A wave of excitement ran through the baseball community like Bo Jackson bursting for the corner and up the sideline. Our collective breaths were held hostage once again by the state of Florida (why is it always Florida?) as we waited for our Wanderwall to save our batting averages. 

Turns out we got Taylor Walls, much to the surprise of nobody who’s followed Tampa for two seconds but certainly to the chagrin of baseball fans everywhere. 

But maybe Walls’ll be the one that saves us. Cause after all . . . 

He’s good at baseball.

He’s no Vidal Wandersoon, but he’s fine for anyone looking to save some coin, and let’s face it, our fantasy teams are in Tampa’s boat on that front. Everyone loves a price break in fantasy. We probably wouldn’t tap and sap our very souls to get it, but that’s life in the so-it-goes era of Major League fuckery. 

Sorry for the detour. I’m putting work into the Top 100 Update and wanted to open the floor to discussion. In this space, I’ll air out some thoughts kicking around as I build the list and invite your thoughts on the season so far. The more minds the better, is my general approach to all things thought and perspective.

My first macro thought is about the ball itself. To succeed at the big league level in 2021 seems to require a different skill set than it did in 2020, and perhaps 2020 valued different skills than 2019, given the stop-and-start nature of the Covid sprint. My mind is working overtime to enfold the myriad factors informing early-season returns in 2021. Biggest galaxy brain thought amounts to hit tool matters more than ever, which is really just more of the same except now there’s a real limit to how much contact can be made in a given innings. Hit tool is still the deciding factor, but you need enough power to do damage on the rare occasion that two straight hitters connect. Weird stuff to juggle. 

One big question I’m asking myself is basically just Alek Manoah

It’s more than that. Rookie pitchers have not been good this year. Manoah looks great. Best base skill set of the pitchers to debut this year. Biggest base in general. Also the best treble though, featuring a dizzying array of off-speed pitches. I tend to bet against pitching prospects, especially the super spendy ones, but Manoah feels like an exception to the rules, and he has to be if he’s going to thrive in the AL East pitching half his games in Toronto’s traveling wind tunnel. 

 

Should Luis Matos leap Marco Luciano in San Francisco? 

Dunno but Matos is certainly worth a lot, no?

How hairy is too hairy for Heriberto Hernandez in Tampa? 

Dunno but I’m shavinberto Hernandez just to keep cool through his hot start.

Both feel like top ten types to me. Just a matter of time if they don’t get there in this iteration. 

 

Jesus Sanchez walks on water in Miami? Interesting case here as I think he benefits from the spinariffic invisible bendy ball. Jesus can connect with anything. Pitch selection has always been his bugaboo, and he’s selecting all the good pitches these days, and sometimes mashing even when he picks a not-so-good time to swing. 

How far do we drop the strugglers? 

Is MacKenzie Gore still a top 25 guy? 

Confirmation bias compels me to bury Cleveland 3B Nolan Jones even further, but he was already out of the top 100. 

Daniel Lynch presents an interesting case. I don’t like his mechanics or his pitch data, but scouts love him, and I’m not dropping anyone too far off a bad start after not pitching in a real game for months. I have no idea why Kansas City didn’t just wait until Lynch had thrown a few minor league games. I guess they felt the urge to contend and believed in their guy, which I guess isn’t the worst thing in the world, but they bumped an effective Jake Junis to the pen to make that move, and I just don’t get it, especially headed into the right-hand heavy White Sox considering Junis’ effective slider. Hindsight, for sure. Anyway he’s outside the top 100 right now, but again, he already was. 

 

Hunter Greene is throwing how hard now? 

Roansy Contreras is throwing how hard now? 

DL Hall is throwing how hard now? 

Daniel Espino is throwing how hard now? 

Kyle Harrison is throwing how hard now? 

Maybe it’s easier to focus on the guys who aren’t throwing hellfire.

