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2022 Fantasy Baseball Prospects: Top 10 at first base includes Spencer Torkelson, Triston Casas and Seth Beer

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The minor leagues are about stretching limitations. The major leagues are about concealing limitations.

Hence the disparity at first base. What’s traditionally regarded as a repository for big bats is typically lacking in big prospects. Confining someone so young to a position so inflexible is a concession of sorts and generally points to a lack of athleticism that could make the whole endeavor go belly-up.

It’s only after that overextended third baseman, outfielder or whatever reaches the majors that he migrates to the cold corner. And once he’s there, he can stick around a long time, ensuring the position never endures a real drought period.

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But when prospect hunting, yeah, the first basemen are in short supply. The most plodding of plodders pigeonholed there from the get-go can sometimes have real sleeper appeal since we ultimately only care about the numbers they put up, but their defensive limitations do give them a narrow path to playing time.

Having said that, the top two on this list are about as can’t-miss as it gets.

Top prospects: Catcher

Note: This list is intended for a variety of Fantasy formats and thus weighs short-term role against long-term value. Not all of these players will contribute in 2022 — most, in fact, will not — but among prospects, they’re the names Fantasy Baseballers most need to know.

1. Spencer Torkelson, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2021: high Class A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .267 BA (431 AB), 30 HR, .935 OPS, 77 BB, 114 K

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He needed some time to adjust to each level, suppressing his batting average a bit, but by tearing through basically the entire minor-league system in his first professional season, the top pick in 2020 nonetheless lived up to the billing. He ditched playing third base upon reaching Triple-A, making for one less hurdle on his way to becoming a middle-of-the-lineup force.

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2021: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .279 BA (308 AB), 14 HR, .877 OPS, 57 BB, 71 K

Comparisons for Casas have ranged from Joey Votto to Cody Bellinger, but the most fitting in terms of build, swing and approach is Freddie Freeman. His hit tool stood out the most in 2021, particularly with the reduction in strikeout rate, but scouts still love his power, which came on late. Note that he also hit three home runs for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2021: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .265 BA (445 AB), 36 HR, 12 SB, .988 OPS, 83 BB, 157 K

A late slump brought his batting average down to size, but considering Pratto hit .191 with a .588 OPS in 2019, there’s still no overstating the enormity of his breakthrough. The Royals’ big investments in hitter development since then have unlocked the former first-rounder’s potential, putting his athleticism on full display thanks to better swing decisions and a shorter stroke.

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4. Dustin Harris, Rangers

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2021: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .327 BA (404 AB), 20 HR, 25 SB, .943 OPS, 47 BB, 73 K

Right down to his defensive versatility and base-stealing prowess, two rare qualities for a first baseman, it’s hard to identify a true weak spot for Harris, which suggests he’s only flying under the radar because his breakthrough was so unexpected. He hit a combined three homers in his first 301 minor-league at-bats, carrying over into this year, before learning to elevate the ball as regularly as he barrels it up.

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2021: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .287 BA (362 AB), 16 HR, 33 2B, .909 OPS, 39 BB, 76 K
Major-leaguer stats: 4 for 9, HR, 2B, 1 BB, 3 K

The Diamondbacks seemed reluctant to turn first base over to Beer, calling him up to serve as DH during an interleague series, but the quick impression he made probably would have kept him around if he hadn’t dislocated his shoulder. He’ll have a narrow margin for error as a limited defender but consistently produced in the minors and may be a little under-hyped.

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2021: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .300 BA (437 AB), 24 HR, 37 2B, .957 OPS, 64 BB, 64 K

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The former 11th-round pick had exactly 64 strikeouts, 64 walks and 64 extra-base hits in 2021, which is to be praised for more than just its congruity. Unlike Nick Pratto, Pasquantino has been this way since the Royals drafted him, and now that he’s reached the upper levels, people are taking notice. Is he or catcher MJ Melendez the better fit at DH?

Age (on opening day): 24
Where he played in 2021: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .286 BA (367 AB), 27 HR, 29 2B, .969 OPS, 51 BB, 82 K

Capable of playing all four corner spots, Yepez may settle in as more of a bat-first utility player, but with all the alterations he has made the past couple years — from his swing to his swing decisions to his physique — I wouldn’t rule him out as a full-timer. Whether he can sustain the power gains is the determining factor.

