barrel, pretend not to time the pitcher while I’m timing the pitcher, then walk into the box and tack up my batting gloves again before I adjust them, my elbow guard, and my helmet. Now I’m ready to swing the bat. Maybe.

Wait. 

Did that pitcher just adjust his belt!?

Skip! Blue! Wait! Stop the game!

That pitcher might have some sunscreen in his belly button!

Check him check him check him!

And let’s grab a brand new ball straight from the box otherwise I call no fair.

Sorry about that. Can’t believe that guy was trying to use a substance to help him hold something. Back to the game. Here’s what I’ve been seeing on the field this week. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Been hearing mostly conservative takes about Wander Franco the past couple days, but can we just set the hedging aside for a moment and ponder Wander’s potential?

When an incomparable player comes along, like Shohei Ohtani for instance, the tried and true path of downplaying possibilities and leaning into what’s come before just falls short. 

Wander Franco can exceed our imaginations, especially those of the people predicting the worst because it’s typically the right way to play it when a prospect comes up. We might forget that Mike Trout slashed .326/.399/.564 with 30 HR and 49 SB as a rookie. People often site his previous season, where 135 plate appearances as a 19-year-old didn’t pan out great: .220/.281/.390. 19-year-old. 

I’ve often mentioned Trout in discussing Wander because he’s a player with few physical comps, and Mike Trout left a powerful impression on me the first time I saw him in Cedar Rapids. I saw him play a lot there that year, making my escape for 380 South every chance I got.  Even badgered my wife to join me for one, as I would later do again when Byron Buxton suited up in CR. 

I didn’t get down to see Wander the one time he came through my corner of the flyover. I’d helped organized a home league trip that fell apart last second, and I didn’t wind up going. Still, I’ve seen him play on MiLB.tv a lot more than I saw those guys in person, and I feel confident saying we haven’t really seen his type. He is unique among all the prospects I’ve watched. 

I’ve heard .265 with 6 home runs and 4 stolen bases. That’s not happening.

We heard on the Razzball podcast, The Wander Years, that it could be about .305 with 13 homers and a handful of steals. That sounds plausible. 

One factor that’s tough to build into the Wanderlust is he’s rarely (if ever) seriously studied his opponents. It’s just not feasible on the minor league schedule. The six-game series setups this year have created the first genuine chance for intraleague familiarity among competitors. In Tampa, Franco will have all the hitting resources he can imagine and several he hasn’t even considered. When a prospect plays better as a rookie than he ever had in the minors, this homework-based edge is one of the primary drivers of that leap. Wander is a worker. 

The only outcome that would surprise me is failure because this guy has never failed. More likely he hits .350 with 20 homers than ends up back in Durham. I’d also be surprised if he ran a whole lot. That’s gonna take time. He’s gonna hit even without a lot of high-level reps, but base running against elite players is a different learning curve entirely, and his Olympus-level hand-eye coordination doesn’t help him there. I don’t care though. I don’t have Wander for the steals in 2021. Wish I had him in more leagues, but I do have him in that home league, which has ten hitting categories and rewards extreme plate skills. Michael Brantley is a mainstay in the top 20 overall finishers. Wander will soon join him. Which means he’ll soon be leaving Prospect World forever. 

So who’s the number one prospect now, or next, we should say, after Wander’s truly gone from the prospect list collective? Who’s the king of the mountain on Day One A.W.? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Happy Father’s Day!

I hope you all have a great one!

It’s been a while since I checked in with the stashes, list-wise, and today feels like the perfect fit for a post super-two redraft ranking of the rookies in waiting. 

Since last we met here for the Stash List Sans Jarred Kelenic, we’ve seen a lot of players promoted for the first nights under the big lights: Alek Manoah, Logan Gilbert, Jesus Sanchez, Matt Manning, Lewin Diaz, Chris Gittens, Jackson Kowar, DeMarcus Evans, and Cory Abbott. 

We’ve also seen some guys from that list go there and back again: Owen Miller, Luis Barrera, Corbin Martin, Max Moroff. It’s a tough game. Failure abounds. Determination is elemental. Some of these guys will only get a sip or two before returning to endless bus trips and styrofoam sandwich dinners. Some will become central to the fantasy game itself. Welcome to The Stash List.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here I sit in the head-space I visit while creating this content, and I can’t see the prospect world. On a typical Tuesday night, it’s all around me, sometimes filling four screens in between sentences. I’ll have the TV going on two big league games, the laptop going on one minor league game (or vice versa), the desktop screen sliced between research tabs and writing tabs, and the phone screen chirping up at me with pretty lights and chimes. Every dive into the phone means another lap around the box scores for Pavlovian reasons, both majors and minors, and probably a check on the Twitter timeline, where I’ll find any number of highlights, stats and feelings. 

Tonight I’m just sitting here seething on the porch, bouncing between laptop and phone, doomscrolling Spider Tack stuff. Soon enough I’ll head up to the desktop and dig in on my plan for tomorrow’s article, but right now, I thought it might be worth our time to tickle the keys with how it feels to be a baseball fan for the moment. Then I realize I don’t even know how to say it. The first several words to mind begin with F and don’t get us to the deconstruction or reverse engineering phases we need to find to ever really articulate ourselves. Actually, fuck that. How else could you say it today? What the blue fuck is going on here? Who handed these hacks the wheel? Were any actual fans bellyaching all day about the shape of a game? Not that I heard. Every baseball friend I have was excited about the season. Most were planning to attend at least one game. Many had already been. 

