Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (27) | 2013 (5) | 2012 (28) | 2011 (29) | 2010 (8)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [77-85] NL East
AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – New Orleans
AA: [81-59] Southern League – Jacksonville
A+: [50-87] Florida State League – Jupiter
A: [87-53] South Atlantic League – Greensboro
A(ss): [34-42] New York-Penn League – Batavia

Graduated Prospects
None

The Gist
2014 was another step forward for the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton put up MVP caliber numbers while fellow outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna both performed well in their sophomore seasons. All three are still under the age of 25. Right-hander Jarred Cosart was acquired from Houston in exchange for prospects Jake Marisnick and Colin Moran – both top ten prospects in the Marlins’ system a year ago. There is more to look forward to in 2015. Left-hander Andrew Heaney should get a crack at the rotation while pitching phenom Jose Fernandez is expected to return at some point this season as well. The farm system is pitching heavy and features multiple arms that could become options for the rotation soon. In this year’s draft the Marlins signed more high school players (11) than any other organization including first-round pick Tyler Kolek, who was selected second overall.

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This post is gonna look so prescient when Starlin Castro is traded to the Yankees at the Winter Meetings. What, you thought the Yankees were going into the season with Brendan Ryan at short? Zelous Wheeler? Richard Roundtree? He’s a complicated man that no one understands but his woman. I tried to have Cougs agree to the Theme from Shaft as our first dance. Couldn’t pull it off. More props to you if you can. Or maybe Castro will be traded to the Mets. Then again, the Mets have said they’re moving on from Ruben Tejada for about six years and are still holding on tight. Someone needs to rip that deflated life preserver from their arms before Tejada is One-Eyed Willy next to the sunken treasure that is the Mets’ recent fortunes. So, the first thing we know about Addison Russell is Billy Beane traded him away. This is obviously a strike against him. The last prospect Beane gave up on was Brett Wallace, and that was partly because Wallace looks like his face is constantly pressed against a window and that’s disconcerting. Right now, it appears Beane got the worst side of this Russell trade. Maybe he shouldn’t have been in such a rush to get back to the gym to pump iron and waited to negotiate a better deal. It’s still early though, and prospects can flame out. Russell, however, doesn’t look headed in that direction. Russell looks like he could be better than Castro as early as next year. Second thing we know about Russell, is he’s got power and speed. Yummers! Third thing, we know about Russell is there is no third thing. Anyway, what can we expect of Addison Russell for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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When researching prospects for our fantasy teams, we’re likely going to come across some talk about a player’s league or even home park skewing his stats. But exactly how much better are one league’s offensive statistics than the next? Without making it overly complicated, this post aims to give you a general idea of which leagues favor hitters and which favor pitchers. Each league’s average age is listed along with its rank in runs per game, home runs per game, and OPS. Just like in the majors, there are also minor league ballparks that are notoriously skewed towards hitters or pitchers. I find this kind of information helpful when looking at prospects. Player X may be a good pitcher in a homer-happy ballpark. That stud hitting prospect I picked up might be hitting less homers all of a sudden because he’s playing in a canyon now. Home parks and the leagues in which prospects play are important factors just like age, injury, and a host of other variables. Here are the 2014 stats for each league along with this year’s MiLB affiliation shuffle…

