After being called up to start in a win-or-go-home playoff game to close 2020, Alex Kirilloff will open 2021 in the minor leagues. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. The minor leagues won’t exist. Kirilloff will be watching his Twins on Opening Day from the nether realm known as the alternate site, where some number of players will incubate for a month while actual baseball is played elsewhere, presumably. 

We in the fantasy baseball world thought Eddie Rosario’s winter departure meant Kirilloff would have a chance at everyday playing time come springtime.

Same old story. Same old song and dance, my friends.

Not really worth our lifeforce to go over it again, I guess.

Except that it’s probably always worth our time to document the unique and extreme ways hypercapitalism finds to exploit a workforce, and how baseball allows us some small glimpse into the soulless machinations powering our universe. It’s a battle we all face, and if we don’t find ways to name it, human capital will be forever ground down into society’s gears.

Kirilloff could be back in the big leagues after a couple weeks, and the world will keep spinning. 

One key takeaway here is Nick Cave. Sorry, Jake Cave. He can hit.

As can Brent Rooker, Kyle Garlick, Luis Arraez, and Willians Astudillo.

Say what? What’s Astudillo got to do–got to do with this?

Well, he’s no second-hand option, and he’s hitting the ball this spring in clearly the best shape of his life, although that’s a little like saying the rain feels less wet today. It’s still rain, and this is still Astudillo, and what the hell are you talking about? Wet is wet. 

On a per-pitch basis, Astudillo and Arraez are both extremely tough outs in a first-division lineup when they’re on their game, which could be a problem for Kirilloff if they look competent on defense. Rooker, Cave and Garlic all bring plus power, with Cave looking like the best combination of experience and competence on both sides of the ball. 

So maybe the key takeaway is that Kirlloff could be at alternate site and then in the minors until mid-season if these guys succeed in the opportunities they get. 

On a personal note, I am eagerly anticipating the day I can stop writing “alternate site” and “training site.” 

On another personal note, I’m starting to get scared that the Astudillo thing is happening this year. I don’t have a single share at the moment despite hoarding them in past years. By “thing” I mean a near everyday player with a plus hit tool and catcher eligibility. The Varsho appeal. Only this time it comes with an 80-hit tool, according to Fangraphs, which, okay, that’s a goofy grade that doesn’t make a ton of sense at the moment, but I think the much leaner version we’re seeing this spring has a chance to prove that prescient. 

 

Kirby Yates is probably out for the year, which opens the door for a guy everyone loves, RHP Jordan Romano. His breakout might’ve been just quiet enough in the short season to make him easy to acquire. Trouble is, Rafael Dolis was good, too, and he’s 33, and his price is controlled by that and other factors, whereas Romano would be in line for a big boost with a bunch of saves. Should be interested to track. I had a chance to add a few Romano shares last week but just didn’t move in time. Fun feeling today. So it goes. Nothing to do but keep playing the game. Make it happen faster next time: an evergreen lesson of fantasy baseball, especially dynasty baseball. With Tom Hatch also out for an indefinite period of time, Julian Merryweather and Joey Murray get a little arrow up. 

 

Faced with a number of shortstop options throughout the off-season, the Reds decided to punt. Once a popular strategy in navigating the need for steals or saves in rotisserie fantasy baseball leagues, punting is a rare decision for a major league team to attempt at the most crucial defensive position on the infield. 

Perhaps that’s an unfair characterization. The brain trust did add Kyle Farmer and Kyle Holder in a bold attempt to meld together some kind of Kyle-powered chimeric Voltron. 

Having seen the Kylemera in action, the Reds asked 3B Eugenio Suarez to slide over to short, where he once played half a decade ago. This opens third base for Mike Moustakas and second base for 2018 first-round pick Jonathan India, who arrived to camp a new man. India’s been heating it up this month, slugging around .700 or better this spring after struggling to consistently access his power in minor league games. Throw India’s ADP out the window if you want him. His min pick was 343 just a week ago; it’s 288 today, and I’ll guess he’ll settle in this week around that 250-300 range as a 2B/3B eligible rookie bat with plus plate skills in a cozy ballpark. 

Click here to read (or re-read!) Grey’s take.

RHP Roansy Contreras looking filthy in Pittsburgh. He topped out at 98.2 mph with just nine inches of drop on a four-seamer as he breezed through the ninth. He also threw a curveball with 60 inches of drop and an elite spin rate of 2924. Perhaps the Pirates have decided to just turn him loose in the bullpen. Would make a lot of sense given that they just lost Blake Cederlind to Tommy John Surgery. If management commits to Contreras in relief, he’s instantly near the top group of bullpen prospects. Yarr!! 

Click here to see Contreras throwing fire

Speaking of fire-throwers, Tarik Skubal has officially made the Tigers Opening Day roster. Huzzah! (Smashes glass.) He’ll have some bad days like any young arm, but he should also have plenty of runway in Detroit to pile up strikeouts as he hones his craft. I’m expecting a few dominant stretches by midseason. 

With Zac Gallen running on empty in Arizona, Corbin Martin, Riley Smith, Humberto Mejia, Matt Peacock and Taylor Widener could all get a look. Martin is easily the most interesting for our purposes at the moment, but he might be behind in the line for exactly that reason and maybe because he’s still on his way back from a 2019 Tommy John surgery. Whether it’s now because of the Gallen opportunity or later because he’s looking good in the minors, Corbin Martin figures to contribute big league innings in 2021. 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. Prawn Lord says:
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    Hey Itch! Thanks for the update!
    I have a post-hype prospect question. What do you think of Jo Adell? He was dropped in my dynasty league (very rare for a former top prospect to be dropped so soon) and I’m wondering whether he’s worth targeting in the draft. Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi, Prawn Lord,

      Definitely: Adell would be the first pick after Tork for me.

