One of my favorite traditions as a young fan was Peter Gammons profiling each team’s spring training focus points. 

I loved the spittle and shake of his voice, the depth of his details, and especially how he always shot the segments in front of people playing catch, gloves popping symphonically as we dreamed of a Royals club captained by Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye. 

It’s in that spirit that I begin our next prospect series—one that works in concert with Razzball’s Gammonsian team previews and one that involves a few nods to some non-prospects. Graduating from eligibility requirements doesn’t mean you’re a known quantity, nor that you’ve graduated to an everyday opportunity. Yesterday’s failed prospects are often tomorrow’s sleepers, so let’s take a lap around the division looking for some fantasy profit. 

 

Chicago White Sox

Excitement abounds on the South Side. We’re all here to see one guy. Same question on everyone’s lips. Can Leury Garcia hang on to an everyday gig?

Maybe . . . is the only accurate reply at this point.

End of article.

Only kidding. Razzball is the official site of Luis Robert. Wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to suggest you draft a rookie who can make a run at 30-30. 

Nick Madrigal isn’t on any of my rosters, and I’m not sad about it. 

Nomar Mazara has underwhelmed thus far, but he was counted on to be a middle-order piece in a weak lineup as a very young player. Now surrounded by accomplished veterans and sparkly young studs, he’s a narrative-street sleeper for me. Nobody will notice when he has a bad day, and he could build confidence quickly in a happy clubhouse, assuming the Sox are winning more than losing in 2020. 

On the bump, Dylan Cease might be this winter’s sleepiest baseballer–a sleeper so sleepy he’s in danger of being too awake for anyone to feel fun taking him. But the price is still fine, unless his ADP is one of those illusory fake-out numbers if doing an actual draft today, which it almost definitely is. I’m not really that hot on him, to be honest. 

Closer spot’s interesting here. Alex Colome is currently the name in bright lights, but Zack Burdi is bringing the cheese and the Twitter eyes, Kelvin Herrera is coming back healthy, and Aaron Bummer needs to stop harshing my buzz, man. 

I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention Yermin Mercedes, for whose services I was outbid in the Razz 30. A catcher by trade, he was seemingly blocked by the Yasmani Grandal signing, a truly dark day in my household, but he could still mash his way up via DH or some Tortuga-esque, anti-utility path. 

 

Cleveland

For a team that still thinks Columbus landed in Ghandi’s backyard, Cleveland seems smart about baseball. Typically a good place to strike oil, and I’m really digging Scott Moss these days, along with pretty much every other pitcher in Ohio. Moss came over from the other Ohio team in the war Puig trade of 2019, and I know he’s not a sexy prospect name, but the lefty can flat out dominate. He allowed eight home runs in 130.2 innings across AA and AAA, striking out 159 hitters and finishing with a 2.96 ERA, decreasing his walk rate as the season progressed. I am rostering him in my 30 and 20 team dynasties and am ready to move quickly to add him.

Not-Justin Shane Bieber feels like the safest arm in the dynasty game. Maybe redraft, too. Command limits pitch counts, reduces stress of long innings, and generally makes dudes v good.

I’m buying Franmil Reyes and Carlos Santana wherever I can get them at a decent price. Totally open to a build structured around snagging Santana at 1B, where I think his offensive boom is connected to finally finding a defensive home that allows him to relax a little on that side.

Oscar Mercado’s wrist injury might open a window for Delinosaur Jr. and get us an early look at Daniel Johnson if it’s serious enough.

 

Detroit Tigers

First thing’s first, your window to acquire ace-in-waiting Tarik Skubal is about to slam shut if it hasn’t already. I’ll wait while you send out an offer or two. 

I’m less bullish on Mize and Manning compared to cost, but they’re going to be owned in every league at some point in 2020, even ten-team redrafts. 

Isaac Paredes isn’t a stash just yet, but he’s worth tracking. Probably linked to how long the front office wants to see Jeimer Candelario at third. 

Joe Jimenez hasn’t been good but he has been healthy, and Detroit is alarmingly barren of back-end possibilities. If he can hold the job through the arrival of the young arms, he’ll be the kind of don’t-pay-for-saves bargain people use to make that case next auction season.

Travis Demeritte could hit 20 bombs and steal 5-10 bags this year. Maybe more. 

I’m buying the Miggyssaince, for what it’s worth.

 

Kansas City Royals

Time to step up, Kings. Go out on your own like Prince Harry and Queen Meghan.

Although what’s the allowance situation?

New ownership in town, is what I’m saying. A longtime Royals fan, at that.

So check out big signing Maikel Franco

Kidding not kidding. I’m genuinely curious. Got horsed around a lot in Philly. Who doesn’t, am I right? Hastag Kapler haplers. Spring nugget: have heard some about extra off-season work with the guy who helped Soler find himself. Supercheap lottery ticket. 

Adalberto Mondesi feels cheap to me, too. Yeah, maybe he’s hurt early in the season, and maybe you don’t want him in an OBP league, but he’s the best base-stealer in baseball, and he’s got another gear in the power department once he gets healthy and puts in a full season. I’ve built a few draft plans around getting him in the thirties, so intrigued am I by the cost. 

