I’ve been watching Pirates SS Oneil Cruz for a long time, but the sensory shock of seeing him run the bases stays fresh. As does the thump of seeing him square up a baseball. On big league broadcasts, we get more angles from better cameras than we see in minor league games. Some minor league broadcasts show mostly just the hitter/pitcher interaction, so I’d almost forgotten what Cruz looks like tagging from third base on a shallow flyball, or throwing a laser across the diamond from shortstop. I would say it’s probably too late to trade for him now, but I did manage to acquire him that way in two dynasty leagues this season, so perhaps it’s not impossible. I paid a lot, to be fair, but I’m happy with it.

In the 15-team Razznasty League, I moved Shane Bieber, Anthony Rendon and Gabriel Moreno for Cruz back on May 12. Bieber had just gotten touched up by Toronto, and I was worried about his diminished velocity. He’s since rebounded, but I’m happy with that. Always good if your trade partner has positive trade remnants from you on the roster. This deal might be an overpay, but I have a constant need to clear roster spots in that format, especially on the big league side. 

We’re not going to get four RBI every night from Cruz. He’s definitely going to struggle at some point, but the talent here is first-round fantasy gold type stuff. Prospect writers aren’t always great at differentiating between who’s a good prospect because he’ll be a major league regular and who’s a good prospect because he can help carry your fantasy teams. Even if they can see the difference, it’s complicated to articulate. Becoming a solid major league regular is an incredible outcome for any prospect, but guys like Cruz belong in a slightly different bucket. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This first published restructuring is always fussy to navigate. Even waiting longer than I wanted to didn’t even clear much space via prospect graduations. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Oh and here’s a link to Wednesday’s article, Prospect News: Dahian Santos is Coming to Town or Commencement Day, in which I discussed the graduates. 

We’ve got a new name atop the list and some fresh powder further on down the mountain.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Feels like we get big prospect headlines every weekend. Makes sense on the baseball calendar. Adley Rutschman, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore all got that call this week, and I got an invitation to reshuffle the stash list.

Graduated from Volume 2: Royce Lewis Rolls Into TownGeorge Kirby, Adley Rutschman, Alek Thomas, Vidal Brujan, Nolan Gorman, Ryan Pepiot 

If you cared to look back that far, you’d see two graduates in this list from the class of Volume 1, Oneil Cruz Control featured again here in Volume 3, but that’s just the nature of the nomenclature these days. Confusing times when the top guy on the stash list just got demoted after dominating for a couple weeks, but here we are, and away we go. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Prospect News: Rankings Redux: Eury and the Henderson

In a recent post, I found myself saying Milwaukee OF Jackson Chourio was on track to be a top 50 prospect by mid-season, which got me thinking, as I should be this time of year, about updating the top 100 list. 

I made a trade offer for Baltimore SS Gunnar Henderson this week in the 20-team Highlander Dynasty League. Was just Arizona DH Seth Beer straight up, but that league is weird, with a double utility spot. Deepest hitting set-up I’ve ever played, unless I ran that math wrong way back when I half-sprinted through it just to create some context. It’s a half-step or so deeper than the Razz30, and the full-week freeze of lineups adds another wrinkle I haven’t played with a whole lot in a superdeep dynasty format.  

Also went a little overboard in trying to secure Colorado SS Ezequiel Tovar this week. 

Anyway the natural first question for most readers at this point is who’s rising the fastest, like Chourio and Tovar. Or maybe that’s just the most enjoyable question because its opposite might be equally immediate to most fantasy players: who’s feeling that baseball gravity? 

I tend to avoid the second question, if I’m honest. Players lose mind-share of course but it happens kind of quietly in the back of my mind as I build a list. Herbert Perez, is a recent player I can recall who I never really soured on in any real way. The evidence at present just didn’t support some trust-based ranking. But I’ll try to be proactive on that front and chronicle it here as I work through the list. If it’s a little dry or boring in the end, I’m hoping you just fast-forward a bit because that’s way easier with reading than it is on, say, HBOMAX. 

So who’s rising as I start building a rankings reshuffle? 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

