Please see our player page for Marco Luciano 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.

When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.

It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality.

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index.

Let’s bring this thing home!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When mapping out this year’s Top 100, I found myself getting caught up in the layout. I’ve tried a few different ways to skin this cat, and I think my favorite so far was my first: Top 25 Prospects for 2020 Fantasy Baseball.

It was simple, sleek, easy to see, easy to scroll, and it was built in tiers, which feels like a realistic lens through which to view these players. You can argue that Bobby Witt Jr. is definitively a better prospect than Julio Rodriguez if you want to, or vice versa, but if you get offered one for the other in a trade, you might freeze up like me pondering the layout of this article. The differences are real, certainly, but they’re more aesthetic and subjective than anything like objective truth. It’s a difference in type or style more than a difference of quality. 

I’ll try to stay concise in between the tiers here, but you can access a more in-depth consideration of each individual player by clicking on their names or skimming around in the 2022 Minor League Preview Index

Drumroll please and away we go!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Some of these guys will have to move off the position, either because they’re blocked by a star-level regular or because they lack the hyper-elite twitch, reflexes, hands and arm required to make it as a big league shortstop, but for the most part, these guys will man their middle infields for the next decade or so. Some dynasty league veterans build minor league rosters populated almost exclusively by shortstops and outfielders. Solid plan, really. Shortstop might be the game’s deepest position at the moment, and it’s only getting deeper. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

My primary strategy for escaping the moneyball mindfuck that is being a baseball fan in the Manfred era is that I root mostly for individuals. I love to see it when players make it big. Get that money, if you can, while you can. I love to see it when front offices that have good processes experience enough success to fund more of that good process. Farhan Zaidi and company have good processes in place in San Francisco. One example is the Brandon Crawford contract. Guy earned it, was willing to stay, and the team accepted the risk of inking an aging player before any kind of deadline spurred action. The real examples, though–the best examples–are all the players succeeding up and down this system. If a free agent signs with the Giants, bump him up on your draft sheets. A similar rule applies to their prospects now as the organization seeks to join the top tier of baseball-development firms.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

(NOTE: THIS POST WAS RELEASED EARLY THIS WEEK ON OUR PATREON. IT’S $10/MONTH OR $13/MONTH WITH AN EXTRA WEEKLY PODCAST.)

“Your mascara isn’t as thick as I’d expect from someone named Billie Eyelash.” At a podium, Billie Eilish laughs at Billy Crystal, and the banter fades away as they get serious to announce Best New Artist. Hoping to join previous winners like Evanescence, Bruce Hornsby and the Range and Paula Cole, Nicky Lopez sits in the audience with his fingers crossed. His head bowed in pray. This is his first day off in weeks from the basepaths, where he’s put out such hits as:  “A 2-for-4 with three steals,” the top 40 hit “1-for-4 with two steals,” and “Can’t Keep My SAGNOF To Myself,” the Grammy nominated song in another category. A song Nicky co-wrote with the 71-year-old George Thorogood. Nicky Lopez is also the Least Likely Player To Get A Buy Lede. He’s got less power than Nick Madrigal, who has the power of a June bug in July when it’s just exhausted. By the by, they should have a Home Run Derby of guys like Lopez and Madrigal. Alonso can hit 30 homers in four minutes, whoop-dee-doo. Let’s see someone who can’t hit it out of the infield try to hit two homers in four minutes! Any hoo! Lopez might have no power like Madrigal, but he’s hitting like Nick Madrigal in every other way too. His contact rates are amongst the most improved, and he should hit ~.280. The real clincher here is obviously how he’s stealing multiple bags per game, and the Royals have no reason to stop him. I know in most of my leagues that ten random steals in September might be the difference in multiple standings points. Okay, back to the show…The envelope is ripped, as Billie and Billy lean in to announce together, “Best New Artist is…Nicky Lopez!” As Lopez heads up to the stage, past winners Hootie and the Blowfish cheer him on, and George Thorogood doffs his cowboy hat. In the audience, Lorde mutters, “Freakin’ Royals.” Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This day should be great for baseball. 

