So here we are, the final Minor League Preview of the offseason, and just in time for pitchers and catchers. It’s been a long grueling road that spanned four months, two writers, and countless late nights, study, and pizza rolls. Only punk rock pizza rolls, none of that commercial shizz! All of this has led us to today, and your payoff….THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS!!! Okay, so it’s not that exciting, unless you like far away hitting specs, and loads of floorbored material arms. As far as I know the Cards Floorboreds do not cause cancer, but the same can’t be said about the Angels. As for the St. Louie’ system, they’ve certainly churned out their share of high end talent over the years, and 2015 was no different. As the Redbirds graduated two top half of the order type bats in Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. I still can’t help but think that 2015 should have been the year of Oscar Taveres. My prospector eyes still weep for Oscar. Regardless, there’s still plenty to be aware of in the higher and lower levels, and a couple of beachy specs too! No not Brandon Beachy, because then their arms would be falling off. The Cards leave that to the northern most birds, the Blue Jays. Ha! Prospector humor kills me!! Let’s take a look at the St. Louis Cardinals Prospects, shall we?Please, blog, may I have some more?
Avast ye mateys treasures of prospective goodness lies within. It’s everybody’s favorite C+ student back again with our second to last minor league preview of the year. Our top 100 prospect list will drop a week from today, so for those of you asking, it’s coming. Now for all of you swashbuckling buckaroos out there let’s have a deeper look at one of the more successful minor league systems over the past decade, the Pirates. In fact in the past 10 years they’ve graduated players like Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and Gerrit Cole. Despite the recent MLB success, the Pirates still own one of the top farms in all of MLB. Boasting at least 4 top 100 guys on most lists as well as a handful of specs just outside. From a fantasy perspective their aren’t many teams with a more exciting group of perspective players.Please, blog, may I have some more?
When your farm system graduates four top 100 prospects in one season, like the Cubs did, it’s only natural that your overall minors grade takes a hit the following year. After coming into 2015 with one of the most talented groups in recent memory the 2016 version is a bit of a letdown. Don’t misunderstand me, the Cubs system is still head and shoulders above the last two systems we previewed, but it’s a far cry from the level it’s been the previous two springs. There’s still a solid group of hitters left and some upside arms with ETA’s a year or two out. So there’s still a lot to discuss, but none of the current crop has the through the roof tools of Bryant, Russell, Soler, or Baez. In closing its not the prospect pants tent of yesteryear, but it hasn’t dipped to Angelic levels either.Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s been a long time coming for the Kansas City Royals, but they finally tasted the sweet fizz of championship champagne last fall, and it was all due to Jonny Gomes. I’m not sure if you know this, but he’s the kind of guy you want to go to war with. Hacksaw Jonny musings aside, the Royals built a winner the old fashioned way. And by old fashioned I mean good drafting, solid player development, and excellent trading. In the process, they’ve graduated quite a few players onto their major league squad, traded some for established vets, and let others take the time needed to fully develop. The aftermath is there isn’t a ton of sexy fantasy prospects anymore, but the farm’s not barren, and there are some really intriguing players in the low minors. Dayton Moore and his constituents stuck to their philosophy, and in the end they’re the poster children for why prospects matter. Just ask Baseball America!Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Blue Jays sort of operate their franchise like your buddy that chases strippers and always ends up with a massive credit card bill to show for it. Sure, sometimes it makes for a once in a lifetime experience (Josh Donaldson), but other times it’s for fleeting exploits with a disappointing outcome (David Price). Only the bill in this case isn’t an actual physical one, but a bare cupboard once chock full of valuable prospects. In recent years, the Jays have upgraded the major league roster for sure, but have seen prospects like Franklin Barreto, Daniel Norris, Jeff Hoffman, and Miguel Castro leave their system. So now we’re left to review a mortgaged farm with a prized cow, a lot of young calves, and some goats. Confused? Me too! Then again is it any more confusing than a team that needs pitching trading away all it’s young pitching? Time to review the Blue Jays Prospects! You’re excited, I can tell…Please, blog, may I have some more?