And most of these people, they’re still excited, I think, for now. 

But you can’t change the rules of a game in the middle. When kids are playing, that’s the first move toward the end. It’s fine. Games run their course and go poof in the wind. For kids, I mean. They invent on the fly, play a game for a while, then toggle a rule. A timer somewhere begins. The game will see several quick rule changes now as kids embrace every thought for what might happen differently. It’s fine. It’s fun. And then it’s over. 

If you haven’t seen Tyler Glasnow’s Tuesday press conference, you can find it here.

I like how he articulates the proper timing of such a change. I think we can set aside the fact that the baseball itself is always changing for whatever dumbass reason, just for a moment, and look at the preference Glasnow lays out for how baseball could handle this. Just tell us. Just let us know what the rules will be, and then let us play by those rules. Revolutionary. You can change them in the off-season. Hell, the contract between owners and players will have to be resettled this off-season. What better time to restructure the game ever so slightly? I don’t mean to sound like a total jackass here, but you might even want to discuss this Spider Tack issue with the players heading into or as part of the CBA. I dunno. Just spitballing. 

I’m sorry. You didn’t come here for this. Decent chance I’ll delete it all before this goes live. I’ll get to the prospects in a minute. It’s just, Grey tweeted something funny about something ridiculous that Olney tweeted, and that made me think about how smart Bud Selig was to turn the other way during the steroid era. Maybe that’s the wrong way to say it: using “smart” in juxtaposing understandable behavior to what we’re seeing from Manfred on a daily basis, but maybe it’s the perfect word. Perhaps only an idiot would freak this much the fuck out about what’s happening in the media-reaction sphere and jeopardize the game itself–not to mention the health of everyone playing–but perhaps it’s gotten harder to ignore the angry clammor from people in search of something to angrily clammor against. And now that describes me. I wasn’t looking for the clamor, I guess, but here I am, stunted by that wild strain of galaxy brain irritation with everything that powers so much of our world. 

Fuckin Manfred.

Let’s talk prospects.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I hope you watch Rick and Morty. Not sure how this title holds up if not. Would also provide a primer for Loki on the Disney plus. Looks like our favorite god of mischief is about to become the infinite Rick, which makes sense considering Loki head writer Michael Waldron wrote for Rick and Morty. Circles within circles within variants, friends. 

Let’s check the sacred timeline.

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The date is June 9, a fairly insignificant moment in the western, Gregorian sense but a potentially monumental one in the 2021 baseball sense. The ever-floating cheap prospects super two service time cutoff line is now, or tomorrow, or next week, depending on how much baseball everyone ends up playing over the next two years. It’s a ratio stat where the denominator is everyone in baseball’s service time, so to call it a “moving target” sells the math problem a little bit short. It’s guesswork. Educated, certainly, but guesswork nonetheless, and the best guesses we have point to the middle of June, maybe even June 10 in particular. 

Get your popcorn ready. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I remember being really excited for my first crack at a public top 100 back in September of 2019. I actually started building it in early August because I had some time to simmer before my big debut at Razzball, and I wanted to come in hot with a ranking that reflected the way I see the game. 

Click here to see that Top 100 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

and/or click here to stretch to the Top 150 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

As the deadline approached, the true scale of the task came into view. 

In order to rank the top 100 minor league players for fantasy baseball purposes, you have to rank every single minor league player for fantasy baseball purposes. I suppose this is intuitive, but I didn’t realize as much on the front end, back in 2019. I also didn’t realize that’s a lie I was telling myself. It’s not that I have to rank every player, but I have to know generally where I would rank every player. 

Even that’s not true. Something I learned doing the team’s organizational rankings (FIND LINK TO TOP TENS) top ten lists the last two off-seasons was that I needed more processes for eliminating players than for finding them. It’s not altogether different from dynasty roster management in some senses, where your squad is like a bonsai tree: if you’re not pruning the dead and dying branches on the regular, your tree will not grow. Early on in that org ranking process, I figured I’d just make each list as long as the org was deep. Seems fine on the front end, I suppose, but I realized I wasn’t really making any difficult decisions. I could always just rank a guy 11th, or 18th, or whatever, so who really cares about the 10th ranked prospect? Just write the blurbs and cover the system. I didn’t have to grind out the work and make real choices like I do with just ten. The same played out with the 100. Now that I’ve set that limit, it helps me shed light on the Korry Howells and Alec Burlesons of the world, and it helps me push guys like Nick Pratto up to where they belong because I just have fewer branches on the tree. 

This year, for this list, I realized what I really needed was buckets into which I could put every player so I could really digest the task’s enormity. I tend to get lost in these spreadsheets. Make a tweak. Check some player pages. Find some video. Watch, think, drag and drop, rinse, repeat. I have no idea how many hours are in this spreadsheet, but it feels like most of them. Some days I know I can’t open it because I’ve got stuff to do, and time does not exist in that realm. Anyway, here’s how I broke it down. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Fresh off the recent rankings update, Top 100 Prospects for 2021 Fantasy Baseball Volume 2, I figured today was the perfect time for a Wednesday whip-around before we dive back into deconstructing the list this weekend. 

Below the fold, you’ll find a smattering of things I noticed on the field Tuesday night combined with season-long stats and thoughts on what it all means going forward. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?