On Monday night, my top scout (aka my daughter) and I, loaded up our rented scouting station (mini-van), and headed out to LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida to check out some Florida State League action. LECOM Park is actually the corporate name of McKechnie Field, often called the Fenway Park of Spring Training. Funny, I didn’t feel like my seat was designed for a garden gnome, but hey, everything is bigger in Florida right? Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Any the Arsenio Hall, my daughter and I headed out to go scout, and I use that term loosely, some of Bradenton and Clearwater’s top players. Bradenton is the Pirates Class Advanced A affiliate, and Clearwater is the Phillies. While my daughter and I munched on pretzels, hot dogs, and other assorted ballpark foods, I was reminded of why I love the minor leagues. Where else can you see potential future stars mere feet away, chat with coaches about breaking balls, and shoot some sweet scouting video without an usher booting you out of the stadium? Where am I going with all this? Be patient and I’ll tell you. Why are you so hasty bro? Well, I had an idea while shooting some scouting videos of Will Craig, and Cornelius Randolph. What if we had an army of amateur scouts throughout the country sharing their first hand video accounts?

Why not have my readers, and listeners, shoot scouting videos at the minor league games they attend throughout the year? From there, we’ll take your raw footage, edit it, and post it on Razzball’s YouTube channel. It’s crowdsourced scouting, and with smart phones more common than smart people what could be easier. So if you’re taking in a minor league game at anytime this season, whip out your phone and shoot some videos of top prospects you see. Once you do shoot them over to me via email at [email protected]

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A week after writing up one of the worst farm system in baseball in the Diamondbacks, I’ve been blessed with the task of covering arguably the best farm system in the Atlanta Braves. Over the last few seasons the Braves have done an excellent job of acquiring top prospects in trades, and via the draft. This approach that has left them with an embarrassment of riches. It’s not often you can trade an obvious over-performing pitcher for the top pick in a deep draft, and a handful of other good, young, and controllable assets. Fortunately for Braves fans, GM John Coppolella has very incriminating photos of Dave Stewart. Otherwise such outlandish trades like the Swanson and Toussiant deals wouldn’t have been possible. Since then, the Braves have added one of the top International signings in recent memory in Kevin Maitan, and took in quite a haul in last June’s draft. In other words, there is much to discuss in the Braves system. Instead of rambling for another 100 words about Disney magic, and how dumb Dave Stewart is, let’s just dig into one of the more exciting farms.

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Well here it is the post you’ve been hollering for in the comments since November hit. That’s right ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, cats and dogs, pastrami sandwiches and tuna melts, white wall tires and low profile tires, good guys and bad guys, curved brims hats and flat billed caps, and anyone else that reads Razzball; it’s the top 100 live from my garage in suburban Massachusetts. Ahh-huh you’re being magically whisked away to a garage, with flickering lights and an awkwardly handsome gentleman with a laptop. That’s me, and on my computer is a list, it is yours to read, berate, discuss, commit to memory, burn to keep you warm. What you do with it, is really up to you I suppose. This ranking is pretty straightforward, it lists each player, their position, and a link to their team’s minor league preview. Within each preview you’ll find that players blurb. On one final note, all of these ranks take into consideration a variety of factors including ceiling, proximity, and floor. Consider this post interactive, instead of me waxing poetic after each player explaining why I rank so and so where, I leave it to you to call me to the mat and defend my rankings. Without further ado the 2016 Top 100 Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

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Seattle’s farm produced two interesting players for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. I like Ketel Marte as a late-round flyer at a shallow middle infield position. He can hit and steal, and should be a good source of runs if he bats in front of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz as he’s currently projected. Then there’s Carson Smith, who I imagine a lot of fantasy owners will be drafting as the closer in waiting if he hasn’t already taken the reins by opening day. The first thing I noticed when putting together this preview is the plethora of outfield prospects in the Mariners’ system, as well as the lack of impact talent from the 2015 draft (they didn’t pick in the first round). It’s a bit dicey gambling on hitters that may call Seattle their home one day, so this has never been my go-to system for fantasy prospects. Of course the flip side of that is that their pitching prospects have a little more room to breathe.

