Man, the sound of the words rookie sleeper pitcher just makes my skin crawl. Prospect and rookie hitters are so much more exciting to own, and just as fun to write about. Pitchers, on the other hand, not..so..moooouch. Outside of the top 100 type guys, I typically stay away from spec arms in leagues of all shapes and sizes. Increasingly, over the past few seasons, some what unheralded starters and relievers have come from nowhere and made an impact in deeper leagues and dynasty’s. So to round out our rookie sleeper posts for the pre-season, we’re going to dive into some of the off the radar arms that should reach their rookie limits this season. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about Giolito, Urias, Berrios, Snell, Glasnow, etc. You should know those guys, if you don’t, go back and read my previous posts. BTW….you should know those guys. Rookie sleepers for 2016 fantasy baseball, this time with 113% less The Band and Da Band mix ups. Seriously, I was getting attacked in the comments and on Twitter, and all over a silly definite article mixup. Is Da a definite article?

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So here we are, the final Minor League Preview of the offseason, and just in time for pitchers and catchers. It’s been a long grueling road that spanned four months, two writers, and countless late nights, study, and pizza rolls. Only punk rock pizza rolls, none of that commercial shizz! All of this has led us to today, and your payoff….THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!! Okay, so it’s not that exciting, unless you like far away hitting specs, and loads of floorbored material arms. As far as I know the Cards Floorboreds do not cause cancer, but the same can’t be said about the Angels. As for the St. Louie’ system, they’ve certainly churned out their share of high end talent over the years, and 2015 was no different. As the Redbirds graduated two top half of the order type bats in Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. I still can’t help but think that 2015 should have been the year of Oscar Taveres. My prospector eyes still weep for Oscar. Regardless, there’s still plenty to be aware of in the higher and lower levels, and a couple of beachy specs too! No not Brandon Beachy, because then their arms would be falling off. The Cards leave that to the northern most birds, the Blue Jays. Ha! Prospector humor kills me!! Let’s take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals Prospects, shall we?

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All year we’ve been ranking the top prospects closest to the majors. With September call-ups quickly approaching, this post is a little different. Instead of limiting the list to players with their rookie eligibility intact, this will include any players currently in the minor leagues regardless of their at bats or innings pitched totals. There’s a catch, though. It’s only going to list players who are currently healthy and on their team’s 40-man roster. If you see a big name omitted, it’s probably because they aren’t currently on the 40-man. That can still be manipulated of course, but if a player is already on the roster, it increases the chances they’ll get a look next month. I also decided to weed through it for players that I thought could actually have some relevance in fantasy. With guys like Domingo Santana, Trea Turner, and even Aaron Altherr already up, this isn’t exactly the sexiest group. But there are some nice players in here, and if they can find playing time, they could also help your fantasy team down the stretch. When looking at who to pick up, I’d recommend focusing on teams that are out of the playoff hunt and who may be more inclined to give their younger players a look. Zeroing in on injuries (or potential ones) is also a good move. I bolded a few of the names that I think are interesting gambles…

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Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk continued to hit all the baseballs last night chipping in two hits and a two-run home run to help beat the Braves. Randy! Randy! Randy! Randy has been quite randy indeed lately, he’s now homered in back to back games and he’s hitting .346 with six runs, four home runs, ten RBI and a stolen base in the past week. Yes! More please! He’s slashing .283/.333/.566 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI on the year, and the .900 OPS ain’t too shabby either. But it’s the 11 homers in 219 at-bats that raises my eyebrow, Dwayne Johnson. That’s a 25-30 homer hitter over a full season, folks! If we take a peep at the next level stats we can see Randy and his .375 BABIP may be getting a bit lucky. Let’s not even talk about 30.8 K% and 5.8 BB% because they are downright awful. And sure Stephen Piscotty could threaten to steal some of Grichuk’s ABs down the line. However, the fact is Grichuk is hitting hot fire right now and is still under 50% owned in most leagues, a number that will undoubtedly grow over the next few hours as the legend of his four homer week spreads throughout the land. Time to Buy-chuk, Grichuk! I’d add him in all leagues while he’s still hitting everything he sees into the bleachers. Randy! Randy! Randy!

