I got my 2nd Pfizer shot today (Saturday), so the goal here is to finish this piece before I pass out. Might not be able to fold in all the Saturday games. Have heard vax part deux can hit pretty quick, and I can confirm that my internal temperature is all over the place. Sorry if the drugs fail to enhance my performance. If I miss anything here that you’d like to discuss in this space, let me know and I’ll double back on Wednesday.

Early on this season, I’ll roll with a league-by-league, whip-around format.

AAA

The level looks different this year. Talent is often thickest here at the beginning of the season as teams wait to juice all the timeline turnips they can, but this year feels like an outlier. Tampa’s Durham Bulls alone have as much talent as you’d find throughout the old International League by July most years.

Tampa Bay SS Wander Franco .385/.429/.846, 14 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K

Best prospect on the planet is looking the part so far. Even his outs have been stung.

Tampa Bay OF Vidal Brujan .438/.550/.813, 20 PA, 5 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 1 K

Has played every outfield position. Very fun start for me. I’ve always ranked Brujan aggressively here at Razzball. Like, so far outside his range at other places that I would get worried and think I should maybe nudge him down just so I’m not encouraging readers to offer utterly bonkers exchanges to get him. That range has since caught up enough that I blend in now, and we can all be excited together.

Tampa Bay IF Taylor Walls .500/.611/.500, 18 PA, 4 R, 1 SB, 4 BB, 3 K

The fly in the ointment, in the sense that if he’s playing well when Tampa needs a short-term helper from the farm, Walls would figure to be that man. They can let him play for a while and send him back down without breaking the planet the way a Wandervision up-and-down finale might.

Tampa Bay OF Josh Lowe .222/.222/.611, 18 PA, 2 HR, 0 BB, 7 K

Mostly here because dude hit a ball over the fence behind the berm in centerfield at Memphis on Saturday night. Harley Earl might’ve been there. If so, I wonder if he can confirm whether or not that ball has landed yet.

Seattle OF Jarred Kelenic .400/.455/.1.000, 11 PA, 5 R, 2 HR, 1 SB, 1 BB, 2 K

I can’t wait for him to get called up for so many reasons, the most compellingly selfish being we can stop seeing the jokes in our timelines. No offense to any of the jokes or jokers. Just, I’m tired. Shizz might be kicking in a bit tbh. Mostly I’m glad he can finally force the issue through dominance. Last year was tough that way. Might’ve invited a feeling of powerlessness for young players just looking for a chance to prove themselves. It’s not like fans were going to pile on and clamor for a guy they weren’t even seeing.

Seattle RHP Logan Gilbert 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 5 Ks

Not loud like Manoah but good enough to help him force the issue with a few more efficient turns.

Miami OF Jesus Sanchez .647/.667/.1294, 18 PA, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K

The thing about this particular dominant line is it proves very little we didn’t know already. It’s kind of silly in my opinion, but Sanchez would get more attention if his K-to-BB rate evened out than he will by mashing a home run every night.

Scratch that. If he hits one every night, that’ll do the trick.

He’s never struck out a lot along the way, until last year in just 29 plate appearances when he K’d 37.9 percent of the time. Pitch selection has always been the issue here. I think his ability to hit .647 with crazy power would demonstrate better pitch selection, but he can’t sustain that. I dunno. I want to be excited, but I’ve always been low on this guy because he swings at everything, and his early success does little to assuage that worry.

Toronto RHP Alek Manoah — 6 IP, 0 ER, 12 Ks

He’s ready.

 

AA

While the other three levels seem loaded, if any level was weakened by the current paradigm, it’s Double A. Probably a fluke of the context more than anything, but it’s interesting how barren the box scores look at a glance. I tune in to see specific arms or bats and have been watching much less AA than I would’ve expected.

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far.

San Francisco OF Heliot Ramos .462/.500/1.000, 14 PA, 2 HR, 5 R, 5 RBI, 5 K, 1 BB

Got autocorrected to Heliot Rakos on my phone. Not a word—why does auto spell pick so many words that don’t exist?—but it’s a fitting handle for a guy who’s burning up the level, raking up anything that gets leafed over the plate. Promotion to AAA is just a few sunsets away.

