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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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: [77-67] Pacific Coast League – Nashville (2015: Colorado Springs)
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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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?

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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 | Matt Shoemaker, 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.

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If you were offered a 23-year-old ballplayer with both shortstop and outfield eligibility, who hit .319/.353/.472 with seven homers and 20 steals in 430 plate appearances…would you keep him? If you were a hot dog…would you eat yourself? These are important questions. The player is Danny Santana, whose rookie season with the Twins was useful to fantasy owners despite his May arrival and lost time with a leg injury. Santana is going to be an on-the-fence decision in a lot of shallow keeper leagues, which makes him worth discussing for the purposes of this keeper post.

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A Scottsdale Surprise might sound like something you’d find listed in the Urban Dictionary, but it’s really just the last two teams in our Arizona Fall League preview series. Some of the best prospects in baseball will be getting their extra reps in this fall. Each team in the majors is represented across the six Arizona Fall League teams and we’ve already covered a few of the fantasy relevant prospects on Mesa, Glendale, Salt River, and Peoria. You can follow the links at the end of this post to view those. Stats included are the cumulative stats for 2014 across all minor league levels. Strong farm systems like the Pirates and Red Sox are represented on the Scottsdale and Surprise rosters, so let’s take a look at some fantasy prospects from each to put a bow on this thing.

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Without getting too preachy here on a Sunday morning, let’s take a look at some basic ideas for keeper leagues that I have found to be effective. I use the term ‘commandments’ loosely, since what works for me might not work for you. That said, these are the principles I live by in keepers. They should give some insight into where my head’s at when answering questions in the comments as well. You know your leagues, and if you’re winning then just keep on doing what works. But if you’re never getting to the promised land in your keeper league, take a look at the ideas below and see if they make sense to help improve your game. Here are my ten keepr commandments (in no particular order). Cue thunder and lightning…

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The Arizona Fall League starts up next week and it gives us all a few more looks at some fantasy relevant prospects. Some players are getting in the extra reps for development, while others are making up for lost time due to injuries earlier in the season. Either way, all 30 MLB clubs are represented across six teams in the desert. This week we’ll take a peek at the big names on the Salt River Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas. Included with the blurbs are the combined stats for each player’s 2014 season regardless of minor league level. I’ll wrap up the AFL previews next week before we begin the 2015 team-by-team minor league countdown…

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We’ll be here every week this offseason discussing keepers and prospects – enjoying the MLB playoffs, the fall foliage, and eventually the Polar Vortex and loss of extremities to frostbite (hard to type with nubs).  By the time next March rolls around and we emerge from our hidey-holes, we’ll be well prepared for regular season action with our keeper league teams. I’m admittedly partial to keepers. Currently the only league I’m in that isn’t a keeper is the RCL. Each of the keepers I play in has a different depth and league setting, making each one kind of unique. So while it may be a little lonely around these parts compared to the summer months, I’m really looking forward to talking shop with Razzball nation’s keeper league population.

The plan is to discuss certain players to target, help make keeper decisions between players, and maybe even dabble in some keeper rankings by position. Go ahead and post suggestions for players or topics in the comments. It will help me tailor the posts and make them as helpful as possible. With that, let’s start with some basics that you’ll need to think about if you are joining or returning to a keeper league in 2015…

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Dan Haren ($8,500) stands to be one of the better values on DraftKings today against a Rockies team that really struggles away from Colorado. Haren has been solid of late outside of a tough recent outing against the same Rockies at Coors (5 ER). The rematch in Los Angeles today should go much more smoothly, however. In his three other September starts, Haren allowed only two earned runs with 18 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. Meanwhile, the Rockies have a 75 wRC+ on the road this season, making them a great match-up for both streamers and daily fantasy when they are away. It’s been fun talking DFS this season and good luck in the final weekend!

New to DraftKings? Scared of feeling like a small fish in a big pond? Well try out this 10 teamer of Razzball writers and friends to wet your DK whistle. Just remember to sign up through us before you do. It’s how we know you care! If you still feel helpless and lonely, be sure to check the DFSBot for your daily baseball plays.

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