  2. RoarOf84 says:
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    I know you’re the prospect guy, so I’d like your opinion on this.

    Have my keeper league draft coming up and am looking for some opinions on strategy. This will be year six and I have two titles, plus a loss in the finals. Here’s the lowdown:

    – H2H categories, 6×6 (OPS and holds)
    – Current keepers are Acuna, Soto, Bellinger, Bregman, Flaherty, Mondesi, Alvarez, and Franco. – All players can be kept for as long as you want without penalty or salary considerations.
    – Due to some bad luck and injuries in the shortened season, I was able to flip my excess talent for early round draft capital. I have 8 (81, 82, 92, 93, 98, 107, 120, 125) of the first 45 picks in the draft.
    – Beginning in 2022, we’re expanding keepers by 150% (going from 8 to 12). This is where my strategy question comes into play. Because of this, I’m thinking about utilizing my first two picks to get “my” guys that I’d like to continue to build around, no matter their ADP and whether or not it would be a “reach”. If I didn’t have such a strong win now keeper base already established, I feel like BPA would be much more necessary to compete.

    Based on ADP, the top 10 pitchers available are Hader (55.4), Hendriks (63.2), Chapman (74.7), Ryu (78.1), Berrios (81.3), Hendricks (81.5), Wheeler (94.2), Diaz (94.3), Greinke (109.2), and Pressly (109.7).

    Based on ADP, the top 10 hitters available are Ketel Marte (63.0), Baez (71.1), Goldschmidt (73.0), Lowe (74.9), Rosario (76.5), McNeil (79.0), Teoscar Hernandez (85.6), Sal Perez (88.0), Gurriel Jr. (92.3), and Chapman (97.8).

    As you can see, the players being drafted “early” aren’t exactly exciting players to build around, particularly from a dynasty perspective. For the first two picks in the draft (81 and 82), I’m thinking about drafting Luzardo (121.2) and Hiura (103.9), who are both highly regarded dynasty pieces but are riskier in the short term, and then pivoting back to a safer SP that will provide IPs (Ryu, Berrios, Hendricks, Greinke) and, maybe, a veteran bat with my next set of picks (92 and 93). Thoughts? Opinions? If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

    Thanks for the help!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d love to get Ketel Marte, Josh Hader, Matt Chapman, Teoscar and or Gurriel.

      I’d try for Luzardo and Berrios as well.

  3. TK says:
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    Any thoughts on the news that Colton Welker might break camp with the Rockies? I mean, I know, Bud Black and rookies and all that. But, what’s your thoughts on the skill set or potential? It’s been a year or three since Welker was in regular discussion for what he could do. He was highly touted but early in his professional career and unknown, then he wasn’t very good for awhile, and so just isn’t talked about now.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Every Rockie getting regular run is relevant.

      Certainly worth a whirl on a plus hit prospect falling into an opportunity.

  4. toolshed says:
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    Joely rodrigquez has an ankle injury and should be back on 2 weeks after start of season. Do you think he will close? Hernandez is out for a little while longer or maybe even all year depending on how that injury heals up. They do have some other guys who I wouldn’t want to roster that are probably the duct tape solution initially.

    • toolshed says:
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      No official news on leclerc yet other than it is long term and doesn’t sound good

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I’m okay w holding Joely for a while but mostly I think this is kind of a situation to avoid if possible

  5. Jimmy says:
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    What about David Bedner in The Pirates bullpen? Do you think Shane Baz has any impact this year? Great stuff as usual! Thank you!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I like him.

      Baz too.

      Thanks, Jimmy!

      PS: Baz gets another bump if Nick Anderson is hurt, as he seems to be.

  6. Jimmy says:
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    Eli White or Jarren Durran? Thanks again…

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Duran

  7. TheRightScuff says:
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    For NL Only Roto 5×5 reserve draft… who has the best shot of helping in 2021 & making the 2022 opening day roster being worth ~$10 or more? Won’t do me any good if opens 2022 in minors otherwise I’d just get Abrams I think.

    C.J. Abrams
    J.J. Bleday
    Luis Campusano
    Heliot Ramos
    Daulton Varsho

    • The Harrow says:
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      probably varsho for this year, i’d guess campusano 2nd. i’d just keep abrams over any of them though

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Tough call here, probably Bleday for me

  8. Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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    see what yr take is here:

    16 teamer shallow yahoo rosters (2 utils though), h2h. 6 keepers at no cost these options (these keepers getting old after all my years in this league as no worse than 5th or something, 3rd last year): other than ozuna not sure if any of these is an easy yes anymore (probably lynn too).

    torenado, goldy, l.gurriel, ozuna, lynn, karinchak (generally here go 7-8 SP, 6-7 RP, QS/holds/OPS/total bases added), hayes, gallo, mountcastle, cronenworth, gausman, otani (hitter only).

  9. Moon Shots says:
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    As ive said before, its a great boon to my life being able to pick up my prospect analysis and my anticapitalist screeds in one place. Never before found a writer who could combine the two. You sir are a great great American hero, and i don’t use the words ‘great’ and ‘American’ very often in the same sentence these days (or any days). Keep it up.

    • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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      it’s all just “amurican” now. agreed though

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