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2021: Rookie ball, low Class A
Minor-league stats: ..306 BA (121 AB), 14 HR, 15 SB, 1.122 OPS, 31 BB, 50 K

What we have here is a massive slugger, standing about 6-feet-6, who strikes out too much but so pulverizes the baseball that it may not matter, as it hasn’t in the lower levels. Yeah, I’ll make the Aaron Judge comparison, unlikely though it may be. Garcia is the logical outgrowth of three-true-outcomes culture and a reasonable enough pickup to dream on.

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9. Aaron Sabato, Twins

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2021: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .202 BA (361 AB), 19 HR, .373 OBP, .783 OPS, 92 BB, 149 K

Miserable though his professional debut was, Sabato is still a player whose bat rated highly enough in college to get him drafted in the first round. He says the lack of reps in 2020 hindered his transition, and it’s worth noting he hit .253 with 1.015 OPS in 22 games after being promoted to high Class A. Just look at how much he got on base, too.

10. Jonathan Aranda, Rays

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2021: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .330 BA (348 AB), 14 HR, 22 2B, .962 OPS, 42 BB, 76 K

Aranda barely registers for most prospect publications, but it’s hard to dismiss a guy who led the Double-A South league in every slash line measure (.325/.410/.540). At 5-feet-11, his power is more gap-to-gap, and while he has played all over the infield, first base is his only real fit. That’s a difficult profile to land, but it’s clear he has some bat skills.

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Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith dominate in Eagles' victory vs. Commanders

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Jalen Hurts threw for three touchdowns and 340 yards while DeVonta Smith had one touchdown and 169 receiving yards in the victory. The Philadelphia Eagles held the Commanders to just 240 yards.



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College football odds, lines, schedule for Week 5: Alabama, Clemson open as big favorites in key matchups

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The start of conference play throughout college football has delivered with nearly every national title contender facing real adversity. Now, there are five ranked matchups that will take center stage as the season heads into Week 5. No. 20 Arkansas gets a quick opportunity to rebound against No. 1 Alabama after losing on a bizarre field goal miss against Texas A&M. Meanwhile, No. 16 Baylor and No. 9 Oklahoma State battle for control of the Big 12 title race after both entering as prohibitive favorites. 

In the ACC, quarterback battles should make for an exciting weekend. No. 10 NC State’s Devin Leary and No. 5 Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei vie against the best defenses each has faced so far. No. 12 Utah also faces a large line against an Oregon State squad that took USC to the wire in Week 4. 

Here are a few of the biggest spreads to watch in Week 5 with odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. 

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No. 10 NC State (+7) at No. 5 Clemson: The Tigers narrowly survived a battle with Wake Forest, and now get a physical Wolfpack team coming to Death Valley. NC State has slowly gotten better since nearly suffering a loss to East Carolina in its opener, but Clemson is its first real test. The battle features perhaps the two best defenses in the ACC, so keep an eye out for the under. 

No. 9 Oklahoma State (+1.5) at No. 16 Baylor: The Cowboys travel to Waco for a rematch of last year’s Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma State is 3-0 but has not played a team ranked higher than 86 in the CBS Sports 131 Rankings. Baylor lost a double-overtime thriller against BYU but beat Iowa State last weekend. Whichever team emerges victorious will have an inside track back to the Big 12 title game in 2022. Something to watch: OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders threw seven of his 12 interceptions against Dave Aranda’s defense last season. 

No. 2 Alabama (-16.5) at No. 20 Arkansas: The Razorbacks lost a heartbreaker on a missed field goal against Texas A&M last week and fell 10 spots in the rankings as a result. With Alabama coming to town, Arkansas has a chance to shock the world and pull off a signature victory. Arkansas played Alabama within seven points last season, and the Tide only beat Texas by one point in Week 2. The ingredients for an upset are there. 