Miami RHP Jake Eder — 5 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 12 Ks

A 4th round pick out of Vanderbuilt last summer, Eder made the jump from SEC to AA baseball look easy. Target Marlins pitchers in dynasty leagues is the ongoing takeaway.

Cincinnati SS Jose Garcia .250/.368/.750, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 3 K

I think we see some effects of his time in the majors in that BB/K rate. Patience and pitch selection are what can take him to the next level, and he knows it. Pretty sharp buy low in dynasty leagues.

 

High A

Just an anecdotal observation from week one, but High A seems to be the new Double A, in the sense that many of the game’s elite young talents were assigned there.

Seattle OF Zach DeLoach — 19 PA, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 SB, 2 BB, 5 K

Batting leadoff in front of Julio Rodriguez. Kind of a wild ride from the SEC to the hyper-talented high A variant we have in 2021. He’s holding his own so far. I think Austin Martin is the only hitter who got a more aggressive promotion from the draft class.

New York NL SS Ronny Mauricio .429/.467/.929, 4 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K

The loudest stat in his line so far is probably the three errors at shortstop, but if you look past that, this is a wonderful start for a 20-year-old playing against older competition.

Pittsburgh SS Liover Peguero — .353/.421/.706, 19 PA, 6 R, 2 HR, 3 SB, 2 BB, 5 K

More a fighter than a Liover so far, Peguero hints at an exciting Pirate future like young Monkey D. Luffy in One Piece. And like Luffy, Peguero shows impressive flexibility and strength in the batter’s box, generating a smooth but powerful swing that looks big league ready already. New Captain Ben Cherington is turning this ship around.

Houston SS Freudis Nova .400/.500/.800, 12 PA, 1 HR, 1 SB, 2 BB, 3 K

Nova was a little below league average in A ball (95 wRC+), but he was 19 at the time. Now 21 and a little stronger in his 6’1” frame, Nova could go nuclear.

Baltimore LHP Drew Rom — 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks

Rom is on my list of my favorite low-hype arms in the low minors.

Baltimore OF Kyle Stowers — 18 PA, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, 4 BB, 5 K

A premium athlete with a well-rounded game, Stowers could move quickly if he’s making enough contact.

Arizona OF Leodany Perez — 4 SB, 5 AB, 2 BB, 1 K, .400/.571/.400

He’s 20 years old in High A; that alone would make him interesting. He stole four bases on Friday night.

Minnesota OF Matt Wallner — .400/.474/.1.000, 19 PA, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K

39th overall pick from 2019 draft hitting in a cold Midwest May when very few do. I should get a pretty good look at him this year. The Cedar Rapids Kernals are the closest club to me. My season tickets from last year (an outstanding Christmas gift from my Mother and Father in law) rolled over to 2021. Can’t wait!

Low A

Texas SS Luisangel Acuna — 375/.421/.750, 19 PA, 1 HR, 3 R, 7 RBI, 1 CS, 2 BB, 6 K

The scouting and dynasty communities appear to be split on the big Acuna’s little brother. His frame’s not ideal, and his swing looks a little different, but he gets the bat to and through the zone in position to cover a lot of the plate. Baseball America gave him a 55/45 hit/power breakdown with a 50 Extreme (risk score) in this year’s Prospect Handbook. Erik Longenhagen has him at 50/45 and 40 FV. Not real optimistic, to put it mildly. Dynasty leaguers value him as a top 100 type already with the chance for big hype down the line. I’m with the gamers on this one. Acuna’s going to have to prove he can’t hit high-spin stuff. Until then, I’m betting he can.

San Diego OF Robbert Hassell III — .316/.381/.842, 21 PA, 8 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB, 2 BB, 6 K

Kind of a wow for me. The big question on Bob Hassle, insofar as there were any, was his power potential. He’s altered his bat angle to reach for the seats, and so far the contact-for-power trade is working in his favor. Exciting stuff. Really rare talent to come out of high school with this kind of bat control.

San Francisco OF Luis Matos .235/.263/.235, 19 PA, 1 SB, 0 XBX

I’m not worried are you worried I’m not worried.

Seriously. I’m not worried. Went 3-for-5 with a walk on Friday. Was just eager to make an impact and pressing a little.

