I’m guessing you’ve noticed it’s time to light this place up.
I think so, at least for a lot of the players we’ll discuss today. They’re all wearing wings in the player pool, and most are on the 40-man, which I think is more relevant in 2020 than ever before.
RHP Kyle Wright should open with the big club 30 with a chance during some early innings. Every team will be looking for creative ways to get through the first few weeks.
RHP Ian Anderson has been overrated for dynasty leagues since Atlanta reached down the draft board to grab him 3rd overall in 2016. This saved some coin for later picks and landed them a nice high school righty, but if they took a high school righty 3rd overall today, they’d be subject to widespread criticism. This will not be a popular blurb, but he’s been walking about 4 batters per nine his whole career, and that jumped to 6.57 BB/9 in 24.2 AAA innings in 2019. I’m not saying he can’t be good. I’m saying he’s always been a sell for me in dynasty leagues, and we might be reaching peak sell window right now.
LHP Philip Pheifer is almost as dangerous to hitters’ minds as his sister, Michelle, that white gold. He turns 28 on July 15 but took incredibly well to longer outings last year and could break camp with the 30-man roster due in part to the 3-batter minimum that makes all good lefties more valuable and all but eliminates the loogies from our lives.
LHP Jared Shuster was not my favorite pick of the first round this year, but if the Braves are planning to use him in relief early (again due to the three-batter minimum), perhaps I’m underestimating the pick. His power change-up should keep even advanced righty bats in check. Could be they’re thinking slow-cooked starter though and just brought him along to get a good look and continue the work.
The universal DH opens a path for Cristian Pache. Not that he’ll DH, but it allows the team to protect Marcel Ozuna, Austin Riley, and/or Nick Markakis if they so choose. Similar story for Drew Waters, but I doubt they’d burn service days for both unless they absolutely had to.
I don’t envy the 2020 decisions facing this front office.
They were built beautifully for a full 162 with a sell-off point if/when it became clear they weren’t headed to the playoffs.
Now I have to wonder if they just run out the clock. Doesn’t make much sense to risk their organic rebuild timeline because they fear stagnation of their key prospects.
1B Lewin Diaz is the apple of my eye, for example, but I’m worried he won’t get his chance, in part because I think his development could actually be better for it.
Galaxy brain creeping in: teams will feel differently about how effective their particular type of socially distanced development is for their players. The Marlins have awesome pitching prospects. Diaz will be hitting against LHPs Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers, even if he’s off-site. Maybe these guys don’t get 4 plate appearances per day, but what if they get ten every other day? For some teams, those ten would come against the kind of pitching that makes hitters get better.
Diving further on Diaz, he has to be good by the time he hits free agency. He’ll always be a 1B/DH type, and those guys have struggled of late on the open market. He benefits from sitting this year, even as I’m sure he’d like to reach the show and deal with the fallout half a decade down the road. And you could say the same for most these guys.
OF Monte Harrison would be a rebuild trade target for me. The 60-game thing would seem to keep him sidelined, and he’s not the sort of piece most contenders would nickel and dime about in the exchange rate.
SS Jazz Chisholm has the kind of electric play style and personality that could breathe life into a fan base eager to see the process bear fruit, but again, it seems more likely they’ll save his innings for when they’re closer and have a few fans in the stands.
Miami could go the other way and just rush everyone up to the bigs, but their division is incredibly tough, and if the league stays with regional opponents outside the division, the Marlins will be playing the Rays . . . so deadly they killed the crocodile hunter.
I really can’t wait to see RHPs Edward Cabrera, Sixto Sanchez, and Max Meyer on the same pitching staff, but back to the galaxy thought, sending your hitters against these elite arms on a regular basis might be wonderful for everyone involved. Their off-site scrimmages would be must-see events for any prospect hounds in the area. Maybe somebody can sneak a camera in there?
The Mets have veteran depth all over the field, which is key for a team with so few MLB-ready prospects.
