Notoriously unpredictable, pitching prospects are amongst the most difficult of commodities to remain patient with. Our opinions and values, at least on a general consensus level, fluctuate frequently on pitchers, major leagues or minors, based on recent performance. So, what better way to celebrate our recency blinders than to discuss the top breakout hurlers of the first half in the minor leagues. Some of these guys have some pedigree, others came into the year a little more obscure, but all are worthy of our attention, and perhaps an add in the right format. The road to major league stardom is often not a straight line, and while I have no data behind this, it feels like a breakout by a pitcher is a little more telling of long term success. The reason I say this is, more often than not, these breakouts are derived from a tweak or change to mechanics, grips, or other small developments. No two players develop the same, and while Top 100 lists are great, they don’t do a very good job of projecting future value between Lucas Giolito and Jacob Faria. That’s not to say we don’t nail one every so often, but the majors these days are a different ball world. So sit back and enjoy it while I breakout heads, ribs, $100 bills…(3).

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When you’re a skinny, nerdy, teenager with a 24 inch waist, and an unhealthy obsession with Gal Gadot, breakouts are no bueno. In fact, it can put a real damper on those “extended” bathroom breaks, where you’re just trying to get a “handle” on your burgeoning adulthood. You sit there in the mirror getting familiar with yourself like the protagonist in a Diablo Cody movie with her pants off. So it might come as shock to you, high school reader, that some times, breakouts, can in fact be great. I’m of course talking about minor league breakouts! I’m a minor league writer, not a dermatologist brah! Over the years, some of the most important moves I’ve made in my dynasty leagues have been adding mid-season breakouts from the wavier wire. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the names added last year in my 30 team dynasty league’s mid-season signing period. Luis Urias, Chance Adams, Koda Glover, Seth Lugo, Ben Gamel, Max Schrock, Greg Allen, Shed Long, Jose Albertos, and Fernando Tatis Jr, just to name a few. Keep in mind this is a 30 team dynasty league where over 900+ prospects are owned, and almost half the teams are managed by prospect writers. Still some good names right? The point I’m trying to make here is, there’s always new talent, breakouts, and undervalued assets in every format. With half of the full season leagues in their all-star breaks, let’s take a look at some of the names making hay here in the early going. Today we’ll take a look at the hitters, we’ll go into the other side of the ball with pitching breakouts on Sunday.

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Around 7 PM yesterday evening, in a clear case of ominous foreshadowing, and bad juju. I added Gleyber in several RCL leagues. With his recent AAA numbers, I figured gotta pounce now. But of course, almost simultaneously in Buffalo, just as I add him, the real Gleyber Torres was sliding into home, head first, and hyper-extending his left elbow. Oh yeah, and it was in the process of being thrown out. Because of course it was. It’s a curse, some sort of bad luck butterfly effect I have here in 2017. What can I say? Such a shame my curse had to crush this potential star in the making. And trust me I sincerely believe that Gleyber Torres is just that. Prior to Saturday’s home plate incident, the Yankees top prospect seemed headed for a call-up within weeks. This is all obviously up in the air now, but the X-Rays were negative, and he’s going to be further evaluated on Monday. It’s tough knowing which direction to go when a situation is still developing. A lot could change, but there’s still a possibility it’s nothing, and he misses a couple games. I’d look to be stashing him again if that’s the case come game locks on Thursday. Let’s all hold hands, and pray for Gleyber’s safe return into the lineup. Do it for your boy Ralph, do it for all the father’s out there looking for middle infield help, do it for America, sick orphans, organ donors, brewmasters, iron workers, beautiful strippers, doctors who do breast enlargement, and the guy who’s happy as hell shining shoes. These people want Gleyber! No! These people need GLEYBER!!! Let’s go do some MiLB!!!!

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It was only a year ago that Mickey Moniak entered our lives. After going with the first pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, the California prep star hit the Gulf Coast League, raked to the tune of .284/.340/.409 with 10 steals, plus a homer, and showed he was ready for a full season assignment in 2017. You could see all the tools were there, even if his power numbers were underwhelming. Then again, we knew the power would be a slow burn with Moniak, as it often is with prep players. He did show the ability to hit for average, get on base, and steal some bags. All worthy pursuits, but it’s not going to make Moniak a fantasy superstar. We need the power to develop, and of late Moniak has struggled, not just with power, but in all facets. In fact over the last two weeks he’s hitting .179, with 1 homer, and a caught stealing. That’s how you say? Awful! Yeah, so last night’s 4 for 5, Moniak’s first four hit game of his career, was a welcomed development. In my eyes Moniak is an elite top 50 prospect, even with the recent struggles. At a newly minted 19, you need to be patient with the kid as the skill set develops. No player’s future is set in stone, just ask Byron Buxton, but Moniak looks like a top of the order bat with elite contact skills, speed, and the dynamic ability to improve any offense he’s a part of. Think Christian Yelich, early Jacoby Ellsbury, or a Trea Turner type, though maybe not quite as dynamic as Turner. Take this post as a reminder to hold onto Moniak in dynasty leagues, especially as teams that own him approach the deadline in a month and a half. If you’re a dynasty manager looking to restock your farm, I’d be looking to add Moniak every where I could. Now you just have to hope your league mates don’t read Razzball……… Here’s what else went down in the MiLB.

