Please see our player page for Daniel Espino 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.

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.

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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? 

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Over the past few seasons, I’ve grown confident in my ability to play the timeline game along with major league front offices. This year feels different. We’re beyond what’s typically the first Super Two threshold, and I’m ready to spin the wheel, but I’m uncertain about the rules. 

Will teams slam the brakes if they didn’t promote a guy on opening day, knowing they’ll be “punished” if that player earns rookie of the year votes? 

Survey says . . . probably, if past behavior is the best predictor of future choices. 

By the way, before we go further, I should say I hope and pray some of the baseball writers know the rules enough to push good rookies up their ballots. I don’t really care about who finishes in the top five in these awards, and I think the same goes for most fans, but I want to see the players get a W at the negotiating table for the long-term health of the game, particularly where young players are concerned.

So who’s potentially stuck in this no-win position created by the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement? Let’s check the list.

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I hate to be rude, so I won’t be Brash in the truest sense, but Seattle pitcher Matt Brash will make this list, so Brash this list will be. 

The individual predictions, however, are a step below that. I can’t exactly call them reasonable predictions for 2022, but I do think these are all within the realm of reason, and I think those kinds of predictions tend to be a little more sticky and useful than the boldest ones.

I hope you’ll join me in the speculatory fun. What are your most reasonably brash predictions for the coming season? Which of these seems most bold to you? (Thanks for reading! I’ll tally everything in this piece up for an article next season, so if you want to get something on the record to amplify your human memory, here is a place to do it.) 

Now into the future we go! 

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When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.

It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality.

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.

Let’s bring this thing home!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I kept getting lost in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.

It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that George Kirby is definitively a better prospect than Nick Lodolo if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality. 

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

Here’s a link to the Top 25 before we roll on down the mountain. 

Drumroll please and away we go!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

To win most dynasty leagues, especially ones that have been around for a few years, you need elite pitching. In my experience, farming prospects is not the most efficient way to accrue elite pitchers. It can work in fits and starts, but you’ll probably need to supplement your staff via the trade market, swapping sizzling young bats for established WHIP suppressors. This winter I saw Elly De La Cruz and Andy Pages traded for Tarik Skubal, and that’s a fun version of this kind of trade: huge upside all around, good chance both teams are happy with it in two years. In my spot on the win curve, I prefer Skubal, but I see the rationale for getting two topside hitters, who you could argue should be swapped instead for an older arm with a better WHIP history. Gotta throw them bones sometimes to win it all. No such thing as a risk-free trade. 

A third way is to never pay for pitching. I’ve yet to put it into function, but I’d like to try it someday. I’ve developed a skill (or perceived skill, anyway, good fight confidence in the words of Shea Serrano) for scooping the Quantrills and Gausmans of the world at the right moment. I also like looking for the Luis Garcia types. This year’s candidates include Cody Morris, Jayden Murray, Jacob Lopez, and Matt Canterino, among others, and I’m holding last year’s versions like Peyton Battenfield and Joe Ryan. I think maybe this is the way, especially in deep leagues where it’s exceptionally hard to build a well-rounded offense, but I’d be nervous to try it in full. Probably I’d break down and start looking for veteran arms on the cheap. Adam Wainwright has been ridiculous the past two seasons, for example, though you could mark him as yet another reason to never really pony up for the big arm when a team in your league decides to shop Gerrit Gole or Max Scherzer. 

It’s hard for me to ignore that kind of moment. Feels like dynasty leagues are often decided in tiny windows when someone decides to make a big sell-off. Typically worth your hustle to get an offer in, even if just to provide some kind of competition in the pricing. This is in an ideal world where you have any idea such a sell-off is happening. In my experience, it’s often kept secret until suddenly Trea Turner has been dealt for Blake Snell a half hour after the midnight trade deadline. Circling back the original thought, it might be better to just let it go. Over the past few years in a 15-teamer, I have traded for Justin Verlander, Chris Sale, Shane Bieber, Chris Bassitt, Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, all shortly before their injury or, in Darvish’s and Snell’s case, their dip in production. The Buy High-Priced-Pitching strategy has not been kind to me. The toll of talent lost is incredible: Vlad Junior, Bo Bichette, Ozzie Albies, Julio Urias, Will Smith the Dodger and Byron Buxton (who also brought back Lance Lynn). Brutal. I still won the league in 2021, but that was due to Quantrill, Ranger Suarez, Walker Buehler, Lance McCullers, and some clutch relief help from Kendall Graveman, Paul Sewald, Dylan Floro, Joe Barlow and Jake McGee. I only lay all this out to explain why I’m more in the pan-for-pitching camp than the pay-for-pitching one, so let’s grab our gear and start sifting through the waters. 

