Many consider the break between the Super Bowl and the beginning of Spring Training, to be the most boring weeks of the sports calendar. For us Prospectors it’s probably from the end of the MiLB regular season until the beginning of the Arizona Fall League. This is a time for us to put our pick axes, and helmet lights down, and reflect on the year that was. So in that vein, today we embark on the first part of a two part series, detailing my 2016 All-Prospect Team. Today’s feature, focuses on the position players, or the lineup for our Minor League dream team. Wednesday’s post will look at our rotation. I’ve eliminated players I view as graduated, whether MLB guidelines agree or not. So no Alex Bregman, Joey Gallo, Andrew Benintendi, Gary Sanchez, or Ryon Healy etc. I’ve also provided a runner up for each position, listed as bench options. These bench options deserve considerable acclaim, but unfortunately for them, I deemed the player ahead of them to be more deserving. Obviously these picks can’t be argued with, because what I say goes, and should be accepted as fact. So if you try and argue with me in the comments about my choices, I’m going to head to your house and pummel you while wearing foam Hulk mitts.

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Over the course of the past few days, I’ve wondered if mentioning Colin Kaepernick in any way, shape, or form would boost readership here in the doldrums of the fantasy baseball season. Maybe I could say “click here to see so and so nearly naked”, or “this celebrity didn’t want this to get out”. What if I took the plunge into full on click bait and left the days of insightful minor league analysis for dynasty and fantasy baseball behind. Would it be me whining about Odell Beckham Jr. ignoring me at the Met Gala? Imagine prospector Ralph rubbing elbows with the A list. I mean seems appropriate, they’re A-list and I’m known for making a list. Thank you, thank you, you’re all too kind I’ll be here all week. In all seriousness, we’ve come to the end of the regular season in minor league baseball, and with it the end of my minor league updates for 2016. Don’t worry I’m going absolutely nowhere. I’ll be updating you on all things dynasty and prospects throughout the offseason. In fact you’ll probably have a triple dose of me with the podcast and all. So pump the volume on this track, throw some BBQ on the grill, and save some sticky ribs for your homie Ralph. The final minor league update of the 2 dot oh 1-6 is here!

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If Nasty Nas is correct, and sleep is in fact the cousin of death, then these guys are whistling past the graveyard on the way to see Uncle Quilly. Today we climax together, like a perfectly symmetrical couple only we’re probably two dudes who like the most deviant of fantasy baseball hobbies, dynasty leagues. By climax I don’t mean actual climax, that would be weird, and could have lasting repercussions on my marriage, but rather we’re climaxing by finishing off my draft update series. Calm down guys it’s here; today’s post will be focusing on sleepers. This series is in no way a ranking of the best fantasy players in the most recent draft. I’ll save that for the early part of the offseason. So for today, we’ll leer at those outside the first round and compensation round, and look at who could be the next breakout guys a la Willie Calhoun.

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I was going to open this post with my favorite Future quote, but then I remembered that I don’t know what Future is saying ever. That’s okay, I just like humming along to the words anyway. Seriously, I think that’s Future’s appeal, you can hum to the words! Brave new world, ladies and gents! So why are we here? I know why I’m here, you should figure that out on your own. In the meantime read along, as I follow up my post from this past Wednesday updating y’all on the performances of the players taken in the first round of this year’s MLB draft. On Wednesday I’ll round out the series, with my later round draft sleepers. I’ll try and figure out what Future is saying between now and then. Today we’ll look at picks 17-34, and touch on a handful of players I like from the Competitive Balance Round. I mean I could have done the whole draft, but I don’t have time to write 2,000,000 words. I’m too busy watching minor league baseball, and trying to figure out what Future is saying.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the 2015 MLB draft was a damn good one. In just 14 months this class has already produced three everyday MLB players. It’s pretty much unheard of for THAT many players to move THAT quickly through the minors, and it’s not like any of the three look particularly lost. The real beauty lies here, the draft wasn’t particularly top heavy, we’ve had plenty of very interesting players already emerge from outside the first round; Willie Calhoun, Harrison Bader, Thomas Szapucki, and Cody Ponce to name a few. On the heels of this dynasty windfall, the question on everyone’s mind is; who are the studs and gems from this draft? Over the next few posts (today and Sunday) we’ll take a long look, maybe an awkwardly long look, at the first round and the gems of the later rounds. Did I say that already? I feel like I did….I try to sound like a sports reporter, but I kill too many brain cells to pull off the act. Meh, whatevs let’s talk about Nick Senzel!

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Salutations my loyal Razzscalians, and welcome to the latest installment of The Minor League update. I’m your Prospector and Chief Ralph Lifshitz and today I’d like to discuss a mighty slugger from The Great White North. A man with the forearms of a spinach swigging Popeye. A hitter with a swing so strong, that balls explode off his bat head like forgotten land mines in former war zones. The thunderous prospect I speak of is none other than the Mariners Tyler O’neill. The outfielder was a player that popped into many managers favorite prospects lists over the past few months, including yours truly. I mean what’s not to like about Tyler O’Neill “Prospect Power King of the North.”

