There’s flashier guys to cover, I’m looking at you, Carlos Correa; I’m winking in your direction, Byron Buxton, and your missing finger, excuse me, dislocated. But I’m writing rookie outlooks for 2015 fantasy baseball, i.e., I’m focusing on guys that could play the majority of the time in the majors in 2015. I’m not going to write a Buxton outlook saying. “Will be awesome, come back to read more in 2016.” I’m trying to focus on impact players for this coming year. Prospect Mike is around to talk future All-Stars. Unlike Correa and Buxton, Francisco Lindor is in his last stop at the majors. Maybe the Twins push Buxton along and he jumps to the major league club by midseason, assuming he can stay healthy and the Twins can actually have something nice. “Sorry, we don’t have anything in your size.” That’s the cashier at the Everything Nice store after the Twins enter. Wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Buxton to appear this year. Shoot, he could rip the cover off the ball in spring training and be up sooner than June. Right now, he looks like a September call-up, at best. Same for Correa. With that said (oh, boy, here comes a reversal), I’m not totally sure of Lindor’s path to the majors. A good generalization that is generally good (hey, what do you know?) is a player ends the year in Double-A, starts in Triple-A the following season and is in the majors by June. Or is in Triple-A to end the year and starts the year in the majors the following year. Of course, guys can jump from Double-A or even High-A to the majors, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Lindor, on the other hand (were we even using hands?), played well in Triple-A last year. He really has no place else to go, except the majors or traded to another team. He should’ve been up already, to be quite frank, and don’t call me frank. Why am I even comparing Lindor, Correa and Buxton? Because they’re all the top rookies right now in the minor leagues, and you people demand the best. You demander, you! Anyway, what can we expect of Francisco Lindor for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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4.26 ERA in 107 2/3 IP his rookie year. Who’s that, you ask with your super-cute, Joey Lauren Adams mousey voice. That’s Clayton Kershaw’s numbers when he was first called up. Like when you feed your dog, then hold his ass over the balcony, rookie pitchers are a crapshoot. There’s no discernible rhyme or reason what any of them will do in their first year. Trevor Bauer could’ve been great last year, but wasn’t. Yet, Jacob deGrom is better than he was in the minors. *shrugs* Your guess = my guess. In hindsight, we could pinpoint the reason for each pitcher’s performance. Unfortch, we don’t have hindsight for next year. Shucks, I know. Maybe you should reach into your emoji grab bag and pull out an appropriate one. If I had an Asian baby, I’d name it Emoji. Guy or girl. That would require me getting pregnant, and 6th grade health class tells me it’s not possible. I ain’t got no ovaries, y’all! This brings us to Andrew Heaney. He should’ve been terrific last year, and *raspberries lips*. Oh, man, I now have spittle on my keyboard from the raspberried lips. Intern, bring me my spittle rag! What should’ve been the great thing about Heaney is how he should’ve been safer than most pitchers due to his control — ya know, avoiding the big innings. Then, last year, he has a 5.83 ERA in 29 1/3 IP with the Marlins. The key there is how small a sample size it is — that’s what she said! Huh? We can’t learn anything from 29 1/3 IP. Corey Kluber had a 4.14 ERA in his first 37 IP last year. Putting too much significance on 29 1/3 IP is like when you dial a wrong number to a funeral parlor, then don’t leave your bed the rest of the day just in case that was an omen. No omen, you’re just listening to Signs by Tesla one too many times. Anyway, what can we expect of Andrew Heaney for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (28) | 2013 (27) | 2012 (22) | 2011 (25) | 2010 (27)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL Central
AAA: [69-74] International League – Toledo
AA: [71-71] Eastern League – Erie
A+: [62-75] Florida State League – Lakeland
A: [82-58] Midwest League – West Michigan
A(ss): [42-34] New York-Penn League – Connecticut

Graduated Prospects
Nick Castellanos, 3B | Eugenio Suarez, SS

The Gist
The Tigers have a winning team at the major league level, but their farm continues to rank in the bottom third. Nick Castellanos arrived as a big league regular this season. Jake Thompson – considered a top prospect in Detroit’s system – was traded to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal. While there isn’t much impact talent in this top ten, there are a few mid-rotation starters and multiple options at middle infield. Derek Hill was the big name added in the 2014 draft and immediately becomes a top prospect for Detroit.

