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.

59 Comments
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Jake
Jake
1 year ago

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??

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

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

Oddball Herrera
Oddball Herrera
1 year ago

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

Grey
Admin
Reply to  Oddball Herrera
1 year ago

Don’t see this anywhere

Oddball Herrera
Oddball Herrera
Reply to  Grey
1 year ago

It is speculative on my part still

Worm Burner
Worm Burner
1 year ago

Hey The Itch,

The write-ups are great!

Have you heard any new updates on Kristian Robinson?

Thanks man, happy mothers day!

luvdarooks
1 year ago

QS/ Netwins/ K / ERA / WHIP
Logan Gilbert or Manoah for 2021 and 2022?

Riggs
1 year ago

Any thoughts on Julio Rodriguez? Think he makes the jump to the big leagues this year?

Smitty
1 year ago

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…

Al KOHOLIC
Al KOHOLIC
1 year ago

Great stuff. Waiting on Kelenic this year. Stashing Witt in na slot in another and waiting on Julio Rodriguez

Slimcompoop
Slimcompoop
1 year ago

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

Slimcompoop
Slimcompoop
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thank you!

The Sportsguy
The Sportsguy
1 year ago

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?

LG Baseball
LG Baseball
1 year ago

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
LG Baseball
Reply to  LG Baseball
1 year ago

Please add Alek Minoah to the group above!

Player X
Player X
1 year ago

Any chance Asa Lacy gets fast-tracked later this season is the Royals are still contending?

Cheeto Whiz
Cheeto Whiz
1 year ago

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.

chris pierce
chris pierce
1 year ago

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.

junior56
junior56
1 year ago

Hi Itch
So is Taylor Walls glove good enough to move Wander off SS?

Will his bat be good enough for fantasy purposes?

JB
JB
1 year ago

Dynasty: 6×6 Roto
10 minor lg slots

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

Which side do you like more?

Another Dan
Another Dan
1 year ago

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

Hamporter
Hamporter
1 year ago

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.

Jimmy
Jimmy
1 year ago

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

Jimmy
Jimmy
1 year ago

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?

Lower The Jolly Roger
Lower The Jolly Roger
1 year ago

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

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
1 year ago

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
LG Baseball
Reply to  Dr Sauce
1 year ago

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.

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  Dr Sauce
1 year ago

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

Joe Shmoe
Joe Shmoe
1 year ago

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?

thorbs
thorbs
1 year ago

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?

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

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

steve
steve
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

They’re having internal discussions about what level to push Hedbert to

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

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.