UFLB Season Preview: Vin Scully Conference

Updated: Apr 4

The inaugural season for Ultimate Fantasy League Baseball is just days away. Rosters have been drafted, trades have been made, players have been added from scouts, and now it’s time to see which franchises have made the best moves and positioned themselves for a SCORE Coin Series title run.


Today we look at the Vin Scully Conference, featuring the Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline and Ken Griffey Jr. divisions. UFLB co-commissioner Matt Soren chimes in with Matt’s Musings while UFFS Head of Baseball and UFLB co-commissioner Dean Millard provides a general overview of each roster. The points projected for players comes from the 2022 Fantrax projections.

Check out the UFLB league page where you can see each franchises' roster through the standings page.


“I’m fascinated by how different franchises build their rosters,” said Millard, who is familiar with the process having ownership in three different hockey franchises on the platform. “Some want to win it all this year, others are building for the next few years, and there are those taking a long-term approach. I don’t think any of them are wrong, it’s all up to the franchise and the people running them. It’s all about asset management in a dynasty league of this magnitude!”


Soren, who also has managerial experience within the UFFS platform as GM of the UFBA’s Arctic Wolves, brings real world baseball experience as a Philadelphia Phillies draft pick in 2013 and knows how rosters are built from being inside the game.


“Overall, I see the league split into 3 tiers,” said Soren. “There’s a clear, small, bottom tier, looking towards the future. Lots of young guys who are being relied on.


“Then there is a clear top tier, of a few franchises that have the combination of stars and top prospects that make them a force for years to come. And then there a large middle tier with about 20 franchises in. This should create some great parity every season for the playoffs. And we can then see, who is the best owner/GM combo to try and knock off some of these juggernaut franchises.”


Without further ado, let’s dive into the Vin Scully Conference preview:


Mickey Mantle Division

Arctic Eagles

Central Caiman

Franchise 24

MTB Orbit

Moonshots

Arctic Eagles

Top Projected Hitter: Juan Soto – RF – Washington – 662.5 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Josh Hader – RP – Milwaukee – 332. 5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Lineup Depth (strong in the weak positions, C & 2B)

-Best Bullpen in the League

-Strong Top of the farm system. Can turn Julio Rodriguez into a star at the deadline


Weakness:

-1B could use an upgrade

-Stability in the rotation


Star to watch- Juan Soto

Sleeper- David Price

On the farm- Julio Rodriguez

Projection- Division Favorite (1st: Mantle)


Overview

The Eagles had the 2nd overall pick and were very happy to snag Washington right fielder Juan Soto, who is projected by Fantrax to lead the league in fantasy points with more than 660. There’s a big drop off until the next big hitter when it comes to projections, with Eddie Rosario plugged in for almost 220 points thanks to Fantrax believing he will reach triple digits in RBI for the second time in his career. Veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal could be key for the Eagles, who don’t have another catcher on the roster and are hoping the 33-year old’s body holds up. Kyle Schwarber’s 40 home run outlook is offset by his high strikeouts. Whit Merrifield will be a solid starter each day from his base-stealing ability to his durability — he played all 162 games last year for the second time in his career — to his position eligibility at 2B and RF.


On the mound, the cold weather birds will feast, starting in the bullpen with some terrific late-game stars. Josh Hader, the top closer in the game, will pile up points, as will Craig Kimbrell and Liam Hendricks, both White Sox, and the yet to be signed Kenley Jansen. They also have some relief pitchers on the bench that they might be able to use to add pitching if they want. In the rotation, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and new St. Louis Cardinal Steven Matz anchor the top two spots.

Central Caiman

Top Projected Hitter: Jose Ramirez – 3B – Cleveland - 422 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Anthony Bender – RP – Miami – 267.5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Sleeper Bullpen to watch

-Aces of the future/Rock solid rotation


Weakness:

-Looking towards the future, might be a couple years away from playoffs

-Outfield lacks thump/reliability


Star to watch- Jose Ramirez

Sleeper- Aaron Hicks

On the farm- Tigers’ Top of The Rotation, Mize & Manning (no protected players)

Projection- Fighting out of the cellar (5th: Mantle)


Overview

Jose Ramirez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk will lead the way when it comes to power, but the latter two need to cut down on their Ks to be an effective middle of the order duo. Shortstop Tim Anderson has the makings of a 20-20 season (home runs and stolen bases) for the second time in his career, and the Caiman will be hoping Zach McKinstry is the second coming of Kike Hernandez with the Dodgers and gets enough playing time to be valuable as he qualifies at 2B, 3B, LF and RF for now — and who knows how many more positions with the way L.A. moves players around. 31-year-old Jace Peterson does the same for Milwaukee and adds 1B to his versatility. Central Caiman could also have something special on their roster if Jarren Duran pans out for the Red Sox. Known for his speed, he added power to his game last year in AAA.


