Please see our player page for Jack Leiter 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.

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 an exciting time. 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. 

51-75 was the toughest group on the list, in terms of my mind’s ability to settle on a decision and turn the page to the next task. It chewed through hour after hour of my life like the hungry caterpillar, and now I have a tummy ache. 

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.

And here’s a link to the Top 50, Prospect Rankings Update: New Top 50 for June 2022

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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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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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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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Some great prospects are about to find a home on the Rangers. I wrote about their future at some length back on December 1 after they’d signed Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Jon Gray and Kole Calhoun. Click here if you’d like to mosey through their organizational outlook in Prospect News: Texas Rangers Wrangle a Future For Their Jung

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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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UEFA Champions League. University College London. Ultra-conservative llamas. What do all three of these have in common? They’re all UCLs that instill less fear in an MLB front office than the ulnar collateral ligament. That is unless one particular ultra-conservative llama wakes up one morning only to realize his cud has been chewed by Steve, his ornery llama friend who seems to always be stirring up trouble. Now that, my friends, would be one fearsome llama. Even so, it’s the ulnar collateral ligament we’re most concerned about this week, as yet another UCL injury has struck the college game — and this one impacts the top-15 picks of the 2021 MLB Draft: Ole Miss RHP Gunnar Hoglund will miss the remainder of the season with a UCL tear and will be sidelined for 12-18 months as he undergoes Tommy John surgery and embarks on a long and tenuous rehab journey. Even with the catastrophic injury, Hoglund is primed to be a first-round pick this July, but just how far he falls remains to be seen. MLB.com’s most recent mock draft had Hoglund going No. 13 overall to the Phillies and he remains MLB Pipeline’s No. 10 prospect for the 2021 MLB Draft. Here at Razzball, I ranked Hoglund as my No. 12 preseason college MLB Draft prospect after tabbing him at No. 11 in my Way-Too-Early Top 25 back in July. The Rebel right-hander was in the midst of a solid third-year campaign, owning a 2.87 ERA with 96 strikeouts across 62 2/3 innings and 11 starts this season while holding opposing hitters to a .178 BAA. He works 92-95 MPH with a riding heater that he pairs with a low-80s changeup, average curveball, and hard slider that sits around 84-86 MPH. Although he appeared to be a fringe top-10 pick, the main story will now become whether the recent UCL injury allows him to best his 2018 draft position as a prepster when he went No. 36 overall to the Pirates.

More around the college game…

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What have you accomplished in the last two months? Personally, I’ve picked up roughly 350 bags of dog crap, learned how to make banana bread and endlessly yelled at Fessy on MTV’s The Challenge at the top of my lungs for being the world’s worst human being. Two major takeaways there. One: you just realized you take fantasy baseball advice from someone who quantifies time in terms of how much dog poop he has picked up. Two: none of those things are impressive. Hopefully, you’ve accomplished more the past two months, much like many of the incredible athletes currently competing in the college baseball realm have. Since the 2021 season began in mid-February, we’ve seen a lot of awesome things happen in the college game, from Jack Leiter’s ridiculous no-hit inning streak to the emergence of NC State catcher Luca Tresh as a legitimate first round MLB Draft prospect. We’ll get to both of those items in this week’s Collegiate Corner and more, as we touch base on six must-know names for this July’s draft. I’ll continue to provide a Collegiate Corner once-per-month leading up to my 2021 Complete College Top 100, which I intend to release in the weeks leading up to the MLB Draft as an all-encompassing guide to this year’s collegiate talent for all of you dedicated dynasty leaguers out there. Without further adieu, let’s get to it.

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