What a difference a year makes. Had I wrote this post in 2016 we’d be discussing one of the deepest positional player pools going. But just 12 months later, and there’s no Moncadas, Albies, or Calhouns to be found. Players that would have graced the back end of my top 10 last year, are now ranked at the top of the heap. That’s not to say there aren’t some impact bats in the mix at the keystone. But it’s a mix of transformative players losing rookie status, and the talent not being as close to the majors as it had been in previous years. There’s another element to all this too. Much like with third base, some of the top 2nd baseman are still playing shortstop. It wouldn’t shock anybody if Bo Bichette, Brendan Rodgers, Franklin Barreto, or even Gleyber Torres ended up at 2nd. So there’s a lot to debate in this ranking. Everyone is bound to have some variance and disagreement. But what’s wrong with some disagreement amongst the consensus? Call me crazy, but it’s a lot more fun when there’s debate and a wide range of opinion. I mean you’ve seen my twitter, right? Without further delay, it’s the Top 10 2nd Base Prospects for 2018.

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Is September 13th the earliest the hot stove has ever been fired up? We have about a month and a half left of baseball, including the playoffs, and at the moment the biggest story in the game is an international free agent. Granted this is no average international free agent, it’s Shohei Otani, the 23 year old pitcher/outfielder/designated hitter, described by many as the Japanese Babe Ruth. In my opinion that’s a bit hyperbolic, he’s neither fat nor drunk, and his home run trot isn’t a full on shuffle. Do you people even know who Babe Ruth is? I scoff at you! All joking aside, with the rumor coming out of Japan yesterday that Otani will in fact enter the posting process, the offseason has unofficially started. Over the course of today’s post we’ll go over my novice take on the business side of his signing, and the MLB roster rules governing his free agency, his profile as both a hitter and starter, and we’ll close with a very early prediction of his pre-season ranking in both re-draft leagues, and dynasty first year player drafts. It’s important to view this from all angles, as there’s a wide range of possibilities for how Otani is handled next season by his future MLB team, the league, and fantasy sites. If there’s anything I missed or explained poorly (probably haha) hit me up in the comments, and set me straight. I promise I won’t bite… this time.

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It’s funny how much third baseman are like eggplants. Why am I drawing this off the wall parallel? No reason, other than I didn’t know how to open, and the first thing I saw was an eggplant. Yes, a real eggplant not a eggplant emoji, or item represented by said emoji. Here we are on a Sunday, not talking about the minor league happenings of the last week, but heading full steam ahead into the our off-season prospect coverage. Crazy to think we’re two seasons into my tenure here at Razzball as the resident Prospector In Chief. Memories, tears, and promise rings. Today we dive into the chilly waters of the hot corner. Not the most exciting group I’ll profile over the next few weeks, but not every position is as stacked as outfield. Ya dig? That’s not to say there aren’t a collection of future fantasy stars, as well as fantasy relevant talents outside the top 5. The top three names of Guerrero, Senzel, and McMahon should be familiar to all, as they’re some of the top talents presently in the minors. Unlike outfield and shortstop, there’s a particular profile associated with 3rd. It’s a power position, and one expected to produce some of the top middle of the order bats. The top 5 is filled with those, but the next 5 is where things get interesting. As always, remember my personal preference weighs heavy on this ranks (these ranks are my personal preference after all…), and the ability to stick at the position long term is taken with a grain of salt. I’m looking for the best bats with 3Bs on the back of their minor league baseball cards.

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Over the past few seasons few positions have gotten more hype than shortstop. With players like Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Alex Bregman, Addison Russell, Amed Rosario, the names go on and on. Some of these names were obviously major difference makers in fantasy, while others have ridden “real baseball” prospect hype to overrated status. Much like with catchers on the mainstream prospect lists, the demands of the position defensively significantly increase these player’s values. We don’t care about defense though, there’s only two questions we ask ourselves as dynasty managers. Does this Rotowear shirt make me look fat? No, wait, wrong question. We ask ourselves A. Can he hit? B. Will he stick at the position? The latter of which is ehhh, with a side of meh sauce. I really only care if they can hit. If a player is moved to second, third, or center, it really doesn’t matter, you know, as long as the skills play. I understand position scarcity, but my focus when drafting, adding, or trading for prospects in fantasy leagues is to land the best possible hitters. With this in mind I present to you the Top 10 Shortstop Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

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With a rash of Callups in the last week, there’s guaranteed to be numerous players exceeding their rookie limits over the coming weeks. This new batch of players will move up top 100 lists and into the discussion of the top 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 prospects in the game. A player who finds himself squarely in the conversation for top overall prospect in the game is the Dunedin Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The highly touted 3rd baseman is easily one of the top 5 bats in all of the minor leagues at the tender age of 18. Over the last month he’s added to his already impressive 2017 campaign by slashing .385/.483/.646 with 6 homers and 23 RBI. With the power stroke taking a step forward it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vlad Jr. ranked as high as 1st overall in some off-season prospect lists. He’s easily the top prospect in the Florida State League this season, and in all levels of A ball. He matches his father’s uncanny ability to make contact with balls anywhere in and out of the zone, with a far more patient approach than his namesake. At this point Guerrero should be owned in all dynasty formats. Here’s what else is going down in the MiLB.

