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I don’t get it. This…this…this “pitchers have to be drafted early” …thing! Am I the only one who lived through the last baseball season? Even if you were to say to me, “I always draft starters early,” I’d say you’re living in some kind of goofball world made out of unicorns and iPhones that don’t correct the F word to duck. But fine! If this were a normal year. “If this were a normal year” is the ying, the yang, the sun and the moon. No pitchers are going to throw a lot of innings. Less innings means Gerrit Cole, if he’s the best pitcher, and the tenth best starter are going to be closer together. Pitchers as pancakes. Have one, and it’s Yum City, population: You. Have two, and it’s solid, great. Have three and it’s, “Do you have blueberries or something for these?” Have four and it’s, “Well, I liked my first two.” Have five and it’s, “I want bacon.” Have six and it’s, “I don’t even remember liking the first two anymore, and I never want to see another pancake.” All these guys taking starters crazy early are eating pancakes. Before I even drafted a starter, one team took Cole, Woodruff and Glasnow! “Cole…cool, cool. Yum City!…Woodruff…Um, yeah, but maybe I can get some blueberries or something…Tyler Glasnow? Stop! I’m diabetic!” For those unfamiliar, this is a standard 5×5, 16-team league, and, since it’s Yahoo, it’s 4 outfielders and two UTIL. As always, I used Rudy’s War Room, which is available with a subscription to our Razzball Tools. Anyway, here’s my Yahoo Friends & Family draft recap:

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Holds Ain’t Got No Face! 

These poor schlubs. No one’s favorite player is a middle reliever. The middle reliever never gets the girl. The signed middle reliever rookie card never fetches more than a buck-fifty on eBay. 

Yet these working-class heroes continue to go out every day and grind away to bridge the gap between the billion-dollar, sexy starting pitchers and the dark, mysterious closers. 

So here’s to you Graeme Lloyd! Here’s to you Mark Eichhorn! Here’s to you Matt Thornton! And MY personal favorite player of all time — here’s to you Jeff Nelson! 

 

From a fantasy perspective, the middle reliever has been a non-factor since the beginning of roto baseball. In your standard 5×5 leagues there’s just no room for a player who barely contributes in any of the 5 pitching categories. However, after years and years of heart attacks from being forced to draft Fernando Rodney because they missed the closer runs — cardiologists have created a new fantasy category to prevent such cardiac conditions: saves + holds 

Below I’ve ranked the top-40 non-closers for saves + holds leagues. In true Kerry-fashion, I’ve manufactured my own ranking system. I’ve ranked these guys out into three categories: sv/hlds, limiting runs, and K/9 — the three categories that middle relievers can consistently help you in. Limiting runs is a combination of ERA and WHIP — basically, in one inning, a reliever needs to keep guys off the bases — and if there are already guys on the bases — keeping them from scoring runs. You know — like the job of every pitcher! 

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The MLB trade deadline is today. So far the fireworks haven’t been overly bullpen related. We’ll see if that holds true as many teams fashion themselves plucky upstarts in the mix for expanded playoff spots. As far as rumormongers go, Jeff Passan is really the only name I put any stock in at this point. Evening-bird and Yo-dude are banned from my twitter feed.

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Recently someone told me “The Royals ain’t got no prospects”, I encouraged this person to look deeper because the Royals got prospects. The problem just so happens to be, they only have about six good ones. Then again, that’s what happens when you do nothing but draft lefthanded starters that can’t find the plate, and dudes named Bubba and Hunter. For a team that knew they could lose multiple players to free agency, the Royals did very little to turn that into controllable assets. What you’re left with is the list below. Best described as a handful of bright spots, some solid depth arms, and a couple of fringy bats destined for quad-A labels. The one truly fantasy relevant angle to this whole post is the opportunity that exists at the major level, at least as of writing this. Even if Eric Hosmer is re-signed, or other cheap vets are brought in, there’s simply not enough depth for the Royals to not employ a few hitters from this list. One note, I’m not writing about Kyle Zimmer. Okay, I’ll probably still write about Kyle Zimmer. You know why? Because everyone needs to know about the prospects the Royals got. Everyone! Readers go out into the world and share this like made up political memes or President Trump tweets or tweets about Doanld Trump tweets. So share. Because we need to know the good word about an awful system. It’s the Kansas City Royals top prospects for 2018.

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That’s right, we’re pushing well beyond the 100 threshold this year, and pushing it all the way to 200. I for one am excited, but that might just be the speedball of cocaine, redbull, meth, and the behind the counter cough syrup. I’m seeing the words and their auras, man. No jokes, this is all from a vision, an immaculate epiphany I was led to by a culturally appropriated wise character of some sort. Really, I just wanted to get into a whole bunch more prospects I didn’t get a chance to talk about. If you didn’t catch it, last week I dropped my Top 100, this is a continuation of that going from 101 – 200 with full writeups and statlines for each. Hopefully you get caught up on few off the radar names, brush up on some old ones, and get your prospecty fill for the All-Star Break. It’s the Top 200 Fantasy Baseball Prospects!

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Every year, after finishing my Top 100 post, I have a player or two I immediately regret not ranking higher. This year those prospects were Zack Collins, and Kyle Tucker. The funny thing is, Tucker wasn’t ranked that low at 32. Granted my prospecting brother from another mother Halp ranked him 21st, and based on last night it looks like Halp’s right. What happened last night? Welp, Tucker: Man and My Dreams, went 4 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles, and 7 RBIs. He’s now hitting .343 in the Carolina League, can you imagine what he would have done with a full season in Lancaster? BTW Lancaster is one of the most homer and hitter friendly environments in minors, and was the class A advanced affiliate of the Astros up until this season. As for Tucker, he’s a 5×5 player’s dream, with hit tool, speed, developing power, and massive upside. Seems only appropriate that I would open this week’s Minor League Update with a native son of Tampa, while I’m on vacation here. How meta.

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It’s the holiday special edition of the prospect podcast, and Halp and I are full of cheer. There’s talk of Jelly Donuts, Egg Nog, the need for a craft rum movement, and so much more. We also lay it on you heavy for your naughty behavior, with a big olde lump of coal. Genuine and from a mine! We talk three of the most wretched systems in baseball, the Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Angels. Each system has only a few players to offer so we packed it into one. If you’re on the fence about whether you should tune into something I’m openly deeming awful or not, three words. Stabby the Cat. She’s back, but not really. Believe me, no one can make the Angels, Royals, and Marlins more fun than Halph! I mean come on Kansas City Royals Prospects!! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Festivus, it’s the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Prospect Podcast.

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I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get into the mood to write this post. As fun as a system like the Astros or the Braves is to write up, is as painful as a system like the Royals is to do the same. Then it hit me, the Royals system is your hometown bar. You know the dingy one with a name like Home Plate, Donovan’s, or The Old Mill. Not because you need to be drunk in order to even go in there, though alcohol certainly helped write this. It’s because you’ve been avoiding it like the plague every time you venture home. But one night in a moment of weakness one of your old high school buddies talks you into going. So you get over your irrational fear of seeing the girl that dumped you for the guy that only got his name right on his SAT’s, and that once popular jock that’s gained 60 pounds of Burger King breakfast, and has gone from filling up stat sheets in his glory days, to filling up sweatpants and rap sheets with petty misdemeanors. In other words, everyone in the Royals system is 25 and watching their once promising futures vanish with each passing Jager-bomb. That’s not a joke, this has to be the oldest group of hobos I’ve ever covered. I hesitate to say I’m talking about Kansas City Royals Prospects as much as I’m talking about washed up Kansas City Royals Prospects. Amirite?

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It’s easy to get lost in the scouting reports and tool grades from a million different resources. Buying too heavily into projection over production. I get caught up in it too, I Prospector Ralph am no scout. I’m one part Hemmingway, one part James Frey, blended heavily with an overly-enthusiastic approach to minor leaguers. In other words I’m a really, really fun minor league enthusiast. Saturday night at the Lifshitz house is like The Tunnel in its hey day. Let me tell you! (Queue the music, apply Timbos with the finest Polo swag) We have sleeping kids, lots of televised baseball, coffee, a baby named after a major leaguer learning to walk, then there’s a ruggedly handsome, but slightly dim witted looking gentleman typing away on his phone and laptop. Feverishly switching screens between gulps of java. That’s me and I’m combing through mounds of statistics and figuring out which ones I should report and which I should ignore. Why you ask? Well for this post where I look at 4-5+ of the minor league leaders in a handful of fantasy relevant categories. Most of it’s age based bias, if the leader is 28 in a particular category but number 3 is 21, I’m taking that young meat. Blah, blah, blah, blah, let’s get into it.

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