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Here’s what I said almost two years ago, “Dylan Bundy’s A-Ball numbers were insane. He was too good for A-Ball. A-Ball called a press conference and said, “You’re embarrassing us. Please leave” In 30 innings, he had 40 Ks and 2 walks. Only giving up 5 hits and zero earned runs. High-A wasn’t quite as bonkers, but wasn’t far off — 57 IP, 66 Ks and 18 walks with a 2.84 ERA. The Orioles also told him to stop using his cutter. They said go with your 99 MPH fastball, i.e., I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Cutter. So he’s adjusting. Even without the cutter, he’s going to be an ace.” And that’s me quoting me! Unfortunately, while rookie pitchers are making plans, God laughs, saying, “I’m gonna draft some rookie hitters.” Not too long after I posted that, Bundy was sidelined by the doctor with the infamous hook. No, not Dr. Richard Kimble, but Dr. James Andrews, as Bundy needed Tommy John surgery. Fun fact! A cheap, yet effective surgery is being performed on high school pitchers, where coaches smack their players’ arms with luggage. It’s called Tumi John surgery. I saw it on Dateline. After about 14 months, Bundy was back on the mound in High-A last year, making hitters look foolish. They were looking dumb because they were swinging a few seconds early since Bundy’s 99 MPH fastball had suddenly become a 93 MPH. After about a hitter or two, they stopped looking foolish and started pounding the ball. Bundy had a 5.1 K/9 and a 4.78 ERA in High-A last year, and looks like he’s on the path to return, assuming said path is a ten-year journey where he gets to throw one ceremonial pitch in the major leagues and gets an article written about him in Sports Illustrated about what could’ve been. Anyway, what can we expect of Dylan Bundy for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Well, Cody Asche’s opportunity to sneak in and have a surprisingly solid season in 2014 before Maikel Franco emerged went swimmingly. If we’re judging swimmingly on a scale established by Natalie Wood getting swimming lessons from Robert Wagner. Too harsh? How about as swimmingly as Whitney Houston in a bathtub? That’s just terrible, why would you force me to give you a second one? Franco appeared in the majors last year, though he retained his rookie eligibility. Upon his arrival in Philly at the end of last year, Franco’s lack of assault on major league pitching made it seem like he needed more seasoning, i.e., the Franco-American Outside-Of-King-Of-Prussia War on pitching didn’t exactly leave us with shock and awe (.179 in the majors with zero homers in 56 ABs). Shouldn’t have been a surprise, he didn’t exactly look like a breakout waiting to happen last year in Triple-A, where he had 16 homers in 521 ABs, hitting .257. With rookies like that, maybe the Phils are right to invest in more megaphones for the clubhouse, so their veterans can communicate. “DID ANYONE SEE MY PREPARATION H?” “IT’S NEXT TO MY SMOOTH MOVE HERBAL TEA. YOU CATCH DATELINE LAST NIGHT? SO CRAZY.” That’s Rollins talking to Utley as they stood about three feet from each other. Franco had a season to forget, but since the Phils promoted him in September, he’s definitely short-listed for the Opening Day lineup, and won’t be in the minors much past June, barring injury or further disappointment. So, what can we expect of Maikel Franco for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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The Arizona Fall League is a couple of weeks old now, so we’ll peek at a few of the highlights and lowlights. In a league with only six teams, there is a limited pool of players and we’ll have to take the small sample sizes with a grain of salt. There have been a few standout performances, and this league is a good way to get eyes on prospects returning from injuries or facing some tougher competition for the first time. One name from the AFL that has surfaced quite a bit this year is Reds’ outfielder Jesse Winker. Reports on Winker like his approach and power, with left field a likely destination when he reaches the bigs. Despite a concussion early in the season and a wrist injury that ended his season prematurely, the 21-year-old hit .327/.426/.580 with 13 homers in the hitter-friendly California League before a brief stint in Double-A. In 38 AFL at bats, Winker has two homers, two doubles, and a league-leading 13 runs batted in. He’s top 5 in average (.368), on-base percentage (.479), and slugging percentage (.632). I’m not totally on board the Winker train yet since he hasn’t seen much of Double-A, but I am at the station in line to buy a ticket. Here are some other noteworthy AFL prospect performances so far…