New York (AL) 2B Trevor Hauver — .800/.824/2.100, 17 PA, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K

So this guy owns the world now. Go see if he’s available in your league.

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. toolshed says:
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    Acuna’s bother is smaller and shorter so he probably gets overlooked or discounted. I saw video of the hr. He previously showed very good plate discipline. He is shorter and doesn’t weigh that much but what kind of ceiling are we talking about here? I like the genes. Is Altuve or albies a good compare? 20/20 with good obp and walks as much as he k’s has me interested if thats projection is applicable.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      His swing looks a little big to me right now, and he’s striking out more as a result, but it’s pretty easy to see he’s trying to make that contact-for-thump trade off, and I’m in favor of it at Low A. I hope he can even it out as necessary when the time comes, but so far so good. I think 15/15 is a little more realistic if he goes the hit tool route, but if he keeps hunting power, he could be a 25+ guys and maybe a bit less speed. Ronald had some similar options on the way up. He chose to swing with his whole ass and trust his hands, and just between you and me, I think that’s gonna work.

  2. toolshed says:
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    I also haven’t heard anything about hedbert perez. I guess he is in rookie ball. Have you heard anything? I was able to get him and matos in one leagueI during my draft this year. I know you said updated ranks will be coming out in may; I can’t wait. Thanks

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      The promotions and schedules will be weird this year.

      Hedbert does not have an assignment. I’ll try to find out what’s going on. Very odd to see him go from alt site looking good in 2020 to extended spring training in 2021.

      No big deal if he’s in extended. Jasson Dominguez is there too. But it’s not what I would’ve expected or wanted to see. Dominguez wasn’t at the site last year. Might be an injury or something minor here for Hedbert.

      • steve says:
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        They’re having internal discussions about what level to push Hedbert to

  3. thorbs says:
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    Deivi Garcia looks lost – is it because he was tweaking his delivery? He said something about overrotating or some change in his motion which led to his loss of control in spring, and it looks like nothing has changed?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I haven’t seen him this year, but it certainly hurts to see that 7 walks in 3.1 innings in AAA on May 6.

      I’ll put a note down to watch his next start. Or maybe double back for that one and include something in my next piece.

  4. Joe Shmoe says:
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    So now you are on the IL (Undisclosed).

    Feel better!

    Any thoughts on that evil Zack Lowther? Ruffi’ed me bad yesterday. Is he a long term hold or a dime a dozen?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Joe Shmoe!

      It’s not so bad. I mean sure my arm hurts and I’ve got a headache and my body temperature is all over the place, but I’m vaxxed!!

      Totally get why guys go on the IL for a few days after Vax Pt. 2. Seriously doubt I could play ball today.

      I’ve always thought he was more dime a dozen than something special. Have to be careful knocking command guys bc we never know when they’ll have a big velocity boost, but Lowther of the Hill People has not had one from what I can tell.

  5. Dr Sauce says:
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    Thoughts on Bobby Witt jr? Off to what looks like a relative slow start at AA, although I did see he stole a couple of bags!!
    I am in a 6 player keeper league. I am deep with keepers (Acuna, Betts, Bichette, Bellinger, Ohtani, Tucker, K. Marte, K. Hayes, Flaherty, Urias …). However, every year I draft a guy like Witt jr hoping you get that Juan Soto type lottery ticket. My challenge this year is that I am ravaged with injury (Belly, Hayes, Marte, Robert, Luzardo) and my bench spots are becoming limited. I think I can continue to make it work with Witt on my bench. However, I probably could move him to a team (near bottom of standings) for some help and much needed roster flexibility. For example, Witt and 3rd round pick in next years draft for potentially Scherzer or Kershaw?
    Vidal Brujan and Heliot Ramos are both available in my league. If I traded Witt, I could circle back to one or both of these prospects.
    Is it worth trading Witt for some flexibility knowing that I could roster Brujan and/or Ramos in his place?
    Sorry for the ramble, I always appreciate your work and insight. Cheers

    • LG Baseball says:
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      This is a great question and I have some of the exact same keepers. I personally think Bobby Witt is worth holding to see how things play out. From all reports he was great at the alt site and I wouldn’t sell because of a slow start at AA. The way the Royals have slowed down also could suggest if he performs well he could get the call up this year which would increase his value more. You have some great keepers and if anything would package some of your other guys (ie Hayes, Tucker, Ketel, Urias, Flaherty) for an even better keeper to upgrade your top 6.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I think the impact of adding Brujan for free and picking up an excellent pick next year in a shallow keeper league, along with the dominant outings of a Scherzer, mitigates the FOMO of missing out on Witt.

