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Big local Houston news today...  the AAA affiliate Sugarland Skeeters will be rechristened the "Space Cowboys."  Cue "The Joker" and invite Steve Miller to throw out that first pitch.  If not available, maybe Clint Eastwood or Tommy Lee Jones can sub in.

Bob Elam Bob-in-TX
Oneil Cruz Pittsburgh Pirates

He's No. 14 on BA's top 100, two rungs higher on HQ's. 

Alex Patton Alex

While I was away BP rolled out its top 10 prospects on the Pirates.

  • 1.
  • Oneil Cruz
  • SS
  • Born: 1998-10-04
  • B: Left
  • T: Right
  • H: 6′ 7″
  • W: 210 lbs.
  • Signed July 2, 2015 by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic for $950,000

The Report: Three years ago we wrote: “Could he actually stick at short? If you assume he “only” ends up being something like 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, he’d be by far the biggest real shortstop in MLB history, but he might still be light and nimble enough for it to work.” Well Cruz is now listed at 6-foot-7 and 210 pounds. That’s probably an inch and 30 pounds light, and he’s still a solid defensive shortstop. It’s a bizarre prospect profile defensively, but Cruz makes it work, and is capable of a plus defensive play in the field while showing off a true left-side arm. 

At the plate he continues to look like a perennial 30-home-run bat. He has true 80 raw, just easy power, housed in pretty, rotational swing with plus-plus bat speed. Cruz can hit them out of the stadium in batting practice at less than full effort. There will always be swing-and-miss issues given just how long the levers are. Cruz is a high-ball hitter given his size and swing plane, and can end up lunging or flailing against soft stuff or spin down. He has a solid approach though, and the amplitude of the contact profile should allow the hit tool to play to average even if he’s striking out close to 30% of the time in the majors. In 2018 we thought he might end up in right field, now it looks like he will stick somewhere on the left side of the infield. The power bat plays anywhere. 

Cruz was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident in the Dominican Republic in the 2020-21 offseason, and we did not rank him over uncertainty about his availability at press time a year ago.

OFP: 70 / Middle-of-the-order hitter, pretty good defensive infielder 

Variance: Medium. Cruz debuted in the majors at the end of last season and promptly hit a home run that was in the top one percent of exit velocity for all of major league baseball. We’re still not sure about the hit tool or the ultimate positional home, but on pure upside Cruz belongs with the top prospects in the game. He did deal with an arm injury in 2021 that cost him six weeks, but hit just as well on his return.  —Jeffrey Paternostro 

Major league ETA: Debuted in 2021

Darius Austin’s Fantasy Take: Cruz’s debut was about as loud as it could be, given its brevity. That both highlights his tremendous power upside and creates the risk of significant small-sample helium. Redraft players aren’t having to invest too heavily at the moment, as he’s being barely drafted inside the top 250. For the homer potential I think that’s worth the shot and he should be a significant contributor in the category for the foreseeable future. The average may well be a drag, particularly in the early going, and I doubt it’ll ever be sustainably helpful. He’ll chip in a few steals too while he’s still in his early twenties. You'll never be short of Statcast highlights.

Alex Patton Alex
Bobby Witt Jr. Kansas City Royals

Don' feel bad, Bobby. The Minor League Analyst's 

2022 Top Fantasy Prsopects

  1. 1  Bobby Witt, Jr.

    2  Julio Rodriguez

    3  Adley Rutschman

Alex Patton Alex

Here's Bobby...


Tools: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 70 | Fielding: 60 | Arm: 60 
Skinny: The son of longtime major league pitcher Bobby Witt finished one stolen base shy of a 30-30 season as he climbed to Triple-A in 2021 and won BA Minor League player of the year. A premium athlete who has plus tools across the board, Witt has a chance to be a rare five-tool player as long as he improves his approach at the plate. 

Alex Patton Alex
Julio Rodriguez Seattle Mariners

He (Bobby Witt Jr.) isn't even No. 2.

Headshot 2021 Julio Rodriguez 98511 Mlb

Julio Rodriguez


Tools: Hit: 70 | Power: 70 | Run: 55 | Fielding: 55 | Arm: 60 
Skinny: Few prospects combine the ability to hit for average and power like Rodriguez. A career .331 hitter with booming, all-fields power, he will soon take his place in the middle of the Mariners order and be the driving force behind their attempt to return to the postseason. 


