We all have our things, Grey has Giancarlo and mustaches, Smokey has bullpens and go-go bars, and I have pantsuited women and over aged power prospects. What can I say there’s just something about a professional lady that gets the blood flowing. Same goes for mid-20’s hitters in the minors with the boom-boom. I drafted Adam Duvall everywhere in re-draft for that reason, and there’s a new old ass prospect to fill the void in my heart. This hunk of thunderstick goes by the name of Daniel Palka, and he’s a newly minted AAA outfielder and cleanup hitter for the prospect flush Twins. In his AAA debut Thursday night Palka went yard twice as the Red Wings downed the Iron Pigs 8-7 in a slugfest. Palka entered the season in non-prospect territory, not making Baseball America’s prospect bible, and not appearing on any organizational top 30 list for the Twins or Diamondbacks (his previous employer). He strikes-out a ton, 29ish% k rates over the last couple of years, but he also walks a ton, never walking at a clip lower than 8% at any one level. My real interest in Palka isn’t his path to the high minors or even his glorious walk rates, but his hot steaming power. Power that’s produced a 25 homer campaign in 2014, a 29 homer campaign in 2015, and a projected 35+ homer campaign this season.

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Tell me this isn’t the most American thing you’ve ever heard. I sit mere miles from Cooperstown, NY, sipping an American made brew, working away on the final stretches of my Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects for Fantasy Baseball, while fireworks crackle overhead. The smell of beer and lawn clippings fill the air, and I just cooked some bacon on the barrel of my rifle. The last sentence was complete bullshizz, but the part before it is fairly accurate. I mean I’m not enough of a tool that I would sit in the yard with my laptop writing. But I am enough of a tool that I was formulating what I would type, once the pack of wild animals I affectionately call my children decide to finally retire to their beds for the evening. Well, the time has come and here I am writing to you, and you alone. Without anymore rambling incoherent non-sense, allow me to introduce the Top 100 Prospects Fantasy Baseball. This list is built with an eye to the future, in other words my goal is for this list to be more reflective of a pre-season 2017 list than the pre-season 2016 lists. I went bold, and I avoided the boring. Meaning I have no use for your Julio Urias’, your Lucas Giolito’s, A.J. Reed’s, Cody Reed’s and the like. You know those guys, they’re playing in the bigs, at this point they’re A. owned in your dynasty or B. owned in your redraft league so C. they’re owned. You thought I was going to say there’s no C right? What do I look like Grey? Nope I’m much taller and my facial hair is more Don Johnson than John Oates.

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Sometimes things in life don’t work out. Despite your best efforts, some things just aren’t meant to be. Today, my friends isn’t one of those times. No, quite the opposite in fact. Today is one of those days when everything goes right. All the lights you hit are green, everyone greets you with a smile, and you start writing a post about Dodgers farmhand Brock Stewart, and he’s called up. Things rarely turn out this way in life, at least mine, maybe yours is different. I’m going to stop there before this turns into a more self indulgent undertaking than any mid-aughts emo band. My apologies to anyone listening to a Dashboard Confessional song while reading along (P.S. Kick your own ass). Today we’ll take a deeper look at the Dodgers latest rotation member, and see what we can expect from Stewart in the near future. We’ll then close things out with a truncated minor league update, just so I can get some nuggets of info into your heads. We’ll be skipping our usual bi-weekly Minor League Update post this Sunday, for the midseason top 100 fantasy baseball prospects. That’s right! Get excited, we can all argue about my over-ranking, under-ranking, and just general ignorance on your favorite prospects.

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It’s easy to get lost in the scouting reports and tool grades from a million different resources. Buying too heavily into projection over production. I get caught up in it too, I Prospector Ralph am no scout. I’m one part Hemmingway, one part James Frey, blended heavily with an overly-enthusiastic approach to minor leaguers. In other words I’m a really, really fun minor league enthusiast. Saturday night at the Lifshitz house is like The Tunnel in its hey day. Let me tell you! (Queue the music, apply Timbos with the finest Polo swag) We have sleeping kids, lots of televised baseball, coffee, a baby named after a major leaguer learning to walk, then there’s a ruggedly handsome, but slightly dim witted looking gentleman typing away on his phone and laptop. Feverishly switching screens between gulps of java. That’s me and I’m combing through mounds of statistics and figuring out which ones I should report and which I should ignore. Why you ask? Well for this post where I look at 4-5+ of the minor league leaders in a handful of fantasy relevant categories. Most of it’s age based bias, if the leader is 28 in a particular category but number 3 is 21, I’m taking that young meat. Blah, blah, blah, blah, let’s get into it.

