Please see our player page for Matthew Liberatore 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.

My system overview would be incomplete if it failed to cite JKJ’s recent article from the pages of Razzball, Randy Arozarena & the Ex-Cardinals’ All-Star Team.

I’m not one for pouring salt into open wounds, but I think any sports fan can totally relate to the catharsis endemic to deconstructing the various rosters your team didn’t build, even as that team is relatively successful on the field. 

The redbirds’ minor league build is fine. It’ll probably land mid pack or better for the people who rank whole systems. That evaluation will be a bit inflated by Dylan Carlson’s last gasp of prospect eligibility and Norman Gorman’s residual shine from his early returns, but there’s also plenty of topside waiting in the lower minors and an outstanding 2020 draft class on the way. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hello again, my friends. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

I had another fun-but-also-terribly-painful experiment for you guys. For some of you this will be euphoric. But as a Cardinals fan myself, well, this just sucks.

My experiment is rather simple, and it’s similar to my last piece on Waiver Wire All-Stars. I’m certainly not alone in this, but I’ve noticed a whole lotta ex-STL players having really, really, really good things happen after leaving town. I got to thinking, and I wondered if it were possible to field a full fantasy squad of 100% ex-STL players and still have a good team. The answer is YUP. Oh, joy.

I had to take some liberties, and I had to do a lot of digging through past draft classes and minor league affiliate rosters, but I’ve built a Yahoo standard lineup of players who at one point in time were in the Cardinals system (with some liberties sprinkled in). It’s not a perfect team, but it’s a damn fine one if you ask me. It just hurts all the more knowing this didn’t have to be fantasy for the Cardinals. IT COULD HAVE BEEN REALITY! MAYBE! *crying baby GIF*

Another thing about this experiment is we gotta assume these players reach or maintain their fantasy ceilings. Some guys weren’t so great in 2020 but have been good recently, or vice versa. Some of them I don’t exactly miss, if I’m being honest, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t help this fantasy fantasy squad win.

Cardinals fans, get your tissues ready. Have Freese’s heroics from Game 6 of the 2011 World Series playing on a loop in the background as you read. Go to your happy place and try to stay there as you see name after name break your heart over and over again. This is supposed to be therapeutic, right?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When it comes to strategy in dynasty formats, I deploy an unorthodox approach. Depending on where you play and the roster rules that accompany your league, my method may or may not be feasible for you, but it’s simple. I do my best Dave Dombrowski impersonation, fully equipped with a suave, silver wig, a coating of Jurgen’s Natural Glow and a Palos Heights, Ill. birth certificate. What I mean by this, is I like to make win-now moves while my league-mates are busy competing for the strongest prospect pool award and salivating over the talent that is waiting in the wings, each one desperately trying to convince the rest of the league that they are the very best at identifying young talent.

If I’m in any position to win in any given year, I’ll happily dump a few prospects, even ones with top 100 status, for a veteran player with a lower career ceiling in order to help my chances. Like I said, this may or may not be a possible trade-off for you depending on your league rules, but I’ve seen all too many league-mates dwell in the cellar year-after-year, stockpiling more and more top 100 names and never getting the production they were waiting for. Win when you can win — and be willing to sell your highest-rated prospects. That is, except for the select few that you should stash and forget, and wait on no matter the circumstances. This does not necessarily mean honing in on the top 10 in the MLB 100, but rather identifying the players who are young and quickly developing skill sets you just know are going to play at the next level. The fantasy gems. They play loud. Think of Ronald Acuna during the 2017 season, before he became the No. 1 prospect in the game.

Today, I’ll go in-depth on three players you could make this type of argument for: Julio Rodriguez, MacKenzie Gore and Matthew Liberatore. I’ll provide detailed, unbiased data along the way, before providing my own brief opinion at the end regarding whether or not you should pack this player for the long haul. As a reminder, all the 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, please feel free to voice such in the comments section. Now saddle up, take off your shoes and belt, and join me over at the TSA security check.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I doubt there’s any good way to explore this, but this week I found myself wondering if this year’s rays prospect list might be the fastest top 10 in baseball history or at least in the last several years. Perhaps the turf-burning Cardinals and Royals of the 80’s could measure up in parts, but they wouldn’t have three 80 runners and a Wander, I think. 

Fantasy baseball players love the Tampa Bay Rays to some extent already, I think, but they should probably just lean in and pick up all the profit. Avisail Garcia was a great example of this last year. As were Emilio Pagan and Nick Anderson and Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. And that’s all just last season. Oh, Brandon Lowe, too, though he was from within. 

