Please see our player page for Nick Gonzales 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.

Three Rivers Stadium is about to get hit with a wave of young talent. And yeah, I realize the stadium is probably called Crypto Cathedral or something by now. (Narrator voice: “Three Rivers Stadium was actually imploded in 2001. The Pirates play in PNC Park now, which is, in fact, named for a bank that shuttered 200 branches in June of this year.) So . . . pretty close.

Fact remains that this list is loaded with players set to debut in 2023. One downside of a tank-tastic rebuild is the timeline crunch. Pittsburgh has too many good-not-great youngsters to play at any given time. We saw some of that in 2022 when the club would call up a prospect and let him ride the bench or make him walk the plank like Captain Jack Suwinksi. It’ll take a lot of skill and a little luck to separate playing time winners from losers and build a sea-worthy vessel from this veritable forest of prospects. 

 

1. C/OF Endy Rodriguez | 22 | AAA | 2023

Rodriguez is nearing the end of his minor league journey. In a real-world scenario, he’s probably the Opening Day catcher for this team. Pittsburgh punted in all sorts of creative ways last year, so the chances of Endy breaking camp with the big club are minuscule. It’ll probably be Jason Delay and his 53 wRC+ or Tyler Heineman and his 57 wRC+. You never know, though. If Pittsburgh suddenly decided to give a shit about wins and losses, they could field something resembling a competitive ballclub. Johan Oviedo was a big find for the rotation. Mitch Keller seemed to break through into something approaching functionality. Roansy Contreras is already good fresh off his 23rd birthday.

If you put the switch-hitting Rodriguez behind the plate and in the middle of that lineup, the whole team looks about 50 percent better. The athletic 6’0” 170 lb former Mets farmhand played a fair bit of outfield in 2022 but looks smooth behind the plate. His bat is racing his glove to the majors, and the presence of number one pick Henry Davis complicates the issue further, but it might help them both to share the workload and kick over to DH or left field on off-days. Rodriguez is a better baseball athlete than Davis and a more versatile defender, so he might find himself in the ideal fantasy catcher spot, escaping the rigors of daily dish duty while finding his way into the lineup much more than the average backstop. In 31 Double-A games last year, Rodriguez popped eight home runs and slashed .356/.442/.678 with an impressive 13-to-15.2 percent walk-to-strikeout rate. He finished the year with a week in Triple-A, where he collected eight RBI in six games and slugged .773. In short, he is ready. 

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I was going to copy and paste the whole list here, but then I remembered last time I did that, I had to scroll forever to read the profiles on this group, which is arguably the most important group in the list for our purposes given that they’re the likeliest to be available in the most leagues. Anyway, the links are still here and the most streamlined way to build this out, I think. 

Here’s a link to the Top 25

Here’s a link to the Top 50.

Here’s a link to the Top 75.

 

76. RHP Gavin Williams | Guardians | 22 | AA | 2022

77. RHP Cade Cavalli | Nationals | 24 | AAA | 2023

78. C Tyler Soderstrom | Athletics | 20 | AA | 2023

79. OF Sal Frelick | Brewers | 22 | AAA | 2023

Gavin Williams threw six hitless innings his last time out, bringing his Double-A ERA down to 1.59 and his WHIP to 0.95. That’s in 45.1 innings across 11 starts. WHIP is 0.81 in eight starts since July. Cleveland is somehow getting better at pitcher development, partly because they’re applying their systems to better and better athletes. Williams is 6’6” and 255 pounds but repeats his delivery well. Two plus benders. Double-plus fastball. 

Cade Cavalli is similarly enormous at 6’4” 240 lbs. You could convince he’s three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than that. Looks like a linebacker pumping high heat with extreme run to the right-handed batter’s box. Bigtime tempo guy. When it’s going well, he’s back on the mound and firing in blinks. When it’s not, his whole game slows down. He’s been awesome for three months (2.12 ERA, 1.02 WHIP since May 22) and would likely be in the majors at the moment if the Nationals were. 

I’ve never been a Tyler Soderstrom pusher. I think he can hit, and I’ll give him the high-probability big leaguer thing, but ours is a game of impact. Standout tools. Soderstrom’s best tool is hit, which is often what you’d like to see, but Oakland is not the best home for a hit-first catcher who might not catch but doesn’t have much speed to handle the outfield. 

Get your money for nothing and your licks for free. Better Call Sal has a 200 wRC+ in 15 games at Triple-A. He’ll be on the next stash list. 

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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 kept getting lost 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 George Kirby is definitively a better prospect than Nick Lodolo 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

Here’s a link to the Top 25 before we roll on down the mountain. 