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There’s truly no other time where watching videos of 16 year old kids is more appropriate. In fact to call J-2 signing enthusiasts the pedophiles of the prospect world wouldn’t be totally inaccurate. Each year around this time we discuss dozens of Latin players between the ages of 16-20, from a variety of countries. The rules are a bit confusing to the average baseball fan. So I’ll break them down a bit and explain the differences between signing a player like Kevin Maitan, and signing Yulieski Gourriel. I’ll also list some of the names to be aware of, and give you a brief description of what I know about each. Most of these guys are 5+ years away from making an impact, and some might even be a year away from stepping foot on a pro ball field. This is best exemplified by players from last season’s J-2 period, like Eddy Julio Martinez and Yadier Alvarez. So these are names to be aware of, but I’d; A. Temper expectations, particularly in the short term and B. Discount their value accordingly in Dynasty first year player drafts, when ranking them against more polished college and prep players. In other words, always check ID.

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It’s Father’s Day, and as a father of three, there’s nothing I’d rather do than ignore my children for a few hours in order to write glowing prose about an overweight guy named Dan. Could this exercise of self indulgence ultimately lead to my demise when my daughter seeks employment at the local gentlemen’s club? Or when my two sons decide to pursue careers in baseball well into their mid-30’s on the independent ball circuit? Then again, what could make a father prouder than watching his boys player/coach the Massapequa I-Roc Z’s? I know what you’re all thinking “Ralph we care not about this tired exercise of projecting a future of unmet expectations. The Simpsons beat that theme into the ground years ago. So tell us more about this overweight Dan fellow.” Absolutely!! Verbose and demanding reader, I’d love to. Portly Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach is at it again, reminding us that the Northsiders have an embarrassment of riches and not nearly enough positions on the major league level.

Over the past week he’s hitting .357 with 3 homers and 7 rbis, raising his season slash-line to .306/.431/.544. The biggest area of growth this season for Vogey has been the power, having previously topped out at 19. So far this season he has 12 homers over 253 plate appearances at AAA Iowa. He’s also walking 17% of the time, which is downright ludicrous. So when’s he coming up right? Well unfortunately best case scenario for Vogelbach is he gets traded to an American League team before the trade deadline, because the chances are slim (pun intended) that he sees any extended time with the Cubs. Either way he’s worth keeping an eye on, and if he does end up in Tampa Bay or another AL destination he’s worth adding immediately.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So here we are more or less half way through the minor league season, Super Two has come and gone, and we wait for those sweet, sweet rookies to get the call and make an impact. More often than not my comments are filled with questions regarding who I think will have the greater impact this season, player A or player B. Today we take a look at the Top 25 prospects for 2016 impact. I’m going to start with a ranked list and follow that up with my general thoughts on the players  listed. I’m ignoring anyone already in the majors like Jameson Taillon, Blake Snell, and Tim Anderson. Things I’ve taken into consideration when building this were impact, proximity, and team situation. So understand this is not a straight top 25. It’s strictly 2016 focused, which why a prospect like Lucas Giolito is further down the list than he would be in a straight top 25 prospects for dynasty list.

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So it happened…. What????? The 2016 MLB Draft stoopid! I mean I am Ralph Lifshitz Prospector Esquire, and what else would I be talking about on a Sunday? Everyone else deals with the right now, but I, I deal with the future, the dreams of dynasty owners everywhere. So let’s get into the most difficult thing to predict, project, or understand. No, not Donald Trump’s campaign!!!! Are you even paying attention?!? The MLB Draft wake up!!! If you need proof as to why the MLB Draft is unpredictable, then click here and see how badly I missed on like 90% of my picks. Seriously after months of study and careful and thoughtful attention, I hit on 5 picks..FIVE out of 34! It’s cool I own it, I wear my mistakes like the rings of a pimp. So, let’s get into the steals, the stupid, the possible, and my general thoughts on the first few rounds of the draft.

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In just 24 hours MLB draft madness will be upon us. While it certainly has the least amount of fanfare among the four major sports, I find it to be by far the most fascinating. In Football and Basketball so much of the focus is immediate, mostly due to the older nature of prospects, particularly in football. This relies heavily on opportunity and fit with a team’s style and system. The NHL in many ways sits in the middle between the other two sports and baseball. But baseball, that’s a whole different story. In baseball it’s all about projection and development. Even the most MLB ready player spends a year plus in the minors developing. The other end of the spectrum is prep players that can marinate in the lower levels for 3-4 years. It’s an animal unto itself. So today I give you the final installment of my pre-draft posts. You can check the other two here and here. I’m going to begin with a quick mock, and follow that up with some general notes and thoughts. Let’s make this interactive, as more information matriculates, and the draft rumors circulate feel free to post what you’re hearing in the comments.

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We all have certain prospects we’re partial to. Players that for whatever reason strike your fancy, and you’ll forever view them through rose colored glasses. For example I think Peter Gammons is still hyping up Matt Murton. Grey wrote like 7 sleeper posts about Jedd Gyorko. Former prospector Mike legally changed his name to Maikel Franco. I on the other hand trekked down to Pawtucket, RI on consecutive days in April to watch Nick Williams first hand. Did I like what I saw? Was I impressed? Click that button, find out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?
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