This year it’s Brendan McKay and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo; Kevin Padlo and Joe Ryan; Josh Lowe, Colin Poche and Brent Honeywell Jr.

Also Hunter Renfroe.

Because crazier things have happened. 

Presumably.

Jesus Aguilar did not drink the lazarus water in 2019, so it’s not like Tampa Bay bats a thousand, but the Midas touch element here is real. Consider Nick Solak. Traded for Peter Fairbanks. When a prospect leaves Tampa, it’s because there’s no room at the inn, and they see an angle they want to play now. Our move is to realize their bar is incredibly high, so when they “sour” on a prospect enough to move him, it means a little less than it might in other smart organizations. Solak is still probably a value, depending on how you acquire him, and Fairbanks should be tracked in leagues where his profile (high K reliever) matters. 

I veered off the path there. Suffices to say you could do worse in dynasty leagues than focusing on the organizations that are best at this particular game of finding talented players and helping them maximize their abilities. Or even just using it as a tiebreak when looking at two players of similar appeal. Estanli Castillo and Alberto Figueroa won’t make many lists this off-season, but I will be checking in on throughout the season because they’re with Tampa. I will check their game logs every few weeks or so just in case Castillo begins a noisy home run binge or Figueroa starts swiping bases in bunches. I just don’t want to be late to a Tampa party because a Tampa party rarely stops.  

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Everyone in the baseball world is keeping at least one eye on the postseason, and everyone has the same question: is A.J. Pierzynski likable now? He looks like a nice dude, no?

Maybe that’s just me.

Humans are definitely wondering about bat flips and unwritten rules, though. Especially Grey, who wanted me to delete all Braves from the list because that organization is the worst thing that’s happened to baseball since Grey touted Rudy’s Tout Wars success on Twitter.