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If I may, I’m going to vent for a minute. Or maybe a bunch of minutes. Might even be more than a bunch of minutes, kinda depends on how quickly you read. Let’s just settle on calling it as many minutes as it takes you to read this. There’s no simple way to say this, but I hate your dynasty league. I don’t just hate it a little either I hate it a lot. I want to crap all over it every season to you and your friends, but I restrain. I don’t hate all dynasty leagues, some are great. I play in an embarrassing number of them, with a variety of sizes, scoring, and roster setups. Some have keepers, some salaries, some have complicated rules no one knows because reading the constitution is like reading an insurance policy. So I’ve had my share of aggravation over the years, but nothing like yours. No you guys did EVERYTHING wrong and now you have a crap sandwich on soggy wonder bread. So today I’m going to tell you all the things I hate about your dynasty leagues. Because I’m salty and I can, that’s why.

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You’re only as good as the information you have. This can apply to anything in life, but is particularly true when it comes to studying up on prospects for fantasy. Or prospecting, if you will. Players are constantly evolving, particularly those in the minors, and it’s important to keep up with the latest scouting reports, videos, and statistics. One area that’s heavily overlooked with prospects is batted ball profile. The numbers are tough to find, but there’s some intriguing options in the dark corners of the Internet. Yours truly has scoured those dark corners. Actually J-FOH scoured these corners, introduced them to me, and here we are. Today is a very special day. Why? Well, because I’m doing my very best on this fine Sunday to impersonate one Big Magoo. While I certainty can’t do our resident number savant justice; I’ll use his words as a guideline, while we take a look at the batted ball profiles for some of the top players in minor league ball this season. Including some recent graduates like Aaron Judge, Alex Bregman, and Andrew Benintendi.

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Rejoice fellow prospectors for Michael Wacha has been slayed and disposed of on the DL with a shoulder injury. Good riddance Wacha, may the rookie nookieing begin. In the immediate aftermath Cards top prospect and K aficionado extraordinaire Alex Reyes was promoted. The early assumption was he’d fill Wacha’s roster spot. That was until he wasn’t. Shortly there after, it broke that he would be used out of the pen rather than take Wacha’s spot. Then Luke Weaver was called up. This made me excited, one because I’m nutty about prospects, two because I own Weaver in a whole shizz ton of leagues, and three because he fits the profile of the rookie starters that have been successful so far this season. What’s that profile Ralph? Control, command, and low walk rates. It’s the love, peace, and chicken grease of pitcher prospecting. Think about it Taillon, Maeda, and most recently Musgrove; the players letting up the least amount of free passes are having the greatest initial success out of the gate. It’s not a coincidence, because talented major league hitters will sit on junk pitches all day, and force you to throw strikes. That’s what Luke Weaver does Gentlemen and five ladies. He throws strikes…. lots of’em. He had 12 total walks in 83 innings at AA and AAA this season. He’s not some Phil Hughes boring control artist either, he brings with him a 10.0 K/9. Weaver keeps the ball in the ballpark too. In fact, he’s only allowed 7 homers across 197 minor league innings. All this to say you should pick him up. Whether you start him on Saturday vs the Cubs is up to your discretion, but there will be other matchups, better matchups. You’ll want him for those.

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Back in 2012 a 26 year old Phillies first base prospect by the name of Darin Ruf hit 38 homers while playing for AA affiliate Reading. Ruf never approached a season like that before or since, and quickly washed out as he reached AAA and the majors. Over the seasons that have followed any Reading player with a power surge is looked at with skeptical looks and side eye. Dylan Cozens is the latest in a long line of Phillie farmhands to bear this cross. Over the past week Cozens has accelerated the home run pace of his magical 2016, hitting 6 homers and slashing .360/.429/.1.240. As of Saturday night Cozens’ home run total for the season sits at 32 in just 106 games. I’ve written about Cozens a few times over the past few months, and quite honestly the gaudy offensive numbers are tough to ignore. Prior to the 2016 breakout, Cozens was an intriguing prospect. Built like an NFL tight end, and blessed with raw power and base running ability. Cozens presents raw potential that would entice any dynasty owner to take a second look, but the red flags are there and shouldn’t be ignored. First and foremost, though Cozens has always produced raw power it never materialized until he reached Reading. To say that Cozens success is Reading aided is an understatement. Of his 32 homers he’s only connected for 6 away from FirstEnergy Stadium. The home and away slugging % splits are staggering, as he boast a Bondsian .801 SLG% at home, but a .415 on the road. That’s an absurd difference of .386! Or he’s a full Dee Gordon different at home. Next on the red flag rundown is Cozens long lefthanded swing. While it’s picturesque when it connects for a long fly, it’s down right ugly when he misses, particularly on balls to the outside part of the plate. Look no further than his nearly 30% k rate for evidence. The last, and in some ways, the most alarming of the red flags is Cozens splits vs southpaws. A .307/.391/.677 hitter vs righties, he morphs into Freddy Galvis when a lefty is on the mound, slashing .204/286/.387. Cozens has certainly made improvements this season, but he does come with risk; and even if he’s only a 15/15 threat with some split issues, he’s worth a spot in your minors in dynasties where 100-150 prospects are owned.

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