Sunday was not your typical deadline. Any time you get an elderly man from Sacramento at odds with a front office run by the richest MLB owner with the most-perfectly oval-shaped head in pro sports, things are bound to get interesting. And that’s precisely what happened on the August 1 MLB Draft-signing deadline, when two of the premier prospects in all of baseball were left without pro contracts. One went unsigned by his own choosing: Jud Fabian. The other as a result of the aforementioned scenario: Kumar Rocker. That makes the elderly man mentioned above none other than the infamous Scott Boras, who was looking about as youthful as Eustace Bagge from Courage the Cowardly Dog if you happened to catch a glimpse of him these past few weeks. Botox is like $350, just sayin’. For Rocker and Fabian, the future remains tremendously bright, albeit drastically different from the path we anticipated just one month ago. Now, we get to sift through the fallout and ramifications as it relates to both of these future stars — and while we’re at it, we’ll check in on some of the top prospects in baseball.

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Kendall Graveman was traded to the Astros with Rafael Montero for Abraham Toro and Joe Smith. So, I am now asking, what on earth is going on there? Is that a real trade? That trade made it seem like the Mariners’ front office wished they never made Tuesday night’s comeback. That’s a trade a last place team does with a first place team that’s in another division. Pardon the pun, but that Toro trade is fishy as hell. Unless I’m missing something, or the Mariners are like, “We need Toro, because the Padres love fatty tuna and we have to send him there for Hosmer.” Otherwise, that is just, well, bad, and hard to understand. Then the Mariners went out and got Tyler Anderson out from under the Phils’ nose, which is a long, green snout. Phillies tried to send a helmet stuffed with caramel popcorn and Pirates were like, “Hey, this guy’s getting stuck in my teeth.” So, a team with France isn’t waving the white flag? What goes on here? This is so crazy confusing! As for the Mariners’ pen, Paul Sewald, who has been great, takes over as closer. He could’ve been great with Graveman there too, though. As for Graveman? Engrave it with “RIP your fantasy value.” As for Tyler Anderson, he has a wicked cutter, and a very stable ERA of 4.30-ish, which is fine for real baseball and the Streamonator, but this trade doesn’t make him great. As for Toro, he homered last night in a pinch-hit appearance. It was almost like he knew what pitch was coming. Hmm… Well, Toro is a utility player for now, until the M’s get rid of Seager. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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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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Ahh, college. What a magical time. I can still remember my roommate freshman year. He never showered, wore shoes and frequently left bowls of boiled noodles out, unrefrigerated, only to pick them back up several days later and eat a few. Ahh, yes. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think back fondly on the kid who dressed up as a bush every day so he could jump out and scare other student on their way to class. The college years truly represent a time when young minds grow and evolve, and the same goes for the college crop of baseball talent. The 2021 NCAA baseball season began just last weekend, which means many of the top names for the upcoming MLB Draft and subsequent first-year player fantasy drafts are finally back on full display. After coming out with my rankings of the Preseason Top 50 College MLB Draft Prospects at the beginning of February, several stars have already made headlines or showcased telling impressions after the first week of play. I’ll continue to follow all of these names from now until July, working towards a Complete College Top 100 in advance of the 2021 MLB Draft. But for now, let’s check in on a few key names and discuss what I saw in this week’s collegiate corner. All are welcome, so long as you don’t leave your noodles out.

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If you’re a fan of college baseball, then you know the 2021 NCAA season is right around the corner. Exciting! *unexpectedly, clapping begins* Right around the corner: that’s precisely what I said. Now, for some fans, that corner is well within sight. *clapping slows down, still unsure of where it’s coming from* If you’re a fan of a major Power Five team, then the 2021 campaign likely begins in just over two weeks, during the weekend of Feb. 19-21. That is, unless you’re a die-hard Big Ten supporter, in which case you still don’t even have a 2021 schedule. *clapping stops* That’s right — there is going to be a lot of variance entrenched in 2021 college baseball schedules. Some teams are starting on time and playing a full non-conference slate, while others will experience a delayed start while partaking in conference-only competition. This year, we will be comparing apples to bananas (not a big fan of oranges, plus they’re far too close in appearance) more than we ever have. But even with that, we need to move forward, and it all begins with my Preseason Top 50 Draft-Eligible College Players to Target in Dynasty Formats. Onward! *looks back to see no one following* I said, onward!

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Over the past 10 months, have you happened to hear Casey Stern mutter the iconic phrase, “prospects are cool, parades are cooler,” and thought, shit, prospects are waaaaaay cooler than parades now! Don’t get me wrong, I loved a good, old-fashioned homecoming float as a kid as much as anybody. But the Coronavirus pandemic has done quite a number on the attractiveness of modern parades. In today’s world, I think “prospects are cool, but watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade alone while shoveling a full tin of baked corn into your mouth that you made for yourself is cooler,” is a bit more fitting, wouldn’t you say? Well, here at Razzball with The Itch and myself, prospects are always cool. They’re cool even when they’re not, say, in July when everyone else is getting psyched for the start of the 2020 MLB season and 2020 fantasy football drafts, and I’m busy writing a Way-Too-Early College Top 25 for the 2021 MLB Draft segment, inadvertently detailing how one-dimensional my life is. Or, if you read that particular post, how frequently I crap myself on airplanes.

In my Way-Too-Early College Top 25, I took an early shot at laying out the top 25 prospects for the 2021 MLB Draft in a year that had very little spring action and a summer filled with cancelled developmental leagues. Now, as college players returned to campus over the past several months, effectively receiving some varying level of fall training, practice and game action, we have a lot more data and scouting to lean on. But, before I begin rehashing my top college prospects list and start to build it into my annual (it’s year two, can I say that?) complete college top 100, let’s discuss some early risers that I may have either previously overlooked or under-ranked. Since I’m such a Carmen Sandiego fanatic, I’ll also go rogue and add some other notes of things I’m hearing, or seeing, that I don’t really agree with, or that I simply think are worth mentioning. That, my dear friends, begins at the very top of the 2021 Draft (guess who?), then follows with the likes of Ethan Wilson and Jaden Hill.

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Every night before an ensuing flight, I go through this recurring ritual of dumping out the contents of my entire backpack onto the floor. I go through everything piece-by-piece to make sure I never end up looking like Ice Cube in the first Are We There Yet? movie. Nope, no corkscrew hiding on this guy, thank you very much. If you’re familiar with the kind of ritual I’m talking about, then you’ll understand the concept of this post.

I live a modest life. I’m not hopping on any charters or flying first class anywhere. Usually, I fly economy with one carry-on and one personal item. Even if it’s free, I usually avoid checking bags as a means of circumventing the lines and getting the hell out of the airport as quickly as possible. Even if I’m leaving for two-plus weeks, I’m keeping it light and walking straight to security.

This means I have to ensure that I’m not leaving any accidental surprises in any of my bags and that I’m preemptively planning where to grab a bottle of contact solution upon landing. Nothing adds to an already sucky, dirt-cheap red-eye flight like stalking the aisles of a random Wal-Mart in the wee hours of the morning for some Biotrue.

In this piece, I’m going through that same ritual, but with MLB prospects. Since I began writing for Razzball, I have been leaving some items in my bag (A.K.A. the comments section) that have yet to be dumped out. Now, as I embark on my next trip (A.K.A. this post), I am dumping out my satchel to ensure I’m covering every Razzball reader’s need as it relates to fantasy baseball prospects.

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