I love most things about playing fantasy baseball leagues, but I especially love the push/pull of short versus long-term outcomes. I play a lot of dynasty, keeper and redraft leagues of various shapes and sizes, so the range of values I might place on a prospect in a given league is wide.

Not here, though, where I’ll be going full cut-throat, win-the-money redraft style.

  • Note: Nobody will be cutting actual throats. I love that phrase, but yikes, what a thing to say in casual conversation, huh?

This list won’t turn out to be 100 percent accurate, but it will reflect many hours of trade talks, gameplay, research, roller coasters and centrifuges of thought, educated guesswork, and dash of the psychology motivating humans working within a nihilistic capitalist structure. 

  • Note: I wasn’t sure how to handle innings caps. Every pitcher got dinged a little for the purposes of this list because some/most organizations will be very conservative pushing pitchers from 30-something (or zero) innings up above 100 (or more).

 

Rank Player Team
1 OF Randy Arozarena TB
2 RHP Ian Anderson ATL
3 OF Jarred Kelenic SEA
4 OF Julio Rodriguez SEA
5 RHP Sixto Sanchez MIA
6 OF Dylan Carlson STL
7 1B Ryan Mountcastle BAL
8 SS Wander Franco TB
9 1B Andrew Vaughn CHW
10 OF Jo Adell LAA
11 SP Nate Pearson TOR
12 SP Triston McKenzie CLE
13 SP Tarik Skubal DET
14 SP MacKenzie Gore SD
15 1B OF Alex Kirilloff MIN
16 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes PIT
17 C Joey Bart SF
18 RHP Casey Mize DET
19 C Alejandro Kirk TOR
20 2B Nick Madrigal CHW
21 2B Jeter Downs BOS
22 RHP Tejay Antone CIN
23 SS Jazz Chisholm MIA
24 LHP Garrett Crochet CHW
25 RHP Luis Patiño SD
26 RHP Michael Kopech CHW
27 RHP Luis Garcia HOU
28 RHP Dean Kremer BAL
29 2B Vidal Brujan TB
30 RHP Clarke Schmidt NYY
31 RHP Dane Dunning CHW
32 LHP Brailyn Marquez CHC
33 RHP Spencer Howard PHI
34 C Adley Rutschman BAL
35 1B Lewin Diaz MIA
36 OF Pavin Smith ARI
37 RHP Logan Gilbert SEA
38 RHP Brent Honeywell TB
39 RHP Forrest Whitley HOU
40 RHP George Kirby SEA
41 OF Cristian Pache ATL
42 LHP Trevor Rogers MIA
43 OF Drew Waters ATL
44 RHP Max Meyer MIA
45 LHP Reid Detmers LAA
46 SS Jose Garcia CIN
47 RHP Deivi Garcia NYY
48 RHP Tanner Houck BOS
49 OF Jared Oliva PIT
50 OF Trevor Larnach MIN

 

Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. hardball24 says:
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    great list, itch. surprised to see matt manning didn’t make the list, how much did he miss by?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, hardball24!

      I might be overreacting to the forearm strain that ended his 2020 season.

      Tigers are going the rehab route over surgery, which often leads to TJ in the end anyway–just makes him wait a little longer for it.

  2. Kcc26 says:
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    Wow, Randy at the top!

    My main league is a keeper in which we keep 6 each year. The players “cost” the average of the round where they were drafted the previous year and the round of their preseason ADP. Can keep guys forever—their price just gradually escalates by that formula.

    Here are my top options for next year (can also trade preseason):

    Darvish (round 2)
    Story (3)
    Woodruff (4)
    Acuña (5)
    Albies (8)
    Alonso (11)
    Arozarena (17)
    Kelenic (20)

    Obviously keeping Acuña and Albies, but after that not so sure! Who are your 6? Any you’re definitely exploring trading?

    Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Ronald Jr. for sure of course
      Story
      Albies
      Alonso

      Arozarena

      I’d be okay to do anything with the last two spots–kind of depends on how the league goes. Feels like you could get Darvish back at a similar price, but aces are rare.

      • Kcc26 says:
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        Yeah. Aces are tough! Most are kept. Last year I kept all hitters and then went Darvish/Morton at the turn. Strasburg and Kershaw went in the 1st and Greinke/Nola/Syndergaard were 2nd rounders.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Hmm yeah tough call in that case . . .

          I might keep Woodruff, throw Darvish back and pick him in the 1st.

