With the MLB draft right around the corner it’s time to start looking at the players entering our prospect sphere and what they could bring to the table for our virtual dynasty teams. We’ll start today with the first in a series of posts I’ll be doing on 2016 draft prospects. We’ll start with the 30,000 foot view and dial down the closer we get. So if you’re a MLB draftnik this might be relatively rudimentary, but the vast majority of the fantasy baseball playing world barley knows beyond the top 100 or so prospects. So, in other words, you’re special. You probably also rarely leave your house and are entirely unproductive at work between the months of February and September. Seriously I’m a model employee for 4 months a year, and the rest I do work between baseball stimulation of one kind or another. So today we dive into ten prospects that should have your attention.

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One of the most common questions I encounter on a semi-weekly basis is “Ralph, who’s this year’s Victor Robles/Francis Martes/Cody Bellinger”. It’s a question that’s difficult to answer, but especially difficult to answer during Spring Training or the week following. Why? Well, it’s easy, we don’t have anything to base it off. No real games, no real at bats, no real stats. Unfortunately I have a day job, and Grey is yet to hand me a six figure salary to jet-set around the country to scout amateur and minor league baseball. Instead I’m paid in Helluva Good Cheese coupons and asked to scout little league games on a black and white TV with broken bunny ears. No matter because between games at the Taunton West Little League complex I have time to watch a few AAA and AA games a week while scouring through loads of leaderboards of all minor league levels. So through this deep data collection, I’ve developed the below list of players that are flashing promise, while simultaneously boosting their prospect status. Below are 20 or so names that have caught my interest in the early going.

Now that the intro is out of the way I’d like to acknowledge a personal milestone here on the baseball side of things, my 100th baseball post……Yeah! Thanks for reading all this drivel.

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So far this season we’ve focused our prospect content on dynasty specific purposes with the intent of getting you prepped up to master your leaguemates and colleagues for years to come. We’ve looked at incoming players for 2017, re-ranked the top 25, profiled numerous players, while also updating you on Razzball’s in house dynasty the Razznasty. Today we’re going to take a bit of a different approach, today we look at the more immediate impact of up and coming prospects. The players we’ll review have short ETA’s, and could be up within the next two-three months. I’ll add in a guesstimate ETA on my behalf. I mean I’ve had a sterling record with such prognostications so far, and by sterling I mean awful. I am the man that told you Turner would up by today, which now looks like June, as well as the man in the preseason predicting Nomar Mazara wouldn’t be up until August. So yeah, I’m great!

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Pull up a stool if you will as I harken back to the summer of 1976. Our story starts on the last day of school at Lee High School, located in the suburbs of beautiful Austin, Texas. The usual activities and festivities are taking place; books are flying, kids are busy making plans as the first parties of the summer begin to take shape, and the annual hazing of incoming freshman has commenced. As over-aged and underdressed 8th grade girls fry like piggies on the hot Texas blacktop, our hero appears. He’s tall, lanky, and to put it plainly, goofy. He has a habit of tucking his long flowing locks behind his ears in the most awkward way possible, while simultaneously trying to pass himself off as cool. Our hero knows two things chilling and dominating Legion ball, and as the saying goes he’s almost out of chill. Let’s call our hero Mitch, but really his name is Mike….Mike Clevinger. What ensues is a night Mitch/Mike Clevinger will never forget, as he goes on a journey of hi-jinx, self discovery, and older woman that ends in a most satisfying montage set to the musical stylings of Foghat. What does all this have to do with this week’s Prospect Profile Mike Clevinger?  Nothing!!! I just think he resembles a grown up Mitch from Dazed and Confused and it makes me laugh. Plus it’s 4/20, a D&C seemed appropriate. Now onto the post!

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On any given Wednesday or Sunday I’m peppered with comments inquiring as to when so and so will be up? Who’s the best stash of players X, Y, and Z? Should I grab so and so? Are you really as handsome and charismatic as the legend says? Did we really walk on the moon? Today I will bring answers to all these questions. Even the moon one! Why pray tell do I have all the answers? Well, because I am a fantasy baseball writer, it’s in our very nature to know everything even if it’s 100% opinion, and more than likely completely false. My job is to make a compelling argument as to why I am most righteous and you are most wrongous. Will I do any of that today? No, absolutely not. Today I will begin my first in a monthly series of updating you on the latest and greatest in minor league news and prospects developments, as well as the update of my Top 25 prospects. This time with 100% less major leaguers.