        Totally get the angle of holding onto the premium piece, but I have a hard time imagining he’ll return more than this deal offers to a contender.

    • Another Dan says:
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      Essentially you would be trading Witt for Scherzer and Brujan ?

      I’d take that. I’m not sure if Witt even makes the majors this year. If KC keep winning they might be tempted I guess. But most of the reviews think 2022 is the ETA.

      In contrast, Brujan might be that 2021 lottery ticket.

      My thoughts,

      Another Dan

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Well said, Another Dan.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah Witt’s stolen those bags and has a 4-game hitting streak going (all singles), so it’s not all bad news.

      I have seen some insane trades for him and suspect it’s a great time to look around. Someone got Brujan plus a near-elite win-now piece if I remember the Tweet correctly, and hot damn I’m here for that.

      I like the idea of him for an elite pitcher and a pick in a league like that where the draft would figure to be loaded at that third round spot. Plus it doesn’t cost you a roster spot and you’re still stashing future value. Plus pt 2, if the Royals keep fading, so will Witt’s timeline.

      Wow, yeah, I want Brujan everywhere I can get him. I’d make that move for sure.

      Oh and it didn’t read a ramble at all. Perhaps my brain works in ramble, too, but I thought it was a cogent, concise email including all the relevant info : )

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Cheers! Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. Lower The Jolly Roger says:
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    Itch! Dropped Priester for Manoah this am for my farm (we keep 10) … I hope you condone this action haha… I have:

    Vidal
    Heliot
    Valera
    Larnach
    Gunnar
    Downs
    Bleday
    G Jimenez
    W Diaz
    Manoah

    ** And I put Vaughn on my main roster because I trusted Tony Larussa over my own gut for some reason

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah I condone the arghhh out of that one. Manoah > Priester by a long, long ways for me. Walk the plank, Quinn.

      Larussa will make enemies of everyone on the planet by the time this is done.

  7. Jimmy says:
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    Hey Itch-
    With Lynch imploding last night do you think the Royals bring up Jackson Kowar? How do you think he does in the bigs?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hey, Jimmy,

      Well I think it’d be a little crazy to throw Lynch back out there for his third start, but I also don’t think they’d go straight to Kowar just bc it’d be devastating to see them both get smashed out of the league in quick succession. Kowar’s ready to battle, I think, probably moreso than Lynch was/is. I’m surprised they went with the less experienced lefty. His command has been awful.

  8. Jimmy says:
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    Hey Itch-
    One more question! Do you think we see Shane Baz this summer? The Rays are loaded!!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I think so. September if not before.

  9. Hamporter says:
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    Itch,

    With Brujan’s versatility and hot start with 4HR and 9RBI in 5 games and the struggles the Ray’s offense has had paired with the injury to Kiermaier, do you think this accelerates Brujan’s time line? In a 16 team mixed redraft league with 7 bench spots. I currently have Gilbert so with adding Brujan, I would lose 2 bench spots, but their is not much on the waiver wire.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Hamporter,

      And yes, I think we’ve got a perfect storm situation brewing on the Brujan front

  10. Another Dan says:
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    Hey Itch,

    Thanks for the review. I own some of those guys in my 12-team but in my 30-team they are already owned and very hard to get guys to trade top prospects away.

    Thoughts on Bryse Wilson please? I own him in my 30 team dynasty league. P scoring stats are QS, SV, HLDS, WHIP, FIP and K/BF. I am not sure how well he plays with those settings. I am competitive this year and am considering dealing him away.

    Best wishes,

    Another Dan

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hey, Another Dan,

      I’d deal him away if I could. Just doesn’t have enough oomph to overcome okay command.

  11. JB says:
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    Dynasty: 6×6 Roto
    10 minor lg slots

    L Matos for K Hiura….. kept in minor slot.

    Which side do you like more?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Matos

  12. junior56 says:
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    Hi Itch
    So is Taylor Walls glove good enough to move Wander off SS?

