Written by: Ray Butler
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- How about some December prospect rankings? Our good friends at Prospects 1500 recently released their latest top prospect rankings. The list is aggregated thanks to the assistance of 17 staff writers, and it’s sure to wet your whistle until after the new year. Read it here.
- If you’ve been living under a rock and somehow missed the industry’s #ProspectMock480, set aside 20 minutes and dive in right here. Hosted by Fantrax’s Eric Cross, 16 prospect analysts convened and drafted FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY prospects. Sticking your neck out there on big prospects? Check. Value in prospects who had a rough 2018 season? Check. Prospects you’ve never heard of who are sure to bust on the scene in 2019? You betcha. My team was headlined by Taylor Trammell and Carter Kieboom, and Rotowire’s James Anderson listed my snagging of Ke’Bryan Hayes at 77th overall as the best pick of the draft. This mock draft was a big deal, and it was an honor to be a part of it. Read the humongous recap right here.
- Piggybacking on the recap, here’s a list of prospects who, based on their selection in the #ProspectMock480 top 100, are trending upwards as we head to 2019: Jarred Kelenic (23rd), Xavier Edwards (31st), Kristian Robinson (46th), Trevor Larnach (59th), Gavin Lux (62nd), Jordyn Adams (66th), Isaac Paredes (78th), Hudson Potts (79th), Will Smith (87th), Bubba Thompson (88th), Mark Vientos (90th), Ronny Mauricio (93rd), Deivi Garcia (95th) and Cole Winn (96th). File this away as prospect drafts for the 2019 season draw closer. Again, you can read the recap of the mock draft here.
- 2019 player projections are slowly being released, and Steamer projects Eloy Jimenez to slash .293/.342/.502 with 23 home runs in 518 plate appearances in 130 games. That’s good for a 129 wRC+. I actually have no gripe with the projection—it feels just about right as long as Jimenez remains healthy. Speaking of, the outfielder has missed some Dominican Winter League games recently with a tight quadricep, which has sparked a conversation as to whether it might simply be best to shut Jimenez down two months prior to Spring Training. The 22-year-old has never played in more than 112 games in a single season, but fans in the South Side are certainly hoping Jimenez exceeds that number in 2019. White Sox GM Rick Hahn has gone on record this offseason stating Jimenez will spend “the bulk of the season, if not all of the season” in the big leagues. The time is nigh.
- This past week, the decision makers in the Cardinals organization said they will evaluate the pitching staff heading into Spring Training before determining the exact role Alex Reyes will fill in 2019. Steamer projects the 24-year-old to compile 114 strikeouts in 101 IP next season, all while totaling a 3.81 ERA. I would be ecstatic if those were the final numbers, though I find my projection for Reyes to be more conservative than Steamer’s.
- The Dodgers have said recently that Julio Urias, one of my adult sons, will be on an innings limit in 2019. The organization also intends to prepare the southpaw as a starting pitcher (I think he’ll eventually be transitioned to a multi-inning swingman role once he nears the inning restriction). Steamer foresees the 22-year-old posting a 3.72 ERA with 84 strikeouts in 81 innings pitched in 2019. Those numbers don’t scream ‘mixed-league value’, but I’ll gladly take that performance from a player who’s gone through what Urias has gone through the last 18 months. Especially as an owner in a deep keeper or dynasty league. Optimistically, I could see a Julio Urias/Alex Reyes combination forming a two-headed monster in multi-inning relief roles (combining for ~150-175 IP with a tasty K%) in 2019 before transitioning to more extended roles in 2020. I can hope, right?