Drumroll please and away we go!

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Last week in the Top 20 First Base Prospects for 2022 Fantasy Baseball, I dubbed first base the Island of Misfit Toys for its tendency to collect prospects who fail out of other positions. 

Welcome to the sequel! It’s untitled at the moment, so chime into the comments if you’ve got thoughts. Once upon a time, a guy had to be pretty quick to handle the keystone, but advances in defensive positioning have mitigated that need for speed and opened the spot to some slow-moving bats looking for a place to sit and wait for their turn to hit. 

If a guy is a plus defender at shortstop, like CJ Abrams in San Diego, I left him there for the purposes of this list. I know he’s blocked and likely to play somewhere other than short, but he profiles as a plus defensive player at the infield’s toughest non-catching position, so he’s earned that spot. Some of the guys here can still hack it at shortstop, but they’re trending toward a future elsewhere on the diamond.

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I’ve been covering so many Pirates prospects throughout the year that I feel like I’ve already written this article. Because I sort of did, particularly a month ago during Prospect News: Pirates Follow Secret Treasure Map to Roansy Contreras

Definitely some of my shiniest work in that one, mateys. If you’ve been around here this season, you know I like this swashbuckling system, so let’s hit the high seas. 

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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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A few days ago, the Pirates made Chris Archer walk the plank. 

They paid lip service to bringing him back at a reduced rate, but keeping him around seems like inviting an ill wind. Every time a Pittsburgh fan sees him in uniform, a painting in an attic somewhere writhes itself into unimaginably hideous shapes.

It’s time to sail on, is all I’m saying. Or just flip the painting so we never have to look at it again. 

The team did well in the draft this year and has honestly my favorite system of the nine I’ve covered so far. I say “honestly” not because I’m mostly lying in this space but to convey my mild surprise at the realization of that thought. I think there’s a strong case to roster sixteen of these young bucs, so I’ve adapted the list a little this week.

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Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty), Pit Master and prospect analyst, joins the show to breakdown this years MLB draft. We discuss the teams that had the best draft as well as the Top 10 picks. We breakdown Max Meyer and Zac Veen who may have the most upside in this years draft class after Spencer Torkelson. Ian gives us the best tips and tricks to make the best BBQ. Brisket, Ribs and burgers are some of his favorites to cook. What are yours?

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The Itch recaps the 2020 MLB Draft. Spencer Torkelson leads an ambush of young Tigers. Austin Martin books a surprise gig with a band of Blue Jays. Nick Gonzales leads a promising crew of Pirates. Ed Howard hops the El train to join the Cubs.

Throw in a whole bunch of other players along some conspiratorial thoughts connected to the post-draft signing period, and you’ve got mail! Or a notification, anyway. It’s a Razzball podcast! Back after an MLB-sized hiatus to gather around the prospect fire, gaze into the dancing future flames, and see what we can see.

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Major League Baseball teams have to draft a lot of young pitchers. You do not. 

This discrepancy is a big part of what makes dynasty prospect rankings fascinating and fun for me. Simply put, at any given moment, more quality pitching prospects exist than dynasty leagues have minor league roster spots to accommodate. 

You can always pick up a relevant pitcher. 

You cannot always add a relevant speedster, and you very rarely add a legitimate bat with stolen base upside. . 

The TheoCubs tried to build a dynasty the way we would in fantasy baseball: drafting high-floor, well-developed hitters and buying pitchers via free agency and trade. This brought the Cubs a title but has proven difficult to maintain once they started stealing from the future to tread water in the present.

I attempted something similar in this space before the draft, building my Top Ten for 2021 First-Year-Player Dynasty Drafts by anticipating which international signings would crack the list on both the amateur and professional sides. 

A funny thing happened on the way to part two: MLB owners decided they didn’t want to pay up on the July 2 signing date and pushed that all way into January. Just like that, illegal handshake deals worth millions of dollars went poof. Families sacrificing toward this date for a decade were told to eff off, if they were personally told anything at all, and the dynasty draft season went up in smoke, at least in its typical form, at least for the time being. 

To that end, I’m ranking just the draftees here this time. Can’t really count on January signings or international free agency to actually happen in this climate when MLB just makes shizz up as it goes along. 

It’s not a coincidence that baseball’s head McDucks waited to see how the $20,000 per player free agent bonanza went before pushing the international deadline. Very dark timeline stuff all over in 2020, including the post-bonanza, post-postponement note from MLB for teams to be miserly with any scholarships connected to the ultra cheap sweepstakes. 

Just so ironic to bang the drum about pace of play and fan interest for years only to say screw it all in 2020, but here we are. Let’s talk baseball! 

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