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?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Ayo whaddup, it’s ya boy Grey Albright aka the Fantasy Master Lothario aka White Chocolate aka The Ladder You Use To Reach New Heights aka The God Particle aka Supreme Court Judge Reinhold aka Paid Overtime aka Close Parking Spot When You’re In A Rush aka Al Swearengen’s Swearing Dictionary aka Teacher, We Don’t Need No Education aka The Weird Guy That Latches Onto The Main Character In Oscar Films I Think His Name Is Paul Dano aka The Butcher, The Baker and The Candlestick Maker. I just spent thirty minutes looking up what Jere Burns has been up to. Ah, the offseason. You are a soothing mistress that touches my naughty bits with idle hands. He’s apparently been doing a bunch, but less than the dad from 7th Heaven, thankfully. A quick preamble about the 2015 fantasy baseball rookie series that is coming from me over the next few weeks. Rookies could get a post if they meet MLB eligibility requirements, less than 130 ABs or 50 IP. That means no Arismendy Alcantara, no Jimmy Nelson and no Javier Baez. In 2012, the first player I highlighted was Mike Trout. That wasn’t an accident. I said in the Mike Trout post, “He’s ranked number one for me. Numero uno. The Big Mahoff. He’s the big Statue of Liberty in New York, not that girly one in Paris!” In 2013, the first player I highlighted was Wil Myers (when he was good; you remember that). Last year, I highlighted Billy Hamilton first. You see a pattern? Eh, slow your juices on the thinking. I’ll tell you. The first rookie I highlight will be the top rookie for fantasy. This prospect isn’t no ordinary man, this is the prospect I be seeing in my sleep. Jorge Soler will be your number one 2015 fantasy baseball rookie. Will he be joined on the Cubs by the best core of major league rookies since Cal Ripken’s rookie card? Will Soler be named to the All-Century Team in 86 years or edged out by a robot with grabby hands named the Hitter-Tron that my great-great-nephew will sue due to trademark infringement only to find out it’s the same Hitter-Tron that once graced this little fantasy baseball blog called Razzball? Can Soler be a number one outfielder in 2015? So many questions and so little time to look up Jere Burns info! Anyway, what can we expect of Jorge Soler for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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The Royals are in the World Series, and it’s going to be mentioned at some point that the organization moved a big prospect in Wil Myers to acquire two of the pieces that brought them so much success this year. Last season, it looked like the Rays were going to be the ones that ran away with the trade. Myers won Rookie of the Year. He hit .293/.354/.478 with 13 homers and drove in 53 runs in just over half a season. At 23, he came into 2014 with high expectations and a high preseason rank on most fantasy sites. Then they actually played the 2014 season. Myers ended up playing only 87 games thanks to a wrist fracture, and when he was on the field he looked lost at the plate. So what can we expect from the young Rays’ outfielder going forward in keeper leagues?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It started with a simple email. Hey Grey and Rudy, wouldn’t it be cool if someone wrote about the top pitchers broken down by month? And within those months, to evaluate with and without wins to ascertain who pitched well and gave good value vs. who pitched for a 90 win club and had a 4-0 month? Response was a resounding yes, of course. And of course, it was my own damn fault for having such a good idea because now I’m here giving you offseason content prior to January. Clearly the time that everyone is reading about fantasy baseball. Oh well, let’s get to it. Here’s a look back at April’s pitching to see if it holds any keys going forward to 2015 fantasy baseball:

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So, how’s everyone holding up without fantasy baseball every day? I don’t know what to do with myself! This weekend I wandered into a Starbucks and told the coffeerista about Chris Tillman for 2015. Then I laughed hysterically for a good twenty minutes until someone asked me to leave. We’ve gone over the final 2014 fantasy baseball rankings for hitters and the top 20 starters. There’s no more of these godforsaken recap posts left before we’re into 2015 fantasy baseball. You’re welcome. Well, there are Rudy’s recaps of every fantasy sites projections that are coming eventually and Sky’s “Is pitching that deep?” posts. I, my over-the-internet friend, will be talking about 2015 rookies next. Anyway, here’s the top 40 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball and how they compare to where I originally ranked them:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (30) | 2013 (30) | 2012 (18) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (26)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [98-64] AL West
AAA: [60-84] Pacific Coast League – Salt Lake
AA: [75-65] Texas League – Arkansas
A+: [62-78] California League – Inland Empire
A: [68-71] Midwest League – Burlington

Graduated Prospects
C.J. Cron, 1B | Cory Rasmus, RHP | Mike Morin, RHP

The Gist
The Angels checked in at #30 in Baseball America’s organizational rankings for the second year in a row. A win now approach has left the farm in poor shape, and it got worse this past season when the organization sent Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, and Jose Rondon to San Diego in exchange for Huston Street. What’s left is a pitching heavy top ten and very few impact prospects for fantasy purposes.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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