Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? For the 497th day in a row, my magic mirror replies, “Not you, stupid.” It’s really a wonder I still have that mirror. I’ve really learned to control my rage. On days I’m especially composed, I even have theluxury of hearing the rest of what my magic mirror has to say: “Hold, a lovely Marlin is what I see. Rags cannot hide his dominant ways. Alas, Max Meyer is far more fair than thee.” That pale Minnesota skin has undoubtedly tanned since arriving in Pensacola and now Jacksonville, but the increase in sun exposure has done nothing to thwart Meyer’s prowess on the hill. The fireballing right-hander continues to impress with a fully-developed arsenal of three plus pitches, and it is only a matter of weeks (days?) before he gets the call to the bigs. Here’s my case for Meyer as the top prospect in the game to stash. Buckle up!

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First things first: ever wonder why people say that? Of course, first things should be first, or else we’d call them second things. Can you imagine if I started this post, “first things second, let’s begin with thirds?” That wouldn’t make sense, and you’d probably disregard my introduction and move right on to one of Grey’s eloquently-written masterpieces. So, first things first: I am not The Itch. I am Hobbs: modern marvel of man and owner of over 500 antique bottlecaps. This brings us to second things second: these rankings, therefore, detail my own assessment of the top-10 prospects for 2022 fantasy baseball, and not Itch’s. Itch composes the official prospect rankings for Razzball and knocks it out of the park year after year. But here is how I see this year’s top-10 for both dynasty and re-draft purposes, with a heavy emphasis put on 2022 projections. You may be surprised as to how the first-few names came out this year.

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Instead of inserting a witty lede to kick of this week’s prospect post, I decided I would share three major breakthroughs I’ve made in life over the past 24 hours. Some may be more relevant to you than others, but the first is the most essential — and also the most blatantly obvious. One: if you’re building your dynasty league strategy based on MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospect rankings and not The Itch’s, you’re putting yourself at an incredible disadvantage. If you’re reading this, then you’ve navigated to Razzball for a reason — so utilize the resources we have for you. Without a doubt, The Itch’s prospect rankings are the best out there for fantasy purposes and I base my personal strategy off of them while incorporating my own evaluations. Two: moving forward, I will be alternating between a Prospect Watch piece (this week) and unveiling five new college prospects in my Way-Too-Early Top 25 for the 2022 MLB Draft. That makes one of each per month as every post will arrive on Tuesdays on a bi-weekly basis. Three: Colton Cowser is a somewhat-cool name aided by alliteration, but it’s even better and far-more fierce when you flip it backwards: Reswoc Notloc. How awesome? It honestly sounds like something out of a Lord of the Rings novel: Reswoc the Warlock. Anyway, Reswoc is the focus of this week’s Prospect Watch piece. If you’ve been following my collegiate prospect coverage the past two years, then you’re already somewhat familiar with him. Today, I’ll provide an update and let you know how you should be evaluating Mr. Notloc in your dynasty league moving forward.

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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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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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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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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.

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Is Ian Anderson rapidly pitching himself into top 40 starting pitcher consideration heading into the 2021 fantasy baseball season? *turns down TV volume, cups hand to ear* “Hey, what’s that sound?” If it were 2019 and there happened to be another human within ear shot, they would respond, “yes, that’s the sound of someone screaming.” To which I would reply, “did Eduardo Escobar see a cat?” “No, that’s just Madison Bumgarner wailing down the side of a mountain after tripping and falling off a cliff, subsequently opening up a spot in next year’s top 40.” Luckily, he landed on an ATV and drove safely to the top 80 starter campground, where he’ll likely preside for the next four years.

As Anderson trudges his way up the same mountain, covered in brambles from the forest floor below, there are those who might actually think top 40 consideration is a foregone conclusion — and why not top 30? After all, the 2016 MLB Draft’s third overall pick is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings of work through his first four Major League starts. Does he deserve to be drafted as a top 40, or even top 30 SP next season? Today, we’ll dive into Anderson and some takeaways from his first taste of Big League action, including a refresher of his Minor League track record. At the end, I’ll answer that question.