On the bump is where things shouldn’t be bumpy for the Caiman. Logan Gilbert at almost 25 years old will be fun to watch — especially pitching for Seattle, which picked up some bats to help with the run production. Anthony Bender should contribute with saves and holds from the bullpen, and Garrett Whitlock will begin in the bullpen but could end up a starter for the Red Sox and Central Caiman. A healthy Spencer Turnball, out with Tommy John Surgery, will help down the road, as will some young and maturing arms, but will it be enough for the Caiman to find a playoff spot this year? Magic 8 Ball says, ‘outlook not so good.’ What will help GM Simmar Nanda is having 3 pitchers who qualify for the starting and relief positions in Nestor Cortes, Zach Thompson and Caleb Smith.

MTB Orbit

Top Projected Hitter: Byron Buxton – Minnesota – 223 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Walker Buehler – Los Angeles Dodgers – 335.5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Rock Solid (no glaring weakness)

-One of the best outfield trios in the league (Conforto, Buxton, Eloy)


Weakness:

-Wherever Gleyber doesn't play (2B/SS could use an upgrade)

-Rotation has some risk if Nate Pearson and Sixto Sanchez aren’t ready


Star to watch- Walker Buehler

Sleeper- Roberto Osuna

On the farm- Sixto Sanchez/Nate Pearson (no protected players)

Projection- Fighting for a Wild Card (2nd: Mantle)


Overview

Gleyber Torres playing both middle infield spots gives the Orbit some versatility, as do both Castros — Willi plays 2B, SS and LF — and Harold, who plays all four infield spots, but whether they get enough at-bats is still a question. There is potential for some long balls and stolen bases, but unless the strikeouts come down, it might not make a big difference. Right now, the only triple-digit RBI man projected is Eloy Jimenez and I think 100 might be low on the projection.


Pitching is what will push Orbit to new heights, starting with Dodgers ace Walker Buehler and John Means, who threw a no-hitter last season for Baltimore and was traded to the Padres. Veterans Madison Bumgarner and Kenta Maeda will give the Orbit innings and youngsters Nate Pearson of the Blue Jays, Vladimir Guttierez of the Reds and Sixto Sanchez of the Marlins will fight for rotation spots. Saves and holds could be hard to find unless a deal is made to shore up the bullpen.

Moonshots

Top Projected Hitter: Ozzie Albies – 2B – Atlanta – 224 Points

Top Projected Pitcher: James Karinchak – RP – Cleveland – 306.75 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Strong Bullpen (closers aren’t necessary?)

-Deep Bench (will be able to field full lineups daily)


Weakness:

No true Ace (the rotation isn’t great, but it can keep them in contention)

Lack of Star Power


Star to watch- Ozzie Albies

Sleeper- Andrew Vaughn

On the farm- Gabriel Moreno

Projection- Middle of the pack (4th: Mantle)


Overview

Not a ton of power and the OPS numbers need to increase ahead of Fantrax’s projections for the Moonshots to live up to their name. Ozzie Albies could outhit his projections when it comes to home runs and RBI, and there is quite a bit of speed on the Moonshots. What they do have in abundance is players who can move around the diamond, with 5 players who can play at least 3 different positions, which will help when injuries inevitably happen during the baseball season.


The Moonshots do have an attractive stable of pitchers, starting with Zac Gallen of Arizona and Drew Rasmunssen of the Rays, who also qualifies as a RP. Ryan Yarbrough, a fellow Ray, can also pitch from the rotation and bullpen, and Zac Plesac of the Guardians should outpitch his projections. The bullpen lacks saves but does have some holds — projected by Fantrax to be rock solid — and dealing a reliever for a bat may be in the club’s future. James Karinchak of Cleveland will likely get more end-game opportunities if he starts well.