Take heart, though, baseball fans. No matter how many bats get flipped this Fall, I’ll be here talking about all the good players our future selves can enjoy (unless they flip bats).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s chucking down snow in my neck of the woods. Perfect time to hole up and make a list of the top 100 prospects for 2019 fantasy baseball. Before we begin…an observation. The roads are empty around here except for pizza delivery cars. Ordering a pizza in a blizzard seems like a dick move to me. So I’m dedicating this post to the real heroes – the pizza delivery boys and girls braving a foot of snow in their crappy car to make sure Edna has her half-pepperoni, half-bell pepper medium pie while she watches reruns of Friends on Netflix. Moving on, if you’re just tuning into this station, we’ve already gone over the top 25 prospects for 2019 fantasy baseball as well as the top 50 prospects for 2019 fantasy baseball. For thoughts on every player and to see each team’s top ten prospects, visit our 2019 minor league preview index. Concerning these players listed below, my goal when drafting/picking up one of them is to net some sort of positive value and see them playing regularly. Essentially, this final group is composed of players with 50ish overall ratings on the scouting scale…not your superstars or even All-Stars, but a decent shot to carve out a career in the big leagues.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’ve already given up on all of my resolutions. Cancel my Curves membership immediately! Where are my Camels? I need a pint of Canadian Club…ASAP! We’re still hacking through the minor league previews though. Emphasis on the hack when I’m doing them. The Rays have made some interesting moves this offseason. In chess we’d put a question mark next to them. But I’ll leave opinions to the opinion-makers. I’m just here to make sure you know who the top ten prospects are in this Rays organization. In my opinion, of course.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s Tucking K-way!!! The announcers at Fresno Grizzles games should just yell that out every time Kyle Tucker hits the batters box. Seriously, there is no one hotter on the planet right now than Kyle Tucker. Now gentlemen and three ladies, I know what you’re all thinking, “Real nice Ralphie, but where was this in the bigs kid?” BTW all of you have a Southie accent, and at least one Celtic cross tattoo. I just wanted to be clear about that. Oh, what’s that? The sound of a walkoff three run dong off the bat of Tucker? He finished up Saturday night 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, a run, a stolen base, and a walk. Tucker is hitting .478/.510/.1.087 with 9 homers, 18 runs, 20 RBI, and 6 steals over his last ten games. That’s some hero-ball type of stuff. Despite the struggles in his limited MLB looks I still foresee a future all-star, with 25-30 homer power, 15 steal speed, and a .270-.280 batting average. His setup, and swing are somewhat unique/unorthodox, whatever. With his uppercut bat-path, and upper body heavy swing, sometimes it almost looks like Tucker is throwing the bat, but he manages to get a lot of the barrel in the strike-zone, leading to a ton of good contact. All this to say, don’t sell on Tucker. 2018 might not be his year to contribute, but I’d be in on 2019 in all formats. The lingering question is playing time, but Tucker is good enough that he’ll force his way. It’s easy to forget he’s just 21, and will be 22 for the entirety of 2019. So there’s plenty of time to get things to click at the big league level. I do think there will be some swing and miss struggles early, but those should stabilize with experience. Tucker is an obvious candidate for a September promotion, and could provide some spark with the right amount of playing time.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Piece by piece, pick by pick, signing by signing the Tampa Bay Rays have quietly built the best farm system in baseball. Stocked at all levels with players of all types. This balanced blend of pitching and hitting, power and speed, big stuff guys and pitchability types. There’s no shortage of prospects to discuss on the Rays farm. While much of the recent discussion and helium has followed wunderkind Wander Franco and his assault on the Appy League. He’s not the hottest player in the Tampa system at the moment. That honor belongs to recently promoted second baseman Vidal Brujan. The 20 year old switch-hitter is a contact machine, showing an uncanny ability to get his bat on balls in all quadrants of the zone. With a mature approach at the plate, it’s apparent right away that Brujan has a plan. His ability to recognize and make in swing adjustments is rare. When I caught the spark-plug (coded short person language) in the New York-Penn League last year with Hudson Valley, he stuck out like a green hat with an orange bill. Rarely do you see a player this athletic in short season ball, that seemingly has the foundations figured out. But there was Brujan. He’s never going to be an impactful power hitter, but his swing does have loft, and he has the ability to drive balls to the gaps. Quick hands generate his plus bat speed, but it’s his laid back approach, and ability to make split second reads on spin that really set him apart. That’s before we even talk about his speed and base-running ability. He’s quick, getting clocked at 4.26 on the turn by Jason Woodell just weeks ago. He uses that speed too, wrecking havoc this season between the Midwest League and Florida State League, stealing 49 bases on 67 attempts. I envision a top of the order table setter with 25+ steals, a high batting average and 12-15 homers, but 30+ doubles. If I was in a dynasty that used points scoring, I’d make it a priority to add Brujan. Through 12 games in High-A he’s slashing .409/.519/.614 with a homer and 6 steals. Go add Brujan da 5’9 (that’s his listed height) before he goes BOOM!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s a busy time in the world of prospecting, as I and many others that cover the Minor Leagues crunch on mid-season lists, we’re also inundated with new prospects to research, project, and rank. The hardest part is trying to balance the handful of categories, or types, these players fall into. First we have the college hitters; usually the highest floor options in terms of fantasy, we’ve seen quite a few of these types return nearly immediate value over the last 5-7 seasons in dynasty leagues. Next we have the high upside prep hitters; another category that has done well of late, notables like Royce Lewis, Jo Adell, and Brendan Rodgers fall into this bucket. Prep bats offer some of the highest upside, but the floor can be pretty low. The next variety is July 2nd hitters; a group with a long and exciting track record, but due to the age of these prospects, there’s a high rate of failure, and a good chance many of them fall off expectations quickly. While there are major red flags, you still think to yourself “that upside tho”. The next three flavors are all pitchers, and each of them offers their own set of unique benefits and challenges. College pitchers, are the closest to the finished product, but you get a lot of “strike-throwing-so-so-stuff” types, and those types of players are available on every wavier wire from here to Beijing. Then we have Prep Arms, the most deceptive of investments. If you read enough prospect ranks, scouting reports, and particularly draft coverage you’ll find yourself enamored with some of these arms. Think MacKenzie Gore, Riley Pint, Jason Groome, or Forrest Whitley, that’s a very up and down record of success. The final bucket is one that I don’t bother paying too much mind to in most dynasty formats, July 2nd pitchers. Really, there have been some great arms to emerge from this bucket, but it often takes two years until we even know which arms really have any MLB projection. All this to say, my ranks are heavily influenced by this simple mantra. Draft hitters, add pitchers from the wavier wire. That’s the process, and it’s not to say it’s perfect, but more often than not I find myself filled with regret after drafting a pitching prospect. I am not saying that Casey Mize isn’t awesome, he is, and if this were a “real-life” list I would have ranked him first or second, but if I’m entering a draft today, there’s for sure 3  hitters I take in front of him. It’s fine if you disagree, but process is process. Below is the early version of my first year player draft ranks. I reserve the right to change my mind over the coming months, and plan to update these in early to mid-October.

Please, blog, may I have some more?