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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. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?