In the winter of 2018/19 I decided I would try my hand at rebuilding a MLB franchise....albeit a fantasy one. Having inherited the worst fantasy team arguably ever complied, follow my progress of rebuilding the St Louis Cardinals within a 24 team Fantrax league. I have no idea if this team will ever see the light of competing ever again but what I do know is that Cockney Theo will leave absolutely no stone un-turned in trying to win a championship. Here is to a fun diary entry style series. Follow its progress on twitter - @JoelFourBases
Tuesday 2nd April
· Daniel Descalso (2B/3B- Chicago Cubs)
Wednesday 3rd April
Wilmer Difo (2B/SS/OF- Washington Nationals)
With my roster still not at capacity and looking to buy low from the free agent scrap heap before hopefully being able to turn them into some sort of value either in terms of points or trade value- I saw Wilmer Difo as a value play. Playing a utility guy for the Nationals and as someone who has always promised a lot of talent, it seemed a relative risk free move.
In 2018, Difo slashed .230/.298/.350 with 7HRS and 10SBs. If he can stay with the Nationals on a fulltime basis, he could be a nice addition to my roster.
Monday 17th June
Mike Zunino (C- Tampa Bay Rays)
Logan Morrison (1B- Philadelphia Phillies)
Tuesday 18th June
Heading into the season, something I was well aware of was the fact I had a significant amount of free roster spots in the minor league section of my roster. Seeing this as an efficient means of building a team that compete from 2021 and onwards, I wanted to scout out and enjoy doing the due diligence on the pool of free agent prospects before signing them to the Cardinals.
After a number of days and a lot of scouting reports, I fell down on the following hitters which I wanted to pick up to my minor league roster: Moises Gomez (OF- Tampa Bay Rays), Mario Feliciano (C-Milwaukee Brewers), Jake Cronenworth (RHP/2B – Tampa Bay Rays), and Tristen Lutz (OF- Milwaukee Brewers).
Moises Gomez (OF- Tampa Bay Rays)
The first of my 4 hitter was Moises Gomez, the Tampa Bay Rays #13 prospect. I couldn’t actually believe that in a dynasty league as deep as the one this one is, Gomez wasn’t on someone’s roster. The Rays have arguably the best minor league system in the whole of baseball, so their #13th prospect may actually be someone else’s 5th/6th ranked prospect.
Originally signed out of Venezuela in 2015, Gomez has steadily progressed through the A ball leading the Midwest league with 34 doubles, 60 extra-base hits, 82 RBIs and 237 total bases. He would later move back to Venezuela to player in their Winter League, where he would win Rookie of the Year honours.
MLB pipeline describe Gomez as having ‘exceptional power but that does come with a heavy dose of swing-and-miss, which in turn raises concerns about his hitting ability, but scouts who saw him last season were impressed by his feel for the barrel and believe he'll make more contact as his pitch recognition improves”.
With the Rays minor league system set up the way it is, I should imagine Gomez will likely get his first shot at the big leagues next fall when he could be in the mix for a September call up. If that isn’t the case, then hopefully he will head into Spring Training as candidate in with a shot of one of the starting corner outfield positions, or the DH slot.
Tristen Lutz (OF- Milwaukee Brewers),
Now if I was amazed that Gomez wasn’t on a team, I was absolutely gobsmacked that Lutz wasn’t. Currently ranked as the Brewers 2nd prospect, Lutz looks to be fast tracking his way to the major leagues.
The Brewers absolutely love this kid; love him so much that they signed him for $368,400 more than his slot value. Committing $2,352,000 to him to lure him out of going to Texas, the Brewers took him with the 34th overall pick.
Described my MLB Pipeline as “Athletic and strong”, Lutz’s right-handed power is his asset as shown to be his calling card as demonstrated in Class A Wisconsin, totalling 49 extra-base hits including 13 home runs.
MLB Pipeline quoted as “Most scouts peg him as a future right fielder on account of his strong, accurate arm, and he should make enough of an impact at the plate to fulfil that profile”. I like the chances of Lutz developing into an everyday, middle of the order line up hitter for the Brewers. There may not be a better person for him to learn from and watch than Christian Yelich- the guy he will ultimately like to replace in the heart of that line-up.
Mario Feliciano (C- Milwaukee Brewers),
I didn’t stop at Lutz when adding Brewers prospects. Next on the list is Mario Feliciano, Milwaukee’s number 9 prospect. Taken with the 75th pick in the 2016 1st year draft, Feliciano packs a punch from behind the plate. Despite hit raw athleticism and power, Feliciano’s 2018 season was limited to just 42 games. When reassigned to the Arizona Fall League, he experienced shoulder discomfort, an injury which saw him have arthroscopic surgery.
In 2019 to date (20-08) he has slashed .271/.323/.476 with 19HRS, 78RBIs and 55 XBH’s. The Brewers seem evidently high on Feliciano and rightly so, he possesses the ability for both average and power- something rare in the modern day catcher. Despite needing to become smoother and more efficient defensively behind the plate, MLB Pipeline believes “he'll make enough adjustments along the way to allow his bat-first profile to play at the highest level”.
