Oakland called up 3B Jordan Diaz after the 21-year-old slashed .348/.383/.545 with four home runs and a 12.5 percent strikeout rate in 26 games at the level. I love to see it and don’t think we would’ve in previous seasons. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement ain’t perfect, but it’s changing the way teams operate, and I’m feeling oddly thankful right now that we wound up with a full 2022 season that felt mostly like baseball. He started at first base in his first game, and he’ll likely stay there as long as the club keeps Dermis Garcia around. It’s an interesting set of corner men for 2023 redraft leagues. They’ll be starters in their fantasy lineups coming out of the auction in the real deep leagues. 

Rockies SS Alan Trejo is following in the footsteps of uncle Danny, carving up meatballs like he’s wielding a machete. Brendan Rodgers is struggling to stay on the field, making Trejo a fun option for these late-season Coors games. 

In six games since coming off the Triple-A Injured List, Mets C Francisco Alvarez (20)  is slashing .292/.370/.542 with two home runs. If I built a last-ditch stash list, he might be the only name on it. 

I was more than a little salty about the Cubs trading RHP Scott Effross at the deadline, but the player they got back RHP Hayden Wesneski, has been incredible in his 15 major league innings, posting a 0.70 WHIP and locking in a rotation spot heading into spring training 2023. 

Blue Jays RHP Sem Robberse (20, AA) threw his most impressive game of the season on September 17: six innings, nine strikeouts, zero earned runs on three hits and one walk allowed. The nine strikeouts were his season-high. Impressive for a guy posting a 1.18 WHIP against players 4.5 years his senior, on average. Might be more impressive and interesting when you consider that Sem hails from the Netherlands. He was a Dutch Major Leaguer with a 1.80 ERA at the age of 16. We might see him against some more major leaguers on the world-baseball level this off-season, and we might see him in the Toronto rotation next season. 

Mariners RHP Bryce Miller (24, AA) struck out 14 Astros’ prospects on September 17. Might be his last start at a level where he’s posted a 1.05 WHIP in 50.2 innings across ten starts. 

As you might guess by the Miller blurb, I like to see pitching prospects graduate. They’ve only got so many throws between blowouts. Tigers RHP Wilmer Flores (21, AA) has thrown 83.2 innings at Double-A with a 1.05 WHIP. He graduated High-A after just 19.2 innings. He allowed a 2.27 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 15 starts at Double-A between May 31 and September 3 then got smoked for seven earned runs in one inning on September 10, when he should’ve been in Triple-A anyway. Glad they made a new hire to run things over there because bah gawd it’s been mayhem. 

As a little aside here, I’d like to say Shohei Ohtani is the most valuable player in baseball. I feel this in my bones but also believe 30 out of 30 front offices would choose Ohtani over Judge, if given the option with all other factors controlled. I doubt they’d even hesitate. 

I’ve been thinking about Space Jam a lot as we’ve discussed the MVP race in the Razzball Twitter chat today. Ohtani is so clearly the 1.1 pick for any invading force looking to clone our best athletes and challenge us to a pick-up game for the fate of our world. We must protect him. 

The debate, such as it is, features the best player any of us will ever see pitted against a man who hits a lot of home runs, AND he hits them for the Yankees, who do not have a center fielder, so HE, the home run hitter, also has to fake centerfield in the game’s tiniest outfield, sometimes. Got it. So . . . pretty cut and dry then? Yeah, you gotta give it to the Yankee because he’s in the playoffs.

Sorry. I don’t know how we got here. Except I guess some people are bored with Ohtani already. The only minor league player still walking both paths as full-time hitter and pitcher is Pittsburgh’s Bubba Chandler, and he’s batting .184 in Low-A. I don’t mean to be grim, but I agree with something kinda bleak but realistic that Grey said. People are complaining that Ohtani will win the award every year he’s elite as both a pitcher and hitter, and while that would be amazing, it’s foolish to assume he’ll be able to stay healthy for a long time with this kind of unprecedented workload. We should enjoy it while we can. Award him while we can. If he keeps it up for ten years and wins ten straight MVPs, so it goes. We should be so lucky to witness the reign of baseball’s Harrison Bergeron in our time. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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Itch fan
Itch fan
15 hours ago

Beautiful Bergeron comp

Old School Brother
Old School Brother
6 days ago

Totally agree with you on Ohtani. Man, I had not read or thought about Harrison Bergeron since highschool, might have to reread that one!

Oddball Herrera
Oddball Herrera
7 days ago

Incoming Tovar tomorrow! I am excited to see this – underrated prospect going into Coors Field.

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
7 days ago

Hi Itch! Just won my league for the first time but can’t take a break from your column!

I was wondering what you would be willing to trade to acquire Chourio. I know these open ended questions are tough and depend on the league format, but just looking for any ballpark or examples you’ve seen. Maybe related note, I’m trying to move Tim Anderson this off-season and don’t know how or whether he would be on the table for a Chourio trade.

Thanks for all your advice throughout the season!

Prawn Lord
Prawn Lord
Reply to  The Itch
6 days ago

Thanks!

I won with Oneil Cruz and Andres Gimenez and have Elly de la Cruz and Oswald Peraza in the wings too.

I am hesitant to to sell low on Anderson but feel moving him now makes sense if I can get decent value or upside in return.

Philip
Philip
7 days ago

Itch, with the reality I’m destined for 2nd place actualizing with each crappy streamer I rubber chicken myself in the head with, I’m already thinking about next years draft.

What do you think of this draft order? How would you adjust it? I’m picking 10th.

Painter
Manzardo
Mervis
Stone
Bibee
Flores
Colas — I’m not sold he’s special

I’m not really interested in the high school players. I am competitive now.

Thanks for your insight as always!

Dom Cobb
Dom Cobb
7 days ago

Hey Itch,

Piggybacking off of last week’s comment about Jackson Chourio – I was looking at his wRC+ numbers and how they are comparable to Tatis, Harper, Freeman and Soto when they were in the minors. If Chourio keeps it up, do you think he could receive a midseason callup like Soto did in 2018?

Gonzo
Gonzo
7 days ago

Simple solution for the MVP debate. Make it the Hank Aaron award, give it to the best position player and remove the ambiguity of value. Pitchers would have the Cy Young, batters would have the Hank Aaron. In that scenario, as amazing and unique as Ohtani is, he wins neither.

p.s. Thanks for the most valuable prospect advice this year. I have Oneil Cruz, Corbin Carroll, Josh Jung and Vinnie Pasquantino in a not-quite-dynasty keeper league and feel good about future seasons.

p.p.s. Is Jack Leiter’s stock dropping after seeming going backwards at Double-A?

Weeg
Weeg
Reply to  Gonzo
6 days ago

The MVP award should be the Willie Mays award. Aaron played in the Alanta launching pad ( as it was called at the time) while Willie played in dreadful Candlestick Park. Willie also played elite defense in centerfield.

Darin
Darin
7 days ago

I agree, Ohtani is the MVP. His pitching line (IP min, ERA, K/9, BB/9, HR/9) has only been matched by fewer than 15 pitchers in history, and he has an .891 OPS with 34 dingers!

Also, nice Vonnegut reference!