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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What do numbers call their father? Data. Thank you, Highlights. You taught me so much with the juxtaposition of Goofus and Gallant, and you’ve entertained me for thirty years. One copy, that is well worn, sits on the back of my toilet as my salvation, especially when Cougs forgets to restock the toilet paper. Why am I thinking about data right now? Because I just spent two hours (more like ten minutes) looking for something. I was trying to find what a hitter does after hitting the longest home run of their career, then sorting by guys that do it before their 24th birthday. Alas, I couldn’t find anything. Elias Sports Bureau probably knows but they’re a bunch of baseball nerds. We’re fantasy nerds. Huge difference, we have imaginary friends cooler than their real friends! My hypothesis I was aiming for is if a guy, who was once a well-regarded prospect is called up at a very young age, it might take a bit of time for them to acclimate themselves. Then, once they were comfortable, they’d show power, hit the longest home run of their career and take off from there. At this point, it’s just conjecture, but it makes reasonable sense in a case study of one. So, who was this well-regarded prospect that just hit the longest home run of his career this week? Nick Castellanos. My Spidey sense says Castellanos might finally be breaking out. Breaking out from what, you’re likely thinking. Well, not from chocolate. From being a schmohawk. Plus, my Spidey sense is strong since this is on the web. Like Castellanos’s relatives throw glasses into the fireplace, he was thrown into the fire at an insanely young age, and is only 23 years old now. It’s a little early for 2016 sleepers, but Castellanos was a guy that was pegged as someone that could hit for a solid average with some power. I’m intrigued, y’all! In keepers, I could see going after him now for next year, and just grabbing him in redraft mixed leagues. Castellanos you later! Thanks again, Highlights! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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“Who is the Dodgers ace?” asks the Fox Sports newscaster in Los Angeles, after the special report on “Where are the stars shopping for their Emmy gowns?” and “Juicing? Is it good for you?” and “A high-speed pursuit ends in an In-N-Out drive-thru,” and “Actresses over 24 years old may not be washed up after all,” and “Shopkeeper puts up sign to ‘Vote Republican’ and gets looted.” So, who is the Dodgers ace? On Saturday, Clayton Kershaw went 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners with 14 Ks, ERA down to 2.68. My Magic Eight Ball says this is the year the Dodgers hop on Kershaw’s back, march through the playoffs and justify every crackers move Mattingly’s done in his managerial career. Sometimes knowing the future really bums me out. Not to be outdone, on Sunday, Zack Greinke went 8 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners with 11 Ks, and lowered his ERA to 1.30. Soon he won’t be able to lower his ERA anymore (math is my strong suit). I’m totally done doubting Greinke…or am I?! No, not the ellipsis reversal! Ah! As I ranked in the top 100 for the 2nd half, Kershaw is way above Greinke in terms of, well, everything. Greinke is also not a 1.30 ERA pitcher, but no one really is, except maybe Kershaw. Greinke is definitely a number one though; this isn’t all luck. He has a 8+ K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and 3.05 xFIP, which is essentially nice, aw sooky, nice. A “nice aw sooky” sandwich, if you will. Then there’s the fact that Greinke hasn’t allowed a run in 43 2/3 IP. Orel Hershiser doesn’t scoff at that, maybe he yawns, then does a small double take when no one is looking. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Adam Wainwright is done for the year, so the Cardinals will have to dip into their starting pitching depth. At least for now it will be Tim Cooney as a replacement, but the popular opinion is that Marco Gonzales will eventually take that spot in the rotation and run with it. The reason Gonzales may not be an automatic add is that he’s currently dealing with an injury of his own. The southpaw is scheduled to throw again later this week after hitting the minor league disabled list with some shoulder/pectoral discomfort. Grab some BENGAY and let’s take a look at what Marco Gonzales might offer for 2015 fantasy baseball…

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