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A couple of years ago Bret Sayre invited me to participate in his dynasty league – The Dynasty Guru Expert League, or TDGX. At the time I was writing for him at his site, and while I don’t anymore, I’ve been allowed to remain in the league as a representative of Razzball. I’d like to say my team has been killing it, but that hasn’t been the case in the first two years. The league is a lot of fun, and there are representatives from sites like Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, Baseball HQ, and CBS. It’s deep and it’s challenging. Tim McLeod and Ian Khan took the championship in each of the first two years, so major kudos to them.

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Here’s a look at the best prospects for fantasy baseball right now. It’s a fluid list, and you’ll see some big changes as well as some new faces from the preseason Top 50. I’m sticking to a cap of 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues when determining who is still eligible for this list. So while some of the names have already been promoted this year and are expected to graduate, I’m still going to rank them. If Miguel Sano drinks too much nerve tonic with only 100 MLB at bats, he’d still qualify for prospect lists heading into next year, so he’s included on this one. This list does not include any 2015 draftees or J2 signees. The +/- column on the right shows how much each prospect rose or fell from my preseason list. I wouldn’t sweat players who moved just a few slots. Instead, I’d focus on the double-digit changes and the new additions. For lengthier notes on some of the biggest movers, you should check out last week’s post. Personally I skew towards hitters and rank only a handful of pitchers that I really like. Keep in mind that I’m coming at you from the perspective of our fantasy game, so it may differ from a traditional prospect list when it comes to certain players. Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here is this year’s midseason Top 50 prospects for fantasy baseball…

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The midseason prospect rankings are upon us, and as I put together our own list here at Razzball, there are a few players who have seen significant changes in their rankings since my preseason list published. While most of the Top 50 will be familiar, there have been graduations and a couple of dropouts. That means a few new names will crack the list, which is pretty exciting. The full midseason Top 50 will publish a week from today, and unlike traditional lists, ours will be completely geared towards each prospect’s potential fantasy impact. If next week’s list is the main course, then I guess today is the appetizer. To be eligible, a prospect simply needs to retain their rookie eligibility, or less than 130 AB/50 IP. Here are ten players who were big ‘movers’…

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The title pretty much says it all, so instead of a big intro this opening paragraph will link you to some more helpful information regarding prospects. Here are the Top 30 prospects for 2015 redraft leagues. Here are the American League and National League Top 10 prospect indexes. We also have the Top 20 2014 signees for first-year player drafts in dynasty formats. Last but not least, here are my Top 100 keeper rankings. In the prospect rankings below, more specific ETAs are given as well as links to the organizational top ten list for each player. Just click on the team abbreviation to view my comments on individual prospects. Only two-thirds of the teams are written up, so apologies if not all of the links are live just yet. Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2015. Here are the Top 50 prospects for 2015 fantasy baseball…

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The dynasty league first-year player draft is a unique winter ritual. It’s typically how dynasty owners get their hands on all of the unowned players who were previously ineligible to be claimed. Take all the 2014 draftees from June, mix with the top international signings from Cuba and elsewhere, sprinkle in the July 2nd international prospects, and you’ve got a whole new pool of players to draft from. With both comments and questions on the topic from previous articles, I think it’s worth looking closer at some of the top options in such a draft. And there is no better way to do that than with some good old-fashioned rankings.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (25) | 2013 (2) | 2012 (9) | 2011 (18) | 2010 (12)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [87-75] AL West
AAA: [74-70] Pacific Coast League – Tacoma
AA: [63-76] Southern League – Jackson
A+: [66-74] California League – High Desert (2015: Bakersfield)
A: [61-77] Midwest League – Clinton
A(ss): [28-48] Northwest League – Everett

Graduated Prospects
Taijuan Walker, RHP | James Paxton, LHP | Roenis Elias, RHP | Stefen Romero, OF | James Jones, OF | Dominic Leone, RHP

The Gist
The Mariners just missed the playoffs in 2014 and graduated several quality prospects along the way. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will be joined by Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Roenis Elias. Elias had a solid rookie season and will look to keep that going, while Walker aims to show why he was the organization’s top pitching prospect. The Mariners took one of the most exciting players in this year’s draft when they selected Alex Jackson sixth overall. The farm is stocked with enough pieces to make moves at the trade deadline if they go into buy mode either in the offseason or in July. On a side note, Seattle moved out of the launching pad of High Desert and now calls Bakersfield their High-A home after this year’s affiliation shuffle.

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