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The MLB Draft is finally upon us and I’m sure about 10% of Razzball’s readership actually cares. It’s cool, I’ll sit here and nurture these babes into big strong fantasy studs, feeding them from my prospector teet. I’ll do the dirty work too, scolding the bad seeds, and killing off the runts. Wow, in two sentences I pissed off 90% of Razzball and animal rights folks. Picketers please stay off my newly planted grass, it’s taken rather well with the deluge of rain recently and I’d like to see it reach full lush maturity. Now back to the lecture at hand, this post is really just my big board from the most recent episode of the Prospect Podcast where Halp and I mocked out the Top 30. I’ll touch on each player so you’ll have a general familiarity with their skills and profile. I might also include turn-ons, and dream dates, but you’ll have to read and find out. As always there’s been lots of flips and flops in my ranks since I dropped my Top 10. So don’t judge me for being a dirty flip-flopper! Forgive me, I fell in love with some high schoolers…. ummmm I mean prep players. Found some reliable college studs…ummm hitters! So on and so forth. You get the point, it’s my MLB Draft Top 25 Fantasy Prospects.

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On this lovely Thursday afternoon, I’m going to approach this post as sort of a potpourri of minor league topics. It’s callup season, which is the most joyous, stressful, and busy times of the year for us Prospectors. Everyone wants to know who’s the next big callup, and when to stash them. It’s a tricky game to master, because there might not be a task more impossible to perfect, than getting in these teams heads. So we’ll go over my top 10 callups for June and beyond, and cross my fingers that I’m more than 50% correct. We’ll also talk some prospects making noise this week, and maybe drop a couple jewels on the draft and impending July 2nd signings. There’s so much to talk about! There’s so much to take my mind off of my many mediocre teams, and general inadequacies in RCL gameplay when matched against luminaries like Grey, Cram It, Nick The Dick, and Matt Truss. Hey, at least J-FOH isn’t beating my ass this year! These are the times I’m glad dynasty exists, I can crawl back into my hole, and dig in on some prospecting. Just me, my gold pan, and a world of infinite possibilities. It’s a mixed bag of minor league magic. It’s the latest edition of the minor league update.

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We should’ve taken it as a sign of superhuman abilities, when Bo Bichette’s body digested his burst appendix last season. That’s so insane Chuck Norris is impressed. Matt Wieters facts never made a claim that lofty. That’s some X-Men mutant baseball machine stuff. The craziest part is he unknowingly played through it for a week, and raked!!! I know, I know a story this good, it’s really a lot to digest… Thank you, I’ll be here all week, literally. As exciting as it might seem to get a lesson in freaky anatomy happenings from me, that’s not why I bring up Bichette. Though it might be in line with his recent production. Freakish!! As I write this he just finished off a 4 for 5 night, with a double, a triple, and 2 runs scored. The game actually started as a 4 for 4 night, and was a diving grab away from being a 5 for 5 night. This isn’t an isolated incident either, but you knew that if you were paying attention.

After slashing .427/.451/.732 in 91 plate appearances during his stint in the Gulf Coast League in 2016. Bichette has continued that dominance in his first run at full season ball. He currently leads the Midwest League in batting average, OBP, Slugging, and has an OCD like 7 homers and 7 steals. He’s riding a 13 game hitting streak, and needs to be owned in all dynasty formats of all types. He’s outperforming teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who by the way, is performing pretty well. Bichette is of course a year older, so any comps should be taken with a grain of salt. All this to say, Bichette, who didn’t make my Top 100 in February might be in my Top 50 now. Things change fast in the minors…… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

