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. At any given moment, more quality pitching prospects exist than dynasty leagues have 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!
|1||Spencer Torkelson||20||3B 1B||DET|
|2||Nick Gonzales||21||2B SS||PIT|
|3||Austin Martin||21||3B OF||TOR|
Nothing changes up top, though I considered swapping Martin and Gonzales because I like Toronto better than Pittsburgh for right handed hitters. Was kinda bummed about Gonzo’s landing spot on draft night.
Zac Veen gets A Room of One’s Own, a timeless work of genius. Where he’s headed, genius is in short supply. I don’t think the front office has much time, and while I’m not hoping anyone gets fired, a house-cleaning there would put a lot of prospects back on my radar. I’ve been basically ignoring hyped Rockies prospects for years. Even the guys who popped into the first round—Story, Arenado, Blackmon—have tended to be under-the-radar types.
The Royals turned it up all the way to 11 when they picked Lacy over Martin. I like it. Martin might end up the better player, but legit MLB starters are a dying breed, and they leaned into an organizational plan here and might be rewarded with the division’s best pitching at some point. They’re tired of seeing Cleveland strike them out, I think.
Mitchell brings 80 speed to an amazing park for left-handed bats, where he might be able to pal around with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and the kind of hitting instruction he’ll need to access his game power.
Greene is pretty close to Veen for me. The Mets are actually pretty good at developing their guys, and Greene has as much fantasy topside as anyone in this draft.
Hometown kid Ed Howard is a home run pick for the Cubs in both value and fanfare. I like him as a prospect, and I think he’s going to gain helium and hype like the Hindenburg. Maybe not a good reference.
Miami shook up the room with this pick. Developing arms is their organizational strength, so they must really love Max to have passed on Austin Martin.
San Diego didn’t want the hassle of signing Veen and cashed in when Cole Wilcox kept falling. I think I’m comparatively low Robert H but wouldn’t let him slip too far.
I might look a little low on Kjerstad, but he’s the first non-Tork corner bat on the list, in part because there’s nothing blocking him in Baltimore, and now they’re deeply invested in his success.
Jordan Walker should mosey his way on up prospect lists over the next few years thanks to top of the scale power and plus athleticism, but St. Louis is weird when it comes to letting their assets actualize at level and challenging them with a promotion at that point. Sometimes they’re a little reckless with overly aggressive placements then very conservative if they don’t go well. Sometimes they slow-roast a Pham or Voit forever, and while that works for them, I can get a little impatient. I think he’ll fall in FYPDs and become a nice wait-and-see value outside the first.
Detmers is an interesting case and might be the guy for you if you’re impatient and contending now. Their park is perfect for a lefty with plus-plus command and a plus-plus curveball. That said, the Angels don’t have much track record making pitchers into elite fantasy assets, and I wouldn’t even consider starting Reid in Minute Maid park. They’ll just lay off the curve (how’d they know it was coming!?) and bash his lukewarm heaters into the Crawford Boxes.
Hobbs is doing amazing work on these college guys, so for the Casey Martin talk, I’m gonna kick it to his Complete College Top 100 Prospect Rankings for Fantasy Baseball, where he explains, “Martin is more of a puzzling case as the industry seems to be all over the place in terms of how he projects as a professional. He was a Freshman All-American in 2019 after hitting .315/.398/.449 with four home runs, 17 doubles, 34 runs, 54 RBI and two steals. But he hasn’t shown much in the SB department despite having at least average speed and the power is questionable, as he failed to go deep in 2019 Cape Cod League action en route to .167/.265/.233 slash line over 34 plate appearances. In 2020, Martin got back in the groove and batted .324/.439/.412 with one steal and five extra base hits, although he was once again unable to leave the yard. Martin holds a career 22.4 K% and 13.2 K% at the college level. He’s far from ready to excel as a professional but has a hit tool decent enough to fit into the top 100.”
See also his Top 25 College Prospects for Dynasty Baseball
Pete Crow-Armstrong is an ebullient dude with similarly bubbly tools.
Aaron Sabato is a fit for what Minnesota values but a weird one in the sense that don’t seem to have room for him, assuming Sano can keep his name out of the news and his health in check, which is, now that I’m reading it back to myself, a hopeful assumption.
Two guys I’m probably low on then one guy I’m certainly high on. Perfect Game had Jake Vogel running a 6.15 in the 60-yard dash. That’s Cool Pappa Bell territory. Blink and you’ll miss him.
Carson Tucker’s brother Cole made a swing change after struggling in his first crack at the majors. It seems to me he’s successfully passed this evolutionary step onto his little brother, who’s benefiting from the strange advantage of getting to work out with big league players. Looked like he took Logan Allen deep in one video, which seems unrelated to Cleveland drafting his namesake, but we’ll never know for sure.
Thanks for reading!
Happy Father’s Day!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.