Rock Master Scott from Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three, famous for the song, The Roof is on Fire, was vacationing with his family in Pompeii, Italy in the early 1980s, when he saw the ruins in the volcanic ash. He passed his Minolta camera to his grandma, so it wouldn’t bang into anything, and laid on the ground, mimicking a victim from 79 AD. Then, he started screaming the chorus to his now famous song, only since his family was there, he screamed, “Let the motherfudger burn. Burn, motherfudger, burn.” This is a little known fact, similar to the little known rookie prospect, Dalton Pompey. He was barely inside the top 20 for Jays prospects coming into this year. Some people ranked Kevin Pillar above him. The same Kevin Pillar who is followed on Twitter by the Sons of Pam Porn for his conversations with Jason Paritek and Curt Pilling. The same Pillar who is a platoon outfielder at best. The problem with the rankings of others is they are ranking for real baseball value. A center fielder like Pompey, who can hit .250 and steal 30 bases, doesn’t exactly fly the pants flag when it comes to real world prospects. To illustrate, let’s go into the Fantasy Time Machine. In 2007, the Giants received a marginal prospect from the Pirates. A hitter that was ranked the 27th best prospect on the Pirates at the time, in a system that was awful. Baseball Prospectus said at the time, “The Giants didn’t trade much and got less in return with Rajai.” Another article called Rajai, “a non-prospect.” A third article says, “Rajai Davis, the main player the Giants acquired in the deal, presents low upside.” All Rajai had was speed. Rajai hasn’t stolen less than 34 bases in any year since 2009 and has three years above 40 steals while also being crowned The King of SAGNOF. Last year alone, Rajai was the 35th ranked outfielder in fantasy. A) No one knows anything about what a player will do. They’re all guessing. B) The one thing you can count on translating from the minor leagues to the majors is speed. C) There’s no C. Anyway, what can we expect of Dalton Pompey for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Put down the turkey leg and up your bandwidth. This is the part where we all huddle around the warm glow of our computer screens to watch streaming video from countries not buried in seven feet of snow. Dust off your Spanish dictionary – it’s time for the winter leagues. Granted there will be names you’ve never heard of but there are cheerleaders…and prospects. There are also some major leaguers getting in the extra reps before we put a bow on 2014. Several leagues playing now will continue until the end of December, but the majority of the players we follow are concentrated in the Dominican and Venezuelan leagues, so we’ll roll with them for the most part. Just like the AFL, these are small sample sizes and the competition varies, but some performances stand out and are worth mentioning. Plus dynasty players don’t know the meaning of the word offseason. Here, in no particular order, are some of the players that have stood out to me in the winter leagues so far (stats through Friday)…

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Let’s put it out there upfront, the Dodgers shouldn’t re-sign Hanley Ramirez. Only Earvin Johnson III’s stylist knows exactly what Magic is thinking when it comes to throwing money at a problem. (By the by, am I the only one that thinks Magic’s son may have been a hospital mix-up and is really Charles Barkley’s kid? Could he be The Round Mound Sausage Hound? Earvin Johnson III goes by E.J., and Barkley works on TNT with Ernie Johnson, who goes by E.J. Hmm…) Maybe the Dodgers do re-sign Hanley and then Alex Guerrero becomes a platoon player-slash-fills in for Hanley when he invariably hits the DL and/or doesn’t feel like playing for a month. His last year in Triple-A proved Guerrero can at least compete in the majors. His stats were 15 homers, 4 steals and a .329 average in 65 games. Of course, that was in the PCL, so translating those stats to Earth stats and you have about 7 homers, 2 steals and a .270 average. Not mind-blowing, but remember that’s in only 65 games, so it’s not as awful as it sounds either. A film starring Alex Guerrero called, “Alex Guerrero, He’s Not Awful.” Aw, c’mon, baseball players are like us, they have feelings too, and that’s not nice. He floated a far way on a raft while eating nothing but Cuban sandwiches, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Hint to Fidel: maybe you allow the citizens of your country everything, except rafts. I don’t know, I’m merely a genius on paper. Anyway, what can we expect of Alex Guerrero for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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*rubs hands together, flour residue and sweat mix together forming pizza dough, places pizza dough in oven, pulls out pizza* Hey, I got an excitement pizza for Aaron Sanchez! Or maybe I should just wash my hands. Nah, this is an excitement pizza! Now, hold on, before you start stuffing your mouth with this excitement pizza, we should discuss why it’s so delicious. Last year in a two-month-long foodie festival that is called, A Taste of the Majors, Sanchez had a 1.09 ERA with a 7.4 K/9 in 33 IP. Hey, boring, drop your R because I have a boing! Know what his fastball averaged? 97 MPH. This is weird, I hate camping, but I’m sure pitching tents! I kinda just want to stare at the words-slash-numerals “97 MPH fastball” for a little while longer. Okay, kids might be reading so I need to move on. I’m just feeling so frisky. (Frisky should be spelled frisque; you messed up, English language.) Unfortch, Sanchez was working in middle relief last year with the Blue Jays. “Don’t play in a Holds league, Grey, let’s move on!” Wait a second, Jumpy McJumpstein, Sanchez was predominately a starter in the minors, and the Blue Jays were trying to keep his innings down. Jumpy McJumpstein, “Okay, I’ll calm down. Plus, that Third Eye Blind song just came on ’90s on 9!” Anyway, what can we expect of Aaron Sanchez for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (25) | 2013 (2) | 2012 (9) | 2011 (18) | 2010 (12)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [87-75] AL West
AAA: [74-70] Pacific Coast League – Tacoma
AA: [63-76] Southern League – Jackson
A+: [78-62] California League – Bakersfield (former Reds’ affiliate)
A: [61-77] Midwest League – Clinton
A(ss): [28-48] Northwest League – Everett