    Will his bat be good enough for fantasy purposes?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, junior56,

      Nah I don’t think anyone moves Wander.

      Walls could be functional when he’s hot (who isn’t I guess), but I don’t think he’ll get enough playing time to really matter for our game.

  13. chris pierce says:
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    with the injury to kiemeier yesterday opens the door to Brujan. He’s off to a hot start and TB needs help in that lineup. I think he gets the call this week.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah I think so.

      Dunno about this week but it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  14. Cheeto Whiz says:
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    PT could be an issue when Jazz returns, but is Isan Diaz starting to put it all together?

    Walks are up, strikeouts down, x stats are encouraging, and he’s hit a couple dingers. SSS caveats obviously apply.

    IF is rather full, but could he find playing time in the OF? It seems like if he’s hitting that this team can find the playing time.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      If he’s hitting, I agree they’ll keep him around

  15. Player X says:
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    Any chance Asa Lacy gets fast-tracked later this season is the Royals are still contending?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      He didn’t look great to me first time out, but that doesn’t mean much. Could definitely push his timeline w a dominant run.

  16. LG Baseball says:
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    Hi Itch,

    Great stuff! I have room for 2 of the below. Can you please rank highest upside/best stash? Positions don’t matter:

    McCalanahan
    J. Duran
    A. Reyes
    R. Grichuk

    Which two would you roster?

    Thanks Itch

    • LG Baseball says:
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      Please add Alek Minoah to the group above!

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
        (link)

        Thanks, LG Baseball!

        Reyes
        Grichuk
        Duran
        Manoah
        McClanahan

        Could push Manoah above Duran if you need pitching more than speed.

  17. The Sportsguy says:
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    Jo Adell? Open spot in Anaheim OF and off to good start in AAA…

    Any chance for a quick call up or are we waiting until late in the season?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      Certainly a chance. Team needs some Ws this year in a bad way. He’ll need to strikeout less than the 40 percent he has now. That’s probably the ultimate decider of when we’ll see him. I’d watch his game logs for consecutive clean sheets if hoping to guess along w Anaheim.

  18. Slimcompoop says:
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    Thanks Itch! Better stash for the rest-of-the-season in a keeper league…Gore or Manoah?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      Manoah not real close for me

      • Slimcompoop says:
        (link)

        Thank you!

  19. Al KOHOLIC says:
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    Great stuff. Waiting on Kelenic this year. Stashing Witt in na slot in another and waiting on Julio Rodriguez

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks!!

      Best of luck w that dynamite trio!

  20. Have Brujan stashed. Well done Itch, you have anticipated his rise and have always been in his corner, really exciting now that he is seemingly so close. Looking forward to his electric speed and abilities boosting my offense once he gets the call. Thanks Itch, now if Manoah gets a shot…

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      Thanks, Smitty!

      Always nice to feel seen : )

  21. Riggs says:
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    Any thoughts on Julio Rodriguez? Think he makes the jump to the big leagues this year?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      I think it won’t happen until September if at all.

      Generally I’d bet against it.

  22. luvdarooks says:
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    QS/ Netwins/ K / ERA / WHIP
    Logan Gilbert or Manoah for 2021 and 2022?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Manoah not real close for me

  23. Worm Burner says:
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    Hey The Itch,

    The write-ups are great!

    Have you heard any new updates on Kristian Robinson?

    Thanks man, happy mothers day!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
      (link)

      Thanks, Worm Burner!

      And happy Mother’s Day to you and all the moms in your life!

      Mum’s the word on K-Rob so far

  24. Oddball Herrera says:
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    Brujan out of the lineup today, Rays called up a pitcher for Keirmaeirs spot, clearly temporary. It’s happening!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Don’t see this anywhere

      • Oddball Herrera says:
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        It is speculative on my part still

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I had the same thought when I saw Durham’s lineup today.

  25. Mike says:
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    I’m currently stashing Wander, Kelenic and Sixto. Really don’t have room for another NA to take up space. Would you consider dropping Sixto for Manoah

  26. Jake says:
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    Orlando Arcia doing good in minors and 3 homers today. Are they working on some swing changes that have had good results or maybe just trying to get him to regain confidence??

Comments are closed.