P.S. Here’s Vlad Jr. hitting a homer to clinch a FSL playoff spot on Thursday Night.

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If you’ve been following along with the Prospect Podcast over the last few weeks. Then you’ll know that last week’s episode was a cheat sheet for today’s post. It’s not like discussing players like Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, or Victor Robles ever really gets old. I could talk about that trio of players all day. In fact if you check the Guinness World Records Book/Site/Twitter I’m listed as having spoke about nothing but Ronald Acuna, Eloy Jimenez, and Victor Robles for 37 hours consecutively. Needless to say it was a hell of a day(s). Quick aside, do people still call it the Guinness Book of World Records, or has that been scrapped because no one really reads actual physical books anymore? Seriously reading a book with a binding is right up there on the crazy meter just behind trench coats, which is just behind army fatigues. Sorry Stephen King but you look crazy with that book, now pay attention to the baseball game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google Stephen King Red Sox. It will just be images of him reading books from the front row at Fenway. Wow I got really off track there. Anyway you know what this post is about, outfielders, my favorite outfielders, the top 10 favorite outfielders right now. Remember these are my thoughts ladies and gentlemen, right or wrong, just what I was feeling at the time. Vibe with me,,,,(CU!)

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Okay so who watched the fight? Anyone? Anyone? Let me begin today’s post by thanking all the little people that delayed my progress on this post. First and foremost all the MVPs, heroes, saints, etc that walk amongst us, live streaming expensive pay per view fights. Thank you, this is for you. I hope you play dynasty baseball.

Sincerely,

Ralph

P.S. So how about that Brandon Marsh guy? Don’t remember where you might have heard about him before (shameless self promotion)? Doesn’t matter, moving along. Marsh is riding high on a 10 game hitting streak, slashing .420/.442/.580 with 2 homers, and 3 steals. I discussed Marsh on the recent episode of the Prospect Podcast, listing him as one of my favorite sleepers outside my Top 10 Outfield Ranks. He’s an athletic specimen, with a sweet lefty swing, and bag full of tools. The Angels farmhand ranked 62nd on my mid-season Top 100, and I believe he should be owned in every dynasty format where 5 or more minor leaguers can be stashed per team.

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I’m going to open up with a somewhat blasphemous statement for a prospector, so bear with me loyal Prospect Disciples. Here it goes… Top 100 lists are crap. There I said! I know, how dare I bite the hand that feeds me. Insulting my own signature post. Before you storm my castle built on the backs of talented minor league stars, hear me out. Top 100 lists are a snapshot at a given moment, and lose much of their value nearly weeks after they’re out. Are there ultimate truths within these posts? Abso-freaking-lutely, but development is fluid, always changing shape, regressing, and developing. For example, a player we’ll talk about today in Michael Kopech is viewed as significantly less risky than he was even a month and a half ago. Why? Because Kopech made tweaks to his mechanics and tightened up his control. My greater point is while these lists can be great discussion points, the league and these prospects are constantly in flux, improving, and struggling with each passing day. With this in mind I’ve decided to spend the next 8-9 Thursday’s updating my ranks with the top 10 players at each respective position. I’m undecided about catchers, but we’ll see how my off-season plans out. Sorry, unlike Vanessa Williams I save the worst for last. Laugh now millennials, and use the google when your ass gets home.

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Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

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It’s taking everything out of me not to dedicate every lede to White Sox Prospect Eloy Jimenez. Last night my new novio debuted in AA with a bang, going 2 for 4 with a homer. At the moment with Victor Robles struggling somewhat in AA, and Devers in the majors, it’s a battle between the Braves Ronald Acuna vs Eloy Jimenez for the number one prospect in the minors. Before you dismiss this as a silly discussion, think about what type of prospects and players you prefer. Are you the type to bet on a middle of the order bat like Rafael Devers or Eloy Jimenez? Or do you prefer the 5 category stud with Mike Trout upside like Yoan Moncada or Ronald Acuna? It’s a tough call, and as my Uncle Manny would say, “I ain’t going to kick either of them out of bed for eating cookies”. Yeah, my uncle is a strange guy when it comes to baseball, and you thought I was bad. All this to say, it’s a battle that will rage well into 2018. In the words of the street poets Black Sheep, you can get with this or you can get with that. The choice is yours. I waffle back and forth, as I typically prefer the mashers, but Acuna’s assault on AAA is hard to ignore. I’m going to hold judgement until I have to… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

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