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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Prospect hounds looking for some action now that the minor league season is over can turn their attention towards the 2014 Arizona Fall League. The league is made up of six teams and each of those teams is affiliated with five major league clubs. MLB clubs will typically send prospects that need some more reps to refine their skills against different (sometimes tougher) competition. Other players on these rosters may have been injured at some point in the past season and need the extra game action to continue their rehab and development. The preliminary rosters have been released for each AFL squad and there are a bunch of fantasy relevant prospects for us to take a look at. For the next three weeks I’ll write up two teams and a few of the significant names from each, what their 2014 MiLB season looked like, and what we might expect from them in fantasy baseball going forward. Let’s get right to it with Mesa and Glendale…

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Happy Hump Day (cue the Geico camel) fellow prospect hounds! Another week of minor league action is in the books as the top prospects continue jockeying for spots on various “up and coming” lists, and try to better position themselves for promotions closer to their ultimate goal — a call to “The Show”. Time for our weekly look at some of the prospects that have made some noise recently in the hope of climbing a little closer to the big leagues, whether that step ultimately comes this season or a little further down the road. Refill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and let us guide your continuing research as we try to help you scoop your fellow fantasy competitors with our Wednesday Twelve-Pack.

We’ll start by mentioning the obvious, Cubs fans that follow me on Twitter got the news Monday afternoon that Javier Baez was on his way to join the big club in Denver for last night’s game. Batting second and playing 2B (where he likely winds up for the long haul at this point), he struck out against Brett Anderson in the 1st, grounded out to Nolan Arrenado in the 3rd, struck out against Franklin Morales in the 4th and 6th, and lined out to Brandon Barnes in RF with the bases loaded in the 7th against Matt Belisle after the Rockies pen imploded and walked half the guys on the Cubs’ 40-Man Roster. (EDIT: Baez did deliver his first big league hit, a solo shot off of Boone Logan in the top of the 12th, and was 1-6 with 3 Ks at publishing deadline.) Don’t fret Chicago hopeful, Kris Bryant isn’t far behind.

A couple of the guys we’ll take a look at this week had help clearing their way when the smoke cleared on one of the wackier non-waiver trade deadline days in memory as players on their organizations’ big-club rosters were moved. The deals won’t necessarily create immediate openings for them at the MLB-level, but they’ll help move timetables and ETAs along. Here’s who I’m watching closer going into week 19…

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Good morning fellow prospect nuts – one more week in the books, the trade activity picking up steam, and the prospects are beginning to move around all over the place. All this action prior to the juiciest rumored pieces being dealt in advance of this week’s non-waiver trade deadline gives us hope that there’s much more activity to look forward to and that we may get a look at some of the players that may be competing for 2015 MLB jobs during camp next spring earlier than September.

Time for our weekly look at some of the prospects that have made some noise recently in the hope of climbing a little closer to The Show, whether that step ultimately comes this season or a little further down the road. Refill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and let us guide your continuing research as we try to help you scoop your fellow fantasy competitors with our Sunday Twelve-Pack.

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Welcome to the All-Star break gang – the unofficial beginning of the second half signals the time to reorganize, revamp, and re-think approaches for us, as well as the folks making the calls for your favorite MLB teams. And, coincidentally, it also marks the time for me to revisit my Prospect Rankings. These are the current top-50 guys on my board that haven’t accumulated the standard minimum 130 AB/50 IP at the MLB level that most fantasy leagues recognize. When compiling my rankings, I try to consider as many variables as possible, but my main focus tilts toward future “difference-makers”… those guys that have the potential to make significant impacts when they reach “The Show”. Some players you’ll find on this list may be further away from making that impact than others, some may be struggling a bit right now (they may have been recently promoted to the next level to challenge them and are adjusting to stiffer competition), some may be on the shelf because of injury, etc., but this list represents the top-50 players I’d pick if you give me the first 50 picks in the MiLB phase of a draft in a newly forming fantasy league. These are the prospects GMs “dream on”, regardless of their current minor league level – the players they plan to build their rosters around at some point in the near future.

