Jorge Soler was off to a great start at High-A Daytona, batting .435/.519/.739 with 2 homers through his first six games. The was promising news for the Cubs, who inked him to a nine-year, $30 million contract last summer. The 21-year-old Cuban is not a cost-controlled prospect — there’s an opt-out clause that would make him eligible for arbitration after three years service time, but both sides would be thrilled if it came to that. In any case, there’s incentive for the Cubs to develop him quickly in order to make sure the bulk of those nine years are spent at the highest level. Chicago was smart to make such a long-term investment in Soler — it gives them a little developmental cushion — but they’re still trying to avoid unnecessary setbacks. Things were going well in that department up until Wednesday, when Soler decided to brandish a baseball bat as he sprinted toward the opponent’s dugout following a benches-clearing incident. The league suspended him five games, which isn’t a huge setback, but the Cubs are reportedly investigating the matter further and could tack on more time. I doubt it’ll come to that, but the ordeal still raises some major character concerns. Let’s hope this was an isolated incident and that the new regime in Chicago doesn’t enable such behavior as the old group did with headcases like Carlos Zambrano.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I don’t have enough spam, give me the Razzball email newsletter!

Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. Back in February, I rolled out my Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2013 (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, I thought it might be helpful to keep a running ranking throughout the season. This post will run every other Wednesday, providing a biweekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent. Let’s get started.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A year ago, Nolan Arenado was entering the 2012 season with loads of hype. Minor League production expectations were enormous, and most folks around baseball were already penciling the young 3B into the Rockies’ mid-season lineup. But a slow start at Double-A and a concerning lack of over-the-wall power quickly put an end to those 2012 Arenado arrival fantasies. The 21-year-old watched his prospect stock slip this off-season, dropping out of the top 50 on prospect lists from almost every publication. Fast forward to 2013: Arenado put together a terrific spring in big league camp, blasting four homers and posting a .852 OPS in 52 PA. And after reassignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hasn’t slowed down whatsoever, going 7/14 through his first two games, including two long balls. Chris Nelson is not a long-term option for the Rockies at third, and Arenado finally appears to be ready to step into Coors field and entrench himself at the hot corner. He’ll be fantasy-relevant once he’s up, and I imagine that’ll be no later than mid-June.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24) | 2009 (21) | 2008 (10)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [98-64] NL East
AAA: [70-74] International League – Syracuse
AA: [64-78] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [64-75] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [82-55] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [46-30] New York-Penn League — Auburn

Graduated Prospects
Bryce Harper (OF); Steve Lombardozzi (Util); Tyler Moore (OF)

The Run Down
A little more than a year ago, this Washington Nationals system was regarded as the best in the game. Then a trade with Oakland sent a handful of prospects out west, their top draft pick went down with a broken ankle, and Bryce Harper graduated to the bigs. What’s left, now, is a system that’s filled to the brim with risky, oft-injured prospects. There is almost nothing here that I would consider safe. Top overall prospect Anthony Rendon is an exciting, high-impact guy, but he’s yet to play a full season as a pro. Top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito tossed only two professional innings before being shut down for Tommy John surgery. He won’t pitch again ’til 2014. The rest of the top ten seem to be rehabbing from their third labrum operation, or their twelfth precautionary arthroscopic elbow surgery. This is not among baseball’s top 20 farm systems at the moment, but thankfully for Washington fans, the Nationals have a young and talented collection of talent at the big league level already.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (3) | 2011 (1) | 2010 (16) | 2009 (11) | 2008 (24)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [72-90] AL Central
AAA: [83-61] Pacific Coast League – Omaha
AA: [58-81] Texas League – Northwest Arkansas
A+: [66-74] Carolina League – Wilmington
A: [68-72] Midwest League – Kane County (SAL Lexington beginning 2013)

Graduated Prospects
Will Smith (LHP); Kelvin Herrera (RHP); Everett Teaford (LHP)

The Run Down
The Royals traded away a decent chunk of their upper-levels talent in the James Shields deal with the Rays. Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, and Mike Montgomery are all gone, and what’s left is a very young system. It also happens to be a very good system. But with youth comes risk. There’s as much upside here as there is in any other organization — numbers 1-10 below are all capable of bringing significant value to fantasy owners — and there are some college arms that should move quickly. But for the most part, this farm system is unproven. Unless Yordano Ventura is converted to relief, I don’t see much fantasy value pushing through until 2014. Even so, this group will be a lot of fun to watch in the upcoming season.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (5) | 2011 (23) | 2010 (28) | 2009 (26) | 2008 (20)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [81-81] NL West
AAA: [81-63] Pacific Coast League – Reno
AA: [69-71] Southern League – Mobile
A+: [64-76] California League – Visalia
A: [67-73] Midwest League – South Bend
A(ss): [36-40] Northwest League — Yakima (Hillsboro beginning 2013)

Graduated Prospects
Patrick Corbin (LHP); Bryan Shaw (RHP)