The bullpen is poised to produce someone of value aside from Ian Kennedy. Just have to wait for it. My guess is Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont, or Tyler Zuber. They added Greg Holland and Trevor Rosenthal on flier deals this winter, but I imagine any trade of Kennedy would be accompanied by a trade of whatever veteran they could move.

We’re waiting on starters, too. Until we see Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Brady Singer, Jonathan Bowlan and Carlos Hernandez, we’re moving on past this area. 

 

Minnesota Twins

Might be the best offense in baseball. 

Seems like cheating to get two of every player.

Friggin twins.

Least they’re not bangin on cans.

I’m buying all the bats at cost except Kepler. And Rosario in OBP.

Luis Arraez is my spirit animal. 

That’s a lie. My daughter would be my spirit animal, I think, in the sense that a creature could metaphysically and/or metaphorically represent the truest nature of my existence.

Or maybe my cat. I don’t make the rules.

If not them, it’s a Twin. Byron Buxton might be the best value of the season. Sano could hit 50 homers, and I think he will. Arraez could lead the league in hitting, and I think he will. Big wows all around. 

I’m currently rostering two Twins pitchers: Cody Stashak in a 30-team S+H league and Jake Odorizzi in a 15-team dynasty where I was scrambling for pennant-race arms last year.

I like Homer Bailey and Michael Pineda fine though. 

And in general pitching coach Wes Johnson and company add value to the guys who cross their path, so I think this will be a low-cost profit center for the foreseeable future. 

 

Thanks for reading! Hope you’re having a fun spring!

You can follow me @theprospectitch if that’s the kinda thing you might be interested in.

 
  1. Thorbs says:
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    Nice writeup! Do you share Grey’s optimism for Odorizzi?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Thorbs!

      I do like him in part bc Minnesota is very good about protecting his ratios. When it starts to look bad, they bring in a good reliever ASAP, and that makes a huge difference across time.

      • Mantis Toboggan MD says:
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        wow, they sure don’t do that with gibson though eh

  2. Darryl says:
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    H2H 12 team Dynasty keep forever. Hitting categories are RBI HR SB AVG RUN BB K OPS HIT TB

    I received an offer where I trade Tatis for Bryant, Jeter Downs and Noelvi Marte plus some high-end picks in the FYPD

    I have no reason to trade Tatis and yet I can’t help but think about this offer–in this format, Bryant is extra valuable because of the BBs, and Downs/Marte would give my prospect keepers a big boost. However, Tatis’ upside is super high and I’m wondering if I’m getting enough for him. Reasonable offer, ask for more (other team has Kelenic) or stand pat?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      That’s a strong opening offer, but I think you can swap out a pick for Kelenic.

      I wouldn’t do it unless those picks are Abrams and Dominguez, but I could see a lot of regret coming at me down the line as Marte and Downs keep climbing.

      But I’d still have Tatis, which would keep me plenty warm at night, so to speak, and I’d have those roster spots to go looking for the next Downs and Marte.

  3. packers2018 says:
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    I like these posts Itch. Just like reading a newspaper in years past. Still can’t smell the ink though.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, packers2018!!

      I’m working a snozzberry scratch app to bring the print/ink magic back into out fingers and nose hairs : )

  4. Jeremy says:
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    Hi, I have a question about trading Tatis in a dynasty league.

    H2H 12 team Dynasty keep forever. Hitting categories are RBI HR SB AVG RUN BB K OPS HIT TB

    I received an offer where I trade Tatis for Bryant, Jeter Downs and Noelvi Marte plus some high-end picks in the FYPD

    I have no reason to trade Tatis and yet I can’t help but think about this offer–in this format Bryant is extra valuable because of the BBs, and Downs/Marte would give my prospect keepers a big boost. However, Tatis’ upside is super high and I’m wondering if I’m getting enough for him. Reasonable offer, ask for more or stand pat?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Hi Jeremy!

      I’d hold Tatis unless I’d be getting back Abrams and Dominguez in the draft.

  5. Mike L says:
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    What is your honest feel about Lux vs Arraez vs Biggio at 2b this year? Do any of them stand out?
    Also, where do you really think Buxton should be going? In most mocks he goes around 130-170 but I feel like it could almost be higher with his ceiling.
    Btw, Correa getting 0 respect in fantasy drafts. Maybe people know something I don’t but anything over 110 or 120 is just silly.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Good call on Buxton, Mike! Outstanding value this year, especially given the skills growth he showed in 2019.

      I love Arraez and have tried to get him in every league. 2B is pretty deep in the middle in mixed in part bc all these guys are solid gets, Biggio to a much lesser extent imo.

      Correa has crazy rate stats but will be battling back issues his whole life, it seems. Needs to fire up hours before everyone else just to get through his daily exercises. Won’t be surprised if he returns big value this year, but he’s hurt by the depth at SS . . . along w the Houston stuff. Seems a good buy for the risk-friendly investors.

  6. Joe Shmoe says:
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    Hi there,
    I really like your columns!

    Do you have a pecking order for the Oakland 2nd base job?
    Thanks

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Joe!

      I’d guess it’s Barreto, Pinder, Mateo, Neuse, and maybe Manchin if they don’t return him to the Cubs.

  7. Who will be the better choice using these stats :
    Net wins – Quality starts – WHIP – ERA – K’s

    Can you give me your up to date stat predictions and Have your numbers changed based on Luzardo’s spring debut?

    C Paddack OR J Luzardo?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I’ll take Luzardo at this point.

  8. Tweak says:
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    I am completely with you on the counter-draft style that ends up with a guy like Santana at 1B. I had #9 in a draft the other day, was away for a second (kids) and ended up auto-drafting Cole. I ended up with:

    C – Omar Narvaez
    1B – C Santana
    2B – O Albies
    3B – M Machado
    SS – F Tatis Jr
    OF – K Marte
    OF – O Mercado
    OF – JD Davis

    BN – A Rosario
    BN – L Gurriel Jr
    BN – Y Gurriel
    BN – S Akiyama
    BN – S Hilliard

    SP – G Cole
    SP – T Bauer
    SP – Z Wheeler
    SP – R Ray
    SP – K Maeda
    SP – F Peralta
    SP – R Yarbrough

    RP – J Hader
    RP – A Chapman
    RP – B Hand

    OF could use some work, but if Rosario ends up playing there a lot, I think I will be okay. Can probably swing a SP trade for a stout OF with that rotation.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Looks like a great build to me, Tweak!

      Wanna have like 900 cups of coffee and discuss all the Santana permutations : )

  9. 183414 says:
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    Mercado has a sprained wrist. Go ahead and draft DeShields, and try figuring out when he’ll play.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah I’m a fan of Dinosaur Jr.; Delinosaur not so much, but I do think he’s going to play a for a stretch at some point this year and be a viable mixed league SB option when he’s in there.

      Didn’t have clarity on Mercado at the time of post.

  10. Jonathan says:
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    Great read!

    In a seasonal league, 16 teams, 5×5, which side?
    Side A:
    Jonathan Villar
    José Abreu
    Ryan Yarbrough
    Sandy Alcantara
    Yonny Chirinos

    Side B:
    Danny Santana
    Khris Davis
    Blake Snell
    A.J. Puk
    Mike Soroka

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Jonathan!!!

      Man that’s a close trade!

      I like the Villar/Abreu side because those arms have upside, and the floor of the bats is tasty, but on decision day it would come down to build to some extent. The Snell and Puk injuries are enough to move the needle for me in a general sense.

  11. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    12 team auction dynasty. max keepers predraft are 18 and max predraft budget is 75% of in auction budget, here those are 269/359. QS/K/9/OPS/total bases added 7×7.
    for sure keepers:
    C
    1B freeman (47)
    2B
    3B rendon (26)
    LF stanton (35)
    CF robles (10)
    RF
    util (2) moncada (stupid only 3B now, 30)
    SP (want 8 or so eventually): paddack (10)
    kendricks (10)
    nola (22)
    morton (5)
    RP (max 5 slots, saves only here): chapman (10), yates (13), hendriks (10)
    prospects (in season 10 NA slots):
    w.franco (10)
    kopech (1)
    kelenic (10)

    so that’s 15 and 209 out of the max 269.
    keep which 3 more of these:
    hampson (13)
    kingery (10)
    k.davis (25, can’t be him i’d think, DH only too)
    ed rod (10)
    lynn (10)
    lucchesi (6)
    a.reyes (10)
    leclerc (10, but i got 3 closers already)
    prospects: puk (10), brujan (10), kieboom (10, him or kingery could cover my 2B/SS spots), larnach (10)
    it’s probably kieboom/brujan and somebody else (kingery maybe).

    i could also max bid 30 on any of these (albeit they might get matched, but the keeper decisions are made after the bids are matched or not):
    clevinger, gallo, jd martinez, avisail, pham, benintendi, ozuna, merrifield
    i would not have tiebreaker on if somebody else max bid these, one person already did with jd mart just now, even i jumped through the hoop of him not being matched

    the rookies above are on year 0, their 3 year cycle doesn’t kick in till they go over the 130/50.

    • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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      h2h league here.

      • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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        also could keep stanton at 35, but i’m guessing i can get him back far cheaper now.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Yeah I’d toss Stanton back and keep Brujan off the top. Kingery, too.

          What do closers pull at auction in general?

          Does Leclerc have trade/surplus value? The H2H aspect along with K9 makes him intriguing even as a fourth closer as he’ll help in ERA, WHIP, SV, K9, K and even W some weeks. Great closers seem like functionally 5.5 category players here. I’m not sure Jose is that, but he has been dominant for stretches in the past.

          If not him I might take a safe arm like a Lynn for the QS and K9.

          Puk would be a long-term play, but he could be a great fit for the settings.

          If not them I’d be looking for a piece I could trade. Do you have time/opportunity to ask around the league a little?

          Maybe somebody would move something you really like for a keeper or two that you don’t?

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