 

Can we make room for right-right corner mashers like Curtis Terry and Chris Gittens

Because I think we might. There’s not another Yermin hiding under a rock somewhere, but I still think his journey is more instructive and telling of the industry than it is an outlier. Same goes for Adolis Garcia and Randy Arozarena. Evaluating baseball players is hard. Do all you can to keep an open mind to “late bloomers” who are often only that because they’ve never had the trust, faith, eyes, whatever to get extended opportunities from their parent club. San Francisco OFs LaMonte Wade and Bryce Johnson have caught my eye this year, as have Baltimore 3B Patrick Dorrian and Houston OF Jose Siri. Sometimes talent and opportunity don’t sing in perfect harmony until pretty late in the concert.  

 

What about the guys who haven’t played? 

Hmm good point, bold lettering voice. This ranking might be more impacted by small samples than any I’ll ever produce, given the desert that’s behind us the verdant hours of baseball before me. I’ll have to counterweight somehow for Jasson Dominguez, Hedbert Perez, Wilman Diaz, Jonatan Clase and many, many more who haven’t posted a stat this season. The assignment is the thing, really. The minor league reshuffle might’ve pushed someone like Clase to the DSL if the Mariners didn’t want his first full-season exposure to occur in the early May chill. Dominguez I get. Kid gloves or whatever with a guy who’s already established a lot of value. Diaz I get for similar reasons, plus he’s a year younger. Hedbert and Clase are confusing, though I suppose they go in that same bucket of established-value prospects who could lose some shine with Low-A struggles. 

 

Texas OF Adolis Garcia has exceeded the prospect threshold, but he’s an interesting case. Sites rarely tinker at the pace required to graduate these types of guys from viable spots. Tough to imagine he’d fall outside anyone’s top 50 at the moment, though of course he would. Something about killing major league pitching for a couple months just doesn’t convince some prospectors the way a first-round pedigree does. 

Miami SS Jazz Chisholm is the type who gets hastily boosted up the rankings so certain sorts can save some face before graduation day. He’s striking out 33 percent of the time right now, and that’s almost certain to catch up with him at some point. Maybe it’ll be a brief slump when it happens, but redraft players know this drill by now: sell Chisholm if someone is treating him like a ready-made elite power-speed combo. In dynasty, I’ll bet you could get CJ Abrams or Vidal Brujan in a Chisholm-centric deal, and I’d be jumping at that. 

One of the biggest questions will be Arizona OF Kristian Robinson, who could be facing significant jail time for an incident involving highway patrol last August. Gotta keep him in the top 100, I think, but I have no idea where he’ll land. 

But for a lot of these questions, we have much more information today than last time we lined everyone up to pick sides. Should be a fun recess. As long as there’s dodgeball anyway. Thinking we’ll go live with it next Sunday. 

Please feel invited to make a case for someone who should make the hundred or open up some discussion to that effect or just whatever you’re feeling on this fine Sunday (or Monday or Tuesday or whenever you get around to reading this if you ever do.) 

Thanks for reading!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

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Cheavy
Cheavy
1 year ago

Will be very curious to see how high Gunnar Henderson ranks. Dude be raking!

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
1 year ago

Might be relevant, but should add that I am also stashing Brujan. So if I do move on from Witt jr. I do still have exposure to a top prospect who seems relatively close to getting the call!!

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
Reply to  Dr Sauce
1 year ago

Apologies, double post, please ignore this one:)

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
1 year ago

Hey Itch,
Your articles are always a ‘must read’, appreciate your unique insight. It’s refreshing to see rankings and rationale that are not simply rehashed from other ‘so called experts’.
All seems quiet on the Bobby Witt jr. front. He seemed close to the big club out of pre-season, however not hearing much now. Are you hearing/seeing anything? He seems to be picking up the pace with his bat and his continues to steal bases in bunches. Do you think we see him in KC this year? If yes, what’s your best guess?
I have him stashed in a 12 team, 6 player ESPN roto league. I have excellent keepers, so Witt would only be a keep if he came out and lit the world on fire!! Thinking maybe I should shop him. An owner offered Kluber for Witt? Is this enough? If not, what range of arm and bat would you be looking for in return?
Thanks again!