6’6” LHP David Peterson was a first rounder a lot of analysts loved on a draft night. He hasn’t been elite coming up the minors but could thrive in his short-season debut and keep the front office from adding more Porcello Wacha types in winter.
Mallrat LHP Kevin Smith is just behind Sergeant Peterson in the pecking order. He doesn’t say much, and his stuff is fringey, but he’s got a diverse arsenal and enough command to save the bullpen a time or two this summer.
Not a prospect, but this feels like a buy window on 1B Dom Smith in dynasty. JD Davis and Yoenis Cespedes are getting most of the universal DH attention, but Dom’s the lefty and has a lot of team control remaining.
This division will likely make the briefest article because like New York, Philadelphia and Washington are experiencing something of a minor league nadir as their prospects graduate and/or get traded.
RHP Spencer Howard is ready for a challenge but isn’t likely to break camp as part of the rotation, or whatever passes for a rotation when many starters are only going 75 pitches or so. He’ll be up early though—about a week in if I had to bet—and while the Philly heat in that park could prove problematic, I think he’s got an inside lane on NL Rookie of the Year. He’ll turn 24 on July 28 and has utterly dominated for the better part of two calendar years, posting incredible K-BB and HR/9 rates every step of the way.
LHP Damon Jones is death on left-handed hitters and seems likely to occupy a middle relief role at some point this season.
You’ve probably read a lot about 3B Alec Bohm, but it’s worth mentioning that he might be available in some semi-deep redraft leagues where people fell asleep at the shutdown wheel. He’s in good shape to get a look at DH in 2020.
2020 first-round RHP Cade Cavali was just signed and invited to summer camp. He’s 22 and physically sculpted, and Washington’s window is wide open. If he’s looking dominant at camp, he could jump straight to the majors as an opener, follower, or middle relief arm.
Last year’s first-rounder, Jackson Rutledge, is coming to camp as well but wasn’t in Spring Training and has some delivery issues to work out.
LHP Austin Voth isn’t a prospect anymore having tossed 56 big league innings, but he got a healthy boost when Joe Ross opted out and leads a group of arms that should get innings this year including RHP Will Crowe and LHPs Tim Cate and Ben Braymer.
RHP Holden Powell made the list when Hobbs went about Ranking the Pitchers from the 2020 MLB Draft That Could Impact Your Fantasy League This Season.
LHP Matt Cronin hasn’t cleared A ball but struck out 48.2 percent of the hitters he saw there across 22 innings in relief and has the sort of power fastball/curveball arsenal that could thrive even without more seasoning.
I’ve never been in on 3B Carter Kieboom at his top prospect cost. He’s always been good enough and young for level, but he won’t run much and hasn’t slugged .500 since rookie ball.
OF Yadiel Hernandez is 32 years old but slashed .323/.406/.604 with the juicy AAA balls last year. If he finds regular playing time, pick him up first and ask 4A questions later.
Last thought: my daughter turned two yesterday, July 4.
Happy Birthday, Celestine!
As I’m writing, I can’t help but wonder what baseball will look like through her eyes as she grows up.
It’s one of her favorite words already: baseball. Every spherical object is a baseball. Every attempt to interact with such an object is called “play baseball.” I’ve been trying to get it on video, but it’s hard to exist in the moment and have the phone ready to record. Among her favorite things to do right now is “play baseball,” which often refers to throwing a balloon up in the air and picking it up after it lightly bounces off her face and hits the ground. She can catch it sometimes though, after which she receives a round of applause from my wife and me.
I mention this because she loves baseball already. There’s something magic in the game. In the word itself, even. I’m surprised in part because she hasn’t seen much baseball. We mostly watch Peppa, Minnie, Winnie or the We Bare Bears. Also the whole shutdown thing. She’s seen baseball cards, and I think they’re largely responsible, but I keep coming back to something intrinsic to basic mechanisms of the game that makes it appealing to human beings. I don’t know what I’m trying to say, exactly, but I really hope MLB finds a way to let that natural spark grow to a flame for young people over the next several seasons. For all of us really.
Thanks for reading.
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