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I teased this post a bit in my profile of Sean Manaea last week, and truthfully I’ve been excited about having an opportunity to write about Bradley since I took the reins in February. If there’s one thing I like more than a good looking woman in a pant suit, it’s prospects with power. Just ask some of my Razznasty league mates, they’ll tell you I’m blinded by power like Whitney was with Bobby Brown’s antics. Do I own Bradley anywhere? No, unfortunately I don’t. It’s not for lacking of trying either, but when you own a 19 year old who hit 27 homers in his first full year in pro ball you’re probably not letting him go for nothing. Not that I was offering nothing, but you get the gist. So as we always do at this time lets take a deeper look at Bobby Bradley, and see if he’s worth your tradeable assets.

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Let’s be honest there’s no need to pussyfoot around the truth, we all give shortstop prospects a value boost in fantasy. We’re all looking for the next Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, or Francisco Lindor. Being able to fill our shortstop slot with a productive player doesn’t only sound homo-erotic, but is also a desirable position to be in as a fantasy owner. Wow, yeah, that didn’t sound much better. Moving along now, this lazy Sunday morning we discuss the next wave of those to man the six. We’re going to ignore the quintet of Seager, Turner, Arcia, Mondesi, and Anderson, if you don’t know all five of those guys and don’t have them marked on your watch lists in your RCL’s and re-draft leagues we have more work than I thought to do. For now let’s assume you have a general knowledge of top fantasy baseball prospects, and are looking to get beyond the surface of the big names with looming ETA’s. So we’re going to dive into some of the better up and comers at the SS position. Some of these guys are closer than others, but none are any higher in the minors than AA, and more than likely have ETA’s no closer than 2017. That’s enough of the small talk, let’s get to it.

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Truthfully I never intended to write this post. Over the past few weeks I’ve tried, sometimes unsuccessfully, to plan my content a few weeks out. My original intention was for this 800+ words to cover Bobby Bradley. Why Bradley? Because it ain’t just chicks who dig the longball, it’s fantasy nerds, and prospect geeks too. Then something happened, increasingly over the last several months, Oakland A’s lefty Sean Manaea has become a hot topic of conversation. All of a sudden all the cool kids are talking about him, and wearing his jeans. Manaea couture to be exact. I’ve transitioned. Wait, what? No, not like that! – Not that there’s anything wrong with it – No! not “it” like that…..I’m painting myself into a corner here…..Any the who, I’ve transitioned from writing Manaea off as a hyped up yet oft-injured lefty with devastating stuff, to being intrigued by the possibility of acquiring him in dynasty formats. So this intrigue has led me to a deeper dive into the increasing hype of his prospect status this offseason, and whether it is real or mirage.

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And so it begins, the 2016 season. With three games on the slate today and another 12 on Monday, baseball is upon us. With the beginning of the season also comes clarity as to who’s making the cut for the 25 man roster. Coming out of every spring it’s important to take a moment and assess what players have seen an uptick in value heading into your dynasty league season. These are all players that are on my short list of targets in trades, those that could bring immediate returns in leagues this year. For the most part we’re discussing players that won’t cost you premium dollars to acquire. Some I’ve beaten to death over the last few weeks and others are popping up here for the first time. All in all the goal is to get you thinking about some potential breakout candidates to swoop on. Feel free to share some of your own.

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“OMG, seriously Ralph, could you be more of a SAWX homeah? Your first player profile of the season is Sam Travis? What’s next 20,000 words on the benefits of Travis Shaw?” That’s all of you non-nation members upon seeing that I chose to dig deep on the up and coming Red Sox first baseman, but I feel it’s an appropriate time on the heels of his spring training performance that’s drawn rave reviews, and pumped a bit of helium into his prospect status. After all outside of the actual skill set Travis possess three qualities that I find endearing in all ballplayers. 1) He doesn’t wear batting gloves, leaving me to wonder if he urinates on his hands Moses Alou style to make them strong like bull. 2) He has two first names, making his name easy to pronounce and without need for fine-tooth comb spell checking. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Travis, you done well. Third and most important for our purposes (insert Grey dolphin joke here) he’s an up and coming corner infielder with some boom-boom. As I’ve said on many occasions over the off-season the upper minors are devoid of impact corner bats. So it’s important us dynasty leaguers try our best to horde them before someone else swoops in and does the same. So let’s take a look at Sam Travis, for 2016 Fantasy Baseball (SEO sleeper hold)

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