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Youth is power among the low-payroll clubs, and no team exemplifies that more than Cleveland, who has been mostly successful in terms of wins and losses despite constantly feeling the creep of (air quotes) market forces. After an eventful 40-man roster deadline day that saw the club turn over 20+ percent of its personnel, Cleveland is on the verge of something new in more ways than one (cue the Starlord memes). This system is loaded, is what I’m saying, and though they’ve faced a recent downturn in on-field talent, that should be short-lived, especially on the pitching side.    

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For this system, the script gets a bit flipped. First, no pitching stone should go unturned in Cleveland. Whereas we’re typically ignoring teenage arms in our quest to stock dynasty systems with power-speed bats, we want all the arms we can hoard in Cleveland. I’m trying to think of another system that operates similarly for our purposes. In Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, we want the arms, too, but we want all the bats just as badly. Plus, those clubs bounce their pitching prospects around between the rotation and bullpen and minors even after they’ve demonstrated they can retire major league bats in order. Cleveland might be the last place you can count on a young pitcher to get a shot at six innings every time out. Take Aaron Civale for example. A third round pick in 2016 and not an elite prospect by any means, Civale lasted six innings or more in 11 or 12 starts in 2020, falling short in only his final turn, a four-inning, eight-run blowup that devastated his season-long statline and dropped him down some draft boards. It’s beautiful to get the sparkling ratios that come alone with the quick analytic hook, but we need Wins in our game, and despite their typically anemic offense, Cleveland is one of the few places to find double digit winners throughout the rotation. 

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First-Year Player Draft Rankings for 2020 Fantasy Baseball

In dynasty baseball, the June draft is must-watch television and the July 2 international signing day is fodder for a million clicks. 

Months later, typically in February or March, dynasty leaguers select their favorite college, high school and international players in annual first-year player drafts. I have attempted to consider and rank this year’s player pool for your reading pleasure. 

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Once upon a time, Cleveland had too many catchers.

The fantasy baseball community knew just what to do in this scenario: throw a killer New Years party, trade Yan Gomes, start Francisco Mejia, and bench Roberto Perez. 

Cleveland scanned this obvious play and disregarded it, attempting instead some inverse combination of the above by staying home to watch a movie, trading Mejia for Brad Hand and starting Gomes, who played well and endeared himself to a fan base that was frustrated to see Mejia go. 

That off-season—last winter—fans were livid to see the club swap Gomes for Jefry Rodríguez, Daniel Johnson and Andruw Monasterio. Yanny G was set to cost about $7 million, and the inferior Roberto Perez was under contract for about two million. Nasty things were said. Baseball Universe decided Cleveland was cheap and dumb for how it handled the catching surplus. 

One year later, Roberto Perez is a solid OBP source with excellent defense and plus power for the position, while Yan Gomes is a $7 million backup in Washington. 

So my thinking in regard to this Kluber trade or any Cleveland move: que sera sera. 

The Yandy Diaz trade for Jake Bauers did not go as well, but in general, Baseball Universe loved that one, and this team knows what it’s doing. I’m sure it’s depressing to lose the Klubot and Bauer in a matter of months, but if anyone can develop the pitching to make fans forget, it’s Cleveland. Maybe it’s not the perfect trade, but Emmanuel Clase is going to bring positive value across the life of his contract. Open-market relievers are pricey these days. And we have little reason for confidence regarding the state of Kluber’s health. Could be this one looks bad next New Year, but whatever will be, will be. 

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If you’re a fan of a baseball team, chances are good at least one of your team’s coaches got fired this week. Maybe even the manager. Eleven Major League clubs don’t have one today.

And if you’re a fan of HBO’s Succession, you’ve been promised a “blood sacrifice” tonight.

This landscape littered with scapegoats is, ironically enough, a land of opportunity. Management wants to get young players on the field for extra cap-feathers on evaluation day. Look no further than San Diego, where Fernando Tatis and Chris Paddack may have saved A.J. Preller from a moment on the chopping block even though everyone else got canned.

All that is to say, even with service-time suppression suffocating our game, kids like these in the Top 150 can still come quick.

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