Up until this year, Baz was the pitcher scouts always talked about being unstoppable if he ever honed in his electric stuff. Well, to say he’s honed it in would be an understatement — Baz’s stuff is nastier than ever and he’s taken a page out of Robbie Ray’s book and decided to stop walking guys. Across 55.2 IP in AA/AAA Baz has a 1.6 BB/9, which is incredible when you contrast it with his career-best of 4.1 BB/9 against worse hitters in 2019 A ball. Baz is also striking out a whopping 13.3 hitters per nine innings while facing the best hitters he’s ever seen in his life. The cumulative 2.26 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across the two highest minor league levels this season tells the story. The unbelievable numbers are backed up by even better eye test looks. Baz comes after hitters with an upper 90s four-seamer, a slider/cutter, a curveball, and a developing changeup with fade that he really showed off at the Futures Game. Speaking of the Futures Game, I kept looking at Baz and thinking that he looked like a terminator up there on the mound while he pitched. He’s so straightforward and easy up there, but his stuff absolutely explodes. As long as Baz continues to limit walks I believe that he’ll be a dominant Major League starter as soon as next year, and he’s ascended to the point where he’s my number one starting pitching prospect in all of baseball.
What a rollercoaster ride Pratto’s baseball career has been. Nick went from being one of the most hyped High School prospects of all time to a perceived bust after three minor league seasons. Evaluators were very harsh on the young first baseman after a very poor 2019 season in which he slashed just .191/.278/.310 at high-A as a 20-year-old. The expectations for Pratto, the 14th overall pick in 2017, were one reason why, and the other was that first base prospects really have to hit on paper to have any value around the industry due to the fact that there are a ton of big-bodied, first base only mashers in every system. Fast forward to 2021, and a 22-year-old Pratto is slashing .272/.407/.567 across AA/AAA while showing off the potent combination of plus power, an elite plate approach, and gold glove caliber fielding. These are precisely the skills that made Pratto such an elite prospect, so it’s nice to see them being displayed despite Pratto being a couple of years younger than his peers at both stops. Going forward Pratto is tracking like a top 150, and maybe even a top 100 dynasty prospect.
Trent Grisham is a superstar. Don’t believe me? Grisham has now accrued 5.0 WAR over his last 127 games, which translates to roughly 6.3 WAR over a full season. In 2019, the last full MLB season, 6.3 WAR would’ve been 11th best among all position players. Grisham might actually be more valuable than even that exercise indicates because he’s a unicorn. What I mean by that is that he plays gold glove center field defense while reaching base at an elite clip and hitting for above-average power. There are only two other center fielders that possess all of those skills, and they are Cody Bellinger and a guy named Mike Trout. Now that we’ve contextualized Trent Grisham’s real-life value, let’s examine the overlap in dynasty formats. While the defense doesn’t directly matter in fantasy, it does guarantee that Grisham will have an everyday role no matter how badly he slumps. As for his bat, in 2021, Grisham is hitting .266 and he’s on a 26 HR & 22 SB pace per 600 ABs. This comes after he established himself as a plus bat in 2020, so there’s been consistent production here. Did I mention that he’s only 24? Grisham isn’t going to be as elite in dynasty leagues as he is in real life, but there are very few run-scoring, 25 HR/20 SB guys this young that don’t hurt you in other categories. Grisham is a stud, and in OBP leagues he’s a top 50 overall asset.
Arozarena was being valued as a top 50 dynasty asset in some circles following last season’s ridiculous playoff run, but by now it’s clear that he was overvalued. Zooming out and taking a wide-angle view of Arozarena as a dynasty asset, what he’s doing right now (.251/.332/.408 with 11 HRs and 11 SBs) was always the likeliest outcome. Arozarena has great tools – he’s a plus runner with plus raw power and a plus arm to go along with an average hit tool. There are a couple of issues preventing him from getting to his tools on a regular basis. The first being that he doesn’t possess the strike zone judgment necessary to get to those tools, and the second being that he hits the ball on the ground too often. Randy is in the league’s fifth percentile in whiff rate, the 21st percentile in K rate, and the 54th percentile in walk rate. If Randy is going to be a star he either has to be more selective or he has to make more contact, neither of which is terribly likely because he’s almost 27 years of age already. Arozarena would also do well to improve upon his 8.9-degree launch angle and 48.5% ground ball rate — a task that’s much more realistically accomplished. Arozarena is trending down simply because of how highly he was valued coming into the year, I don’t actually think he’s underperforming to be clear. I think this is who he is. Right now Arozarena is a .250 batting average 20/20 guy, and he’s still only 26. That’s a valuable player, and there will be a year or two (maybe more if he starts lifting the ball) in the future where he pops off for 30+ HRs, but make no mistake — Arozarena is far from the elite dynasty asset that many were projecting him to be.
This one brings me so much pain as a Padres fan, but I had to cover Gore’s fall as an honest writer trying to provide readers with the best fantasy advice. Prior to 2020, Gore was one of the most well-regarded pitching prospects in MLB history; he was top five on every prospect list and was viewed universally as a top 50 dynasty asset after a historic performance in high-A. Things started to go very wrong in 2020 at the alternate site, though. For the first time Gore couldn’t synch up his intricate, athletic delivery and he stopped throwing strikes. According to reports, this continued throughout 2020 and sources also started mentioning recurring blister issues and even yips. More of the same has taken place thus far in 2021, as Gore was hit around during spring training and only pitched in just six AAA games, accruing a 5.85 ERA before being succumbing to blisters and being sent to the alternate site to work on mechanics. Yips is about the worst word you can hear about with a pitcher, and when someone as talented as Gore struggles to the degree that he has in 2020 and 2021, it’s about the only explanation. There’s no telling what happens from here, so I’m not going to try and tell you, but the lesson is that there are no sure pitching prospects — not a single one. At this point, Gore is more of a top 150 asset than the top 50 one he once was, and investing in him is a major gamble.