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Please see our player page for Jackson Merrill 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.

For four hours twice a year, I clear the calendar and settle in at the computer screen to click along with fantasy baseball luminaries like Scott White, Mike Gianella, and a handful of Razzball’s finest, including the master lothario himself. I love it. The niche math in motion appeals directly to some lizard-brain survivalist inside me. Here’s how the night played out for me:

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1. Orioles SS Jackson Holliday | 20 | AAA | 2024

Baltimore’s final big prize for super-quitting, Holliday traversed four levels in 2023, climbing all the way to Triple-A for a few weeks and posting a 109 wRC+ there with 16 walks and 17 strikeouts in 18 games. He’ll begin 2024 with a chance to claim the opening day shortstop job.

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twenty years, Warbucks has plenty to go around and you should be plenty satiated for cashola, I mean, shortstops. I.e., there’s a lot of shortstops and you should be drafting them early and often. Okay, let’s get to it! Here’s Steamer’s 2024 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2024 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. Subscriptions are up and running, and you can already get Rudy’s Draft War Room. Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2024 fantasy baseball:

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1. SS Jackson Merrill | 20 | AA | 2024 

Supreme contact skills from the left side give Merrill a fantastic base from which to develop his game over the next decade. He struck out just 62 times in 114 games across two levels last year, posting a 111 wRC+ in High-A and a 104 in Double-A despite being 4.3 years younger than the league average age. He’ll open in Triple-A and could look ready for the majors in April. There’s a chance the club trades Ha-Seong Kim and/or Jake Cronenworth this winter and opens an early avenue for Merrill.

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Mike Couillard and Jeremy Brewer have launched a pod, Cards & Categories, to discuss baseball from card collecting and fantasy angles! In our thirteenth episode, we open by picking our MLB playoff brackets while discussing two recent card fiascos – duplicate Bowman Chrome Superfractors and Jackson Merrill’s trashed Panini Immaculate cards. Then we discuss players we anticipate having hot playoff […]

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Here’s a link to the Top 25. 

That top 25 blends in pretty well with what you’ll see elsewhere, and so this group, mostly, but from here forward, my lists tend to be tilted toward near-term fantasy functionality, for what it’s Wuertz. 

I value the grind of the climb. Each level brings new separators, so guys like Maikel Garcia and Joey Ortiz have shown more, in my opinion, than a guy like Jackson Merrill. Nothing against Merrill or anyone in the lower minors. They’ll have their day. I just don’t see much value in jumping headlong on to Tom Smykowksi’s Conclusions Mat when we’ve got so many great prospects on the cusp who’ve earned their keep. If I get three seasons of useful stats out of a player before a higher-ranked teeny-bopper even gets started, that matters to me. I suppose you could cut it up differently for a rebuilding project, but I wouldn’t change much.

26. Guardians RHP Tanner Bibee | 24 | AA | 2023

Bibee’s currently my favorite of Cleveland’s pitching prospects for dynasty purposes in terms of cost v. value. That’s probably changing as I type, but for now it’s still cheap enough to at least ask about Bibee in your leagues. He’s coming off 73.2 innings in Double-A with a 0.88 WHIP. He allowed just four home runs there and wound up with a 1.83 ERA. He’s good enough to the naked eye that I think he’ll make waves this spring. His 122.2 innings pitched last year sets him up perfectly to step in whenever the Guardians need help. At 6’2” 205 lb, Bibee can sit comfortably in the mid-90’s deep into games and has that Cleveland specialty skill of commanding his off-speed pitches. In case you can’t tell from the blurb, I want him everywhere I can get him. You could more or less say that for every Cleveland pitcher, which I try to remind myself any time I’m making moves or building lists.

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Despite trading away everything from last year’s top prospect group, AJ Preller’s cupboards are not bare. He won’t have the talent to make moves for Juan Soto or Josh Hader this summer, but Preller himself is an elite scout who has little trouble adding new waves of gifted young players every year. It’s a skill that builds itself out across time. Preller probably had good vision for the game as a young person, but as a long-time executive who makes more trips to the field than anybody, his eye has been honed the hard way: 10,000 hours at a time. Malcolm Gladwell, eat your heart out. 

One way you know Preller is good is James Wood. Another is Jarlin Susana. How anyone else looked at these guys and said “meh, no thanks” is beyond me, but it’s a complicated game. You can’t just target giants and hope to thrive, but if you do see a giant who happens to move like a meta-human, trust your eyes and run, don’t walk, to add them to your squad. 

This trust-your-eyes talent likely provides him an edge in building a scouting department, too. Talent or skill in a craft doesn’t always equate to skill at teaching that ability, but it’s certainly better than being clueless about scouting and then interfacing with a scouting director. All this is to say I spend a lot of time watching young Padres squads and give the team all the minutes I can find before publication day. 

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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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