          You’ve got a great core tho, so it makes sense to me if you’d rather keep both and see what happens with Arozarena and Kelenic in the draft.

          • Kcc26 says:
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            Thanks! Yeah kelenic is tough one for me. I really wanted to just keep the 4 stud hitters, one pitcher and then Kelenic with the last just in case he hits his ceiling and becomes a stud guy that I’m keeping at a steep discount for years to come. I feel like keeper leagues are all about hoarding those high upside talents. Unfortunately we only keep 6 so in order to keep top prospects you’re always forced to bypass safer established guys. Anyway, Arozarena has changed the calculus a bit, small sample size and all…

  3. TC says:
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    Would you trade Hiura and Sixto to get back Lux and Kelenic in a forever keeper?

    How about Lindor and Sixto for Xander and Kelenic?

    It’s a standard 5×5 roto. Thanks

    • Benny the Jet says:
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      Would EASILY take Lux and Kelenic in a dynasty over Hiura and Sixto. Lux and Kelenic are both much more polished hitters than Hiura and it’s not even close. I’ll always value hitters over pitchers.

      Lindor and Sixto, I’d still take Xander and Kelenic. Word on the street is Kelenic has a Trout-esqe hitter profile.

      • batflix says:
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        on what planet did Lux and Kelenic become polished hitters?

        • Benny the Jet says:
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          Planet Earth, welcome aboard!

          Check their stats in the minors. Low K rates, high walk rakes = polished hitter with good sense of the strike zone. Hiura has a 30+% K rate and never walks.
          Tune in next week when I explain the difference between hot and cold.

      • C says:
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        They’ve been saying Kelenic has a trout profile since he was drafted. Still doesn’t make it true. It’s more hyperbole and lack of imagination than anything. Kelenic’s power is suspect.

        JRod is the Mariner OF prospect you want.

        • Benny the Jet says:
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          I have them both in my dynasty league

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I’d do both those deals, yeah.

      Sucks to lose Sixto, but now is the best time to trade him.

  4. NUX says:
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    *insert Kramer sliding through the apt door gif*

    Dean made the list!!! Woohoo

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      A Jewish Oriole, I have seen it all

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        *insert gif of Kramer smoking a stogie and wiggling his eyebrows*

        PS: I have a student named Cosmo this year. Cool guy.

        PPS: He has never entered the room doing a Kramer impression, which has been a mild disappointment because he does have the hair to pull it off.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Ha!

    • Joey Schmoey says:
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      Tork never disrespect the tork

      How could you. Dude aint playin w babies he is a beast. He at 3b latest June 1

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I do think I’ll need to reconsider Tork for the update, good call.

  5. Phil says:
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    Love ya Itch, but questions here:

    Everyone loves Randy now, but c’mon, the best prospect for next year? Methinks he’s going to be drafted way too high and then get Ray’d into a platoon, or worse, Aquino’d.

    Both Mariners coming up next year? and Wander? Where does Wander play, with Adames there?

    And Adell graduated.

    Looking forward to the Dynasty Minors rankings and FYPD. Thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Phil!

      Yeah I missed that on Adell, who didn’t clear 130 AB but did get his call before the magical Aug 14 rookie line, which I was planning to ignore for our purposes but find myself courting anyhow.

      I’ll be comparatively low on Wander for the same reasons you mention here. Dude looks like a DH these days, physically, so maybe he’ll mix in there, 2B, 3B, etc.

      Plus I don’t think Adames is so good he stalls Wander for long, even on the Rays.

      • goodfold2 says:
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        please do NOT use some arbitrary date no matter what MLB is up to, most of us are using the standard 130/50 for prospect status in leagues.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          I agree and will defer to the standard.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Regarding Arozarena, I’ve represented the prospect writing “industry” high point on him since I came aboard last September, and was buying him in all my leagues before then, so I’m not immune to a little confirmation bias on that front.

      Been kind of alone on an island thinking he was a fantasy baller for a while, so every homer he hits is just more fuel to that fire. He might finish this postseason with the best opening to a career I’ve ever seen, and he was already in my top ten dynasty prospects before the playoffs began.

      That said, I totally get that the profit might be gone by draft day.

      I do think both Mariners debut next year. Jerry D needs some success on the field to keep his job, and our man Fred just said he’d prefer to keep the expanded playoffs, meaning we should see less service manipulation in general.

      • Phil says:
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        There is no better feeling in fantasy than being in a guy before he blows up (my best is traded for JD Martinez a week before the Tigers traded him to the Dbacks).

        Randy has been a tough one thus far in fantasy circles, so many are screaming “small sample size” but there are many other factors, as you mention.

        Intriguing notes on the M’s situation, most appreciated.

        Keep up the excellent work!

        • goodfold2 says:
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          i think you mean HOU, not ARI (unless HOU now also have some cheating related douchebags name that is the appears similar to dbacks as “dbags”)

  6. Josh J says:
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    Do you really see Julio Rodriguez as that high in redraft leagues? I can see it in Dynasty rankings, but is he going to contribute in 2021 that much? What do you know that I don’t?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I believe he’ll smash his brief stretch in AAA and be up in April in part because Dipoto needs to save/secure his job by showing some receipts on the field.

  7. Smitty says:
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    I know he’s only 20 but wondering if Bobby Witt Jr. got any consideration, I’m high on him. Great work Itch thanks!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Smitty!

      I didn’t consider Witt Jr. for the list, but I do suspect he could cruise through the low levels and begin 2022 on the cusp.

  8. Dong Show says:
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    Traded Patiño for Jassonn Dominguez today. You think that is fair? I’ve never been big on pitching prospects but I LOVE Patiño’s arm. But the upside and hype to Dominguez is unreal right now. 10 team league, 7 offensive categories, 6 pitching.

    Felt like it was a unique buying opportunity as I expect his value to likely inflate. I’m Playing for now so while Patiño is nice, he’s prob not a big contributor to my squad next year (guy I traded with wants younger arms and is flush with OF prospects). Kind of a wash with hype and and more season after another year for both I felt like.

    Thanks for any feedback Itch!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I love the trade for you, Dong Show.

      It’s surprising to me he didn’t cost more.

      • Dong Show says:
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        League mates have been saying I did really well with trade, so makes me feel good you like this as well for me.

        This guy owns these prospects:

        CJ Abraham’s
        Marco Luciano
        Wander
        Lux
        JRod
        Sixto
        Clarke Schmidt

        In addition to pretty much every stud under 25 who is in the MLB haha. He’s making a super team for the future where I have loaded up for the “now” with top guys at pretty much each position who are all 26-29. I’m the top team talent wise in our league and he’s the later.

        He had some flexibility to let one of these guys go and him and I are always trading big names to each other. So he feels safe knowing (and vice versa) that if we are dealing with these big name guys, we always have a shot at them.

        I did have to give up my first round Rule 5 draft pick. I got Lucas Sims back too as a flier name since I was trading an MLB arm.

  9. CJ says:
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    Hey Itch – great work as usual. Were you planning to go another 50 + or put out a full list soon? I ask only because after finally taking my full dyno league this year in year 10 I still have a glaring hole – you guessed it – C… have currently Carson K, Pedro S and Mejia (who I was hoping would have come around by now) – so that said looking for future as well as tomorrow. Vaschro, Kirk, F Alvarez or Stephenson? Maybe another sneaky less known that is “close”?
    Any way let me know if you don’t mind and thanks as always. Cheers!

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, CJ!

      I am planning to follow up with the next 50 to round out the 100 on Sunday.

      I like Pedro Severino and tried to trade for him in a 30-teamer. I think Carson K will bounce back a little. I’ve burned myself chasing perfect production at catcher a couple times and wonder if the better play is to hustle the free ones in when you get a chance. Max Stassi and Austin Nola were pretty good example from 2020, among others at a position that turns over more than any.

  10. Harley Earl says:
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    Sorry but this Arozarena stuff is going to come to a screeching halt next year and a lot of people are going to look very silly.

    I’m not saying RA isn’t a decent ball players. He is just that, a decent player. He is NOT a superstar in the making. I’ve watched Randy in person many times for the Memphis Redbirds. Nice player, nice bat, nice wheels. But he’s a 15 HR and 20 SB guy.

    Going bonkers over him like he’s the next Luis Robert or Fernando Tatiis has gotten comical. I will be laughing at those who buy in next season. Nice player. Not a superstar talent.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Man there’s a whole bunch of people hoping you’re right. Most of the fantasy world flat out ignored him as a prospect and shouting sample size to distract from the fact that he’s already drastically surpassed expectations as the ALCS MVP and #3 hitter for a World Series team.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Every superstar would be thrilled with his debut.

        Maybe he’s not the 300/400/500 type with 30/20 topside he’s showing, but he can be a much lesser version of what he is now and still be the best rookie in 2021.