No. 7 Kentucky (+4) at No. 14 Ole Miss: The Rebels finally get their first test of the season as Kentucky heads to Oxford with its highest ranking since 1977. The Wildcats beat Florida by 10 points but struggled in a lookahead spot against Northern Illinois. Ole Miss also played inconsistently against Tulsa in a 35-27 victory, but the win moved them to 4-0. NFL-caliber quarterbacks Will Levis and Jaxson Dart will be on full display in this game. 

No. 22 Wake Forest (+4) at No. 23 Florida State: The Demon Deacons were painfully close to snapping a 13-game losing streak to Clemson but ultimately fell in overtime. Florida State is undefeated, but its best win is over a shaky LSU team. Ultimately, the Sam Hartman vs. Jordan Travis showdown should set up one of the best games of the weekend. Home-field advantage could be the difference. 

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Best of the rest 

No. 1 Georgia at Missouri (+28)
No. 4 Michigan at Iowa (+9.5)
Arizona State at No. 6 USC (-24)
Northwestern at No. 11 Penn State (-24.5)
Oregon State at No. 12 Utah (-11)
Stanford at No. 13 Oregon (-15)
No. 15 Washington at UCLA (+2.5)
No. 17 Texas A&M at Mississippi State (-1)
No. 18 Oklahoma at TCU (+5)
Utah State at No. 19 BYU (-24.5)
Purdue at No. 21 Minnesota (-10)
Georgia Tech at No. 24 Pittsburgh (-19.5)
Texas Tech at No. 25 Kansas State (-8)



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Blue Jays employ long ball to secure a series split in Tampa

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Through a season-defining stretch that featured 16 of 21 games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles, and which saw them post a 10-6 record, the Toronto Blue Jays head home with a solid grip on the top wild-card spot and a playoff-berth clinch imminent.

Their magic number is down to five after a 7-1 win Sunday over the Rays secured a four-game weekend split at Tropicana Field, the soul-less circus tent where so many Blue Jays dreams have gone to die. Alejandro Kirk opened the second by rocking a 97 m.p.h. fastball from AL all-star starter Shane McClanahan over the wall in left, while George Springer took the lefty deep in the third and fifth innings, leading the way in a second straight win after three straight losses.

Teoscar Hernandez added a two-run shot in the eighth and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. an RBI single in the ninth, helping five shutout innings of hard contact but little damage from Ross Stripling and four frames of clean relief stand up before a crowd of 16,394.

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At 86-67, the Blue Jays moved two games clear of the Rays (84-69) atop the wild-card race, with the Seattle Mariners (83-68), who were at Kansas City, beginning the day 1.5 games off the pace. A loss by the Baltimore Orioles (79-72), who were hosting Houston, could further cut Toronto’s magic number.

The Blue Jays were in a much more precarious spot back before this gruelling run began, heading into a Sept. 5 doubleheader at Baltimore trailing both the Mariners and Rays in the wild-card standings and just 1.5 games on the Orioles for the third wild-card.

A sweep of that twin-bill spring-boarded them into a 13-8 run that included a 5-2 mark against the Orioles and a 5-4 run against the Rays, their perennial nemesis, that helped reset the standings.

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Nine games remain, beginning with the first of three against the New York Yankees on Monday night, and if not for the losses in five games last Sunday to Friday, that series would have at least placed a run at the AL East on the spectrum of possibility.

Instead, the Yankees will arrive on the verge of securing the division title, leaving the Blue Jays playing for homefield advantage in the wild-card round, where they may very well encounter the Rays once again.

Recovering to earn a split and finish 4-5 at the Trop this year — they were 5-5 versus the Rays at Rogers Centre — should help steel them for another meeting against a rival that dogged them in all 19 meetings.

McClanahan had been tough on the Blue Jays in the past, allowing only six earned runs in 26.1 innings over five previous starts, but gave up a career-high three homers in his five innings Sunday.

That support came after Stripling dodged damage in a first inning that included four balls put in play at 98.8 m.p.h. or harder. He better suppressed hard contact from there, allowing just a Taylor Walls double and Randy Arozarena sacrifice fly in the third over the next four innings.

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A brilliant pick by third baseman Matt Chapman on an Isaac Paredes chopper with men on the corners to end the third helped, too.

Zach Pop, Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards and Yusei Kikuchi each threw an inning to close things out.



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