I’ve heard some groaning about the MLB amateur draft lining up with All-Star weekend, but I think it’s kind of cool. Might be the first decent marketing move I’ve seen baseball make since Bud Selig and company turned the other way for big Mac during the home run chase. 

Might be wise to say here that I don’t care about the All-Star game, or the Hall of Fame for that matter, and I don’t know many who do, but it’s viable to point out I hold no candles for the bygone days of Pete Rose running over a catcher during an exhibition game, so it doesn’t matter to me if the All-Star spotlight is weaker than it once was. That bulb’s been dimming since interleague play and got even duller when Selig tried to make it count for the World Series, a choice so dumb it rivals any of Manfred machinations. 

Anyway, if baseball can win some eyes and ears by talking about the draft when people are glancing that way for the Home Run Derby, that’s a win in my book. Same goes for the Futures Game, which creates a neat sort of synergy with the All-Star game and the draft. I suppose one could argue baseball should spread these events out to get the maximum media burn from them, and there’s certainly a case to be made about avoiding the NBA finals when scheduling big events, but that won’t happen every year, and baseball has to get its press while it can. The second football players start gathering in helmets, the national focus begins to shift, or in the case of most media outlets, continues to shift. 

One upshot of the schedule is that I’m not doing a mock draft this year. I was a little late to the gate compared to other popular outlets that are already on version four of their mocks. Here I picture Jim Carrey as Lloyd Christmas saying “four mocks, huh?” in the tone of “Big Gulps, huh?”

If seeking some draft day prep, check out the Natural, Hobbs, in his Top 30 Prospects for the 2021 MLB DraftInstead of a mock, I’ll be publishing an early ranking for First-Year-Player drafts after the chips have fallen. In this space, I’ll try to add value to your All-Star Weekend by creating a player-by-player primer for the Futures Game scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern today.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

While Donkey Teeth is away, B_Don makes a call to the ‘pen and @TheProspectItch gets the bullpen cart to give him a ride to the mound. We start by talking about how The Itch has approached prospect rankings and evaluations with no active minor league system.

We discuss the start to the season using some of our leagues to talk about the difference in approaches and waiver wire strategies. AL/NL only leagues are a whole different world from the RCLs.

The Itch discusses how his approach has changed in the last couple years due to differences in the minor league system and how teams are using service time with prospects these days. We continue the prospect discussion by talking about some of the rookie pitchers and hitters that have started the season with their respective teams.

B_Don asks The Itch about the prospects that he expects to see called up next. The Itch drops a couple of bombs on B_Don as they close the show out about some of the game’s top prospects.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For a two-time World Series Champion with over 40 years of experience in MLB front offices, Dave Dombrowski gets a bad rap. The consensus on the baseball operations veteran seems to be that his only formula for success is to either ink big contracts or swap top prospects for elite talent that comes accompanied with hefty salaries. However, Dombrowski’s maneuvers have largely come as a result of the hands he has been dealt and the relative competitiveness of his various organizations at the time of his hire. He turned the 1997 Florida Marlins, a 1993 expansion team, into a World Series Champion. He built one of the greatest starting rotations in modern history in Detroit. He came to Boston in 2015 with a mandate to take the Red Sox to the top and did just that in 2018. Is he perfect? Far from it. Can he win a championship? Clearly. You should desire the same.

