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.
Tampa Bay OF Randy Arozarena graduates from the #3 overall spot, a truly remarkable feat given the lack of mainstream attention he’d garnered throughout much of his baseball life. It’s just a couple weeks, but with a 149 wRC+ and a .317/.378/.488 slash line, he again appears to be Tampa’s toughest out in the lineup and best source of run production. Can he carry them to another World Series? Who knows, but he looks like the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year at the moment.
St. Louis OF Dylan Carlson exits from the 15 spot. I’ve always been a bit low on him, comparatively, and still feel that way today. I’m not convinced he’ll run much or hit for average, and primary-power outfield bats are not rare.
Here’s the Top 25 in progress:
|6||Bobby Witt Jr.||SS||20||KC||2021|
|24||Heriberto Hernandez||C 1B OF||21||TB||2022|
Pittsburgh 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes looks like a superstar to me just 90 at bats into his career. If you’d have told me last spring he’d leave the list as a top five prospect, I’d have asked you to pass the mushrooms. Psilocybin has a lot of wellness benefits.
Atlanta RHP Ian Anderson has really changed some minds in the show. He’s at 42.2 innings today and should come off the list as a consensus top 25 prospect. I’m eager to give his space to someone else because once a guy dominantes a postseason, he just doesn’t feel much like a prospect anymore. I’m still reluctant to embrace Anderson as a top-shelf starter. Command is the great separator, and I think Anderson is more control than command. I also think his curveball is meh and it’s incredibly hard to succeed as a fastball changeup guy. I’d be selling if anyone in my league were buying him as a legitimate young ace.
Detroit RHP Casey Mize is bringing upper nineties cheese with him as he graduates from spot 23. Gonna be some ups and downs here, it seems, but his velocity and spin rates are going through the roof, two trends I noticed this spring while writing an article titled Mighty Casey Mize and the Mystery Machine.
A couple questions I asked in here were whether Mize was easy to hit and whether he was just working on things this spring, treating those innings more like a veteran finding his feet than a prospect trying to cut his teeth. Feels like we kind of have answers to both those questions already. With 39.1 innings, Mize is going out on a high note.
Detroit LHP Tarik Skubal is trending in the opposite direction, his spin rates having fallen some 200 RPMs from where they sat last season. What’s going on here? Fingers crossed it’s not health-related. He’s at 41.1 innings and is losing some prospect shine pretty quickly. Might wind up a nice post-hype sleeper next draft season.
Speaking of post-hype sleepers, Cleveland RHP Triston McKenzie made a surprising splash last season but quickly lost most of the hype that won him. He’s at 41 innings today like everyone else on this list and will graduate the list as a member of a starting rotation that’s basically Boardwalk on the Monopoly board of fantasy baseball.
And some other thoughts to share before I bounce.
Minnesota OF Alex Kirilloff got called up today as the 27th man for the double dip. If he hits, he’ll stay. Seems kinda dumb for his near term timeline to come down to one day’s outcomes, and maybe I have that wrong, but I would’ve once bet his spring training outcomes wouldn’t impact his timeline.
Pittsburgh 3B Phillip Evans isn’t really a prospect on time served (service days on MLB rosters across time), but he’s at 125 career at bats heading into Tuesday’s games, so I couldn’t help but wonder where I’d rank him if he had another week or so of prospect eligibility? I’m mostly win-now in dynasty, and I love these particular types of players who give pitchers tough at bats and worked their way up, especially if they’ve got another 200 at bats or so of MiLB eligibility. I’d struggle to trade him today, is what I’m saying, which moves him up my lists. I’m watching him give Blake Snell a hell of a fight right now, and I’m guessing he’s never seen Snell, one of the only true four-pitch starters in the game. He just drew a walk. It was his first at bat against Snell from what I can find. He won’t stay this locked in forever, but we’re well into the maybe-it’s-real zone with Evans. Statcast is crazy about him at the moment, but you really just have to watch him hit a couple times to realize this is no fluke.
At what point do we accept that Oakland LHP Jesus Luzardo has always been overrated? Here’s hoping you dealt him in dynasty when people were making wild offers. I think he’s fine. Not trying to bury the guy here, but he’s got mediocre mechanics that lead to mediocre command, and it might be awhile before he figures that out, if ever. We’ll still get the big outings when everything is working well, but we’ve got 84 innings now where he’s surrendered big exit velocities. Still a miniscule sample in the life of a pitcher, but it’s worthwhile to note we might not see a fully realized Luzardo for another few seasons, and we might never get the dominant SP1 people thought they were getting. Easy for me to say as I don’t have him in any leagues, but if you’re of a different mindset on this one, go check out his game logs. Not a lot of fun times there.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.