        • Harley Earl says:
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          Have you seen RA play in person? I have. Many, many times. He is not going to be what you all make of him.

          Remember what I told you about Heston Kjerstad? This is another example. I may not know every facet of baseball inside and out. But I do know things in my region that are easily familiar to me. Arozarena will not be what you all are making him out to be.

          • The Itch

            The Itch says:
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            Definitely the most fun to have your own takes.

            I never saw him play in person there, but Dude was an absolute monster in Memphis.

            In prospect circles, he was almost totally ignored to the extent that Bowman didn’t even make a card for him. That’s rare. And frustrating as I’d have a pile of them to sell right now.

            He’s been the best player in the 2020 playoffs. Nobody has to make him out to be anything. He’s been awesome as a big leaguer after being awesome as a minor leaguer.

            There’s really nowhere to go but down, so I kind of don’t see your point.

            • The Itch

              The Itch says:
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              Scratch that: I do realize you started by saying there’s no profit in him., which is definitely a fair point and may prove true depending on draft price.

              But even with regression, it’s reasonable to predict he’ll have a better triple slash and higher wRC+ than Luis Robert in 2021. Hitting has always been the easy part for Arozarena, and I love that player type. Doesn’t hurt that his teammates rave about his work ethic. 300 push ups a day!? Yipes. He looks it. Quite a bit thicker through the chest now to my eyes than he was last fall. Do you think he looks stronger than when you saw him in Memphis?

              • Harley Earl says:
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                Yes, he does look stronger. He did not have the makings of a true power hitter. That’s what I saw with my own two eyes, many times.

                Why he would be #1 on this list over several others boggles my mind. You’ve got him over Wander Franco and Jared Kelenic, Rustchman, Julio Rodriquez, etc. No way would I want him over those guys, especially in a keeper or dynasty league. You seem to act like pitchers are never going to figure out a weakness. They will. He’s far from invincible. Nice player for sure. But he’s not a superstar and not worthy of a #1 ranking. Rank him top 10, and I’m cool with it.

                That said, I’d be fine if you were right and I was wrong. I’d much rather see the guy succeed and be wrong than watch him struggle and be right. My only wish is that the dumbass Mozeliak would quit trading all our talent (Voit, Grichuk, Arozarena, Marco Gonzalez) for trash.

                He’s the worst GM in baseball. The sheer fact that Arozarena has led Tampa to the World Series makes that trade a bust already. Libatore will never do that.

                • Harley Earl says:
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                  Oh, and one more thing before I forget. I’d take Luis Robert over Arozarena every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Robert has gone though his adjustment season.

                  • The Itch

                    The Itch says:
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                    So you’re saying you’d take Rutschman over Arozarena in a 2021 redraft league?

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      I’d be happy to do a cumulative triple slash and wRC+ wager on Arozarena 2021 v Robert 2021, and I love Robert.

                      No stakes or anything, just a friendly wager we can remember to mark the time.

                      I certainly agree that Mozeliak is weird in his evaluations. Voit and Arozarena are guys I have in every dynasty league because hitting is the easy part for them.

                      It’s not that I don’t think pitchers figure guys out, but it takes consistent execution to exploit a weakness, and Arozarena has demonstrated present ability to adjust to the adjustments and smash the imperfect pitches.

                    • Harley Earl says:
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                      Actually, what I’m saying is I’d take Rutschman in a keeper or dynasty league.

                      You should consider that many players like myself do not play redraft leagues any more. There’s very little challenge to them. Dynasty is actually by far the most challenging but Keeper can bey very challenging as well.

                      Without question I like all of those players better than Arozarena long term. In a redraft league, definitely like all but Rutschman over Arozarena simply because his playing time may not even come until 2022.

                      Just my opinion, which is worth zilch but I’ve been right before. I think the hype on a guy for such a small sample size is absolutely silly. I’d take Lou Bob all day long over him.

                    • Harley Earl says:
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                      Sure, put me down for Lou Bob vs. Randy A. in 2021 straight up.

                      Let’s wager a steak dinner. Something like Longhorn, Outback or Texas Roadhouse. I’m definitely game!

                    • Harley Earl says:
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                      One more thing though, while you get the triple slash counted. I get all the counting stats. That bullshit about avg, on base and slugging is great. But not including the other categories is fucking cheating and you know it. We both know Randy can hit but let’s see him fucking produce for 162 games.

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      Was using slash and wRC+ bc I’m saying Randy is the better hitter.