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Okay, so I’m basically going to have to do a post for every Cubs prospect. They have me prospiqued. I’ve been knocked on the head and no one can find any smelling salts, so they’re holding Cubs prospects under my nose. A Nubian genie is offering me three wishes and I’m taking three Cubs prospects. I already gave you my Jorge Soler fantasy. Today, it’s Kris Bryant and his mollywhopping stick. Maybe next will be Addison Russell. (Can I get a Starlin Castro to Yankees trade already? You know you want to, Yanks.) Bryant has a mollywhopping stick like we haven’t seen since Big Sexy Richie Sexson. Last year at spring training, when I saw Bryant, I was impressed. Looked ready to hit a ball 5,000 feet like he was five hundred Cespedes standing in the batter’s box. When I say mollywhop, you say Bryant. Last year, he had 43 homers in the minors. Um, for those slow on the uptake, they don’t play as many games in the minor leagues. 43 homers in the minors is like 756 homers in 162 major league games for a new major league record (Barry Bonds who?). It wasn’t like Bryant hit for a sucky average either — .355 in Double-A and .295 in Triple-A. He does strikeout a decent amount and that might hurt his average a bit in the majors. Oh, and he has sneaky speed — 15 steals last year. Can I draft him 2nd overall for 2015 right now? I ask, politely. Anyway, what can we expect of Kris Bryant for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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The other day I said that Jorge Soler was going to be your top rookie in 2015 fantasy baseball. Big words from a little man. At least I am a man, and not just an italicized voice. Joc Pederson would’ve been the top rookie if I saw the Dodgers committed to him out of spring training. There’s still time for that to happen. Like trading Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford for a middle reliever. I’m not being facetious. Shoot, I don’t even know what facetious means. If someone would take the contracts of Ethier and Crawford for a middle reliever, the Dodgers should jump around like Everlast. The Dodgers owe Ethier and Crawford almost $40 million for 2015 alone. And they’re signed through 2017! Maybe Magic can borrow some of the special sauce from one of his fast food franchises, squirt it on the $40 million and eat it. A’la a commercial jingle, “Two-overpriced-all-stars-from-2009-special-sauce-let-us-get-rid-of-them-on-a-seasame-seed-bun!” Without doing any actual research, I’m gonna say the Dodgers are paying about the same for Ethier and Crawford as the Marlins and Astros are paying for their entire teams. On the fo’really tip, the Dodgers could trade Matt Kemp, Ethier and Crawford for a middle reliever and be a better team next year. At this point, I have nothing but conjecture as to what they will do. My guess is the Dodgers trade Crawford or Ethier with the other becoming one of the highest priced bench players in the history of baseball. Right now, I’m gonna go on the assumption that Pederson isn’t up until June, but when making an assumption, you make an ass out of, um, ption? Anyway, what can we expect of Joc Pederson for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (29) | 2013 (23) | 2012 (25) | 2011 (30) | 2010 (14)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [82-80] NL Central
AAA: [53-91] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs (former Rockies’ affiliate)
AA: [77-63] Southern League – Huntsville
A+: [73-62] Florida State League – Brevard County
A: [72-67] Midwest League – Wisconsin

Graduated Prospects
Jimmy Nelson, RHP

The Gist
Heading into 2014, the Brewers checked in as the 29th ranked farm system according to Baseball America. This season was a step in the right direction though. The major league club looked like a playoff team for much of the first half before things fell apart in the second. Jimmy Nelson logged over 69 innings in the bigs and looks like a quality major league starter. Prospect Mitch Haniger was moved in the Gerardo Parra deal, but for the most part the farm stayed intact. With three picks in the top 50 of the June draft, the organization added a solid left-handed pitcher and two promising bats. This year saw a shake-up among minor league affiliates across all levels, and the Brewers were a part of that. Their AAA club is now Colorado Springs, formerly affiliated with the Rockies.

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You’ve sat by your computer and wondered aloud, how far can the Razzball tentacles stretch, while people nearby have shushed you for talking to yourself. Well, the unruly ivy that is Razzball has just grown itself a new branch — we’ve started to cover fantasy soccer. Next thing you know, we’re gonna have fantasy bocce ball with your host, Luigi. Alas, for now, it’s footy, futbol, the sweet protective shinguard of sports, soccer. A longtime Razzball writer, Smokey, and Ralph will be heading (get it?) the soccer side of things. I can’t wait to see what they say about fantasy soccer without using their hands. That is part of the rules for writing about soccer, right? They should make that a rule for everything to do with soccer. Concessions? Delicious, but must be eaten with your feet. By the by (like the rest of this isn’t a side note on top of side notes), what do they serve at soccer games? Can’t serve hot dogs, that’s baseball. Hamburgers are football. Malt liquor and hoochies in thongs are basketball. What’s soccer? Seems like they’d serve something like kefta kebabs. Oh, wait, is it a soccer game or match? Do we have our first branch of Razzball that is a match? Match sounds so tennis-y and that’s so girly. No offense, four girl readers. Fantasy Soccer: We Get Flop Sweat Without Using Our Hands and We Mean The 2nd Definition of Flop Sweat on Urban Dictionary. What? That’s our motto.

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