Franchise 24

Top Projected Hitter: JD Martinez – LF – Boston – 173 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Brandon Woodruff – SP – Tampa – 341.5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-In the Corners (one of the best Corner OF duos in the league)

-The Trifecta (The trio of Woodruff, E-Rod, and Darvish makes this a top rotation)


Weakness:

-Infield seems weak offensively, with consistent playing time in question

-Bullpen could use a boost

-Could use another catcher on this roster to platoon


Star to watch- Brandon Woodruff

Sleeper- Elieser Hernandez

On the farm- Taylor Trammell (no protected players)

Projection- Middle of the pack (3rd: Mantle)


Overview

Youth is on the side of Franchise 24 (yet to be branded pending sale) when it comes to hitting, with only two players over the age of 31 — one of them being future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera, who has massive Legends League appeal. They will need things to go right for catcher Luis Torrens in Seattle or they will have to make a deal, as he’s the only catcher on the roster. Torrens had a good start, awful middle in 2022, and was sent to AAA Tacoma where he rebounded, so it all comes down to what happens behind the plate in Seattle. This franchise also has just one player who can man third base in Ha-seong Kim of the Padres, and while the defensive whiz qualifies at second and shortstop as well, he needs to bring a better bat to the lineup. Five players are projected to hit 20 or more home runs, led by Toronto’s Teoscar Hernandez and JD Martinez, who both should hit at least 30.


Pitching is the basket they have put all their eggs in, with six extra hurlers. Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff is the ace of the staff and is joined by Yu Darvish of the Padres and Eduardo Rodriguez in Detroit, as well as guys who can pitch from the starting and relieving spot like Dan Straily of the Diamondbacks and Michael Wacha of the Red Sox. Another bullpen that is light on saves but high on holds and strikeouts, thus still projects to be a strength for the club.


Al Kaline Division

Circa Sports Swingin’ Trout

Midnight Riders

Music City Smash

Northern Fury

Wheat Sox

Circa Sports Swingin’ Trout

Top Projected Hitter: Anthony Rendon – 3B – Anaheim – 369 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Joe Barlow – RP – Texas – 310.75 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

- One of the best OF in the league (4 deep: Winker, Reynolds, Acuna, Kiermaier)

- The Best farm system in the league (not even close)

- Strong foursome in the bullpen


Weakness:

-Pitching staff is below average talent but has depth (no true ace; not an Eovaldi believer)


Star to watch- Ronald Acuna Jr.

Sleeper- Nick Madrigal

On the farm- Adley Rutschman/Bobby Witt Jr.

Projection- Fighting for a division crown (1st: Kaline)


Overview

Power from the OF spot and contributions to OPS will carry the Swingin’ Trout to meet Matt’s expectations of first in the division. Rendon will crush things for an Angels club that I think will be a lot better, but depth could be an issue when injuries end up happening. Leury Garcia plays 2B, 3B and SS as well as all 3 outfield positions, but will he get enough playing time to make an impact? Depth could come from a stacked protected list, as players make their MLB debuts. Cubs 2B Nick Magridal could be a nice boost in stolen bags if he can avoid getting caught as much as he’s being projected.


Pitching is where the Swingin’ Trout spent a lot of time drafting players, with 3 SP and 4 RP on their bench — making me think some will be used for trade bait, but could also give them several pitchers to choose from each night. Unlike Matt, I do believe in Eovaldi, who I see cracking 200 Ks if healthy. Patrick Sandoval has some rotation protection with the Angels and could be better than expected, and if both Astros hurlers Jake Ordorizzi and Jose Urquidy make the rotation, it will give the Swingin’ Trout a huge boost. Ross Stripling of Toronto and Tyler Alexander in Detroit can bounce between the rotation and bullpen, providing extra versatility for the Swingin’ Trout.

Midnight Riders

Top Projected Hitter: Wander Franco – SS – Tampa Bay – 298.5 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Ian Anderson – SP – Atlanta – 264 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Great combination of youthfulness and veterans

-Deep Lineup/bench (one of the most complete offenses in the league)

-Strong farm system (5 top 100 prospects)

-Solid 4 to 5 relievers to round out an impressive staff


Weakness:

-Average starting rotation (multiple mid-rotation starters)

-Waiting on the farm (the weak spot of CF, seems to have a heir in the wings)


Star to watch- Wander Franco

Sleeper- Evan Longoria

On the farm- Jasson Dominguez

Projection- Fighting for a division crown (3rd: Kaline)


Overview

There is potential for a lot of home runs, but for those to make a difference, the strikeouts will have to come down — especially for guys like Joey Gallo, Tyler O’Neill and Jared Walsh. I’m expecting bigger things from sophomore Jonathan India than Fantrax is, and a full season in Colorado should bump up catcher Elias Diaz’s offensive numbers as well. Josh Donaldson’s trade to the Yankees will be fun to watch from a fantasy POV — and for the fact that ownership loves the Yanks. With Wander Franco and other young players on the roster, the Midnight Riders are positioned well for the long haul when it comes to hitters.