The best way to describe the Dodgers system is “an embarrassment of riches”. Not only do they have one of the biggest budgets in MLB, but they’re also the proud owner of one of the top farms in all of baseball. With two top ten prospects in Corey Seager and the newly two eyed Julio Urias, there’s a ton of top level talent. Including top 100 darlings Grant Holmes, Jose De Leon, and Alex Verdugo. Additionally, there’s a good amount of depth in the other tiers boosted by good player development (Cody Bellinger), recent trades (Frankie Montas), solid drafting (Willie Calhoun), and an aggressive approach in the international market. One of the biggest components of the Dodgers recent success, and organizational depth, is their ability to hit on late round picks and develop prep arms. Two areas where most franchises miss the mark. With impact specs on both the pitching and hitting side, the Blue Bloods should be a pipeline of fantasy scrumptiousness for years to come.
By the way a big shout out to my Grandma Betty who turned 100 last week, and grew up not too far from “Da Bums” original home, Ebbets Field.Please, blog, may I have some more?
If the excitement of the World Series wasn’t enough, the Mets can also celebrate the success of Michael Conforto and Steven Matz in 2015. Both look like solid fantasy options moving forward. As much as it hurts my insides as a Phillies fan, the Mets should be good for a while with that pitching staff. On the farm there aren’t a ton of impact fantasy players if you’re not counting Matz anymore. Dom Smith might be your best bet, but he’s yet to show his game power. Amed Rosario hasn’t taken off offensively, and Marcos Molina went under the knife. There’s a lot of international talent in the low minors however, and those signings will keep feeding the system. What this farm lacks in star power it makes up for in depth.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Rangers have one of the deepest systems in the majors and it’s packed with upside for fantasy. Even after trading away three good prospects in the Cole Hamels deal, it’s still a beast. The appeal for our game is the type of player – toolsy, power bats, power arms…all good stuff. One of the pleasant surprises on the MLB roster was Delino Deshields, who the Rangers selected as a rule 5 pick from the Astros organization. If you’re like me, you threw Deshields on your farm for some depth and by the end of the season it was all like ‘whoa this is a solid player right here’ and then Grey’s writing a sleeper post on him and next thing you know he’s got an ADP in the teens. Grey is influential like that. Coincidentally, the Rangers also lost Odubel Herrera in the rule 5 draft to Philly, and that young man had a hell of a season too. Just goes to show that this whole prospect game isn’t always easy to peg, and you have to stay on your toes and roll with it. Back over to the Texas farm now, which features three top 50 fantasy prospects.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Yankees have a strong system, and by holding on to their prospects last summer they’re going to enter the 2016 season with a lot of potential energy. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge are poised to help the big club this year. So is Greg Bird, although he technically lost his eligibility. Because the Yankees are active in the international market, there’s a solid crop of teenagers coming up in the low minors. It’s not going to be anytime soon, but you can sort of see how this might converge into an even stronger group in the next year or two, especially when you factor in their crop of new draftees stateside. Of course not all of them will make it, but the more lottery tickets you own the better your chances, right?Please, blog, may I have some more?
What a wild year for the Astros. They made the playoffs, called up their star shortstop Carlos Correa, and made some big trades that have changed the look of this farm heading into 2016. It’s still very strong and full of great fantasy options, but just look at the list of players who left this system – Brett Phillips, Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Domingo Santana, Rio Ruiz, Mike Foltynewicz, Nick Tropeano. Not to mention losing Delino DeShields in the rule five draft and the quality graduations. That kind of hit would cripple most systems, and yet here we are with still one of the best farms in the game right now. Last year’s draft netted the Astros two top bats in Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker, and they saw a big breakout in A.J. Reed, who could be in line to play first base for Houston early in the 2016 season. It’s a good time to be an Astros fan.Please, blog, may I have some more?