I’m often referencing the echo chamber in this space, and sometimes I’ll throw in a specific citation even though I’m not here to drag other prospect people in specific as much as I’m here to help readers find value in general. A big part of finding value is knowing who’s free and who’s a helium-filled fever dream. When a deep lens into the echo chamber crossed my Twitter feed this week courtesy of High Upside Fantasy, it seemed like something I should share here. 

Click here for High Upside Fantasy Top 500 “Consensus Rankings”

Top of the list looks fine. Chamber is at its best up top. The first WTF moment for me comes at 16 with Marcelo Mayer, and that draft-heavy lean plays out throughout the list. 

To me this feels like a remnant of other sports where a guy can get drafted and move right into an impact role. I’m sure you’ve heard something like this if you’ve spent any time following the MLB draft. These are slow-burn investments who have to work their way through several levels of professionals before they can impact our game. If I rank Marcelo Mayer over fifty guys who can help people win their leagues next year, I don’t consider it a success when he’s a decent rookie half a decade from now. This might be the largest differentiation between our work at Razzball and some other sites: we want to win every year—not just look passably competent in half-decade, hindsight intervals. 

For his part, Boston SS Marcelo Mayer has seven steals in eight attempts on the complex but posts below average run times and figures to age out of being any kind of stolen base threat. He has yet to play in a professional game so has a huge uphill climb ahead of him. He’s one spot ahead of Yankees OF Jasson Dominguez, who has much louder tools and is holding his own in A ball at the same age. If anyone is considering flipping Dominguez for Mayer on the strength of this chamber snapshot, please put a pause on that. 

Arizona SS Jordan Lawlar ranks 32nd, one spot above San Francisco OF Luis Matos, who landed in the #10 spot on my latest Top 100 Prospects for 2021. Lawler did not make the 100, though he was in that sweet spot of guys jockeying for position from the outside lane. I’m excited to see what the 6th overall pick in the 2021 draft can do as a professional, but we’ll have to wait for that as Lawler figures to spend the winter and early spring rehabbing a posterior labrum tear in his shoulder. When he’s back healthy and hitting, he might quickly ascend my list, but even then he’s a half-decade or so away from helping fantasy teams. 

A lot of these dynasty lists do a fair bit of youth fethishization. I don’t know if they’re all planning to trade these kids when they want to win their leagues, but that’s the net net, as I suspect you’ve experienced if you’ve played much dynasty. Low-level minor leaguers generate most of their standings impact via trades for established pieces, is all I’m saying. Sometimes you might hit an Acuña or Soto who slams the gas, makes themselves untradeable with dominant statlines and big hype, then comes up and actually helps a builder become a contender. 

Perhaps you’re skilled enough to line up 5-10 of these potential-monster types in the minors and wait for that simmer to boil, and perhaps you’re patient enough to wait five years while that all comes together. I think a rebuild is a one-year proposition, by which I mean you tank once. You’re building the year after as well, but you’re also looking to funnel that tank-year windfall into the near future–not just acquiring younger and younger prospects as a multi-year approach. You don’t need forever-solutions all over the field to start climbing the standings. Dynasty leagues are won the same way redraft leagues are: with Hustle and Want. You can find more value hunting breakthrough players on every level than you can tanking and drafting, especially considering you get to draft every year whether you tank or not. 

I’m all the way down a dynasty rabbit hole at this point, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lack of upper minors breakthroughs on most lists. 4A players, in some circles–the types of forgotten men hoisting me to first place in the 30-team dynasty industry best ball hosted by Prospects Live. 

On that team, I’ve got Ramon Urias, Lane Thomas, Tyrone Taylor, Yu Chang, Vladimir Gutierrez and more of their ilk. Superstars none. Functional pieces all. I understand why the hot-bat high-minors type doesn’t get much press, but anyone with Frank Schwindel in their lineup this month can probably make a case that any list of 500 prospects should make space for everyone who’s established themselves as a very good player in AAA. Why else go so deep? 

For example, check out Cleveland RHP Cody Morris at 281. He’s 88th for me. Is that too high? Looks like it, right? Well, he’s carried a 36% K rate across 52 innings (12 starts) at AA and AAA, allowing just two home runs in three months along the way. Odd feeling to be way out there on a pitching prospect, but I’m getting used to it. Just saw a Rays top 30 list on Prospects Live that didn’t include RHP Jayden Murray, who’s not on this top 500 either. He’s 98th for me after posting a 0.708 WHIP in 96 innings across two levels, A+ and AA. If these kinds of outcomes don’t land age-appropriate dudes in elite organizations on all the big lists, I don’t know what does. 

Except that we all know what does to a certain extent: draft stock. Minnesota OF Austin Martin hasn’t exactly earned his spot at #34 as a professional, slashing .270/.414/.382 with 5 HR and 14 SB in 93 games. Keith Law has been saying he’s just not the same player he was in college, when Keith ranked him over Detroit 3B Spencer Torkelson. Perhaps that’s true and Martin will rediscover some of his coed thump, but until then, he’s a clear Sell if you can get anyone to pay anything close to 34th overall prospect value. 

