Please see our player page for Jackson Kowar 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.

Welcome to the class where we discuss the planets — Science class? I don’t know, I’m just your substitute teacher, Mr. Albright. We’re going to put aside your syllabus, and teach you how all planets revolve Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s planet, IncomingTripleCrownium. Yesterday, IncomingTripleCrownium went 3-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and hit his 21st homer, as he hits .344. Does planet Daddy Vladdy revolve around IncomingTripleCrownium, and how is that possible since IncomingTripleCrownium is an offshoot of Daddy Vladdy? I don’t know, which is why I’m merely a substitute, and was told I would never be hired for a full-time position. IncomingTripleCrownium spins on its axis, without an absurd amount of spin, a totally natural spin, and that gave way to a Semien explosion not seen since a 14-year-old boy spent a little too long in the bathroom with Marcus Semien (2-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs), hitting his 15th homer. Hey, just had a thought, whatever happened with George Springer? Never the hoo! The next big orbital sphere outside the IncomingTripleCrownium gravitational pull was two homers from Teoscar Hernandez (3-for-6, 6 RBIs, 9th and 10th homer). I already took the L on my Teoscar schmohawk post, though, if being honest, I think I might’ve taken that L a bit prematurely. Guess we’ll see. Or we already saw. See? Saw? Get off the bench, Miguel Sano, I’m trying to get down! Next up on the flow chart of planets moving around IncomingTripleCrownium is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (3-for-5, 2 runs and his 6th homer). Please get hot, Lou-Gu-Ju, please. Then, if we’re counting orbital rings, like the toilet in my college dorm, Bo Bichette (4-for-5, 5 runs, 3 RBIs) grabbed a slam (13) and legs (8), and is it going to be weird when I try to draft two Blue Jays hitters in the first five picks next year? Finally, two smaller planets, that many confuse for large rocks, Rowdy Tellez (1-for-1, 2 RBIs, and his 4th homer) and Cavan Biggio (2-for-4, 2 runs) hit his 5th homer. To celebrate Biggio’s return, his father Craig Biggio called him after the game to tell him, “Stick your elbow pad into a pitch or change the name on your jersey.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Did everyone enjoy the All-Star Game? Wait, that’s not for another month? Why was there only three games yesterday then? Was it a holiday? RobManberance Day? A national day of remembrance about how Rob Manfred is an idiot? Stop for a moment, lower your head and silently remember to yourself how stupid Rob Manfred is. A Boob Manfraud, forever amen. So, with so few games, we get to really dive in on Jackson Kowar‘s debut. Man, did he suck (2/3 IP, 4 ER). I kid. But not entirely. Jackson was too jacked up. It happens. He couldn’t throw anything for a strike, due to adrenaline. Easy 97 MPH fastball, and a nasty change, that either was four feet over the batter’s head, or dead-center in the strike zone. Prospect Itch texted me some extra info, “Curve is more 50 than plus, but it still helps him a lot. It’ll come down to fastball command, which was there for him this year in the minors, just not last night, obviously. Think he could be successful on the rookie arm spectrum.” Then I texted, “Right, so Shane McClanahan, i.e., terrible or great or both, like every rookie pitcher?” And he texted back, “Yeah, McClanahan-ish.” Then I texted, “Glad we were able to do this without you threatening me.” Then he texted, “I’ve been using this exchange for GPS tracking, and I’m outside your home.” Then I typed random letters, so he’d see “…” which gave me time to escape out the back of my house. For what it’s Cronenworth, the Prospectonator (that projects every rookie) hates Kowar, and I see him mostly as a streamer in shallower leagues, so Streamonator. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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You heard of Mrs. Dash? An all-powerful seasoning that you sprinkle on anything, and it makes it better. It’s crack…for your tongue! (May not be the actual slogan.) Now, if you swing already produces a great hard hit rate, you don’t want to tweak it too much. It’s already tasty. Only thing you can sprinkle on it to elevate it is a little bit more Launch Angle. Jesse Winker (3-for-4, 6 RBIs and 3 homers (15, 16, 17), hitting .350) is a classic example of what happens when a guy who hits the ball hard, tweaks his swing just a tad so the ball coming off his bat is just tad more elevated. Winker didn’t go full-Gallo on his Launch Angle. Just a smidge. A dash of wonderful, which if why I will now call him Mr. Dash. He elevates at the dish, and the crack of his bat is crack…for your fantasy team! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Once upon a time, we were uncertain how teams would handle their prospects in this the final season of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the players union. 

