The future is now in Cincinnati. Entering play Sunday, the Reds are 6 games out of the NL Central lead. They’ve called up top pitching prospect Andrew Abbott as Hunter Greene deals with some hip stiffness. Big bat Christian Encarnacion-Strand awaits an MLB call-up. The Reds are enjoying a hot start from shortstop Matt McLain, […]

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Without a doubt, the greatest movie ever made is Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. One of my favorite scenes is when Jenny (Cameron Diaz) ventures into the rich part of down to rob the affluent blind while dressed as a maid — a practice referred to as being a “turtle dove” in the film. As she pickpockets a flirtatious man’s wallet before getting off at her stop, he begins to get forward with her, asking if he may speak but trying to not be too ambitious with his remarks.

JENNY: I might like, sir. But I can’t say now.
MAN: Why?
JENNY: Because this is my stop.
MAN: May I walk with you a little, then?
JENNY (firmly): That — would be too bold.

At that point, Jenny exits and proceeds to rob countless New York City mansions blind. Absolutely classic. Now, think of today’s post the same way. We are going to be seriously bold, but we won’t be breaking bread with strangers. This is our Opening Day. Our chance to be the turtle dove and rob our leagues like none other. Be daring, but on your own accord. As long as no one recognizes you or gets wind of your plan, we’re in the clear. Luckily, the five players we’ll break down with bold predictions are former college starts turned MLB youngsters still waiting to make a name for themselves in The Show. Many are sleeping on them, but not us. Not today.

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Last week, we hit the top 10 prospects for 2022 fantasy baseball, and now — we’ll navigate into the top 20. It’s filled with Q-Bert references, jokes about dinner plans, an homage to hippie culture, my new rendition of a Lorde song, and more. It’s what you need to keep your wits about you when trying to figure out which prospects will garner enough playing time to be fantasy relevant in 2022 in the midst of the ongoing lockout. Who makes the top-20 cut? Who gets omitted like chicken in a McNugget? There will be no shortage of fiery opinions here, and the piece is somewhat lengthy, so let’s get into it, beginning with one of the more fascinating names on the list.

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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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Ouch. *cues voice of a young British child named Harry* That really hurt! I can’t say I  actually know the level of pain Harry felt when his younger brother Charlie bit his finger that fateful day, but I do know this: last Wednesday really hurt. I mean, yes, it was glorious. It was day one of the 2020 MLB Draft, and it was real. It was baseball, or at least something relevant to the product we so desperately wish to see dancing before our eyes on the diamond during these summer months. It was consumable. It was on live television. It was something I needed and I know a lot of you needed as well.

But as it related to my 2020 MLB Mock Draft, it was a disaster — it truly hurt. It was like being brutally bitten by a bald-headed baby (alliteration on fleak!). I won’t even hide from it. There’s the link. Check it out. There isn’t a whole lot that I got right. Then again, most everyone who took a shot at it got it utterly wrong this year. I love Heston Kjerstad and he’s an incredible player. I believe he’s an excellent prospect to target in upcoming fantasy first-year player drafts (FYPD). But find me a mock that had him going No. 2 overall. Find me a mock that had Nick Yorke going No. 17 to the Red Sox. There were a lot of surprises, even within the top 10. And now, with it all over, we’re left to pick up the pieces.

Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if you watched or not. Even if you didn’t, you can look up who was drafted where, get lost in the hype, and decide who you want to target in your dynasty league. I play in a few home leagues where I already know I’ll have the most efficient FYPD of anyone in my league. While many people select prospects based on where they were drafted, or what Harold Reynolds said about them on TV, I’ll be picking out the future fantasy gems hidden along the way. Just because someone went 30 picks later than another player doesn’t mean they should necessarily be drafted later in FYPD. Hopefully, if you’re in a high stakes league, you already understand that concept. But the MLB Draft, regardless of your own personal philosophy of how teams should pick players, does not provide an outline for the top 150 players to target, ranked from best-to-worst.

If I were you, I would draft Tanner Burns (No. 36) over Jared Shuster (No. 25), just like I would select Daniel Cabrera (No. 62) or Isaiah Greene (No. 69) instead of Hudson Haskin (No. 39). That doesn’t mean I don’t like Shuster or Haskin, it just indicates I won’t be letting MLB Draft position dictate how I draft, and neither should you. That being said, here are 16 players I think should be targeted much higher than their draft position indicates. No one within the first 25 picks was under consideration (I made an exception for Sabato, that incredible hulk of a man), as they likely come with gaudy FYPD stock as is.

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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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