Philadelphia RHP Mick Abel at #57 is not egregious by any means. He had a good year as a teenager in full-season ball. But here again we bump up against timelines and histories. How long will it take before Mick is able to help us gain standings points? How well do high school draftees do as rookies? How good is Philadelphia at developing teenagers on the long and winding road that leads to you bringing home a fantasy championship? As a general rule, if I think I’ve got to trade someone to extract value, they’ll be lower in my rankings than elsewhere. Abel is not in my top 100, nor is #79 Detroit RHP Jackson Jobe for similar reasons. 

Last thing I’ve noticed about legacy lists that go really deep is the sweet spot seems to be the 100–150 range. Here you’ll find a whole host of players who should be way higher, but the rankers are waiting until it’s safer to push them up that high, by which I mean they’re waiting for someone else to do it. When it becomes clear that they’re 50-100 spots behind the new consensus, they’ll go ahead and make the swap to send Everson Pereira, Dustin Harris, Nick Yorke and Eddys Leonard screaming up the spreadsheet. It’s an ocean out there. I mean it truly is an endless hustle to keep up with what’s happening in the world of baseball, and I respect the hell out of anyone making a genuine go at it.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter. 

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Harley Earl
Harley Earl
10 months ago

Hey Itch,

Well the season is almost over so I’m going to ask now. Are you willing to admit that Lou Bob is by far the better prospect than Randy Arozarena? Remember I told you Arozarena would hit about 15 bombs with 15 steals. Well he’s got 19 and 15, so I’m pretty close there. His .270 average is about 5 points higher than I expected.

As for Lou Bob, I think his stats in 60 games are clearly better than Randy A in his 133 games. Pro-rate those out and it’s no contest. Anyway, I doubt you’ll admit it so I guess we can carry our bet into 2022 but it’s pretty obvious who the better prospect is/was. Randy is just so boring! Haha but he’s not a bad player, but he’s not a great player either. Lou Bob will be great!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
10 months ago

What?

I never felt like I lost the bet. Never. Robert has been hurt and missed almost 100 games. How in the world could I felt like I lost? I asked you in July about it when Arozarena was struggling then and you coughed up some lame excuse saying Randy A was better than his stats, and to your credit, he heated up for about three weeks, but then, to my credit, returned to his average self.

Now you come across saying I built Randy A up from one quote you made and ran with it? You made Randy your number one prospect in all of baseball. That’s on you man, not me. That’s ALL on you, not me. Your reply ensures I will be interested in dragging this into 2022.

In the mean time, OWN IT just like I’ve owned my Wil Myers disaster. That’s what writers do. You put something out there. You own it.

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  Harley Earl
10 months ago

One more thing,

I said Arozarena was Tommy Pham 2.0. He was and he is. I never said he sucked or was not worth drafting. You’re just pissed because you know I’m right and you were wrong. You got caught up being a fanboy because of a historical postseason performance. That’s on you. Own that too.

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
10 months ago

Oh, so you ranked Randy as your #1 rookie ahead of Luis Robert. So Arozarena was the #1 rookie and a better rookie than Robert but Robert the better prospect.

Yeah, I get it. I totally understand what you’re saying now. It all makes sense. One is a better rookie and one is a better prospect.

Sure. Whatever you say bud.

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
10 months ago

Yeah, I know, because there’s a huge difference in a guy who played 20 games during a pandemic season and a guy who played 60 games. This was both their first full season. You liked Randy better. I didn’t. Own it.

Question
Question
10 months ago

Itch, this article speaks to me. We keep 9 (180 total) plus 5 prospects, and if you’ve got a ready prospect in March, you get a free keeper plus the pick you don’t have to use on him. Almost struck gold with 2019 draftee Tsutsugo, until he found a gig and passed the limits.

Wish I could find a target like that for next year.

thehombre
thehombre
10 months ago

I was just reading a review of the new Bowman Chrome and who to collect and this popped up:

H – Hedbert! Brewers stud OF prospect Hedbert Perez has his first base card in BC. But some collectors will be frustrated that it does not include the 1st Bowman logo. That designation was reserved for his first card back in 2021 Bowman, but that was an autograph-only card. He didn’t have a base card in that product and many were hoping this release would have the logo on his base card. No such luck.

HEDBERT 1St Autos FOR THE WIN!!!!!

Junior56
Junior56
10 months ago

Hi Itch
Great Article! We all fall in love with certain prospects especially when we find them ourselves, but more or les they are commodities.
Hold or drop

Kody Hoese
Masty Winn
Seth Brown
Geraldo Perdomo

Philip
Philip
10 months ago

Itch, I wish you wrote more. What else are you writing?

Keep 2: Dalbec, Ashby, Sano, Sewald.

20-Team Dynasty. Nearing window of contention.

Also, would you guard any of Volpe, Moreno, Brujan, and Miranda with your life? I’d like to find a way to acquire Luis Robert and it might take some of my NA guys.

Thanks!!

Philip
Philip
Reply to  The Itch
10 months ago

Thanks! Maybe someday when you have more time you can get around to that screenplay.