Dr Sauce
Dr Sauce
Reply to  Dr Sauce
1 year ago

Might be relevant, but should add that I am also stashing Brujan. So if I do move on from Witt jr. I do still have exposure to a top prospect who seems relatively close to getting the call!!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
1 year ago

Hey Itch,

Heard anything on Kjerstad? Last I heard was he was at the Orioles’ alternate training site working out. But now there is no alternate site with the minor leagues playing again. I haven’t heard of him getting sent anywhere. Did he just disappear into thin air?

thehombre
thehombre
1 year ago

Took your advice. Grabbed 2 purple Hedbert autos and 1 regular auto. Hedbert to the moon!

scoboticus
scoboticus
1 year ago

Two HRS for Austin Riley today. That’s 6 in one week!!

scoboticus
scoboticus
1 year ago

Hey bro. Hentges is pitching at Detroit tomorrow. I know he got shellacked by the Troutless Angels, but maybe a trip to Detroit is just what the doctor ordered.

Phillip
Phillip
1 year ago

Now we’re talking, Itch! Can’t wait for the update.

Liover Peguero took off like a rocket the first week. Injury aside, how are you viewing his upside? It looks like he has power and speed to go with his hit tool, but it is A+ level ball.

Roansy Contreras… what to make of this guy??

I’ve grabbed these two guys plus Jesus Sanchez in my 20-team dynasty. Would you hold Kristian Robinson over any/all of them?

Also, I’ve snagged Dalton Jeffries, Corbin Martin, and Tucker Davidson hoping one of the three will turn into horse drawn carriage. Which of these three do you prefer?

Thanks, Itch!

LG Baseball
LG Baseball
1 year ago

Great stuff Itch!

Jazz has been so fun to own but I also so worry about the K’s.

Would you deal Jazz for Lux in a keeper?

Thanks!
LG

Jolt In Flow
Jolt In Flow
1 year ago

Hey Itch, Sunday greetings! Looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you with all the above commenters.

If you have time, can I get a list of your top 5 prospects who will debut in 2022 or after? No need to go into detail. Just looking for players to research even more/keep an eye on.

Thanks as always for the excellent work,

Jolt

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

What about royce lewis now after the knee injury? I have held him for a couple of years. I assume this setback pushes his callup date out lat least 1 more year and may impact his speed.

The other one is tyler freeman who hit his first hr in AA yesterday. While he is hitting .348, that new found power that he reportedly showed at the alternate site last year hasn’t surfaced yet. His higher relative ranking was predicated on more power. Can’t wait to see the new ranks. Thanks

citizen5
citizen5
1 year ago

Alzolay was dropped and available on waivers. Should I drop Kopech for him?
Need QS and Ks.
Love Kopech but I don’t see him getting either of those in the near future… not with the way the Sox are using him.
Thanks in advance.

Powdered Toast Man
Powdered Toast Man
1 year ago

Thanks Itch. Love the work and and am excited to see your new Top 100. Is CJ Abrams top 5? Does he play in SD next June after Super 2? How about Austin Martin on the Jays? He’s hurt and has had a tough start at AA? Is he up in 2022 or more 2023? I have shares of both but need to activate both next year or lose them. Thanks

Hebrew Hammer
Hebrew Hammer
1 year ago

Great article!

I’m in a 14 team h2h league.

Brujan owner wants a SP2 for him straight up. He’s asked about Lynn or Gausman. To me, that’s too much. My current SP: Lynn, Maeda (hurt), C.Burnes, Bassitt, Dunning, Wood.

I actually think I’m short one SP.

What do you think is a fair offer for Brujan?
Also, I have Mondessi on IL looking to get a pitcher for him, what is a good return for him?

Thankyou!

batflix
batflix
Reply to  Hebrew Hammer
1 year ago

not itch, you can’t afford brujan for a pitcher right now unless dunning

Hebrew Hammer
Hebrew Hammer
Reply to  batflix
1 year ago

Agreed

junior56
junior56
1 year ago

Should Luis Matos leap Marco Luciano in San Francisco? No not as long as Luciano stays in the dirt.

Is MacKenzie Gore still a top 25 guy? Yes but is falling out of the top 10.Needs consistency

Jesus Sanchez walks on water in Miami? Not to start need to see how he handles ML pitching the 2nd time around

junior56
junior56
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

I see your point Itch. I just feel the difference between AAA pitching and ML pitching is huge. If he is called up we will see how close he really is.

