The end of the world. No, I’m not talking about WWIII, the continued collapse of the US Dollar/economy, or the next predicted apocalypse conspiracy. I recently spent the weekend in Montauk, celebrating a dear friend’s wedding. Montauk is colloquially known by Long Island residents as the “End of the World” because it is the easternmost […]

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First things first: ever wonder why people say that? Of course, first things should be first, or else we’d call them second things. Can you imagine if I started this post, “first things second, let’s begin with thirds?” That wouldn’t make sense, and you’d probably disregard my introduction and move right on to one of Grey’s eloquently-written masterpieces. So, first things first: I am not The Itch. I am Hobbs: modern marvel of man and owner of over 500 antique bottlecaps. This brings us to second things second: these rankings, therefore, detail my own assessment of the top-10 prospects for 2022 fantasy baseball, and not Itch’s. Itch composes the official prospect rankings for Razzball and knocks it out of the park year after year. But here is how I see this year’s top-10 for both dynasty and re-draft purposes, with a heavy emphasis put on 2022 projections. You may be surprised as to how the first-few names came out this year.

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Who could be this year’s Chris Sale or Brandon Finnegan? Those two made their Major League debuts in the same year in which they were drafted: 2010 for Sale, 2014 for Finnegan. Sure, both of those players got their feet wet via abbreviated action in the Minors, but “feet wet” might be an overstatement. If anything, their spikes got a little damp, then dried off by the time they arrived in the realm of the AL Central. Sale made just 11 Minor League appearances for a grand total of 10 1/3 innings pitched, while Finnegan bested him with 13 appearances and 27 frames. 2020 draftees won’t have the same opportunity to prove themselves against MiLB talent, but they’ve also been gifted with the uniqueness of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which opens the door for all sorts of insanity and unprecedented strategies from MLB brass.

Therefore, we have to call it a wash. If all goes according to plan and we do indeed get a 60-game season, 2020 is going to be super weird. As a result of that, I’m not the first person to openly predict we will see a 2020 draftee appear in the Bigs this year and I certainly won’t be the last. My expectation is that we will see one-to-two recently drafted players appear in the MLB this season. Although I can’t say with certainty who exactly that will be, I can attempt to do so using the information that’s out there. That’s precisely what I’ll be breaking down in this post by providing you with a list of pitchers who have an outside chance to contribute actual fantasy value in your league this year, ranked from the most likely to the least likely.

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Historically, players who compete for the USA Collegiate National Team do quite well in the MLB Draft. Despite the uniqueness of the event in 2020, this rule held true on June 10 and 11, as 41 USA Baseball alumni were selected across the 160 picks included in the five round draft. Of the 26 players to make the 2019 USA CNT summer roster, 20 – you heard that right, 20 – were drafted in the abbreviated 2020 draft. Further emphasizing the importance of USA CNT participation was the fact that each of the top five picks – Spencer Torkelson, Heston Kjerstad, Max Meyer, Asa Lacy and Austin Martin – were included on that 26-man squad.

Even if you suck at math, you have likely already used the art of deduction to determine that only six players from that team went undrafted two weeks ago. Two of those players, Sam Houston State’s Colton Cowser and Mississippi’s Doug Nikhazy, were not even draft-eligible, as their draft year does not come until 2021. As a side note, Cowser is currently positioned as my No. 8 college player to target in the 2021 class. I have only ranked 12 players so far in the 2021 crop and although Nikhazy did not crack that list, he’ll fall within my top 20-25 when I begin to expand on those rankings.

That leaves us with just four 2019 USA CNT alumni that will now be reclassifying into the 2021 draft year: left-handed pitcher Andrew Abbott (Virginia), first baseman/outfielder Tanner Allen (Mississippi State), catcher Casey Opitz (Arkansas) and shortstop Luke Waddell (Georgia Tech). None of these four are expected to sign any kind of post-draft free-agent deal, unsurprisingly so, as all likely already turned down offers for more than $20,000 during the latter rounds of the 2020 draft.

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If you’re a hardcore baseball fan, you’ve probably already mulled through your fair share of 2020 MLB mock drafts. It seems like every website worth a damn posts one, yet no one really knows what to expect, and it only takes one curveball to throw the entire equation out of whack. Even so, I figured I’d give it a try for Razzball’s sake, if for no other reason than to give Grey some spicy motivation to tune in on Wednesday night. See, now it’s a mock draft.

There’s a lot of uncertainty with this draft. Nobody knows for sure just how college heavy teams are ultimately going to go with the unique situation created by COVID-19, and which teams will elect to play the strategic bonus tomfoolery game. It’s difficult to project just how these factors will play into each and every team’s respective strategy. We might see more teams than ever taking on the “best-available” approach.

But as it relates to fantasy baseball, Wednesday’s draft is relevant because it sets the stage for the ensuing trajectory of every drafted player’s stock as a prospect. Not only does draft position tend to influence how people value prospects in first-year player drafts, but who drafted said player can also go a long way in determining what their Minor League journey will look like and how confident we are as fantasy owners that they will develop successfully. That being said, here is my carefully-concocted mock draft of the first 29 picks this upcoming Wednesday. Mush! Onward into the unknown!

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THOME: Not just a big sexy retired baseball player now employed by MLB Network. Steve Paulo, and/or Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins the sausage fest to discuss his brainchild, Thomeprojections.com. Steve deGrasse Tyson explains what an IMPACT player is and breaks down how they can be utilized for fantasy baseball success. And he shares one young offensive catcher his projection system loves for this season and nobody is talking about. Paulo also attempts to dumb down the inner workings of his projection system so even Donkey Teeth can understand it.
If you’re interested in sports investing, team win totals, simulation baseball, or just listening to a really smart guy talk about really smart guy things, this is the fantasy sausage pod for you.

Speaking of projections, be sure to check out Rudy’s tool, I mean tools, here.
Want to take me on in the RCLs? Join now, free to play!
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Welcome back to baseball Cubs fan, or just fantasy readers who want to know about the Cubs. 2018 was a disappointment for many Cubs fans and fantasy owners of Cubs players alike, unless you happened to own Javier Baez. At least there is always the bleachers with a sausage and an Old Style.

While my outlook for 2019 may still be rosy (I expect the Cubbies to win the NL Central), there is an impending contract cliff that the North siders are going to have to maneuver, and the roster could look completely different in 2021 and 2022. Some of these guys the Cubs will try to re-sign, and other deals will be nice to get off the books, but the Cubs must make that decision on Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and several other less impactful guys.

I’m a bit hesitant on the Cubs for the future, but you’re here to figure out what to do this season. While 2018 may be viewed as a down season, the Cubs still finished 9th in runs scored and the pitching finished with the 3rd best ERA in the league. PECOTA is projecting doom and gloom with a last place finish in the division, but that seems like an overreaction to a team that is getting a healthy Kris Bryant and hopefully, a healthy Yu Darvish back this season. I may even take the over on the THOME projection of 88.5 wins with a 2nd place finish in the division, but maybe I’m just optimistic, after all, it is spring training time

(To hear more about the THOME projection system, check out my podcast, Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports on Razzball when we interview the creator, Steve Paulo).

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