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As the Durham Bulls took the best little minor league pitching circus this side of Mississippi, literally, on the road. I promised myself I’d check out at least one game during the nearest stop on their International (League) tour. This is a rotation that now features the struggling, but still talented Blake Snell, recently activated off-season acquisition Jose De Leon, top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell, and the strikeout king of AAA Jacob Faria. I’ve discussed Faria a lot of late, because he’s obviously a prospect that fascinates me. On Saturday in Pawtucket he went 4 strong innings before ending his night after completing the 4th. The early exit was more than likely due to the line drive he took off his leg earlier in the inning. It was really too bad, as Faria looked to have his best stuff on the night, outside a two run homer to Bryce Brentz nothing was hit hard at all. The first thing that strikes me when watching Faria is I love his change up. It has some nice break, and he throws it from a similar arm slot to the fastball. Speaking of the fastball, it too is a solid pitch getting some sink, and making it tougher on the hitters to barrel cleanly. This 1-2 punch gives Faria all the fuel he needs to pile up the strikeouts in bunches, however he has a tendency to nibble and that limits how deep into games he can get. Saturday was one of his more efficient performances, making the injury all the more upsetting. I have to admit I came away impressed by Faria, and think he has solid mid-rotation upside with some nice K potential. I mean look at that gif below and tell me you don’t like what you see. Amirite?!?  Today I venture back to Pawtucket to check out the Rays top prospect Brent Honeywell, who just so happens to check in as the 7th most valuable pitcher on Rudy’s Prospectornator. Don’t worry I promise to give you all the details on Honeywell….Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

 

This isn’t a new take, but it’s one that bears repeating; baseball is the only sport where the best starting lineup isn’t on the field all season. The service time game does nobody any favors, actually that’s incorrect, it does huge favors for the owners of the biggest market clubs. It hurts the fans, it hurts the players, it hurts the small market teams, and most of all, it hurts the product on the field. The most glaring example at present is the peculiar case of Amed Rosario. The Mets’ farmhand has been smoking hot all season long, slashing .363/.400/.536 for AAA Las Vegas, while chipping in with 4 homers and 9 steals.

Just to compare and contrast, as of May 25th the Mets have gotten a .225/.307/.345 slashline from the shortstop position. I might be going out on a limb here, but that’s not good. The production from the hot corner for the Mess hasn’t been much better, as they’ve gotten a .240/.302/.374 line from the 3rd base position. It’s pop quiz time, hot shots! What do you think, could Amed Rosario possibly help the Mets? There’s only one answer, and it rhymes with mess. To add salt to the wounds of Mets fans (sorry 1 F), and Rosario owners alike, the shortstop prospect extended his hit streak to 11 games last night. The most remarkable part of that streak isn’t the 11 games, but the fact that 8 of those games have been multi-hit efforts. So not only is Rosario hitting in every game the last two weeks, he’s pretty much collecting multiple hits in each contest.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Rosario fan in the fantasy community, but that’s also not to say I don’t like Rosario, because I do. He has an excellent hit tool, never strikes out, and his glove will keep him in the lineup. My questions about Rosario lie in just how much pop is in his bat, and just how many steals are in those legs. There’s certainly pop, and there’s certainly speed, but just how much he possesses will determine his ultimate value. Don’t get me wrong Crabs, haters, and countrymen, I’m not saying a high batting average and lots of counting stats won’t be helpful, they will.  What I am saying, if Rosario can get to 15 homers and 20 steals in a single season, we could be talking about a superstar. Now, will he reach those numbers this year? Hell to the no, but 8 homers and 12 steals the rest of the way wouldn’t be absurd. If you’re wondering just how soon Rosario will be called up, my best guess is any day now. It could honestly be any time between today and mid-June. The Mets have had him take some reps at 3rd as of late too, so they’re looking at different ways of getting him into the lineup. Well, at least I think they want him in the lineup. After all, it’s The Mess. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB.

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It only took a little over 24 hours for the Luis Robert sweepstakes to come to a close. As news broke yesterday afternoon that the Chicago White Sox had struck a deal in the $25 million to $30 million dollar range with the 19 year old Cuban phenom. This is a significant development on a few fronts; for real life baseball, this will be the last deal signed under the old rules, where teams weren’t capped on international free agents under the age of 23. It’s also significant because, the White Sox, might just have in their possession, 2 to 3 of the top ceiling prospects in the minors at the moment. Those of course being Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and now Luis Robert. The other element to this story is Moncada and Robert will forever be linked to each other, not just by nationally, or organization, but also by dollars and the expectations attached to those presidential flashcards. As for Luis Robert the player, much like Moncada, he’s as high end in terms of talent as they come. Many have graded Robert’s hit tool a touch below Moncada’s at a 55, with some concern about his swing and miss. Where Robert edges out Moncada is in his 70 grade speed mark, and 60 grade fielding. Some scouts see Robert’s power ceiling being higher, but even those scouts mark it as a splitting hairs difference. So we’re talking about a true 5 tool talent, with some additional polish to his fielding. Though it tends to be overlooked in fantasy it’s actually a major positive for his owners, as it might accelerate his ETA two years from now. There’s little doubt in my mind he’s the clearcut top overall choice in 2017-18 First Year Player Drafts, and it’s really not close at the moment. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

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