No hitters are funny, aren’t they? They’re baseball at its finest. Baseball thrives off of statistical anomalies. It’s why there’s so many Jayson Stark-types that spit at ya stuff like, “This is the first time a player has hit into a double play while his 1st base coach was in the 1st base coach’s box talking on a bluetooth to his mistress,” and other oddities. The no-hitter highlights the oddity. It takes great pitching to no-hit a team, but varying amounts of luck. Reid Detmers was on the leaning side of the scale for an extreme amount of luck. Well-struck balls right at fielders. Hit ’em where they ain’t the Rays ain’t did. It’s also incredibly funny that Detmers’s peripherals got worse from a no hitter, but you throw 9 IP, 0 ER, 1 walk and only two strikeouts, and that will happen. His ERA is now down to 3.77. A solid, unremarkable unhittable performance. One of baseball’s oddities. It’s another oddity that the highlight of a no-hitter was a home run by Anthony Rendon. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Motivational speaker, Manny Machado, entered the Padres’ clubhouse before yesterday’s contest and asked new head coach, Bob Melvin, if he could speak. His teammates’ rapt attention centered on Manny, and he spoke, “I won’t always run hard to first, 2nd, third or home. I will usually ask for a golf cart to take me out to 3rd base between innings. When it’s my time in the on-deck circle, I will ask the umps if I can put on water wings and slap around in a kiddie pool. When that clock strikes April 19th, I will check out until sometime in July. But I am telling you right now, you have every piece of me from this moment here, until roughly ten o’clock on April 18th, then again sometime in July. And I will take you where you need to go, so hop on!” And with that Wil Myers stood and began to clap at first. Then he elbowed Eric Hosmer (4-for-5, 1 run, 2 RBIs), who was dreaming of grounding out to 2nd base, and he stood and clapped too. And, before anyone knew it, the entire clubhouse was in a rousing ovation for their leader, Manny Machado — the best clubhouse guy a team could hope for. Then, as the ovation began to dissipate, Machado asked Luke Voit if he could drive the golf cart that would take him out to the field. So, yesterday, Manny Machado (5-for-6, 4 runs, 2 RBIs) hit his 1st homer, a 111 MPH shot into left field, and two steals for the magnificent slam and double legs. This was Machado’s 2nd career five-hit night. Five hits, 4 runs, 2 SBs with a homer in a game had only been done three times since 1987 — Andrew McCutchen, Carl Crawford and Tony Gwynn. Machado gets a bad rap; he does usually put up top 25 overall type numbers, as long as Voit continues to gas up the golf cart. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Since last we met, CJ Abrams made the club and started at shortstop in the second game of the season. He just missed a home run in one at bat, and he got caught stealing once, but the talent was clear. His playing time outlook might be a little foggy with Ha Seong Kim playing well this spring and carrying that over into the season, but you have to figure he’ll be in the lineup almost every day or he’d be in AAA. 

It’s not easy to anticipate who the most interesting prospects in baseball will be, but Abrams is undoubtedly one of them. What happens to him when Tatis comes back? The DH would figure to be blocked by Voit with Hosmer at first, so Tatis will have to play somewhere. Maybe Abrams will just kick out to left field (my guess), and his playing time won’t be impacted at all. Truth is it’s all down to how he plays. If he’s playing up to his potential, he’ll stay in the lineup no matter who’s walking through that door. 

Let’s take a quick lap around the league and check in with some rookies and prospects. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY THIS WEEK ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $10/MONTH.)

Today, I’m gonna be Mr. Monopoly! I don a top hat and tuxedo. Rolls giant foam dice, and…four! Sweet! Then I move along my office carpeting that is a giant Monopoly board. Ooh, pick a Chance card! Excellent! I put in my monocle so I can read, and the Chance card says, “Pick up a middle infield prospect.” Fun! I could grab Diego Castillo, Jeremy Pena, Bryson Stott, CJ Abrams, or Geraldo Perdomo. No problem for me deciding that! Who says variety is debilitating? *studies the stats for each player, a bead of sweat forms on my forehead, slowly that bead of sweat builds into a giant bucket of water and it crashes down on my face, waterboarding me* Help! Make it stop! I can’t decide who I want! So, let’s make like a gravedigger, and dig in.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

*digs nose into an open field of grass, lifts head, eyes filled with tears* This smells of my youth!

Passerby, “My dog just peed there, so probably because you used to wet yourself.”

Baseball is back.

“Hello, Genie, I have three wishes for this baseball season. My first wish: No one I roster get hurt. My 2nd wish: Everyone I roster do well. I drafted Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodriguez, and Seiya Suzuki, so, really, I’m doing much of the heavy lifting for this wish. My 3rd and final wish: All 3rd base coaches send runners home by doing the Moonwalk. Thanking you in advance, Genie. Wait a second, you’re not a genie, you’re Bartolo Colon in Blue Man Group paint. Damn you!”

Glad I didn’t waste a wish on losing a closer during some janky Chris Paddack trade, because that didn’t need a wish. Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan were moved to the Twins for Taylor Rogers, Brent Rooker and cash. This trade was done as it snowed all across the baseball community. *intern whispers in ear* It wasn’t snow? It was dandruff from all the head scratching? Oh, I see. This feels like a deal we hear about in five years when the authorities figure out the Twins were secretly working with the Padres. Incredibly, the Padres tried to give Paddack away to everyone, then the Twins paid full price. Like, what even? For a month, every team was supposedly trying to acquire Paddack, when, in reality, it was just the Padres trying to give Paddack away for anything. Chris Paddack was so highly sought after that the Padres pretended to trade him to every team. Statcast sliders aren’t good and neither is Chris Paddack. I suppose if he can fix his fastball, but, allow this small cackle of truth, why didn’t he fix his fastball while in San Diego? Didn’t feel like it? Um, okay. So, I wouldn’t suddenly be interested in Paddack, outside of AL-Only leagues. I’ll go over the Padres and Twins’ pens on the other side of the anyway. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?