Cg
Cg
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

I feel like people make too much out of infield eligibility. Half my leagues I’d prefer someone to have of eligibility, mi is a log jam these days. It could change, but I’d imagine it would take a rule change

Another Dan
Another Dan
1 year ago

Again Itch, you nailed it !!

I own Greene and Lynch in my 30 team contracts based dynasty. Am hoping that they are contributors over the next couple of years. My SP sure could do with an upgrade although I think Greene might ultimately end up in the ‘pen.

I have a couple of questions

1) Would you hold Jasson Dominguez or try and take advantage of someone over-valuing him ? And what is his value ?

2) Thoughts on Jairo Pomares ? I have an offer of the ROS of Kimbrel (no way, I can afford to retain him after 2021) for JP. Not sure how I feel. JP has potential Hit/Power/Speed combo in some articles and others I have seen have him as a 35+ FV value.

Best wishes,

Another Dan

Jimmy
Jimmy
1 year ago

Hey Itch!
18 team 5×5 dynasty…waiting for Duran and Manoah….Roansy and Espino and Harrison, are they going to an impact this year? Love reading your column on Sunday morning with my first cup of Joe!

Mike
Mike
1 year ago

Thoughts on Brendan Rodgers?

junior56
junior56
1 year ago

Morning Itch. Looking forward to the top 100 list. In need of some SP prospects. What are your thoughts on Brandon Williamson (Sea) and Luis Frias(Ari)?

Lower the Jolly Roger
Lower the Jolly Roger
1 year ago

Morning Itch! Absolutely love all your prospect stuff.. 12 team roto … keep 10 + 10 farm/stash … have an opportunity to acquire Luzardo from a desperate owner and he’d still be stash elg for me .. injuries and SP have basically derailed me this year… he wants my SP elg relievers (Fulmer/Chatwood) … loving my minors though .. only one I’d consider dropping for this trade would be Bleday … yes ? No ? Maybe so?? Thank you for all you do

John
John
1 year ago

How much longer should I hold onto Wander? I have Correra and Josh Rojas.

Pizzadundee
Pizzadundee
1 year ago

Great shiz as always.

I’m in a ten team keeper, with a couple offers. I’m not in it this year, might crack 7th place… but injuries to Eloy, Robert, Seager, and Yelich have really messed things up for me.

Deal 1:
I send: Randy Arozarena
I receive: Vidal Brujan

Deal 2:
I send: Luis Castillo, Blake Treinen, Luke Voit
I receive: Yermin Mercedes, Jo Adell, Alex Kirilloff, Brandon Marsh

Current squad:
C – Will Smith
1B: Luke Voit
2B: Ozzie Albies
3B: Manny Machado
SS: Brandon Crawford
IF: Buster Posey
OF: Christian Yelich
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Randy Arozarena
OF: Raimel Tapia
UTL: Jesus Aguilar
UTL: Garret Hampson
UTL: Bobby Dalbec

SP: Aaron Nola
SP: Zack Wheeler
RP: Liam Hendricks
RP: Taylor Rogers
P: Blake Treinen
P: Jake Diekman
P: Luis Castillo
P: Alex Wood
BN: Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Daniel Lynch

IL: AJ Puk, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Corey Seager
NA: Jesus Sanchez, Austin Martin, Matt Manning

Pizzadundee
Pizzadundee
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

For deal 1, the other owner “hates” Stroman, and he is contending. He was looking for an OF boost. I really like Randy, but Brujan as my 2B is pretty dope sounding… even if winds up as a .275 10HR/30SB guy.

For deal 1, he did originally offer me Yermin + Kirilloff for Castillo and Voit. He is also contending. I’ll see what he says, but I Think he views Aguilar as a WW guy.

Thanks!

David Niven
David Niven
1 year ago

Solid piece boss, thanks from Sweden (fist bump and a snapps!).

Hometown Heroes
Hometown Heroes
1 year ago

Great write up as always! I’m a big fan of Heriberto Hernandez and good to see him get a lot of work in the OF .

What are your thoughts on Owen Miller? Sounds like he could be called up any minute with the injury to Franmil.

Also, how high are you on Gabriel Moreno? Crushing AA, any chance he makes it to the bigs this year?