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There’s flashier guys to cover, I’m looking at you, Carlos Correa; I’m winking in your direction, Byron Buxton, and your missing finger, excuse me, dislocated. But I’m writing rookie outlooks for 2015 fantasy baseball, i.e., I’m focusing on guys that could play the majority of the time in the majors in 2015. I’m not going to write a Buxton outlook saying. “Will be awesome, come back to read more in 2016.” I’m trying to focus on impact players for this coming year. Prospect Mike is around to talk future All-Stars. Unlike Correa and Buxton, Francisco Lindor is in his last stop at the majors. Maybe the Twins push Buxton along and he jumps to the major league club by midseason, assuming he can stay healthy and the Twins can actually have something nice. “Sorry, we don’t have anything in your size.” That’s the cashier at the Everything Nice store after the Twins enter. Wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Buxton to appear this year. Shoot, he could rip the cover off the ball in spring training and be up sooner than June. Right now, he looks like a September call-up, at best. Same for Correa. With that said (oh, boy, here comes a reversal), I’m not totally sure of Lindor’s path to the majors. A good generalization that is generally good (hey, what do you know?) is a player ends the year in Double-A, starts in Triple-A the following season and is in the majors by June. Or is in Triple-A to end the year and starts the year in the majors the following year. Of course, guys can jump from Double-A or even High-A to the majors, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Lindor, on the other hand (were we even using hands?), played well in Triple-A last year. He really has no place else to go, except the majors or traded to another team. He should’ve been up already, to be quite frank, and don’t call me frank. Why am I even comparing Lindor, Correa and Buxton? Because they’re all the top rookies right now in the minor leagues, and you people demand the best. You demander, you! Anyway, what can we expect of Francisco Lindor for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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4.26 ERA in 107 2/3 IP his rookie year. Who’s that, you ask with your super-cute, Joey Lauren Adams mousey voice. That’s Clayton Kershaw’s numbers when he was first called up. Like when you feed your dog, then hold his ass over the balcony, rookie pitchers are a crapshoot. There’s no discernible rhyme or reason what any of them will do in their first year. Trevor Bauer could’ve been great last year, but wasn’t. Yet, Jacob deGrom is better than he was in the minors. *shrugs* Your guess = my guess. In hindsight, we could pinpoint the reason for each pitcher’s performance. Unfortch, we don’t have hindsight for next year. Shucks, I know. Maybe you should reach into your emoji grab bag and pull out an appropriate one. If I had an Asian baby, I’d name it Emoji. Guy or girl. That would require me getting pregnant, and 6th grade health class tells me it’s not possible. I ain’t got no ovaries, y’all! This brings us to Andrew Heaney. He should’ve been terrific last year, and *raspberries lips*. Oh, man, I now have spittle on my keyboard from the raspberried lips. Intern, bring me my spittle rag! What should’ve been the great thing about Heaney is how he should’ve been safer than most pitchers due to his control — ya know, avoiding the big innings. Then, last year, he has a 5.83 ERA in 29 1/3 IP with the Marlins. The key there is how small a sample size it is — that’s what she said! Huh? We can’t learn anything from 29 1/3 IP. Corey Kluber had a 4.14 ERA in his first 37 IP last year. Putting too much significance on 29 1/3 IP is like when you dial a wrong number to a funeral parlor, then don’t leave your bed the rest of the day just in case that was an omen. No omen, you’re just listening to Signs by Tesla one too many times. Anyway, what can we expect of Andrew Heaney for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (28) | 2013 (27) | 2012 (22) | 2011 (25) | 2010 (27)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL Central
AAA: [69-74] International League – Toledo
AA: [71-71] Eastern League – Erie
A+: [62-75] Florida State League – Lakeland
A: [82-58] Midwest League – West Michigan
A(ss): [42-34] New York-Penn League – Connecticut

Graduated Prospects
Nick Castellanos, 3B | Eugenio Suarez, SS

The Gist
The Tigers have a winning team at the major league level, but their farm continues to rank in the bottom third. Nick Castellanos arrived as a big league regular this season. Jake Thompson – considered a top prospect in Detroit’s system – was traded to Texas in the Joakim Soria deal. While there isn’t much impact talent in this top ten, there are a few mid-rotation starters and multiple options at middle infield. Derek Hill was the big name added in the 2014 draft and immediately becomes a top prospect for Detroit.

