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Fantasy baseball — Fantasy baseball prospect and rookie rankings for 2019

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Before you enter your fantasy baseball drafts this season, you need prospect rankings for the top youngsters poised to make an impact in 2019.

Below are my rankings of the best minor leaguers expected to reach the majors and provide fantasy value this upcoming season. That’s where this list differs from other prospect lists, as this is a reflection of this season’s fantasy potential and not overall prospect skill.


1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

Guerrero shouldn’t even be eligible for prospect lists because he was big-league-ready around Memorial Day. The Blue Jays took advantage of a midsummer knee injury to delay his arrival, but they will not be able to do so for much longer. He’ll probably spend the first two weeks in Buffalo to suppress his service time before making the short trip across the border. After a tremendous season in which he hit .381/.437/.636 in 95 games, he continued to rake in the Arizona Fall League. In 19 more games, he hit .351/.409/.422. The hit tool is 80 (the highest grade on the 20-80 scouting scale). So is the power. He also has 80 discipline if that were a thing. He remains No. 1 until he isn’t eligible.

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Wieters makes Cards roster as Molina backup

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JUPITER, Fla. — Matt Wieters has been added to the St. Louis Cardinals‘ roster after earning the back-up job behind catcher Yadier Molina.

Wieters’ contract was selected Friday from Triple-A Memphis. He gets a $1.5 million salary while in the major leagues and $200,000 while in the minors. He can earn $500,000 in performance bonuses based on games: $100,000 each for 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80.

To clear a roster spot, the Cardinals designated left-hander Chasen Shreve for assignment.

A four-time All-Star with Baltimore from 2009-16, Wieters was competing with Francisco Pena for the back-up job.

Wieters spent the past two seasons with Washington. He hit .238 with eight homers and 30 RBI last year, when he was sidelined between March 31 and April 12 with a strained left oblique muscle and between May 10 and July 9 with a strained left hamstring.

His contract with the Nationals paid $21 million over the two years.

Shreve, a 28-year-old left-hander, had a 5.00 ERA in eight spring training appearances with nine walks and five strikeouts in nine innings.

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Padres prospect Patino shows off electric stuff

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San Diego right-hander Luis Patino was No. 50 on my top 100 this past winter on the strength of his electric stuff, but his outing on Wednesday in Peoria, Arizona, against the Royals’ high-A team was my first opportunity to see him live. His stuff truly is electric — I’m not sure there’s a better adjective to describe it — although I can also see reasons to pump the brakes a little bit on his prospect hype, given his size and delivery.

Patino, born in Barranquilla, Colombia, was at 93-96 mph on Wednesday with absurd spin on the pitch and some natural cut. I could actually see the spin on the ball (sorry, I can’t measure spin rate with my eyes … yet), which I can’t remember happening with any prospect before, and his fastball moves enough that I had to ask if he was trying to cut it (he’s not). His entire arsenal is strong, though — his 82-83 mph slider breaks like a whiffle ball, although he also showed he could shorten it up to keep it in the zone, and he throws an upper-80s changeup with hard tumble like a split-change even though it’s a traditional grip. His only pitch that wasn’t obviously above average was his upper-70s curveball, but it’s average and he throws it for strikes, making it more useful in the context of his other weapons.

Patino’s arm is incredibly quick, but there is some effort to the delivery, especially at release when he can’t keep his head steady. He has great balance over the rubber, with a very old-fashioned full windup, and gets big extension out over his front side — so now imagine that 94 mph fastball moving like no fastball you’ve ever faced before, and it’s coming out of his hand a little closer to your face than you’re used to seeing. He cuts himself off a little bit, so there’s some cross-body action to his delivery, but it likely also gives him deception against righties. Best of luck, hitters.

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Sources — Sale, Red Sox agree to 5-year extension

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Left-hander Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a contract extension, pending a physical next week, league sources confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The five-year deal is worth $145 million, league sources told Passan. The deal adds to Sale’s current contract (one year remaining) and will go through the 2024 season.

The Athletic first reported that an agreement was in place.

Sale, who will turn 30 on March 30, was in the final season of the five-year contract he signed with the Chicago White Sox before the 2013 season. The contract guaranteed $32.5 million, including a 2017 option buyout. That deal will end up paying him $59 million over seven seasons plus award bonuses.

The 2017 AL Cy Young Award runner-up and a seven-time All-Star, Sale struck out the side in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to close out Boston’s fourth championship in 15 seasons.

Sale, who started the All-Star Game for a third straight season in 2018, went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 237 strikeouts in 158 innings. He finished fourth in the Cy Young vote.

Sale also dealt with shoulder inflammation that led to two stints on the injury list in the second half along with diminished velocity and dominance in the playoffs.

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