In fourth grade, I was forced to pick an instrument.
Kennedy Elementary’s gym was adorned with little practice hubs, and my music class went station to station to try the drums, trumpet, xylophone, etc.
I wanted to play the drums but wound up enrolled in the school band equipped with a used saxophone I was told was very expensive. $875, if I remember right, which still seems like a small fortune and a ridiculous investment for a ten-year-old who literally could not care less about playing a saxophone. I hadn’t even heard Coltrane yet. The only sounds I could create were the kinds of fork-on-a-plate screeches that made my ears bleed.
Years I ‘played’ this thing. Daily practiced times were enforced under threat of Nintendo removal. The first song I remember playing that sounded like an actual song to me was Pomp and Circumstance. I’d played Twinke Twinkle Little Star and Mary Had a Little Lamb, but those didn’t feel like songs to me. Certainly didn’t feel like an endpoint for the squeaky saliva-world I was drowning in day after day. (If you’ve ever played a woodwind, you know the slobber involved in getting the reed just right.)
But the first time I nailed that graduation song, the ring-walk song for Macho Man Randy Savage, I felt like a real musician, albeit a miniature, unskilled musician.
I’m sure Dylan Carlson has felt like a real ballplayer before, but today, he is blasting a flawless rendition of Pomp and Circumstance as he graduates the stash list alongside Spencer Howard, Lewin Diaz, Alec Bohm and Jorge Mateo.
NOTE: This ranking is focused on redraft impact of players who’ve yet to debut in 2020. It’s a snapshot of all the information I can synthesize as of publication day.
1. Tigers RHP Casey Mize remains on the list. Detroit keeps winning. Time keeps ticking. Apologies to your lost games played count if you’re holding Mize in a tight redraft league. I should’ve probably dropped him in the 12-team shallow Perts league the second he didn’t get called up to make that rumored but rained out Sunday start.
2. Dodgers SS Gavin Lux not only jumps the list this week but gets a position change, in these pages anyway. My good friend Donnie Hookslide is the biggest Corey Seager backer I know, and even he’s been saying Seager should be a 1B/DH for years. I’m not saying that will happen this week, but it might, and the natural fit to play shortstop is consensus stud prospect Gavin Lux. Also Chris Taylor and Kike Hernandez. It’s tough to be a young Dodger, but the Lux clock-manipulation game is winding to a close at the same time a major league need could be opening up. In related news, I saw a stash list today that had Andrew Vaughn and Jarred Kelenic ahead of Gavin Lux, which made me wonder if it’s a decent time to send a few trade offers to whoever has the luxury to move him.
3. Astros RHP Jose Urquidy probably hasn’t been dropped in your leagues because he’s carried an IL designation, but you might want to check just in case. Dusty’s been cagey about when your kitty can come home from the vet, but that’s just Dusty’s way. Dude’s even been suggesting Jose could be a reliever, to which I say no way.
5. Rays OF Randy Arozarena just rakes. It’s a blip on the timeline now, but perhaps you remember his sizzling Spring Training this year, when he looked all but certain to make a run at an everyday role.
6. Yankees RHP Clarke Schmidt is a hot property in dynasty leagues at the moment. I’d be selling some shares if strong offers came my way. I’d want to hold one if I could, but he’s got a history of arm troubles, and Yankees pitching prospects have a checkered history in general. Not many tougher places to learn how to hang against the world’s best hitters. That said, he’s got great stuff, and there’s no better place to bank a win if you can survive five innings.
7. Dodgers C Keibert Ruiz figures to get the call with Fresh Prince going on the IL. Ruiz is a tough out and could work his way into a timeshare quickly if the defense holds up. Short term, he’s kind of a flier in a two-catcher leagues, but I’m here for that in 2020.
8. Athletics RHP Daulton Jefferies is exactly the kind of pitcher who thrives early in his career thanks to plus command of a diverse arsenal. Frankie Montas missed his weekend turn with a balky back, and AJ Puk is just now getting back on the mound for 20-pitch sessions, so we might be opening Road House with Daulton any day now.
9. Atlanta OF Cristian Pache would be higher on this list if I trusted his hit tool because he could be coming up this week with Ronald Acuna going on the IL.
10. Atlanta has been circling LHP Tucker Davidson for weeks, in my opinion, choosing lesser options like Bryse Wilson, Huascar Ynoa and bullpen days. I find this a bit confusing for a talented team with a young core in a tight race, but it’s possible I’m overrating Davidson’s potential for sustained big league outings. Could be he lacks the command to turn a lineup over even once. Could be he’s not throwing great at the training site. Could be Atlanta’s just weird about pitching development and wants to run through their list of guys who probably won’t work (Robbie Erlin next, apparently) before they get to one who might.
11. With Marlins 1B Lewin Diaz replacing Corey Dickerson on the 28-man roster, we have to wonder if RHP Sixto Sanchez is coming up next. The return of Sandy Alcantara puts a key piece back in their rotation, but there’s always room for another arm in 2020.
14. Orioles 1B Ryan Mountcastle and I have something of a history. I keep insisting he won’t get promoted this year, and Baltimore keeps winning. He should be part of the big league club, I think, but so should RHP Michael Baumann. The braintrust of Elias and Sig saw the power of premium draft picks in Houston’s turnaround, and I think they fully intended to bank another one in 2021. How do they feel about Baltimore entering the playoff picture? This next week or so should be illuminating on that score.
16. Rays RHP Joe Ryan is a personal fave and spin savant who I think could succeed in the short, Beeksy bursts favored by Tampa. With Brendan McKay, Yonny Chirinos and Charlie Morton on the mend, he’s creeping closer.
17. Nationals 1B/OF Yadiel Hernandez is 32 years old. Seems like Nats are dropping like, well, flies? Hernandez could hit the ground running if given a chance. Dude can hit. Super deep flier. I’m picking him up in my 30-teamer tomorrow, assuming I’m not sabotaging myself as I type.
18. 2B Brendan Rodgers: a Rocky.
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