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Here’s what I said almost two years ago, “Dylan Bundy’s A-Ball numbers were insane. He was too good for A-Ball. A-Ball called a press conference and said, “You’re embarrassing us. Please leave” In 30 innings, he had 40 Ks and 2 walks. Only giving up 5 hits and zero earned runs. High-A wasn’t quite as bonkers, but wasn’t far off — 57 IP, 66 Ks and 18 walks with a 2.84 ERA. The Orioles also told him to stop using his cutter. They said go with your 99 MPH fastball, i.e., I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Cutter. So he’s adjusting. Even without the cutter, he’s going to be an ace.” And that’s me quoting me! Unfortunately, while rookie pitchers are making plans, God laughs, saying, “I’m gonna draft some rookie hitters.” Not too long after I posted that, Bundy was sidelined by the doctor with the infamous hook. No, not Dr. Richard Kimble, but Dr. James Andrews, as Bundy needed Tommy John surgery. Fun fact! A cheap, yet effective surgery is being performed on high school pitchers, where coaches smack their players’ arms with luggage. It’s called Tumi John surgery. I saw it on Dateline. After about 14 months, Bundy was back on the mound in High-A last year, making hitters look foolish. They were looking dumb because they were swinging a few seconds early since Bundy’s 99 MPH fastball had suddenly become a 93 MPH. After about a hitter or two, they stopped looking foolish and started pounding the ball. Bundy had a 5.1 K/9 and a 4.78 ERA in High-A last year, and looks like he’s on the path to return, assuming said path is a ten-year journey where he gets to throw one ceremonial pitch in the major leagues and gets an article written about him in Sports Illustrated about what could’ve been. Anyway, what can we expect of Dylan Bundy for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Well, Cody Asche’s opportunity to sneak in and have a surprisingly solid season in 2014 before Maikel Franco emerged went swimmingly. If we’re judging swimmingly on a scale established by Natalie Wood getting swimming lessons from Robert Wagner. Too harsh? How about as swimmingly as Whitney Houston in a bathtub? That’s just terrible, why would you force me to give you a second one? Franco appeared in the majors last year, though he retained his rookie eligibility. Upon his arrival in Philly at the end of last year, Franco’s lack of assault on major league pitching made it seem like he needed more seasoning, i.e., the Franco-American Outside-Of-King-Of-Prussia War on pitching didn’t exactly leave us with shock and awe (.179 in the majors with zero homers in 56 ABs). Shouldn’t have been a surprise, he didn’t exactly look like a breakout waiting to happen last year in Triple-A, where he had 16 homers in 521 ABs, hitting .257. With rookies like that, maybe the Phils are right to invest in more megaphones for the clubhouse, so their veterans can communicate. “DID ANYONE SEE MY PREPARATION H?” “IT’S NEXT TO MY SMOOTH MOVE HERBAL TEA. YOU CATCH DATELINE LAST NIGHT? SO CRAZY.” That’s Rollins talking to Utley as they stood about three feet from each other. Franco had a season to forget, but since the Phils promoted him in September, he’s definitely short-listed for the Opening Day lineup, and won’t be in the minors much past June, barring injury or further disappointment. So, what can we expect of Maikel Franco for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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The Arizona Fall League is a couple of weeks old now, so we’ll peek at a few of the highlights and lowlights. In a league with only six teams, there is a limited pool of players and we’ll have to take the small sample sizes with a grain of salt. There have been a few standout performances, and this league is a good way to get eyes on prospects returning from injuries or facing some tougher competition for the first time. One name from the AFL that has surfaced quite a bit this year is Reds’ outfielder Jesse Winker. Reports on Winker like his approach and power, with left field a likely destination when he reaches the bigs. Despite a concussion early in the season and a wrist injury that ended his season prematurely, the 21-year-old hit .327/.426/.580 with 13 homers in the hitter-friendly California League before a brief stint in Double-A. In 38 AFL at bats, Winker has two homers, two doubles, and a league-leading 13 runs batted in. He’s top 5 in average (.368), on-base percentage (.479), and slugging percentage (.632). I’m not totally on board the Winker train yet since he hasn’t seen much of Double-A, but I am at the station in line to buy a ticket. Here are some other noteworthy AFL prospect performances so far…

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