- One more in the wide-world of preseason projections: Steamer thinks Matt Chapman’s triple-slash falls back to Earth in 2019. The third baseman is projected to slash .248/.326/.469, albeit with 27 home runs and a 118 wRC+. Why the drop in on base numbers? Steamer thinks Chapman’s career-high .338 BABIP in 2018 will drop to .298 in 2019, which would be closer to his career minor league numbers. Basically, the 25-year-old will need to duplicate his 43.2% Hard% (a 7.2% rise from 2017) in order to maintain the tasty .356 OBP and 137 wRC+ he posted in 2018. Chapman underwent thumb surgery in October and left shoulder surgery on December 14th, so I’ll be eager to see the progress he makes physically this winter and spring. The Athletics think their third baseman will be ready for Opening Day, and I’ll take their word for it for now.
- My Cardinals finally did a good thing, trading Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Andy Young and a competitive balance pick to the Diamondbacks for top-tier first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt immediately becomes the best player on a team that desperately needed to improve this offseason, but St. Louis can’t be done yet. There’s literally no reason they shouldn’t be neck-deep in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. A Harper/Goldschmidt duo would be formidable against any pairing in baseball, and the combination would place the Cardinals back into contention in the National League. A left-handed bullpen arm is a necessity this offseason, so snagging either Zach Britton or Andrew Miller would be a huge boost. Third base is also still a gigantic question mark, and increasingly glaring since Josh Donaldson has already inked with the Braves on a one-year deal. The dreamers hope the Cardinals pursue Manny Machado, but I think it’s more likely St. Louis targets a player like Mike Moustakas or Marwin Gonzalez. Maybe they opt to trade for a third baseman. In my eyes, it’s simply hard to trust Matt Carpenter at third base over the course of a 162-game regular season, and Jedd Gyorko is the current inhabiter. Need I say more? For once, let’s hope the Cardinals actually spend the money it currently takes to be competitive in the NL Central over the course of an offseason.
- It’s the middle of December and this will certainly change, but here’s a random list of players who I strongly believe will provide solid/underrated value next season: Jose Abreu, Jose Altuve, Kris Bryant, Nicholas Castellanos, Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, Michael Conforto, Rafael Devers, Jon Gray, J.A. Happ, Ender Inciarte, Scott Kingery, Kenta Maeda, Daniel Murphy, Joe Musgrove, Nick Pivetta, A.J. Pollock, Carlos Rodon, Gary Sanchez, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Julio Urias, Joey Votto, and Luke Weaver.
- Here’s to hoping Jimmy Nelson, Taijuan Walker (?), Dinelson Lamet, Alex Reyes, Julio Urias, A.J. Puk and Brent Honeywell all return with a vengeance in 2019. All six have the potential to be top-of-the-rotation arms both in real life and the fantasy baseball world. You should be able to grab Nelson and Lamet on clearance this offseason.
- Watched both Home Alones with my wife yesterday (Home Alone 3 and Home Alone 4 don’t exist) and noticed this tomfoolery right before Kevin’s showdown with the Wet Bandits in Home Alone 1….
What kind of psychopath cuts their macaroni and cheese with a knife? Who taught Kevin this? You know he didn’t learn it on his own. This scene might be the most preposterous thing that happens in the entire movie, and that’s saying something.
- Strictly from a sentimental standpoint, Somewhere in My Memory might be the most underrated Christmas song in the history of the world. Also, the entire Home Alone soundtrack kicks butt. If you disagree, you are entitled to your opinion but you are also wrong. Happy Holidays!
- My 2018-2019 bowl picks: North Carolina A&T, Utah State, Tulane, Fresno State, Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, UAB, San Diego State, Marshall, Toledo, BYU, Memphis, Army, Troy, Louisiana Tech, Boise State, Georgia Tech, California, Temple, Miami, Baylor, Purdue, Syracuse, Iowa State, Michigan, Virginia, Arkansas State, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Oregon, Missouri, Utah, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Penn State, Central Florida, Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Alabama. Alabama beats Clemson 27-21 in the National Championship game. Off to a good start, but we’re just getting started. The first week of bowl season in a Pickem’ is a lot like the first round of a gold tournament: You can’t win it this early, but you sure can lose it. Have a great week!
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