                      Hardly think that’s cheating, and I’m not sure how to synthesize all categories for their fantasy value in a particular league.

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      I’m happy to add up the R, RBI, HR, and SB, too and compare that to the cumulative AVG/OBP/SLG/wRC+

                      I think the outcome will be pretty clear one way or another anyway.

                      The key takeaway might be that you’re reticent to do a straight up slash line bet between the consensus #2 prospect last year and a guy who was literally on no other top 100 list but mine last October.

                      Just seems pretty loud that that you’d refer to comparing slash lines straight up as “cheating”when we’re talking about a guy who’s come out of nowhere to most writers and a guy who’s been an echo chamber top prospect for years.

                  • The Itch

                    The Itch says:
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                    We must be out of room bc I can’t reply to your last post : D

                    This list is for redraft leagues in 2021 only, so the long-term outlooks of a Rutschman v Arozarena wasn’t especially relevant to my process, tho I will be ranking Randy > Adley for the dynasty list, which will be a bit longer, so I’m planning to wait until the fall training sessions been going a while. Saw a beautiful bomb from J-Rod on the tweeter the other day.

                    • Harley Earl says:
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                      It’s simple, you have the normal fantasy categories (Runs, SB, RBI and HR,. along with the triple slash line). Whoever wins the most categories or totals the most from each had the better season. Not that hard.

                      I am saying Randy will likely have a better batting average, which means I’m conceding one category right off the top. Anything flukey and he wins two, so it’s bullshit that you want to go with just those three categories. The overall more production and corresponding categories give a far more clear picture of who the better player is than your first suggestion, which was obviously weighted to favor you. Cheating, weighted, sneaky, shady, call it whatever the fuck you want. You know what I mean.

                      If you have a link the J-Rod bomb, I’d love to see it. You know what I think about him. He’s the next Springer!

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      You agreed to a bet where you get BY FAR the more valued player within the echo chamber against somebody I just happen to have been high on for a long time.

                      Then you backtracked on the terms of the bet and called me a cheater for propsing the wager.

                      Then called me a sneaky shady cheater again when I said I was okay with whatever terms you wanna lay on the #1 or 2 prospect v. somebody who was off everyone else’s top hundred.

                      You wanna take a W for Kjerstad because the Orioles wanted to save some money and game the draft system. Okay, fine. I’m taking a W for Arozarena leading the Rays to the World Series.

                      I don’t really care about the terms of the bet. The fact that you do should tell you something about how far Arozarena has come in a year. Perhaps seeing somebody in person doesn’t mean you’ll always be 100 percent right about the kind of player he’ll become?

                    • Smitty says:
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                      J-Rod in the house! Thanks Itch! How about Randy’s jolt last night in the WS? Oh my, what a tight electric swing this kid has. wonder what the exit velo was.

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      Yeah what a blast, man. Too bad they couldn’t get him some help. Really pulling for the Rays in this. Statcast says it went 111.3 mph.

                      https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/gamefeed?game_pk=635923

                      Also says he’s in the 94th percentile for sprint speed, which I think is much faster than any scouting report ever gave him.

                • Dont stress so hard Earl at least you still have Dexter Fowler. Getting an opportunity and having the Mgr and Org believe in you are huge. Cash showed confidence and being unorthodox threw the kid in the 3 hole and let him play. Something he didnt get in StL worked and he ran with it. Glad you were able to see him in the minors, but you and Mozeliak missed on him.

                  • Harley Earl says:
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                    Mozeliak missed on him. I did not. And I couldn’t give a shit what you think. I know a hell of a lot more about him than you.

  11. TarmanGotHim says:
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    No Edward Cabrera?
    No JJ Bleday?

    Marlins Fan :) and Sixto is gonna be better than Ian Anderson.

    Yes, homer, bias :)

    Thanks! Great write up.

  12. JayJ says:
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    Sixto or Luis robert for 2021 dynasty.
    Just asking because of the contact/plate discipline troubles roberts had in 2020.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Robert

  13. NATRONEMEANSBUSINESS says:
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    How many of these guys would you take in the top 100 of a re-draft? I’m guessing the line is around Vaughn or Gore.

    Also, a big thank you for your extended coverage on Randy. I grabbed him early and enjoyed the ride.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, NATRONEMEANSBUSINESS!

      Man I could use that dude in my lineups this weekend. Just lost Mixon.

      And you’re very welcome on Arozarena! What a ride!

      I think the top 100 line is Sixto in most leagues, but some groups are much more aggressive with youngsters.

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