So here we go…

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So, we had our first July 31st trading deadline deal, and it paid off for all the A’s fans who paid Oaktown’s own, Bubb Rubb, to break into Billy Beane’s office and turn his iCal forward a month. “Any ideas what you want to do for the 4th of July, Billy?” “I celebrated last month with some friends.” Screen spirals out and slam cuts to Bubb Rubb, maniacally (bubb)rubbing his hands together. When the A’s are playing like it’s playoff baseball in September, don’t say your mustachioed over-the-internet friend didn’t warn you. So, the trade that went down was Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for David Addison Leave Me Alone Maddie Russell, who I will get to after this lede. Samardzija and Hammel both gain value going to the A’s, which isn’t often the case with an NL pitcher going to The Land of Milk and Honey-Flavored DHs. Wrigley isn’t a great place to pitch — one day it’s overcast with winds blowing straight out, another day winds are just swirling overhead like a toilet bowl genie. As we’ve seen in the past, pitchers can do just about anything in a short period of time. Could Hammel and Samardzija completely poop the sheets? Fo’sho. Likely? Prolly not. O.co is like Petco and Metco, a big cavernous wasteland for hitters and they have more foul territory than Roseanne Barr’s privates. Samardzija brings strikeout stuff to hitters that aren’t as familiar with him and could be the 2nd half’s Kazmir. Yesterday, in his first A’s start, he had a line of 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 baserunners, 5 Ks. Dividends paying out quick there. Hammel keeps the ball down and O.co will love him. This trade only really hurts Tommy Milone, who was shipped to the minors. The A’s just made themselves a serious contender and having a friend in Bubb Rubb pays off once again. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Happy Sunday again gang – hope there weren’t too many of you that overdid it with your personal firework shows to celebrate the 4th – baseball (as always) seems to help us in that regard every year around this time, and the big Billy Beane shocker provided everyone a great finale for a lot of contenders. Of course this also helps bring more clarity for those looking to make a run at the MLB-level (obviously defining the market for ANY contender looking to shore up their rotation) just as it will ultimately lead to even more prospect machinations and opportunities as we move forward.

Given the rising level of prospect interest this time of year (both in potential trade/promotion opportunities, but in general as well), and in addition to our hopes of expanding our prospect coverage and helpful information and discussion for you guys in our Razzball community, Sundays will feature, what I’ll refer to as my Sunday Twelve-Pack, as opposed to a Sunday Six-Pack. As always, pace yourselves – Monday morning still looms, and never drink and drive!!!

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Happy Fathers Day, Razzball Nation, especially to the dads we have here on staff: Rudy and Mike and Nick are proud fathers, and I’ve heard Tehol has offspring on every continent, although that rumor is unsubstantiated. I’m not a dad, but I have one, and I’ll be hanging with him today, doing our usual Fathers Day bonding (sipping fine booze while watching the US Open). I hope everyone can find something equally gratifying to do with their dads, or with their sons and daughters. And however it is that you choose to enjoy the day, here’s to all the good fathers out there. Cheers.

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…And by “IBS”, I don’t mean irritable bowel syndrome. In this context, I mean BABIP verified by ISO and Spd scores. Two things induce my real life IBS: nutrition, and my high impact dynasty leagues. Consider this series your dynasty IBS treatment.

BABIP has little face, so I use ISO (isolated slugging) and Spd (FG’s speed score) to verify the BABIP.

Check out Part 1 of this series where I delved into Trois-A assets. While Joc Pederson and Gregory Polanco naturally lead the rankings in conjunction with Quad-A guys like Andrew Brown and Chris Dickerson, I pointed to some translatable future impact in Chris Taylor and Domingo Santana, among others.

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As of 4/10, these middle infielders are all owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, and contingent on the context, I would conditionally own them all. And that’s how you alliterate league format dependency.

While they’re ranked by %ownership, I’ll furnish my zeal for each:

#1 – Kolten Wong (6.5%) – He’s only 23, so give him a little time. He’s already got a top-20 contact rate this year and has impressively walked more than he struck out. He’s batting .276 with a .382 OBP and 2 stolen bases. I’m not sure why he’s owned < 10%. Mark Ellis (DL/knee) and Daniel Descalso won’t consume that much time away from him. Very soon, he’ll be owned in over 10% of leagues, so make that happen sooner than later. 70+ runs near the top of that lineup with a 7HR-45RBI-20SB-.270BA is playable at MI.

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