Graduated Prospects
Taijuan Walker, RHP | James Paxton, LHP | Roenis Elias, RHP | Stefen Romero, OF | James Jones, OF | Dominic Leone, RHP

The Gist
The Mariners just missed the playoffs in 2014 and graduated several quality prospects along the way. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will be joined by Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Roenis Elias. Elias had a solid rookie season and will look to keep that going, while Walker aims to show why he was the organization’s top pitching prospect. The Mariners took one of the most exciting players in this year’s draft when they selected Alex Jackson sixth overall. The farm is stocked with enough pieces to make moves at the trade deadline if they go into buy mode either in the offseason or in July. On a side note, Seattle moved out of the launching pad of High Desert and now calls Bakersfield their High-A home after this year’s affiliation shuffle.

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The Braves had the 5th best ERA last year in the major leagues. That’s with a down year by Mike Minor, and injuries to Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen. Their runs scored were second to last in the majors. Only the Padres’ offense was worse. So, naturally, they trade away Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, who had a sub-5 K/9 in High-A last year. Oh…*pounds out a chicken cutlet, fills it with spinach and ricotta cheese, rolls it up, ties it with twine, bakes it on 450 for 18-22 minutes, pulls it out and breathes in the aroma* …kay. That’s the Chicken Florentine pause. Practiced by many, only able to be pulled off by a few. I rarely pull out the Chicken Florentine pause, but trading a top hitting prospect that is only 25 years old, when your team is hurting for offense, is straight up baffling with a pickleback. Are the Braves trying to bring the entire organization down to Fredi’s level of intelligence? Did Fredi tell management that they had too many top of the order hitters (they have none) and they needed another arm (they don’t)? Are the Braves trying to get featured in the third sequel to Major League? I got questions, y’all! From a fantasy perspective, Heyward’s value goes up simply because the Cardinals are a better offensive team. Like someone doing yoga, Heyward will now be surrounded by Matts, Carpenter and Holliday. What will Heyward produce? Go ask the Sphinx. One year he looks like a 30-homer hitter, another year he looks like a middle infielder with 20 steal speed. He could be anywhere from a 15-homer guy to a 30-homer guy. The 20 steals, now in two of five seasons, looks possible, until you see he has a year of only 2 steals. His .271 average last year is around his career average (.262), so that seems repeatable, until you see his .227 average in 2011. At some point, he could have a 30-homer, 20-steal top 20 fantasy season, but to say it’s definitely coming is you lying to yourself. You already lie to yourself in other areas of your life, let’s not start with Heyward too. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 91/20/75/.274/15. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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Another year, another Archie Bradley outlook post. He now has two said posts, which might be it for him, if he can’t start to make good on his promise. Here’s what Prospect Mike said this year on him, “Many fantasy owners thought Bradley might have already made his debut by now, but elbow problems and a D-Backs squad that went nowhere again in 2014 stalled his progress. Kinda like how Grey’s maturity level stalled in the 4th grade.” Hey, I’m way more of a middle schooler! Here’s what I said last year, “Archie reminds me of Taijuan Walker, only rawer. BTW, try to say rawer out loud and not sound like a lion. Yeah, you can’t. Is it me or does it seem the nastier a guy’s stuff is the less control they have over it? It’s like if a hitter doesn’t know where a pitch is going, then the pitcher probably doesn’t either. Another guy Bradley reminds me of is Max Scherzer. It took Scherzer six years to figure out where his pitches were going. Member all of those years I loved Scherzer and he was frustrating to own? Because I love stuff and you just never know when the control is going to come. Bradley’s control could come this year. More than likely, it’ll come in another year or two. He’s only 21 years old. If he doesn’t figure out control until age 24, he’ll still have plenty of time to rack up Cy Young awards, but will be useless for fantasy for another three years. So, I love him like his momma, but there’s no way I’m drafting him in mixed leagues.” And that’s me quoting me! Unfortch, I was way more prescient than I wanted to be with Bradley. So, what can we expect of Archie Bradley for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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The Arizona Fall League is over, but prospect season is in full swing. Razzball is posting fantasy-driven top ten prospect lists every Wednesday this offseason so be sure to check them out. While the AFL isn’t a long season, it features some of the better prospects in baseball and it’s worth looking back at a few of the top performers in the league this year. Moving forward, we’ll focus on the winter leagues. Big leaguers and prospects from many MLB organizations are still playing baseball! There are several leagues like this, but I tend to gravitate toward the Dominican Winter League the most. Players like Maikel Franco, Joc Pederson, and Rymer Liriano are just a few of the names you’ll find on the DWL rosters. Last year’s MVP, Gregory Polanco, created quite the buzz in 2014. The league runs until the end of December and I’ll check in on some of the performances there periodically in this Minor Accomplishments series. To follow along, you can live stream games here, here, and here. Just brush up on some Spanish first! Back to the AFL…here were this year’s top performers with some commentary:

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During the All-Star break last year, Mark Reynolds aka Mini Donkey, Adam Dunn aka Big Donkey, Ian Stewart aka Mini Mini Donkey and Pedro Alvarez aka El Burro got together to discuss the future of the Donkeys with Adam Dunn retiring. The conference took place at a Chicago-area Sheraton. Outside the Sheraton conference room, a sign read, “Dunn Done and Done?” Caterers vied hard to cater the event. Carpenters stood by in case Dunn sat down wrong on a chair. First to speak was Mini Donkey. He assured Dunn, the Donkeys could continue, saying, “All brays to you, but is this the end? Nay! There would still be all-or-nothing types for years to come.” Alvarez said something, but the translator was a no-show. Ian Stewart placed a cinnamon sugar donut on a pen and took practice swings, eliciting a stink-eye from Dunn. After a good hour of debate, Dunn wasn’t sure; his concern about their future worried him, so, naturally, he turned on the Futures Game. At that point, a Lithuanian maid walked into the conference room with a sign written in Batman-style font. The sign read: WHAMP! At six-foot, five inches, Joey Gallo devastates pitches. Last year, he hit 21 homers in only 68 games in Double-A. Before that, he hit 21 homers in only 58 games in High-A. Last year, 38 homers in 106 games. And he can’t hit above .240 in the minors. Adam Dunn stood up and exclaimed, “Four lady readers and gentlemen, we got ourselves a new Donkey — Big Donkey Jr.! And Ian Stewart please stop wasting donuts.” Anyway, what can we expect of Joey Gallo for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Noah Syndergaard seemed poised to help the Mets this year, after breezing through Double-A with a 11+ K/9 and a 3.00 ER in 54 IP in 2013. “Matt Harvey on line one, wants Noah to take the call. Sure, he can hold, he only has the Ghost of Ralph Kiner on the other line. No, he can’t hold!” Of course, the Mets can’t have anything nice. It’s what happens when a club makes a deal with the devil in 1986 for a championship and a Cadillac filled with cocaine. “I said to take the compact Pontiac Sunbird filled with coke and 15 years of bad karma, instead of the Cadillac and 30 years of bad karma.” That’s Keith Hernandez explaining his side of things. In June, Syndergaard was sidelined with a sprained shoulder. Egads! But it was his non-throwing shoulder. Egadless! The Mets are in the same pickle as every other organization that has a Triple-A affiliate in the PCL. If they send them to Triple-A, they’re gonna get knocked around. No, I have no idea why they would have a league that shatters pitchers’ confidence. But, there they are. And there was Syndergaard’s confidence being splattered on the wall like a scene from Game of Thrones. Don’t throw a strike, it’s the white walkers! In Triple-A, he threw 133 IP, and had a 9.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 4.60 ERA. Lowercase yay. It’s Midnight in the Syndergaarden of Good and Evil and Kevin Spacey is unconvincingly playing a heterosexual. Snoozegaard, you suck, moving on! Or does he? Damn, you reversal question! Anyway, what can we expect of Noah Syndergaard for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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