The Run Down
The Diamondbacks entered the off-season with one of the most impressive collections of 25-and-under talent in the game. With the departures of Justin Upton and Trevor Bauer, however, that youthful core took a major hit in the high-impact department. One of Arizona’s motives in those trades was adding low-risk depth, and in that regard, they did quite well — Didi Gregorious and Nick Ahmed are premium defenders up the middle, Zeke Spruill is a safe bet to max out his potential, and Brandon Drury is a 1B with upside. Unfortunately for us, though, these changes make the D’Backs organization a tad less exciting for fantasy purposes. But that doesn’t mean this system is void of fantasy intrigue. There’s actually plenty of immediate-impact potential here with guys like Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton. There’s long-term excitement, too, with prospects like Archie Bradley and Stryker Trahan.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (5) | 2011 (4) | 2010 (19) | 2009 (19) | 2008 (25)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] AL East
AAA: [79-64] Pacific Coast League – Las Vegas (IL Buffalo beginning 2013)
AA: [61-81] Eastern League – New Hampshire
A+: [78-55] Florida State League – Dunedin
A: [82-55] Midwest League – Lansing
A(ss): [46-30] Northwest League — Vancouver

Graduated Prospects
Anthony Gose (OF); Moises Sierra (OF); Drew Hutchison (RHP)

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (6) | 2011 (5) | 2010 (22) | 2009 (15) | 2008 (5)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [95-67] AL East
AAA: [84-60] International League – Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
AA: [79-63] Eastern League – Trenton
A+: [65-70] Florida State League – Tampa
A: [73-63] South Atlantic League – Charleston
A(ss): [30-45] New York-Penn League — Staten Island

Graduated Prospects
Cody Eppley (RHP)

The Run Down
It was an interesting 2012 for this Yankees system, as high-impact bats (see Austin and Williams) took huge steps forward, while a slew of promising pitching prospects (see Campos, Banuelos, Hensley) were held up because of injury, or risk thereof. The Yankees also watched helplessly as the wheels completely fell off of the once highly-touted RHP, Dellin Betances. What’s left is a system that appears out of balance in favor of hitting. But that’s not to suggest there’s no hope for the arms — both Jose Campos and Manny Banuelos bring front-of-the-rotation potential if they’re able to stay on the field. Sure, the health factor makes the pitching depth incredibly uncertain here, but there are plenty of systems who are worse off with regard to starting pitching. And even if all these dudes have their arms fall off this summer, Yankees fans can rest assured that big league acquisitions will keep New York at (or near) the top of the AL East.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (7) | 2011 (6) | 2010 (17) | 2009 (14) | 2008 (3)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [97-65] NL Central
AAA: [51-93] International League – Louisville
AA: [68-70] Southern League – Pensacola
A+: [72-68] California League – Bakersfield
A: [60-78] Midwest League – Dayton

Graduated Prospects
Zack Cozart (SS); Devin Mesoraco (C)

The Run Down
Cincinnati is coming off of a 97-win season, and while it’s tough to expect that kind of success on a year-to-year basis, I really don’t see much regression out of the Reds this season, or for the next few seasons either. The pitching depth that Cincy has accumulated in their farm system is outstanding — there are high-impact arms at every level, and there’s plenty of fantasy intrigue given that most of these young pitchers are of the lots-o-whiffs variety. The bats of this system are a little less appealing, but not completely lacking. Jesse Winker is a young player with a huge ceiling at the plate, and Henry Rodriguez is ready to make an impact in the fantasy game at 2B as soon as there’s an opportunity for him. Oh, and there’s also this Hamilton dude. He’s a big time slugger, or something.

Top Ten Prospects

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (8) | 2011 (8) | 2010 (20) | 2009 (29) | 2008 (13)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [76-86] NL West
AAA: [56-88] Pacific Coast League – Tucson
AA: [60-80] Texas League – San Antonio
A+: [69-71] California League – Lake Elsinore
A: [69-71] Midwest League – Fort Wayne
A(ss): [47-29] Northwest League — Eugene

Graduated Prospects
Yonder Alonso (1B); Yasmani Grandal (C); Anthony Bass (RHP); Brad Brach (RHP); Dale Thayer (RHP)

The Run Down
Pitching depth is the best asset of this San Deigo farm system. From the upper levels down to the complex leagues, the Padres’ farm is flush with quality arms. There are high-ceiling arms, and there are safe, high-floor guys, too. That sort of depth is hugely important — strength in numbers usually prevails in the volatile practice of developing pitchers. This top ten, however, is headlined by hitters. Rymer Liriano, Jedd Gyorko, and Austin Hedges all bring high-impact upside for the fantasy game, and Gyorko could be providing plenty of value this season. It might not be the best system in baseball, but it’s a damn good one. We can look forward to this San Diego organization churning out fantasy-relevant talent in bulk for the next few years.

Please, blog, may I have some more?