Thanks again!

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
1 year ago

Brujan tearing it up at Triple-A. Hit another bomb Saturday night.

VB now has 7 bombs, 7 SB, 16 runs, and 17 RBIs in 16 games while batting .338. Any idea what the date is for when players can get called up and their major league club will maintain that extra year of control? Isn’t it around the second week of June?

Hoping that is all the Rays are waiting on. What do you think Itch? Any idea when VB will get the call?

AL KOHOLIC
AL KOHOLIC
Reply to  Harley Earl
1 year ago

the time has already passed,id assume he gets the call soon

Rosterbater
Rosterbater
Reply to  AL KOHOLIC
1 year ago

Around the 1st or second week of June to avoid super 2 arbitration. Tampa is cheap and waiting for this

Harley Earl
Harley Earl
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Thanks for the answers! Hoping it’s early June and not middle LOL!!!

Brujan is looking great!

Baggie John
Baggie John
1 year ago

Morning from the UK, Itch!

I’m not well-placed to add any player insights, but I am looking forward to the updated rankings with a ridiculous level of excitement!

Thanks to you, I have Brujan and Manoah stashed in 2 out of 3 Dynasty Leagues

I am curious how some of the same-team prospect rankings might have changed – Heliot Ramos vs Luis Matos ? Drew Waters vs Michael Harris ?

Does Torkelson drop down after his early-season struggles – and how far ?

Where would players like Jo Adell and Keston Hiura (I know he won’t be on a Prospect list now) rank ? I’m still holding Adell, but I’ve got worries. Hiura I gave up on, but was I right ?

Thanks for all you do and the way you do it! Enjoy your Sunday

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  Baggie John
1 year ago

Another UK based Fantasybaseballer (Grey’s mum’s term!!).

Hello !!

Assuming you are a WBA fan? My (lowly) club just appointed ex-WBA stalwart Jono Greening as manager this week.

Best wishes,

Dan

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Hey Itch,

He’s a good hire. Local lad. Went to school at the school I now teach at.

As we come out of lockdown, he will hopefully invigorate the town.

He’s a young coach and will be looking to make his mark and develop his career.

Dan

Baggie John
Baggie John
Reply to  Another Dan
1 year ago

Hey Anotherdan!

Yes – WBA fan, so you know I’ve suffered …

Really hope Jonno does a job for you – he’s been mentioned in a Retro Albion Group, so I heard about the appointment. Nice guy by all accounts, and a really good footballer in his time. Will be keeping an eye out for your results

Best wishes,
John

Another Dan
Another Dan
Reply to  Baggie John
1 year ago

Hey Baggie John,

I follow WBA results. The guy who was my best man is a WBA fan.

Like I said above, Jono is a Scarborough born lad. So he’s on a winner already. Young coach making his first steps. I’m a season ticket holder and have been for a number of years. It’ll be interesting, but I’m excited for the new season and that can only be a good thing.

Think this might well be a job to ‘cut his teeth’ and develop his CV. But that’ll be fine if we have a good season (or two) on the back of it.

Dan

Baggie John
Baggie John
Reply to  The Itch
1 year ago

Hey Itch!

Yes, I heard that Hiura had personal stuff going on – I will keep an eye on him. Not many “easy drops” on my teams though … Reports on Adell have not been too promising so far either

Good to hear you following Oldham and Scarborough – there’s already enough Man U and Liverpool fans in the world! I play Football Manager a lot, but always the Lower Leagues, usually Bishops Stortford FC, my home town

Had to bite my tongue on the guy asking about Brendan Rodgers on here – was going to say he’s doing a cracking job at Leicester!

All the best,
John

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

I also wanted to ask about macclanahan for redraft roto format. He is still available in one of my leagues, but we use also have qs. He’s gone 5 the last 2 turns. I thought they were building him up as he hit 80 pitches few starts ago but then only 75 amd 67 yesterday. Tampa is hard to figure out. Not sure if I should take a shot here if he is going to be be held back. Thanks

toolshed
toolshed
1 year ago

Is there any news on hedbert perez? I have not heard of anything. I made sure I targeted him this year in my draft. There are so other guys who are closer still available.