The Midnight Riders have as well balanced, if not the most balanced rotation in UFLB, led by Tyler Anderson in Atlanta, with Jordan Montgomery of the Yankees and Taijuan Walker of the Mets also solid starters. Injuries will keep Domingo German of the Yankees and James Kaprielian of Oakland out for a while, so trading for another starter might be an option. A bullpen built for holds, strikeouts and some saves will also provide solid point totals, but it is on the elder side, led by 36-year-old Mark Melancon of Atlanta.

Music City Smash

Top Projected Hitter: Aaron Judge – CF/RF – Yankees – 285.5 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Max Fried – SP – Atlanta – 295.5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Deep and complete lineup

-Strong bench (solidifying one of the better offenses in the league)


Weakness:

-Pitching depth (relying on several older pitchers in Hill, Hamels, Kennedy, Chapman)


Star to watch- Aaron Judge

Sleeper- Marcell Ozuna

On the farm- Cristian Pache (no protected players)

Projection- Middle of the pack (4th: Kaline)


Overview

The trade to Toronto pushes Matt Chapman’s production up for me, as the Jays’ lineup will be mashing the ball, and you won’t find many errors from Chapman in the field. If Cristian Pache — acquired by Oakland in the Chapman deal — wins a starting spot in Oakland’s outfield, it will be Music to the Smash’s collective ears as he would join Aaron Judge and Marcell Ozuna in a productive outfield. If he doesn’t, they have a few guys on the bench ready to fill in. The only tough spot they may find themselves in is replacing Danny Jansen of the Blue Jays on the roster, if an injury pops up, as he’s the only catcher on the franchise.


It’s quite the mix of starters for Music City. From 28-year-old Max Fried of Atlanta to 42-year-old Rich Hill in Boston, along with sub-25-year-olds Tucker Davidson of Atlanta and Shane Mclanahan of Tampa Bay, as well as 33-year-old Miles Mikolas of St. Louis rounding out the rotation. If Cole Hamels — who is 38 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2020 — finds a team, it will be a big bonus for Music City. In the bullpen, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman leads the way, with Dylan Floro of the Marlins expected to pitch in with some saves.

Northern Fury

Top Projected Hitter: Kris Bryant – 1B/3B/LF/CF/RF – Colorado – 293 points

Top Projected Pitcher: Freddy Peralta – SP – Milwaukee – 325.5 points


Matt’s Musings

Strength:

-Top notch bullpen (strong foursome of Fairbanks, Williams, Diekman and Minter, keep an eye on Nick Anderson when he returns)

-Three Aces? (Clevinger, Berrios, Peralta can do damage if healthy)


Weakness:

-One of the weaker offenses in the league (outside of Bichette & Bryant duo)

-Could use an upgrade up the middle (C, 2B, CF)


Star to watch- Bo Bichette

Sleeper- Mike Clevinger

On the farm- Reid Detmers

Projection- Middle of the pack (pitching staff will carry this franchise to relevancy) (5th: Kaline)


Overview

After the Killer B’s — Kris Bryant and Bo Bichette — the offence thins out quite a bit, but what Northern Fury lacks in power, they make up for in multi-position players, led by Bryant who can play 5 and counting! Eduardo Escobar of the Mets plays all inflield spots except SS, and five other players can be slotted in at least two different spots. The polar bears will also be fun to watch on the base paths, with three guys who might crack 20 steals.


The pitching staff is one of the best when it comes to consistently putting up points. Freddy Peralta will lead the way and should be Top 10 in strikeouts, while Toronto’s Jose Berrios and San Diego’s Mike Clevinger should help in wins and quality starts. Anaheim’s Reid Detmers could be a sneaky starter for Northern Fury, but if not, they have some depth in reserve. The boys in blue also have a solid bullpen built on holds and strikeouts, and I think they can be better than Matt’s 5th-place finish if they pull off a few trades to get some bats.


Team View

“We were pleased with how the draft played out, as we stuck with our internal rankings and trended towards younger players with an emphasis on positional versatility. We also managed to stockpile some relief pitchers while picking up a couple of prospects that we had targeted. All in all, we feel like we’ve built a balanced roster that should be competitive for the next 3 to 5 years, and we’re looking forward to building out our depth as the season progresses.”

Michael Kerford – GM

“We’re excited about the relationship we’ve established with Summit Scouting and the prospects they managed to secure in the Top Prospects Auction. Between the draft and the auction, we’ve got 5 prospects ranked in MLB’s Top 100 list — headlined by Reid Detmers (21) and Orelvis Martinez (38). As much fun as it will be to track the success of our big-league team, we’ll be keeping a close eye on these youngsters as they make their way up.”

Chris Henderson AGM