Jose Pirela (2B/OF- Philadelphia Phillies),
Jake Cronenworth (2B/SS – Tampa Bay Rays)
My final addition was that of Jake Cronentworth, the Tampa Bay Rays18th ranked prospect. Currently seen as the latest and hottest two way prospect in the minor leagues, Cronenworth will hope to follow in the footsteps of teammate Brendan McKay in both pitching and hitting in the Major Leagues.
Cronenworth is seen by many as one of the Rays best talents as far as pure hitting goes. With a swing described by pipeline as “a clean, fluid stroke from the left side of the plate”, he takes an aggressive approach at the plate result in both great contact and above average power.
His arm at shortstop is so good, he has been used by AAA Durham to open a number of games this season. He owns a mid-90s fastball with a nasty curveball. “With the potential to offer real value as both a position player and a pitcher, Cronenworth appears poised to become a legitimate two-way talent at the highest level” – MILB Pipeline.
Wednesday 19th June
· Mike Brosseau (2B/3B/UT- Tampa Bay Rays)
I was somewhat surprised that Brosseau wasn’t on a roster in my league. When the Rays called him up from AAA Durham in June, he was on an absolute tear having slashed .317/.408/.590. Although probably not a long term solution at either 2nd or 3rd base in my team, Brosseau should be a more than adequate stop gap before my more premier prospects get called up. If everything goes well, Broasseau will translate his AAA success in the MLB and gain himself a regular starting job, whether that be in Tampa or indeed elsewhere. If this were to be the case then his fantasy trade value should rise and I can get a cost free reward.
Thursday 2nd July
· Aaron Ashby (SP- Milwaukee Brewers)
· Joey Cantillo (SP- San Diego Padres)
· Juan Lagares (OF – New York Mets)
Still with the minor league part of my team not at capacity (22) and wanting to be as efficient as possible within the rebuild, I decided that I would have a look for a couple of pitching prospects in the free agency pool that could help me out further down the line. After a couple of days of research I settled on adding Aaron Ashby, the Milwaukee Brewers #8 prospect and Joey Cantillo, the San Diego Padres #19 prospect.
Ashby originally passed on signing with the Texas Rangers after being drafted in the 25th round, a decision which proved worthwhile as he led all Division 1 Junior College pitchers in strikeouts (156) and strikeouts per 9 (18.8). Taken by the Brewers in the 4th round of the 2018 draft, Ashby dominated A ball.
Seen by many as having the best curveball in the entire 2018 draft, Ashby has the perfect complement for his low 90s fastball.
Described as MLB pipeline as “Working from the third-base side of the mound and having an athletic but funky delivery that masks everything he throws with deception”, I like the chances of Ashby making a contribution to the Brewers in the coming years- particularly given his evident ability for avoiding contract and striking hitters out.
My last pitching prospect was Joey Cantillo, the Padres #19th ranked prospect within baseballs best farm system. Taken in the 16th round of the 2017 draft at just 17, Cantillo has since blossomed in the Padres A ball set up.
In 2018, Cantillo amassed strikeouts in just over 45 1/3 innings on his way to recording a 2.18 ERA. MLB Pipleline describe him as a ‘6-foot-4 lefty with an athletic frame’, Cantillo's frame has. His delivery was further described by pipeline as ‘quirky but easily repeatable’. With a fastball around 90mph and a quality changeup, Cantillo looks to be just another name to look out for within Baseballs best farm system.
Thursday 4th July
St Louis Cardinals Receive:
o Anthony Kay (SP- Toronto Blue Jays)
o Misael Urbina (OF- Minnesota Twins)
Pittsburgh Pirates Receive
o Adam Frazier (2B/OF- Pittsburgh Pirates)
Surprisingly Adam Frazier over the course of the season Adam Frazier drew significant interest from a number of teams in the league. Sensing his utility value in being able to play both second base and in the outfield, I decided to stay put until I was blown away with an offer. The Pirates were one of the teams keen on Frazier from the outset and offered me a package where I would trade away both Carlos Martinez and Adam Frazier for a number of prospects. With my farm system at its 22 man capacity and unable to place the would be acquired prospects, I kindly declined and responded with the trade above.
A former first round pick out of Connecticut in 2016, Anthony Kay at the time of the trade was one of the Mets premier pitching prospects. With a low 90’s fastball and a curveball with an elite spin rate- Kay was poised for a Major League call up with the struggling Mets and seemingly inevitable dealing of at least one of Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard.
It turns out that the Mets didn’t deal either of their aces and instead traded for Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays, a deal which sent Anthony Kay north of the border. With the Blue Jays in the midst of a full scale rebuild and frequently showing a willingness to promote their minor league talents ( Guerrero Jr, Biggio and Bichette)- the chances of Kay seeing big league action by the 2020 at the latest is almost certain.
Last summer, The Twins handed Urbina a $2.75 million bonus during the 2018 international signing period. Baseball America described him as ‘Having the chance to be a five-category contributor, but the Venezuelan centre fielder's top tool is his plus speed’. With MLB Pipeline giving Urbina an ETA OF 2022/23, the Twins won’t get a return on their investment anytime soon, but he is an intriguing talent to watch climb the prospect ladder over the coming years
Follow the journey: