Please see our player page for Henry Davis 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.

Three Rivers Stadium is about to get hit with a wave of young talent. And yeah, I realize the stadium is probably called Crypto Cathedral or something by now. (Narrator voice: “Three Rivers Stadium was actually imploded in 2001. The Pirates play in PNC Park now, which is, in fact, named for a bank that shuttered 200 branches in June of this year.) So . . . pretty close.

Fact remains that this list is loaded with players set to debut in 2023. One downside of a tank-tastic rebuild is the timeline crunch. Pittsburgh has too many good-not-great youngsters to play at any given time. We saw some of that in 2022 when the club would call up a prospect and let him ride the bench or make him walk the plank like Captain Jack Suwinksi. It’ll take a lot of skill and a little luck to separate playing time winners from losers and build a sea-worthy vessel from this veritable forest of prospects. 

 

1. C/OF Endy Rodriguez | 22 | AAA | 2023

Rodriguez is nearing the end of his minor league journey. In a real-world scenario, he’s probably the Opening Day catcher for this team. Pittsburgh punted in all sorts of creative ways last year, so the chances of Endy breaking camp with the big club are minuscule. It’ll probably be Jason Delay and his 53 wRC+ or Tyler Heineman and his 57 wRC+. You never know, though. If Pittsburgh suddenly decided to give a shit about wins and losses, they could field something resembling a competitive ballclub. Johan Oviedo was a big find for the rotation. Mitch Keller seemed to break through into something approaching functionality. Roansy Contreras is already good fresh off his 23rd birthday.

If you put the switch-hitting Rodriguez behind the plate and in the middle of that lineup, the whole team looks about 50 percent better. The athletic 6’0” 170 lb former Mets farmhand played a fair bit of outfield in 2022 but looks smooth behind the plate. His bat is racing his glove to the majors, and the presence of number one pick Henry Davis complicates the issue further, but it might help them both to share the workload and kick over to DH or left field on off-days. Rodriguez is a better baseball athlete than Davis and a more versatile defender, so he might find himself in the ideal fantasy catcher spot, escaping the rigors of daily dish duty while finding his way into the lineup much more than the average backstop. In 31 Double-A games last year, Rodriguez popped eight home runs and slashed .356/.442/.678 with an impressive 13-to-15.2 percent walk-to-strikeout rate. He finished the year with a week in Triple-A, where he collected eight RBI in six games and slugged .773. In short, he is ready. 

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Rangers RHP Jack Leiter is a good place to start because he exemplifies what’s  weird about the Futures Game. Leiter hasn’t earned his spot on the field (6.30 ERA), but that’s not uncommon to this game, which different organizations use for different reasons on a player-by-player basis. It’s not an All-Star game, in other words. It’s not even an all-famous game, although that’s what gets Leiter on the roster. It’s not even really a combination of the two. Some organizations might send a middle reliever, like Baltimore did with Marcos Diplan in 2021, who the team DFA’d the other day, almost exactly a year after Diplan gave up home runs to Brennan Davis and Francisco Alvarez in Coors Field during the sixth inning of last year’s Futures Game. 

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List season continues this week here at Razzball. It’s a stressful time for yours truly, if I’m honest with myself, as I don’t have time to write about everything I’m noticing just under the surface of prospect world. Stress isn’t negative all the time. It’s also exciting in this case. Tickles the geek inside my haunted carnival of a baseball mind to check in with each and every prospect and rearrange them rung by rung, tier by tier. 

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, Prospect Rankings Update: Corbin Carroll Headlines Top 25 for June 22.

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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 Nolan Gorman is definitively a better prospect than George Valera 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

And here’s a link to the Top 50

Drumroll please and away we go!

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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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I’ve been covering so many Pirates prospects throughout the year that I feel like I’ve already written this article. Because I sort of did, particularly a month ago during Prospect News: Pirates Follow Secret Treasure Map to Roansy Contreras

Definitely some of my shiniest work in that one, mateys. If you’ve been around here this season, you know I like this swashbuckling system, so let’s hit the high seas. 

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In 2021, most rookies are playing like Joe Strummer on a Ramshackle Day Parade, taking the freight elevator straight to the incinerator. 

This makes fantasy players reluctant to buy for the first time in a long time, a corrective measure many years in the making as we’ve been titillated by Tatis, Acuña, Soto, Alonso, Bichette and many, many more. 

Wander Franco is a disappointment, is all I’m saying, depending who you ask. 

Only if you’re watching his games, you probably think he’s incredible–a 20-year-old in the middle of the lineup for a World Series team. A 20-year-old who never gives an inch, always looks like a tough out, never gives away a pitch.

Perhaps your trade deadlines are all behind you. Half of mine are. But I mention the idea of floating a trade for Franco because I myself just sent Wander away this week. 

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I know a lot of leagues start their First-Year-Player Drafts directly after the MLB Draft, so I figured no time like the present to rank the first round or so. 

1. Miami SS Kahlil Watson, pick 1.16

Watson’s interview with the broadcast team was a tough listen. Sounded like he was exhausted from being on the phone all night, telling his agent he wasn’t willing to sign for whatever fully leveraged, arm-twisting deals teams were offering, probably as early as the fifth pick. Probably negotiated with at least five teams before the Marlins landed him at 16. Sounded like he shut down the Giants, who pivoted late to College World Series star Will Bednar. 

As much as I love aspects of the draft, the reality of a multi-billion dollar corporations needling high school kids down as far as they’ll go exhausts me as well. No doubt they tell the kids what they’re not good at, why they should definitely sign this lowball contract, how they’re risking their family’s well being by betting on themselves. 

Between the lines, Watson can do it all: hit, field, throw, thump, run, and it’s this last piece that really ties the room together for us. Miami isn’t a great place to hit, but Donny Baseball’s fish sure like to steal. Can’t really predict he’ll still be there when Watson arrives, but the Marlins will always have to manufacture runs at home. 

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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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Sam Houston State. South Alabama. Miami (OH). Just a short list of all the top Division I programs that you typically find first-round talent at, right? Either every premier Power Five program completely whiffed on these guys, or head coaches are scurrying around the recruiting grounds like a bunch of half-blind moles trying to find their own siblings. As I unveil college prospects 6-10 in my rankings for the 2021 MLB Draft, you’ll find players from each of the above mid-major programs entrenched in the top 10. We all know young players develop significantly while playing the college game, but it’s downright incredible to see this many top prospects coming from such schools. Last year, the top pitcher in the draft came out of the University of Minnesota and the No. 7 overall pick came out of New Mexico State — further evidence that you can’t live and die by the blue blood programs when assembling your prospect pool in dynasty leagues. In this edition, we’ll go in-depth on players 6-10 on my list while providing plenty of links to previous college prospect coverage to assist you in putting together the best first-year player draft board as possible. So take a seat in the optometrist’s chair, make like a cartoon mole with bifocals and check out the rest of this year’s top ten.

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And here we are. Our coverage of college prospect talent has finally come full circle, which is kind of redundant, don’t you think? Circles are fully completed to begin with, unless by “full circle,” we are describing the actual filling in of a circle, which in reality, would then effectively become a dot. So, you might say that here at Razzball, our coverage of college prospect talent has come dot. Ahh. That’s better.

What do I mean by this? On March 12, 2020, the college baseball world came crashing to a halt, as did numerous other sports entities and industries. My own existence was thrown into a whirl; a seemingly unfathomable reality all too sudden to believe — as I’m sure yours was, and your friends’, and your friends’ friends’, and your friends’ friends’ mothers’ friends and so forth. As I admittedly understand, the reaches of all that has occurred over the last year-plus comes accompanied with far more tragedy than the impact on sports. But even so, the events of March 12 pushed me into becoming a Razzball contributor and on March 19 — just seven days later — I released my Top 10 College Prospects to Target in Dynasty Leagues, otherwise known as my debut post on the site, otherwise known as the date I first started leaving Grey *67 voicemails. It was written while I stared deeply into Trevor Bauer’s eyes, indirectly of course, via a photo I took standing outside of his house unbeknownst to him.

Fast forward to present day, one year and two months later (Note: NOT a Yellowcard song), and I am tackling that same practice yet again. However, this year we are beginning with the timeline we should be. The college baseball season has NOT been canceled and there ARE conference tournaments and postseason play ongoing. The 2021 MLB Draft is just under two months away, scheduled for July 11-13. It will be 20 rounds this year, not five. Thank. Freaking. Goodness.

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