Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. The variables involved are constantly in flux — talent emerges, talent regresses… opportunity comes, opportunity goes… clubs get cold feet because of service time, clubs don’t give a shizz about service time. So, given the fluid nature of this prospect business, we’re going to keep a running ranking throughout the season. This post will run every other Wednesday, providing a biweekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.

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If I am correct on my predictions, the NL pennant race will be a fun one.  I see three teams with playoff potential, and a fourth that is just shy of it.  Sorry San Diego fans, this isn’t your year. [Ed. Note -- JERK!]  Good news though, the Chinese calendar says it is going to be the year of the Tony Gwynn soon. [Ed. Note -- I take it back. Sorta.] (You can check out the AL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Dodgers Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mike Petriello from Dodgers Digest.

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To begin, I should make it clear that this is not a list of my top overall prospects.  No, this is a 2014-specific list, and it exists only to serve those of us in fantasyland.  The names that follow are, at this moment, the prospects who have the best chance at offering positive fantasy contributions during the 2014 season.  Those of you who follow my Prospect Power Rankings series during the season, understand that time-specific prospect rankings are fluid — it’s a tricky game, weighing potential impact against current opportunity, and outlooks can change drastically overnight.  There are too many variables at work to peg these ETA’s accurately, and that is precisely why we revisit these rankings often throughout the year with the aforementioned power rankings.  Consider this a starting point.  Numbers 26-50 will run next week, but for now, let’s dig into the top-25.

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Slow clap for all the folks who drafted Jean Segura last year and his 44 steals. Now a slower, even more appreciative clap for Grey, who tagged him as a fantasy sleeper heading into 2013. The following list is not meant to find you the 2014 version of Jean Segura, but rather identify the middle infielders who are the essence of SAGNOF (Steals Ain’t Got NO Face). These players will be cheap at the draft or may go undrafted entirely. You probably won’t want any of them as your starting shortstop or second baseman, but you’ll want to stash them away in the dark corners of your mind for when you are desperate for steals and there is a vacancy in your middle infidel slot. How cheaply you can acquire these players has a lot to do with the depth of your league and since not all fantasy leagues are created equal (thank God), you’ll have to take that into consideration when weighing the value of their steals. And hey, you never know, maybe the next Jean Segura is in here somewhere…

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When I look at the top 20 2nd basemen from the end of the year rankings, I’m yawnstipated. So after the top guy went to Safeco and with no games played this offseason (that I’m aware of), the top 20 2nd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball didn’t get better since the last game of the season. Last year, Matt Carpenter and Daniel Murphy buoyed the 2nd basemen, making them seem better than they were due to counting stats. I expect better this year than last year from a few guys, but just as many come with the “Bound For Disappointment” label. Hey, BFD would make a great acronym. I’m surprised no one has used it before. Oh, wait, in the age of the internet, everything is an acronym. Well, SAGNOF to that. There’s the position eligibility chart for 2014 fantasy baseball. All the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings are under that linkie-ma-whosie. As always, my projections and tiers are included for the low, low price of zero dollars. Anyway, here’s the top 20 2nd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (19) | 2012 (23) | 2011 (12) | 2010 (21) | 2009 (23)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [92-70] NL West
AAA: [76-68] Pacific Coast League – Albuquerque
AA: [59-80] Southern League – Chattanooga
A+: [65-75] California League – Rancho Cucamonga
A: [67-72] Midwest League – Great Lakes

Graduated Prospects
Yasiel Puig (OF); Tim Federowicz (C); Scott Van Slyke (OF/1B); Hyun-jin Ryu (RHP); Stephen Fife (RHP); Paco Rodriguez (LHP)

The Run Down
After a holiday hiatus, we have returned to our MiLB preview series.  To get us back into prospect mode, let’s all scream Puig on three.  One, two, three, PUIG.  Good, we’re back.  We’re talking about the Dodgers today, a top-heavy farm, but a group that offers plenty of fantasy intrigue.  There’s a lot going on here from spots one to six, but things take a turn toward the boring when we reach the last four names of the top ten.  Still, Seager, Pederson, and Urias are all of the high-impact variety, while Lee, Guerrero, and Anderson should all develop into relevant fantasy pieces in their own right.  Combine those six with recent grads like Yasiel Puig and Hyun-jin Ryu, and this Dodgers org begins to take shape as one that develops well and spends wisely in the international markets.  That’s a particularly effective model for sustainable success.

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The White Sox signed Jose Abreu to the biggest deal in the history of Cuban baseball if you don’t count the time Fidel, J. Edgar Hoover and a CIA operative, who went by the name of Billy, played a game of stick ball for who would be the patsy in the Kennedy assassination. Middle infielder Lee Harvey’s error let the game-winning run cross home and the rest is history. Jim Bowden believes Jose Abreu can hit 30 homers and a .310 average. This was after Abreu came out in favor of everyone driving Segways, so Bowden might’ve been partial. Oh, who are we kidding? Jim Bowden’s a gooftard who thought Elijah Dukes was the second coming of, well, Elijah. Abreu is a wild card like, really, any Cuban player. He could come in like a Puig and out like an El Duque. Speaking of Puig, Abreu has been better than him and Cespedes in his Cuban baseball career. Also, Abreu gets some rave reviews because he’s considered a ‘good kid.’ Yippee, let’s sing For He’s a Jolly Good Fella and let him bring in our mail when we’re out of town. Doesn’t mean anything. What means something is Abreu can be beat by 92+ MPH fastballs. That means he’s going to have to hit a lot of number 3, 4 and 5 starters. It’s doable, but he’s not going to hit .310 or 30 homers. Since he’s a first baseman, I see him around the Kendrys Morales/Mark Trumbo level. Definitely worth owning in all leagues, but depending on where you have to draft him there might be more risk than he’s worth. For 2014, I’ll give Jose Abreu the projections of 78/26/88/.268/2. Anyway, in other Cuban signings for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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From fear that MLB would crack down on Performance-Enhancing Goggles, Francisco Rodriguez was traded to the Orioles. Or was something else at work besides the Orioles wanting Dor-K to pitch the 8th, setting up Jim Johnson? Here, try this. Put your arm down, now pick it up, now put it down, now move your furry eyebrows up and down. Jim Henderson, The Muppet Master, pulls all strings. He orchestrates all. He forces Beaker to say, “Me me me me me me me.” Bit of a control freak if you ask me, but it worked out for him this time, since Henderson will be taking over the ninth inning now in Milwaukee. For those holding John Axford for saves, it could happen since he’s been solid for the last two months. The Brewers could still trade Henderson or Axford. Or the Brew Crew could send out 2014 season ticket offers reading, “Braun’s Back Without the Acne!” Only time will tell. As for K-Rod, in most redraft leagues that don’t use middle relievers, you can lose him. This did come across the wire in Baltimore, when you trade for K-Rod, then you better watch your back. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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