In February, MLB told us the minor league baseball season would begin on April 6th.
Good spot for an Arrested Development narrator meme here. April 6th came and went without minor league baseball. Whispers of another delay have been circulating for a while, but as things stand now, the MiLB season is slated to begin this week on May 4th. Cue the Imperial March.
Jarred Kelenic and Wander Franco will start the season in AAA, while Julio Rodriguez heads to A+ and Bobby Witt Jr. jumps in at AA. Julio’s assignment in particular signals a pretty clear intention to keep him in the minors all season.
Dynasty leagues are about to get wild.
For the past couple years (or decades?), without any games to toggle dynasty their valuations, minor leaguers have been mostly useless, stagnant pieces in our fantasy erector sets. The prospect stock market has been basically closed since September of 2019.
I’m curious to see how our game responds to a hard reboot.
Redraft leagues will be impacted, too, as we’ll simply have more information in assessing when we have to move on a free agent in AAA. Home runs in back-to-back games for Bobby Witt Jr.? Snap him up now! Don’t wait!
But dynasty leagues in particular are about to experience a version of the game they haven’t seen in many moons. Whoever finds their rhythm fastest stands to gain ground. One thing I can’t recommend highly enough is the MiLB.com daily recaps, just as a first stop leading into your daily drive through the minors. You could also be scanning box scores or even watching games on a daily basis–both invaluable steps to getting ahead of the echo chamber. I’ll do that and plenty more in this space, too, but we’ll only get together twice a week, and I’m only one dude with two eyes.
I’ll also be rolling out a fresh top 100 in May. Getting tingly just thinking about it. Likely to be living in that spreadsheet for the first week of the season.
In the short term, on my own fantasy teams, I’ve been trying to clear up roster spots. One of the rubs with loading up on high-minors guys is they graduate and pile up at the big league level. I’ve been trying to make trades, but it’s hard. The no-name guys putting up numbers don’t pull much back in trade, so Pittsburgh 3B/OF Phillip Evans might find himself on the chopping block. I like the hit tool though, and he’s had some bad luck lately, so I’m holding for now.
So who am I dropping?
One guy who’s gone for sure in my 15-teamer (where I’m in 1st place woohoo!) is Seattle 1B/OF Jose Marmolejos. He hasn’t been hitting lately, but he’s mostly a victim of circumstance. With Kyle Lewis coming off the IL and Jarred Kelenic knocking on heaven’s door, Marms was always serving in a part-time capacity. Ty France got hit by a pitch and missed Tuesday’s game. If that’s an IL stint waiting to happen, maybe I messed this up. Marmolejos has been fairly useful as a free space. In the league where I (we bc I run it w my brother) cut him, he’d surpassed the 130 at bat barrier to become an MLB-only asset. Even in a 20-teamer, he’s not a definite hold if we can’t move him in and out of our minors.
Houston SS Jeremy Pena is recently gone off this roster even though I spent a valuable pick on him in this winter’s First-Year-Player Draft. He just had left wrist surgery and will miss approximately five months.
Baltimore 2B Ramon Urias simply can’t catch up to good heat in the strike zone. He’s clinging to a roster spot in my 30-teamer, where we can move players freely between our majors and minors until they get 420 at bats. Players like Urias have a lot of value in that format, assuming they can make enough contact to cash in some counting stats. Urias looks like he won’t, which means I’ll soon swap him out for a minor leaguer now that those exist. I feel awful about this one as I recommended him to readers for the super-late stages of drafts. Hopefully, if you did get Urias, you also got Akil Baddoo.
These are just bums and an injured player, you might be thinking.
Fair enough, dear reader.
What can I say? I hate dropping useful assets. We all do.
I just cut Cleveland OF Josh Naylor and Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera in a 20-teamer with tight rosters. 50 innings and 130 at bats are the barriers between minors and majors. Atlanta RHP Huascar Ynoa graduated, and LHP Drew Smyly returned from the IL. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Smyly on the chopping block soon. Tough league settings. Co-run the club with my brother, and we’re in 2nd but kind of streaming and gritting our way through as we await a prospect wave.
In a Razz-heavy 15-teamer, I’m hustling to hold first place and might have to drop Pittsburgh OF Gregory Polanco and even Cincinnati LHP Amir Garrett if things play out as they have been over the next few days. I just traded Chicago OF Joc Pederson for Polanco to try and stay ahead of the injury monster, and I really do think he looks healthy, but the Pirates have deployed him as a platoon player this year, and I’ve got plenty of outfielders. I’ve been trying to trade an outfielder someone else might want, but that’s not working so far. Garrett was my 2nd round pick in the FYPD this winter, so that hurts. I was thrilled to get him there. Gonna be tough to actually click that button when the time comes.
Still pretty bummy, you say?
Okay, okay, fair enough.
Well how’s this? Detroit SS Willi Castro might be a victim of circumstance if I can’t get something done. I’ve been hustling at it for a while. He’s got 323 at bats. In another 28, I’ll have to keep him on the MLB side. He is not hitting, and my team is simply too loaded to house a slumping Willi C.
Oakland LHP Cole Irvin has thrown 72.1 MLB innings. So that’s 27.2 remaining with MiLB eligibility in this particular league. I struggle to see a scenario when he remains on the roster as an MLB-only guy. He’ll have to be dominant over his next three starts. Wishful thinking, that. Probably a relatively painless cut when I feel the need to move in on someone else just before they get a big boost.
St. Louis OF Justin Williams was an interesting early season story, but Tyler O’Neill has come off the IL hot, and Harrison Bader has all the right pictures of all the right people. If Dylan Carlson and company stay healthy, Williams is the odd man out. This league, and most 15-team dynasties, has a waiver wire absolutely overflowing with intriguing minor league pieces. Williams simply can’t compare topsides with the likes of Alejandro Pie, Johan Rojas, Blaze Jordan, Kyren Paris, Eduarqui Fernandez, JT Ginn, Joey Cantillo, Hunter Brown and many, many, many more.
One quick news blip before I bounce: Milwaukee C Mario Feliciano would’ve likely begun the year at AAA but instead heads to the big club to provide support for a flimsy position group feeling the loss of Omar Narvaez the same week they released Sheriff Jacob Nottingham. He’s talented enough to thrive early, but it’s hard to succeed betting on rookie backstops.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.