Every few years a farm system develops to the point that it’s busting at the seams with talent. An organization builds and before you know it they’ve cultivated more talent than they can possibly use, and therefore have reached what I call the “embarrassment of riches” phase. This time is now for the Atlanta Braves farm system, long thought to be propped up by the organizations pitching depth, that is no longer the case. So far early in the 2017 campaign the Braves have produced two of the breakout stars of the young season in Ronald Acuna, and newly (re)converted catcher Alex Jackson. To call Acuna a breakout star is probably a bit disingenuous, as he was well within my Top 100 in the pre-season, ranking 42nd overall. This is how I described him then, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now.” I hope you listened to my advice and traded for him then, because after his entrance to AA on Tuesday he might be tough to wrangle from his owners. What exactly has the 19 year old outfielder done since his promotion on Tuesday? How about going 6/8 with 2 homers, 2 steals, 4 runs, and 4 RBIs. It’s funny how Acuna has exploded the last few weeks after initially struggling to start the season. After slashing .209/.261/.349 in the season’s first 11 games, Acuna is hitting .355/.398/.605 with 4 homers and 10 steals in the 18 matches since. As I said calling him a breakout is disingenuous, but he looks to be rising into another tier of prospects. As for his former and future teammate Alex Jackson the story is quite different. As the former 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft struggled for 2 1/2 years in the Mariners organization, before being traded to the Braves this offseason for a pair of fringe major league starters. Jackson at one point in time was one of the more decorated high school players in recent memory. Having been named a three time Baseball America All-American, a two time Under Armor All-American, and even winning Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year before even being drafted. A catcher in high school, the Mariners decided to move him to the outfield, where Jackson struggled. Slowly his body and skill set deteriorated, and many minor league experts, myself included had written him off. Bad move on our part. Since joining the Braves organization and being moved back to catcher, all Jackson has done is take siege of the notoriously pitching friendly Florida State League, hitting .296/.348/.592 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 31 contests. He seems to have abandoned some patience in lieu of power, but when the results are good I’d take it every time. It’s getting to the point with Jackson, that if this continues into the summer he could easily rank within the top 5 fantasy catchers in the minors. Here’s the other happenings in the MiLB over the last few days.Please, blog, may I have some more?
At the quarterly Prospector meetings many topics are broached. Favorite sweatpants style, least favorite fellow Prospector, gold tooth picks, but far and away the most popular discussion amongst my peers, “Who’s your favorite Atlanta Braves Pitching Prospect?”. If you know anything about the Braves farm system, then you know there’s so many names to choose from. Think about it, there’s Anderson, there’s Soroka, there’s Fried, and Gohara, the list goes on and on. However, I Prospect Versace, find myself enamored with the best and brightest of them all, Kolby Allard. As a 19 year old in AA he’s setting the Southern League ablaze with a 1.36 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and a 7.64 K/9 to a 1.91 Bb/9. The lefty was taken by the Braves 14th overall way back in the 2015 draft, and has really taken off since early injury woes. He’s made quick work of the lower levels of the minors, never sporting an ERA higher than 4 during his 90+ pro innings leading up to 2017. The stuff has never been an issue for Allard as he throws a plus fastball in the low to mid 90’s, a plus curveball (seen below), and an improving change. His control and command are advanced for a 19 year old, and with AA looking like just another notch in his belt, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Allard in Atlanta come next year. On the most recent episode of the prospect podcast, we discuss whether or not Allard is the highest upside starter in the minors, and it’s truly possible. The only thing holding the young lefty back is a checkered injury history, with a previous back surgery. While he’s more than likely owned even in the shallowest of dynasty formats, he’s a must add on the off change he’s not. A worthy trade target for rebuilding clubs too. Here’s your minor league update for May 7th.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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]Please, blog, may I have some more?
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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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 BaseballPlease, blog, may I have some more?
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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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…Please, blog, may I have some more?
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’…Please, blog, may I have some more?
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…Please, blog, may I have some more?