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In my last prospect security check, I went over Atlanta’s Christian Pache, Miami’s Sixto Sanchez and Detroit’s Tarik Skubal. Since then, both Pache and Skubal have received the call to the Bigs, and I predicted we might even see all three in 2020 when I originally wrote the piece. The same is not the case for this week’s lucky luggage — Jazz Chisholm, Oneil Cruz and Blake Walston — although they are all equally thrilled to be featured in one of my articles. In fact, I actually just got off the phone with Jazz, who is one of the few remaining real baseball players left at the Jupiter training site. After thanking me for including him in my article, Jazz began telling me how even though no one else is left in camp except him, he made a new friend: a baseball named Bilson whose face he drew on with a Sharpie. Times have apparently been tough in Jupiter — Jazz also has an imaginary cat named Tom Mattingly.

As poor Jazz sends smoke signals to Derek Jeter from the training site, we must press on with this security check. Unlike the last installment, we’ll probably be waiting until 2021 to see Chisholm and Cruz crack the MLB, while Walston won’t debut until 2022-23. That said, I’ve done my best to gather information about all three of these players and provide my own personal spin on each, despite the fact that there is no new statistical information to reveal. As one last reminder, all three players I’ll go over today were previously requested in the comments section by the readers of Razzball. If there is a particular prospect you would like to see an in-depth profile for in the future, just say so. If you’re on the fence, please keep it to yourself because the more of these profiles I write, the more Grey will make fun of me for writing 1,000 words on a single player in his daily round-ups. Alright, before we get to cruzin’ and waltzin’ — let’s start it off with some smooth Jazz.

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Who could be this year’s Chris Sale or Brandon Finnegan? Those two made their Major League debuts in the same year in which they were drafted: 2010 for Sale, 2014 for Finnegan. Sure, both of those players got their feet wet via abbreviated action in the Minors, but “feet wet” might be an overstatement. If anything, their spikes got a little damp, then dried off by the time they arrived in the realm of the AL Central. Sale made just 11 Minor League appearances for a grand total of 10 1/3 innings pitched, while Finnegan bested him with 13 appearances and 27 frames. 2020 draftees won’t have the same opportunity to prove themselves against MiLB talent, but they’ve also been gifted with the uniqueness of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which opens the door for all sorts of insanity and unprecedented strategies from MLB brass.

Therefore, we have to call it a wash. If all goes according to plan and we do indeed get a 60-game season, 2020 is going to be super weird. As a result of that, I’m not the first person to openly predict we will see a 2020 draftee appear in the Bigs this year and I certainly won’t be the last. My expectation is that we will see one-to-two recently drafted players appear in the MLB this season. Although I can’t say with certainty who exactly that will be, I can attempt to do so using the information that’s out there. That’s precisely what I’ll be breaking down in this post by providing you with a list of pitchers who have an outside chance to contribute actual fantasy value in your league this year, ranked from the most likely to the least likely.

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If you’re a hardcore baseball fan, you’ve probably already mulled through your fair share of 2020 MLB mock drafts. It seems like every website worth a damn posts one, yet no one really knows what to expect, and it only takes one curveball to throw the entire equation out of whack. Even so, I figured I’d give it a try for Razzball’s sake, if for no other reason than to give Grey some spicy motivation to tune in on Wednesday night. See, now it’s a mock draft.

There’s a lot of uncertainty with this draft. Nobody knows for sure just how college heavy teams are ultimately going to go with the unique situation created by COVID-19, and which teams will elect to play the strategic bonus tomfoolery game. It’s difficult to project just how these factors will play into each and every team’s respective strategy. We might see more teams than ever taking on the “best-available” approach.

But as it relates to fantasy baseball, Wednesday’s draft is relevant because it sets the stage for the ensuing trajectory of every drafted player’s stock as a prospect. Not only does draft position tend to influence how people value prospects in first-year player drafts, but who drafted said player can also go a long way in determining what their Minor League journey will look like and how confident we are as fantasy owners that they will develop successfully. That being said, here is my carefully-concocted mock draft of the first 29 picks this upcoming Wednesday. Mush! Onward into the unknown!

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