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Please see our player page for Connor Norby to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

1. SS Jackson Holliday | 20 | AAA | 2024

While building out this list, I found myself wondering if Baltimore’s tanktastic strategy would work these days. The draft lottery changes the math a lot. If you take Adley Rutschman and Jackson Holiday away from the Orioles, not to mention some of the high-upside, overslot chances they took with their draft budget surplus over the years, they’re probably nowhere close to the ALDS, where their season ended in 2023. Yay for the draft lottery, is what I realized. I already felt that way, of course, and the Orioles would still be on the uptick with this front office even with a penny pinching nepo baby in the ownership suite, but it’s nice to think the wins-are-bad loophole that helped build the Astros, Cubs and Orioles title contenders has been closed even a little bit. Baltimore’s final big prize for super-quitting, Holliday traversed four levels in 2023, climbing all the way to Triple-A for a few weeks and posting a 109 wRC+ there with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts in 18 games. He’ll begin 2024 with a chance to claim the opening day shortstop job.

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Graduated from Prospect News: Stash List Volume 7: Baltimore Stacks Backups:

Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Colton Cowser, Dominic Canzone, Tyler Soderstrom.

 

1. Cardinals SS Masyn Winn | 21 | AAA 

If I’m the Cardinals, I want Winn to get acclimated to the majors before heading into 2024 because I want him to be my opening day shortstop. He’s been improving throughout the year and has been elite for a while now, slashing .328/.390/.533 with a 12.5 percent strikeout rate over his last 42 games. He has 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases in 87 games on the season and even leads the league in hits with 106.

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Orioles RHP Grayson Rodriguez was the number one name on this list, but he’s in the majors today with Kyle Bradish on the injured list. Rodriguez didn’t have much success this spring but still feels like a solid bet to hit the ground running. 

 

1. Mets 3B Brett Baty 

With some other guys on this list, we can build a semi-reasonable case for keeping them in the minors. Until he left Monday’s game with a sore thumb, this was not the case for Baty, who played well in spring and already has a two-homer game in Triple-A this year. Eduardo Escobar is a veteran making a lot of money. That’s the entire case against Baty. It’s so odd that they’d spend so much on the team and then lose runs and development time because of a sunk-cost fallacy. 

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Here’s a link to the Top 25. 

That top 25 blends in pretty well with what you’ll see elsewhere, and so this group, mostly, but from here forward, my lists tend to be tilted toward near-term fantasy functionality, for what it’s Wuertz. 

I value the grind of the climb. Each level brings new separators, so guys like Maikel Garcia and Joey Ortiz have shown more, in my opinion, than a guy like Jackson Merrill. Nothing against Merrill or anyone in the lower minors. They’ll have their day. I just don’t see much value in jumping headlong on to Tom Smykowksi’s Conclusions Mat when we’ve got so many great prospects on the cusp who’ve earned their keep. If I get three seasons of useful stats out of a player before a higher-ranked teeny-bopper even gets started, that matters to me. I suppose you could cut it up differently for a rebuilding project, but I wouldn’t change much.

26. Guardians RHP Tanner Bibee | 24 | AA | 2023

Bibee’s currently my favorite of Cleveland’s pitching prospects for dynasty purposes in terms of cost v. value. That’s probably changing as I type, but for now it’s still cheap enough to at least ask about Bibee in your leagues. He’s coming off 73.2 innings in Double-A with a 0.88 WHIP. He allowed just four home runs there and wound up with a 1.83 ERA. He’s good enough to the naked eye that I think he’ll make waves this spring. His 122.2 innings pitched last year sets him up perfectly to step in whenever the Guardians need help. At 6’2” 205 lb, Bibee can sit comfortably in the mid-90’s deep into games and has that Cleveland specialty skill of commanding his off-speed pitches. In case you can’t tell from the blurb, I want him everywhere I can get him. You could more or less say that for every Cleveland pitcher, which I try to remind myself any time I’m making moves or building lists.

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Selling Trey Mancini to Houston during the club’s one competitive season in years might have karmically doomed the franchise, but if Baltimore can avoid the hex, they should be in for a steady run of good rosters. This list will only scratch the surface on how much talent this team has accrued through aggressively tanking then gaming the draft-pool system and slow-playing every prospect so they’d all be on the cusp at the same time. 

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Dynasty drafts come in several shapes and sizes. Some leagues break the player groups into veterans and prospects. Some leagues let you draft 34-year-old relievers right alongside 16-year-old little brothers. I don’t really have a favorite way to cut it up. I just love the game. Though I will say the Razz 30 has something special going on with a prospects-only draft and a vets-only auction that becomes, at its core, a bums-only auction. It’s about two weeks of slow-bidding Steven Brault up to $21, and it’s a treat like few others in the fantasy realm. Jose Martinez once sold for $96. Michael Pineda went for $62. Zach Davies for $36. Two of those are purchases of mine! The fun never ends! Well, except when you ask MLB owners if they’d rather make money or take all the different balls and go home.

Anywho, I’ve broken this year’s First-Year-Player Draft rankings down into tiers and included some snippets about where my head would be during those spots on the draft board.

You can find most of these guys in the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Prospects, Minor League Preview Index

If not, feel free to drop a question in the comments so we can talk some baseball, pass the time.

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Omaha! Omaha! Either Peyton Manning just put together a quick game of pick-up flag football in my backyard, or the College World Series is officially underway in Nebraska. *editor buzzes into my earpiece* Manning is in fact in Canton learning how to properly construct a Super Bowl trophy out of a Wheaties box for the next incredibly average Peyton’s Places segment, so it must be the latter — which is good for him, because my backyard is currently infested with slime mold and being treated for turf diseases, so that simply wouldn’t be advised for the local neighborhood youths. But alas, the CWS is here, and we have the luxury of scouting an excess of 2021 MLB Draft talent from June 19-30. Six players in my top 30 were able to advance to college baseball’s ultimate event, but countless others such as Arizona’s Ryan Holgate, Vanderbilt’s Isaiah Thomas and NC State’s Luca Tresh made the Omaha cut as well. This not only means that these rankings are fluid and will undoubtedly change prior to the July 11-13 draft, but also that I recommend taking the below intel and doing some of your own personal scouting over the course of the next week-plus. So, who has made the cut as we inch closer to the release of the complete college top 100? Check it out below, as there are a handful of new names previously excluded from the preseason list that utilized excellent 2021 campaigns to springboard their stock — such as Washington State’s Kyle Manzardo and Florida State’s Matheu Nelson. Where they’ll ultimately fall in the draft, nobody knows! For that reason, I like to refer to such players as this year’s “unsupervised children flying off trampolines at the annual Memorial Day reunion.” There’s always bound to be one or two.

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