I say this to explain why I frequently refer to my strategy in dynasty leagues as Dombrowski-esque. It is not simply because of Dave’s suave, shiny gray hair to which I look forward to sporting myself in my mid-50s. In these formats, managers are drafting using such polarizing strategies that the key is to seek out excess value by pitting your opposition’s own intelligence (or so it may seem) against them. Seek opportunity where it presents itself, and if that means honing in on proven talent to win now, then do so. There will always be newer, shinier (but not as shiny as Dave’s hair) prospects to target in these leagues down the line. That’s why today I will be reviewing my selections in the 12 team, H2H points dynasty startup mock that fellow Razzballer Dylan Vaughan Skorish and I partook in this past week. Although I will reveal all of my selections, my focus in this piece will be to review my strategy and discuss the prospects I targeted in this mock draft.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On the big league side, the Giants employed three specialized hitting coaches to great effect in 2020. This made an immediate impact on the field–a field that shrunk a little before the season when the front office decided to bring in the outfield walls. Last but not least, a huge tarp was hung behind the right center field fence, blocking a gust that might’ve been killing home runs for years. According to the story by Eno Sarris and Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the tarp was meant to shield the eyes of looky-loos getting a free peak, so there’s a non-zero chance it remains. If it does, if the park and the wins and the coaching stays the way it was in 2020, I’m taking a second look at every San Francisco prospect, especially left handed hitters. You had to be Barry Bonds on super balm to get to lefty power in previous iterations of the park. Now you can be Brandon Belt. Or Alex Dickerson. Or maybe Hunter Bishop?

One interesting piece of this is I feel like the front office has been targeting right handed bats for quite some time to try and navigate their park. It’s just anecdotal, and Hunter Bishop deflates the relevance pretty quickly, but it’s a thought I’ve been having nonetheless. I’m thinking of the pre-Zaidi group, but even if you look at Farhan Zaidi’s low-stakes acquisitions: Kevin Pillar, Wilmer Flores, Jaylin Davis, Mauricio Dubon, you find mostly righties. Last year’s top ten here had seven righty bats and just two lefties. I dunno, probably just silliness that’s irrelevant now, but thoughts are thoughts, y’all. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Before taking a single at bat, Jasson Dominguez is dominating the baseball card world.

2020 Bowman Baseball is nowhere to be found in the retail universe. Year over year, Bowman baseball cards are one of the only products in late-stage capitalism that corporations cannot keep in stock.

Stephen Strasburg is to blame for some of this. Back in 2010, I was stopping at Wal-Marts off the highway, tiny town Targets and roadside Casey’s in search of 2010 Bowman blaster boxes. They cost 19.99 in stores and sold for about $40 online. Inside a blaster box were eight packs, two chrome prospect cards per pack. (Today, Topps has shrunk the pack count to six but kept the pricing.) Some of the craze was that a Strasburg base 1st Chrome rookie went for about $50 on eBay. Some of the craze was due to the high-end market. An attorney bought the Strasburg 1/1 Superfractor–not autographed–from 2010 bowman for $10,000 and sold it a short while later for $26,000.

Ten years later, Bowman is the biggest thing in baseball, and Jasson Dominguez is growing the game yet again.

Here’s a table I put together built from the elite group of my Top 200 for easy viewing and comparing.

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Just days after the Toronto Blue Jays inked Hyun-Jin Ryu, we meet as scheduled many months ago to discuss their minor league system. The fates are aligned this Holiday season. 

And it’s pretty good–this system–considering what it graduated to the big leagues last year.

Is it Christmas-morning good? 

Like gathering around the prospect fire with your favorite baseball humans good? 

Maybe not, but it’s good enough in pitching that help should be coming soon enough to pair with the promising young hitters Toronto’s assembled. Don’t sleep on Tellez and Teoscar, by the way. They aren’t exactly what you’re hoping to find under the tree, sure, but they’re solid stocking stuffers within reach of 30 home runs in 2020. 

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Carlos Collazo of Baseball America started a Twitter thread last month with a poll meant to determine who fans thought was the team of the decade. The San Francisco Giants, winners of three World Series championships in the decade, were left off the four-team survey. Twitter did not like this and demanded an explanation, but we already know what happened. Nobody really cares about the Giants.

That’s not fair. 

You care about the Giants. 

That’s why you’re reading this: you’ve got at least some level of interest in Giants prospects. Still, it fascinated me that the Astros won the poll despite having won the one World Series and having lost almost as many games as they won over the decade. The Astros have become the image of success and a preferred model for how to win at baseball, while the Giants ended the aughts in the shadows, scraping up castoffs as they transitioned to a forward-thinking front office after a dynastic run of success under Brian Sabean. Farhan Zaidi and company are in this for the long haul, and their system looks better every day. So grab some flowers for your hair and let’s go to San Francisco.

Please, blog, may I have some more?