Today, I feel like everyone could’ve seen this coming. 

Given one last chance to squeeze their prospects for an extra year of team control, teams just can’t help themselves. Nico Hoerner will have to stay in the minors for about 37 days to grant the Cubs an extra year on his contract, so that’s that. Easy call. Let’s keep Eric Sogard and Ildemaro Vargas instead, bumping some other more promising pieces off the roster. 

Teams act like this is just free money, but that feels like folly if we consider the 41st man and 1st man off the roster who theoretically earned a spot he can’t occupy because of Ildemaro Vargas. 

And it doesn’t take into account another big question: will they even want Nico Hoerner six seasons from now? Perhaps his ultimate value is allowing the club to hold onto a promising young arm who might’ve otherwise aged off the 40-man roster. 

No time for tears, though. Lots to cover this week. 

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In a baseball universe flickering with intentional losing, the Royals employ a bold strategy: trying. They haven’t seen much success of late, but that’s largely due to the natural contention cycling of a small market club. Also due in part to the death of young fireballer Yordano Ventura, whose innings could’ve gone a long way toward bridging from one cycle to the next. This group of prospects isn’t quite as promising as the Hosmer Moose crew that brought home a title, but it’s not overly optimistic to compare the two. Brighter times are coming to Kauffman Stadium. 

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I love most things about playing fantasy baseball leagues, but I especially love the push/pull of short versus long-term outcomes. I play a lot of dynasty, keeper and redraft leagues of various shapes and sizes, so the range of values I might place on a prospect in a given league is wide.

Not here, though, where I’ll be going full cut-throat, win-the-money redraft style.

I don’t know why anyone will be cutting throats. I love that phrase, but yikes, what a thing to say in casual conversation, huh?

This list won’t turn out to be 100 percent accurate, but it will reflect many hours of trade talks, gameplay, research, roller coasters and centrifuges of thought, educated guesswork, and dash of the psychology motivating humans working within a nihilistic capitalist structure. 

  • Note: I wasn’t sure how to handle innings caps. Every pitcher got dinged a little for the purposes of this list because some/most organizations will be very conservative pushing pitchers from 30-something (or zero) innings up above 100 (or more).
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We don’t do waves in the Midwest.

It’s caused a problem for me this week. Would be so much easier to just say there’s a wave headed straight for Kansas City. 

In 2018, Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore had a draft class that could define his organization’s decade. The pressure was on as he’d gained picks from the free agent core exodus, and the organization was staring into the abyss. 

Premium college pitching was falling. 

It didn’t seem to fit with Kansas City’s positional needs. 

But Moore leaned in, took what fell, and built a wave of pitching talent that has succeeded so far. In Singer, Kowar, Lynch, Bowlan and Bubic, Moore might’ve built a full rotation in a day. Might’ve drafted the best pitching class in the club’s history. 

Since that fateful day in 2018, the Royals have unearthed Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, and Hunter Dozier and might themselves be contending again way before anyone would have guessed. 

Kansas City’s best prospects are mostly these recent additions that quickly leapt the names we’ve been accustomed to seeing on this list. Nick Pratto was the 14th overall pick in 2017, but he’s a first baseman who hit .197 in High A. He was young for the level, but I’m not pounding the table for a decent hit, decent power first baseman who hasn’t hit as a professional. Seuly Matias was somehow even worse, striking out 44.3 percent of the time while hitting .148 and slugging .307. They might both be decent free agent adds at the moment, but you can’t trade for them or trade them away. 

For our game, the tacit appeal of Kansas City prospects remains Dayton Moore’s steadfast commitment to his guys. When/if they reach the majors, they will get a lot of opportunities to fail. Whit Merrifield wasn’t an accident to Moore. Drafted in 2010, Merrifield spent seven seasons in the organization before hitting two home runs and stealing eight bases in 81 games with a .323 on-base percentage as a rookie. Not a loud debut for a 27-year-old rookie. But then Whit got steady playing time in 2017 and went nuts: 19 HR 34 SB. 

