2013 was supposed to be a breakout year for Trevor Story, who was coming off of an exciting 2012 campaign at Low-A Asheville where hit .277/.367/.505 with 18 HR and 15 SB. That line, combined with the fact he was stepping up to the hitter-friendly environment of the Cali League, made for some serious hype last spring – hype which his on-field performance couldn’t match. Story ended 2013 with a forgettable .233/.305/.394, 12 HR, 23 SB line. He’s out to repair his image in 2014, though. In a repeat assignment at High-A Modesto, the 21-year-old SS/3B is hitting .306/.394/.516 with 9 XBH (1 HR), and 11 SB in 71 PA.

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Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. The variables involved are constantly in flux — talent emerges, talent regresses… opportunity comes, opportunity goes… clubs get cold feet because of service time, clubs don’t give a shizz about service time. So, given the fluid nature of this prospect business, we’re going to keep a running ranking throughout the season. This post will run every other Wednesday, providing a weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.

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The early stages of the MiLB season have brought loads of speculation with regard to Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty, and which prospect the Cardinals will summon to St. Louis first. I’d love to be able to provide some clarity to that question, but frankly, such call-ups depend on so many different proprietary factors, and it’d be pretty stupid of me say something like, “Piscotty is gonna be the guy ’cause he’s hitting a bunch of singles at Triple-A.”  Piscotty, by the way, has collected 15 hits (12 singles) through his first 37 AB at Memphis.  He’s a fine prospect, and he’s zoned in right now, but the gaudy average (.405) is probably drawing a bit more attention than it should.  Meanwhile, Taveras is slugging north of .500.  He’s still the higher-impact fantasy talent, and he’s still the better prospect.  This is not to suggest that Oscar will definitely be up before Piscotty — only that it’d be silly to lose perspective on the situation.  Taveras is the true prize.

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Rafael Montero | RHP, Mets | Born:  10/17/1990

The assumption around foresighted fantasy circles is that Mets ace-in-the-making, Noah Syndergaard, will force his way into the big league rotation at some point before this year’s All-Star break.  It’s not a poor assumption to make — Syndergaard is loaded with size and stuff and athleticism, and he baffled Double-A hitters last season to such a degree that one would think he’s ready to do the same at the highest level.  And maybe he is.  What folks around fantasy are ignoring, though, as they make room at the ends of their benches to stash Syndergaard, is that he’s probably not the first man the Mets will ask to start ballgames once a need presents itself this season.

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It’s Saturday morning while I’m putting this post together, which means that the Minor League Baseball season is just two days old, and during those two days, we’ve had some bullshizz weather and a whole slew of postponements.  This is all to say that there just aren’t too many accomplishments to speak of just yet — we’ll save those for the week 2 post.  For this week, then, let’s run through some notable prospect assignments, team by team.  For those of you tracking your dynasty league players, this should help sort out which box scores to keep an  eye on.  We’ll go in the order of my organization fantasy rankings.

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For those of you who don’t remember, here’s the gist (and we’ll keep this blurb here all season so as not to confuse any newcomers):  Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise.  Back in February, I rolled out my Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2014 (part 1, part 2), and those are already garbage.  The variables involved are constantly in flux — talent emerges, talent regresses… opportunity comes, opportunity goes… clubs get cold feet because of service time, clubs don’t give a shizz about service time.  So, given the fluid nature of this prospect business, we’re going to keep a running ranking throughout the season.  This post will run every Wednesday, providing a weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent. 

It’s our first PPR list of the year (don’t get confused, football meatheads), and I’m too excited to chat, so let’s get right to it:

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The prospect ETA game is a tough one to gauge.  With injuries, uncertain Super Two dates, and varying front office opinions with regard to “readiness”, there are simply too many variables involved that are impossible to predict for.  When commenters task me with an ETA question, my answer is a guess, and I’m almost always way off.  Yet, people keep asking.  So, in an effort to put your impatient minds at ease, today we’ll be running though some notable ETA’s, and I’m going to get specific with my guesses.  If my usual vague “mid-season-ish” response is crap anyway, then why not pin these down to the day and spice things up?  Here we go:

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Our offseason prospect series is through — all 30 minor league previews with fantasy-specific top 10′s are in the books.  For years we’ve written this same series, finished it, and then just sort of rolled into the regular season stuff without any fanfare.  This year, though, we’re wrapping up the minor league previews, and adding a nice little bow on top.  This post will serve as the bow.  The purpose is twofold: (1) For the first time we have links to each of our MiLB previews all in one place, and (2) we’ve ranked each farm system from a fantasy perspective, giving you a simple guideline as to which orgs are stacked with fantasy impact, and which orgs are virtually void of it.  Let’s cut to it:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (1) | 2012 (12) | 2011 (24) | 2010 (29) | 2009 (8)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [97-65] NL Central
AAA: [69-75] Pacific Coast League – Memphis
AA: [64-74] Texas League – Springfield
A+: [64-71] Florida State League – Palm Beach
A: [68-69] Midwest League – Peoria
A(ss):  [48-27] New York-Penn League — State College

Graduated Prospects
Matt Adams (1B); Shelby Miller (RHP); Trevor Rosenthal (RHP); Michael Wacha (RHP); Kevin Siegrist (LHP); Tyler Lyons (LHP); Seth Maness (RHP)

The Run Down
In the business of talent procurement and development, the Cardinals are the best.  That’s the only way to explain how an organization can graduate prospects like Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, and Matt Adams, and still come back the following year with a top 5 farm.  The Cardinals churning out homegrown fantasy-relevance is something you should be conditioned to expect by now, and it’ll continue this year with Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, and Kolten Wong… and next year with Stephen Piscotty, and Marco Gonzalez… and the following year with [insert awesome prospects].  You get the idea.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (2) | 2012 (9) | 2011 (18) | 2010 (12) | 2009 (24)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [71-91] AL West
AAA: [76-68] Pacific Coast League – Tacoma
AA: [62-73] Southern League – Jackson
A+: [64-76] California League – High Desert
A: [67-72] Midwest League – Clinton
A(ss):  [44-32] Northwest League — Everett

Graduated Prospects
Nick Franklin (2B); Brad Miller (SS/2B); Mike Zunino (C); Danny Farquhar (RHP)

The Run Down
When considering the Mariners farm for fantasy purposes, it’s impossible to ignore the Safeco effect.  Every pitcher on this list should carry inflated fantasy value thanks to the ballpark at which they’ll be spending most of their time.  On the flip side of that statement, however, the M’s offensive prospects aren’t necessarily as exciting as they could be.  We apply the same principle when evaluating the Padres or Giants farm systems — never shy away from a pitching prospect pushing through the Seattle org.

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