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.

23 Comments
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Dan
Dan
1 year ago

In a 30 team dynasty saves and holds league with deep minors. Lucas Gilbreath is an intriguing call up for Colorado. Think he might be worth a speculative ad? Think he could be valuable long term?

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
1 year ago

I’m getting just ravaged by injury … Robert and Luzardo down today. Already without Bellinger, K Marte and K. Hayes.
Play in an ESPN Roto, 6 player keeper league (no limits). Just for context, I currently have Acuna, Betts, Bichette. Bellinger, Robert, Tucker, Ohtani, K Hayes, K Marte, M Olson and guys like Flaherty, Urias, Trev Rogers, Gausman and Luzardo. I am going for the Win this year and as you can see have good keepable assets for next year.
I also have Bobby Witt jr. and I like him alot. Drafted him in much the same way I got Acunca, Robert etc.; before they became stars!!
However, with all my injuries it’s getting more and more challenging to hold Witt jr. I have been offered Jared Walsh for Witt jr? Last week I said no, but with Robert going down I’m thinking of re-engaging talks. Your thoughts on Witt jr’s potential this year and ultimately would you send Witt for Walsh? Thanks man, really enjoy reading your work!!

Michael
Michael
1 year ago

What’s up man? Who gets the call up first? Franco or Witt Jr? Best guess on what week they get called up? Thanks for the time man

TualatinTwoStep
TualatinTwoStep
1 year ago

Hey Itch!

Great stuff as always! I am in a 12 team dynasty league with MiLB rosters, and I am in a rebuild. I just traded Cesar Valdez for Matt Tabor and a 2nd round rookie pick this year (pick 2.5), and I wanted to get your thoughts on Tabor. Thanks!

Hamporter
Hamporter
1 year ago

Good Afternoon Itch,

I really want to add Duran now because he may be up soon, but wanted your input on a roster crunch. 16 team H2H OPS/QS redraft league. I have 3 hitters on my bench: Soler, Kepler, and Moran. I punted pitching this year and have been chasing, but these are my pitchers that rotate between my bench and starting lineup: Turnbull, Peterson, Trevor Williams, Flexen, Cole Irvin, Dunning, and McClanahan. Logan Gilbert is also holding a bench spot. Also, Josh Staumont is available and I can grab him when I have more moves tomorrow. Basically of that of that slew of degenerates, which 2 would you drop for Duran and Staumont or hold for now?

As always the help is greatly appreciated!

Pops
Pops
1 year ago

Itch, would you trade Hiura for Witt in a 12t OBP league? Can keep for 3 years

Pops
Pops
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thanks!

junior56
junior56
1 year ago

Hi Itch

Love your prospect takes! I have Daulton Varsho in a 16 team Dynasty league and he’s about out of Minor League eligibility. Do you think he’ll get some regular AB’s? Also got any under the radar SP’s in the minors to keep an eye on?

junior56
junior56
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thanks Itch!

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

Hey itch, I have a couple of Dbacks questions. Josh rojas seems to be hitting well. I may have given up too soon. I’ve owned him in one league 3 different times. Do you think he will continue playing most days now. Calhoun is out again for a while, but marte is going to return soon and they have Smith and Varsho up.

Different league, but I own k Robinson. It sounds like his eta is going to be pushed out after the news broke. I am thinking of finding an another OF who may be farther out but also high on your ranks who was ranked close. Proximity is a factor. Do you agree to get someone else over Robinson with his uncertainty? I know you said ranks will be coming out soon. Thanks

Jimmy
Jimmy
1 year ago

Not a prospect question…I was offered Alex Bregman for Kyle Tucker and Ian Happ…I want to do it but I feel like Tucker and Happ can’t be ice cold all year… it’s still early but Bregman is a stud!

Racehorse
Racehorse
1 year ago

Itch –

Really good stuff — I’m also ready for minor league baseball and “sussing out” (as Field Marshall Sir Bernard Law Montgomery would say … or, for that matter, what Monty Python would say) the next wave.

Interesting in your description of one of your dynasty leagues where once a prospect loses minor league eligibility at 50 IP, 130 AB, you have to make a decision — that’s samsies on my 16 team dynasty league.

Also, as much fun as it is to daydream over sexy Rockies Prospects (I think they’re ALL sexy), and because of the Hilliard situation, I’m going TO TRY and be different by not obsessing over potentially orgasmic Rox/Coors/counting stats results from Rox prospects — the Rockies as an organization blows chunks, I’m moving on …

Zach DeLoach OF — he’s available in my dynasty league, and Seattle is a team on the rise.

Factoring in DeLoach’s pedigree/bio (age 22, solid college bat), and Seattle’s stacked outfield situation …

if DeLoach shows any potential with the wood, maybe he’s a major Mariner trade piece when the M’s are ready to make a big step forward?

A team in need for an outfielder like DeLoach means playing time at the big league leavel.

(all which is a good thing, so long as DeLoach IS NOT traded to Colorado … okay, I’ll reevaluate that statement later .. okay … DeLoach in Coors playing EVERYDAY would be awesome! … but, damn you Rockdiculous Rox!)

Similar thingy with Thomas Szapucki LHP — he’s available in my dynasty league.

It’s highly unlikely that Szapucki cracks the Mets starting rotation in 2021, but the Mets are trying to win now, and a young electric lefty arm out of the Bully for the Mets big club is a definite possiblity?

Plus, in dynasty, my starters are getting long in the tooth, and if Szapucki pitches well, he’ll be positioned for a spot in the Mets rotation in 2022?

I can use some new starting pitching blood (P Corbin, done & gone … Smyly, done & gone … I’m no expert, but when the starting pitcher goose is cooked in terms of being a keeper, it’s not all that hard to tell, and it was James Shields who taught me this) …

Itch — no real questions in all that rambling, just wanted to share in your enthusiasm on the impending start of minor league baseball — lets get this goat rope started !!!

Another Dan
Another Dan
1 year ago

Great to read your stuff Itch,

I am looking forward to the Milb season starting and how it will affect our game.

I am in a number of leagues that follow roughly the same format (12-14 teams) with 20minor spots. Players can be in minors if they are <130AB or <50IP. They can stay until end of season if they exceed those but nobody who exceeds can be demoted back to minors. In some of those leagues where I am competitive Trammell, Pache and Vaughan sit in my minors. Stash them? Try and trade them? The first 2 are

My other dynasty is a 30 tm league with contracts. Marmolejos and Williams are guys I own in that league. Am wondering whether I should be trying to trade them away or whether I missed the boat.

In that 30 tm league (can own up to 200 minors), I also own guys like Abrams, Duran, Dominguez, Alek Thomas, Greene, Gray. Will be following their progress closely. It will be particularly interesting to see if Dominguez stock rises or falls. Duran looks like he might be closest to contributing this year though.

Is now the chance to buy Kristian Robinson or is it too risky?

Sorry for the lengthy (and rambling post) but it's a rainy Sunday this side of the pond and my head is swimming with thoughts about my various teams.

Best wishes,

Another Dan

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thanks.