It pays to keep an eye on their upper minors, is all I’m saying, and their slow-burn youngsters. From Mondesi to Merrifield to Dozier to whoever might step forward in 2020, Kansas City has been a sneaky source for value these past few years. I’m worried about the role Ned Yost played in these Soler-ish breakouts. I’m just recklessly speculating from a distance here, but Yost seems like a major dude who exudes positive energy, while Matheny seems to prefer more of a flexed rectum lifestyle. Could be he’s loosened up some. Could be he was already loose, and my perspective is too distant to have any accuracy. 

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Happy holidays! For your present this year, I’m pushing out the Top 50 First Year Player Prospects. I chose those words precisely because rankings to me are like childbirth. Painful. Everybody wants to see. And then your in-laws complain about the name you picked out. Wonderful! For reals though, these specs are the most unsurest of an unsure bunch, so tiers are chunked in tens. I won’t put up much of a fuss within tiers, but if you want to talk about a player being in the wrong tier altogether, I think that’s a discussion worth having. I’ve already gone over my Top 10 First Year Player Prospects, and in that intro I talked a little about where my head’s at when I do these. (Insert “up my ass” joke here). Enjoy!

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I was born just days after the 1980 World Series – a match between my beloved Phils and the focus of this minor league preview…the Kansas City Royals. Since I wasn’t really conscious, I totally missed out on perhaps the two greatest third basemen of all time (yeah I see you Brooks) going head to head. I do have old pictures though. My favorite is Schmidt and Brett clinking glasses with what appears to be spiked lemonade while sitting in director’s chairs and leaning on baseball bats. I don’t think the next George Brett is in this year’s KC system. In fact, the Royals are limited to only one Grade A prospect (a recently drafted pitcher) and half of this year’s list fell into the ‘C’ tier. So it’s not exactly a powerhouse. But hey, at least the Royals provided (in my opinion) the greatest moment of the 2018 season…

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It’s a busy time in the world of prospecting, as I and many others that cover the Minor Leagues crunch on mid-season lists, we’re also inundated with new prospects to research, project, and rank. The hardest part is trying to balance the handful of categories, or types, these players fall into. First we have the college hitters; usually the highest floor options in terms of fantasy, we’ve seen quite a few of these types return nearly immediate value over the last 5-7 seasons in dynasty leagues. Next we have the high upside prep hitters; another category that has done well of late, notables like Royce Lewis, Jo Adell, and Brendan Rodgers fall into this bucket. Prep bats offer some of the highest upside, but the floor can be pretty low. The next variety is July 2nd hitters; a group with a long and exciting track record, but due to the age of these prospects, there’s a high rate of failure, and a good chance many of them fall off expectations quickly. While there are major red flags, you still think to yourself “that upside tho”. The next three flavors are all pitchers, and each of them offers their own set of unique benefits and challenges. College pitchers, are the closest to the finished product, but you get a lot of “strike-throwing-so-so-stuff” types, and those types of players are available on every wavier wire from here to Beijing. Then we have Prep Arms, the most deceptive of investments. If you read enough prospect ranks, scouting reports, and particularly draft coverage you’ll find yourself enamored with some of these arms. Think MacKenzie Gore, Riley Pint, Jason Groome, or Forrest Whitley, that’s a very up and down record of success. The final bucket is one that I don’t bother paying too much mind to in most dynasty formats, July 2nd pitchers. Really, there have been some great arms to emerge from this bucket, but it often takes two years until we even know which arms really have any MLB projection. All this to say, my ranks are heavily influenced by this simple mantra. Draft hitters, add pitchers from the wavier wire. That’s the process, and it’s not to say it’s perfect, but more often than not I find myself filled with regret after drafting a pitching prospect. I am not saying that Casey Mize isn’t awesome, he is, and if this were a “real-life” list I would have ranked him first or second, but if I’m entering a draft today, there’s for sure 3  hitters I take in front of him. It’s fine if you disagree, but process is process. Below is the early version of my first year player draft ranks. I reserve the right to change my mind over the coming months, and plan to update these in early to mid-October.

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We’re talking a whole lot of pitching this week, as we dive into the top arms in the 2018 MLB draft. We start the show off with a little Juan Soto and Austin Meadows talk, before jumping into this week’s 5×5, where we profile 10 top performers over the last week of minor league play. After that it’s a pitching free for all, breaking down the mechanics and arsenals of Casey Mize, Brady Singer, Shane McClanahan, Carter Stewart, Matt Liberatore, and many more. What could be better than Lance breaking down mechanics? Ice cream, but that’s it. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 20% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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