Is Ian Anderson rapidly pitching himself into top 40 starting pitcher consideration heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season? *turns down TV volume, cups hand to ear* “Hey, what’s that sound?” If it were 2019 and there happened to be another human within ear shot, they would respond, “yes, that’s the sound of someone screaming.” To which I would reply, “did Eduardo Escobar see a cat?” “No, that’s just Madison Bumgarner wailing down the side of a mountain after tripping and falling off a cliff, subsequently opening up a spot in next year’s top 40.” Luckily, he landed on an ATV and drove safely to the top 80 starter campground, where he’ll likely preside for the next four years.

As Anderson trudges his way up the same mountain, covered in brambles from the forest floor below, there are those who might actually think top 40 consideration is a foregone conclusion — and why not top 30? After all, the 2016 MLB Draft’s third overall pick is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings of work through his first four Major League starts. Does he deserve to be drafted as a top 40, or even top 30 SP next season? Today, we’ll dive into Anderson and some takeaways from his first taste of Big League action, including a refresher of his Minor League track record. At the end, I’ll answer that question.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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I’m not the world’s biggest Star Trek fan, but I thought the JJ Abrams reboot with Zoe Saldana was good, and I know a solid nickname when I see one. If you show me a catcher named Kirk, I can’t avoid calling him Captain. I don’t have the power. Chris Pine is kind of underrated as an actor, I think, and this next guy is likely a little underrated as a prospect. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With four home runs and a stolen base in his first seven games, Randy Arozarena finally bloomed this week. Better late than never. 

One highlight of my winter was plucking Randy Rose atop the 2nd round of a 30-team First-Year-Player-slash-Supplemental Draft. 

The pre-Rona times were a mood, man. We had plenty of stuff to be indignant or cosmically fearful about, but we kinda weren’t, you know? Like on the day-to-day basis? We were mostly thinking about Randy Arozarena’s flashy spring in the fantasy factory that is Tampa Bay. Or maybe that was just me. 

But Tampa’s the pivot-slash-segue here, if such a thing exists when a conversation wanders among the Rona thoughts. Tampa’s Rays have been getting a lot of winter shade the past few off-seasons because the front office there would prefer to platoon the planet. The reticence to embrace young Rays makes plenty of sense, but on the other hand, a lot of what Tampa touches turns to gold.   

Arozarena will cool off soon enough because nobody could sustain his pace, but I think he’s here to stay as an impact bat for our game. He posted 16 home runs and 19 stolen bases in about 400 plate appearances between AA, AAA and MLB in 2019, slashing better than .300/.400/.500 at every level. Only the Cardinals would look at a guy like that and say no thanks. The “industry” in general loved the trade for St. Louis because we can dream on LHP Matthew Liberatore for a long time. Maybe it’ll still break their way, but Arozarena is a perfect fit in Tampa as a lefty masher who’s been improving against righties the past few seasons to the point where I think he’ll be above average against same-siders. He’s also a plus defender across the outfield. If I have to pick between Arozarena and Dylan Carlson in 2021, I’m feeling Randy enough to pluck the rose. Might even prefer him over the balance of their careers, partly because I’ve always loved the guy, partly because I just trust Tampa’s touch. 

So who else do we need to monitor in Tampa?

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Of the two current Rookie of the Year front-runners, Jake Cronenworth (NL) and Luis Robert (AL), one was relatively predictable. In our 2020 Razzball Fantasy Baseball Staff Picks article, 12 of 22 writers tabbed Robert as their preseason choice for AL ROY (Kyle Lewis received one vote and remains in the race). On the other hand, none of those same 22 contributors picked Cronenworth in the NL, although current runner-up Dustin May garnered five votes. For a former seventh round pick that was on the 30-man roster bubble heading into Opening Day, there wasn’t much of a reason for him to be on anyone’s radar. But here we are with just about two-and-a-half weeks left in the unique 2020 season, and those two aforementioned names are leading the way down the stretch.

As one of Razzball’s two prospect writers, this got me thinking: 1) how have these two young hitters stacked up against other rookie bats in certain underlying metrics so far this year? 2) Does The Itch think about me throughout the day as much as I think about him? In regard to the former, the bulk of the 2020 season may be over, but there’s still useful batted ball data that can be implemented to make start/sit and add/drop decisions throughout the final two weeks. On top of that, rookie batted ball data is arguably even more important to look at for those who play in dynasty formats. Although the season is nearly in the rear-view, there are dynasty roster decisions looming for 2021, as well as the ever-present questions of “should I buy on Player A vs. Player B as part of my core moving forward?” In this post, I’ll present the top-12 rookie batters in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage and percentage of barrels-per-plate appearance through Sept. 8. If you have any further questions about any of the names that follow, I’m more than happy to discuss this topic further in the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We skipped the list last week and saw some names clear out from Stash List Volume 5. Gavin Lux, Randy Arozarena, Jose Urquidy, Clarke Schmidt, Miguel Yajure, Ian Anderson and Mitch White have all gotten some big league reps and left the cupboard a bit bare. 

To further complicate this week’s edition, we have to wonder about the self-image of Baltimore’s Orioles. They’re four games out of a playoff spot with 22 games remaining on the schedule. Our #2 prospect on this week’s list in an Oriole, and I might put more on here next week if they win a little. It’s just Baltimore and Detroit on the AL bubble, and neither seems likely to make the cut. The NL remains a royal rumble. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No sooner did I put together a post detailing my top 15 rookie starting pitchers for the rest of the 2020 season than the Yankees decided to call up one of my favorite pitching prospects in right-hander Deivi Garcia. Now, many of you may already know about my public love affair with New York’s Clarke Schmidt, but we haven’t discussed Garcia as much as we maybe should have over here on Razzball. For that reason, I’ve graciously offered to Clarke and Deivi that I am willing to turn said love affair into a love triangle, so long as Deivi answers my calls. But here’s my number, so call me Deivi. Please. No, really. I’m begging you. Call me. No? Okay. Anywho, here’s what I saw from Garcia in his MLB debut and what I expect from the youngster moving forward.

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Who doesn’t love reading something that starts with a disclaimer? Nobody, that’s who. Unless you do, in which case I’m sorry, but here goes: this list is built around players I don’t think will debut before 2021, in part because those were the parameters malamoney gave me in the comments section a few posts ago, in part because the AB and IP math won’t be settled for a while yet.  

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Holy rookie starters! I swear, there are more rookies debuting on the mound in 2020 than there are jokes about dongs on this site. After hearing much conversation about rookie starters and seeing some of the love-at-first-sight that is happening in some fantasy circles, it got me to thinking: of all the rookie starters out there, how do they all stack up from now through the rest of the season? Our very own everywhereblair has already been providing you with awesome updates to Razzball’s starting pitching rankings each week, but I thought I’d take it a step further as one of the prospect gurus and hone in on the first-year hurlers. These are solely rankings for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season, although I plan to have updated dynasty rankings on these same names in the near future. Warning: my rankings do not directly translate to how everywhereblair has the top 100 starters ranked, therefore this article is not doctor approved.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve got my fingers crossed, but unless I’m mistaken, every major league team is currently cleared to play baseball games! No small feat in 2020. 

With so many games to play, and prospects popping up like whack-a-moles, we’ve got a lot to track, especially with double headers and compressed schedules and on and on. Here’s what I’m seeing around the league.

Please, blog, may I have some more?