Alex Patton Alex
Adley Rutschman Baltimore Orioles

I would have sworn Bobby Witt Jr. would have been at the top of this list.

Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects

Headshot 2021 Adley Rutschman 10072 Mlb

Tools: Hit: 70 | Power: 70 | Run: 40 | Fielding: 60 | Arm: 70 
Skinny: Rutschman has ably handled high expectations since his days at Oregon State. As a switch-hitting catcher who controls the strike zone, possesses plus power, is a plus defender and shows elite leadership skills, he is the face of the Orioles’ rebuild and projects to be a perennial all-star. 


Alex Patton Alex

Got a new modem today-- hurray! -- and with it the e-version of Baseball HQ's Minor League Analyst. Also in my email: Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects. So should be a fun afternoon. More than a few people here, I'm sure, started reading the Analyst at 6 AM, switching to Baseball America at 10:22.

Alex Patton Alex
Carlos Correa Houston Astros

Switched agents and is now a Boras client (as are Seager, Bryant, Rodon, Castellanos, etc.).  Boras is gonna be a busy guy when the lockout ends.  Correa's former agency is strangely trying to buy up minor-league teams and may be decertified for doing so.

Bob Elam Bob-in-TX
Jorge Mateo San Diego Padres

Mateo is getting some serious love by some experts in the off-season ...

In 2015, BB America actually ranked Mateo as the Yankee's top prospect.  Ahead of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge.

Low walk rate and BABIP doomed him in San Diego, but his pre-injury performance in Baltimore makes him an interesting sleeper - the big question is will be be competing with Odor for 2B, with Kelvin Gutierrez for 3B, or become a super sub for the O's?

Very easy to see him putting up a Jonathan Villar type season - racking up 30+ SBs while producing a few HRs. although moving back the fences in Camden won't help.

Phil Ponebshek Texpope
D.J. LeMahieu New York Yankees

Word today that LeMahieu was playing through a sports hernia last year which may have led to his drop in production.

Kent Ostby Seadogs

My internet crashed yesterday and after talking to a robot or two or three, followed by humans doing a fair impersonation for an hour or two or three, I  now wait for a human to come up the driveway on Friday with a new modem. Or gateway, as Xfinity now calls the thing. Until then I'll be dark in the darkest days of this very dark winter.

Each day I'll go to a coffee house to read the latest on the lockout. Fortunately, that will be quick.

In the meantime I count on the winter faithful to keep the home fires burning!

Alex Patton Alex

It's set to allow anyone with the link:

Peter Kreutzer Rotoman
Cade Kreuter San Diego Padres

Can we bring Nats' top prospect Cade Cavalli up from the depths?  Made AAA last year and should be in DC by June or so.

Bob Elam Bob-in-TX
Camilo Doval San Francisco Giants

An article in The Athletic the other day on Suzuki had him very keen on playing for an MLB team this season once the lockout ends.  It cited like the timing was bad for him to, after his posting, reach an agreement, travel to the US for a physical prior to the lockout, and then be able to return to Japan, given the covid restrictions.

John Thomas Roll2

And there is one player, Seiya Suzuki, who might not end up in either? I'm currently in the process of working through my first Mixed Draft and it's interesting, especially the bullpen component, to say the least. I'm going with a 7/2 SP/RP mix to try and avoid as much of that mess as I can. 

Tim McLeod tlmcleod

Great point.

FWIW, CBS tends to hold their expert league auctions in late February (fwiw, I did fair representing Patton in those leagues last year - 5th (of 12) in NL and AL only roto, won the Head to Head for the 3rd time in 6 years.

It's going to be crazy if we have the single-league auction this year prior to the CBA being signed ... because you're then needing to take 50-50 risk bids on guys like Correa, Freeman, Story, Kris Bryant, Kershaw, Castellanos, etc ...

The lockout is definitely going to bollux up the industry this spring.

Phil Ponebshek Texpope

Peter, the Google sheet requires permission to access.

Bob Elam Bob-in-TX
Camilo Doval San Francisco Giants

I like your optimism that they'll be early only league-auctions.  Recent years have seen a few free agents still deciding on teams come late Feb.-early March., but not the numbers that will be unsigned until lockout ends.

John Thomas Roll2

The good news: they met.

The bad news: there were a lot of empty chairs.

Alex Patton Alex

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