This post will attempt to identify thirty prospects with the most value for 2015 only. These are players with less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched at the major league level, but who are expected to arrive in the bigs at some point this season. Typically, we’d rank prospects overall on one big list, but I’ve broken the list up into three groups to try to make it easier for fantasy players in 2015 redraft leagues. The prospects are ranked within groups that are based on the projected ETAs (early/mid/late). While they are still just projections, the groups should help sort through who you need to be drafting versus who you need to be picking up off waivers and when. There are a few general comments after each group and, like any list, there are a few names on the cusp that didn’t make it. We can tackle them in the comments if we need to. Here are the top 30 prospects for 2015 redraft leagues…

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The late rounds of fantasy baseball drafts are filled with players who have questions surrounding them. It’s usually not too difficult to categorize these players, particularly in terms of starting pitching. There’s the post-hype group (Trevor Bauer, Kevin Gausman, Tony Cingrani), the declining veteran tier (CC Sabathia, Dan Haren, Bartolo Colon), and the unproven prospect tier (Noah Syndergaard, Andrew Heaney, Archie Bradley). Several high floor, low ceiling options (Ervin Santana, Kyle Lohse, Wei-Yin Chen) and volatile injury-prone pitchers (Clay Buchholz, Matt Garza) tend to remain on the board for quite a while as well. In recent years, Brandon McCarthy has generally been perceived by the fantasy community as someone who falls into one of the latter two categories. Is this perception accurate? What can be expected from McCarthy in 2015?

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With the top 80 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball, I will say this, we are having such a gay time! Gay like Colin Firth would use it. In an 19th century period drama. As in merriment. We are having ourselves a merry old time! Okay, that’s very gay. Still the same definition of gay. Merry. Merry, merry, quite contrarian of you if you say different! The starters start to thin out a little when we get to this post — not you, Sabathia! — but there’s still plenty to go around. You could likely draft starters from only this post and do fine in some leagues. Think I’m a liar. Well, I’m offended, but in this post last year was Samardzija, Peralta, Ventura, Quintana and Pineda. How many of those guys had an ERA over 3.50? One, Peralta at 3.53. I just got goose pimples typing that, but I also have the flu so maybe I should drink fluids. All the 2015 fantasy baseball rankings are there. My tiers and projections are noted. Anyway, here’s the top 80 starters for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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This is hard to believe, but players have actually been signed or traded since I started churning out the organizational top tens in early November. It’s like they don’t even care that I have spent countless minutes prepping these reports and now a bunch of players have asterisks next to their names. Black is white, down is up, and Andrew Heaney is an Angel. Some prospects who get signed or moved in trades are impact players that are in fact worth talking about. By the timing of the previews, they may end up in a sort of top ten list “limbo”. Consider these posts a division by division catch-all for such players. It’s also an opportunity to discuss a few of the names that were borderline top ten players but didn’t quite make the cut for their organization’s list. In other words, some of the notable “#11s”. Here are the prospects that fell through the cracks in the AL West…

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“Hey, Intern, let’s get the Mayans on hold just in case we need them in a hurry. What? Who the hell is Ralph Mayan of the Mayan Empire and Grille in Norwalk? Your blank stare tells me nothing. Go buff out my El Dorado while I write this post!” So, I’ve seen The Theory of Everything, the story of Stephen Hawking and his wife. It touches briefly on his theorems and the universe’s push and pull. Imagine the universe breathes in and out. The in is gravity and the out is energy generated by particles. However, the Cubs would breathe in, but when they exhaled it sounded like a wheeze. For over a hundred years, people thought it was dying. That constant wheeze of death. Then, Theo Epstein came along, kicked the Cubs in the ass and realized it wasn’t a wheeze but there was something stuck in its throat. The Cubs won’t breathe easy until they win a championship again, but the signing of Jon Lester should help. Last year, Lester had a 9 K/9 and a 2 BB/9. I just touched on this with the signing of Samardzija the other day, but a difference of 7 between K/9 and BB/9 is about the most beautifulest thing in the world, Keith Murray. For K-BB, Lester was 11th in the majors last year. Top ten is a who’s who that’s more glamorous than your Who’s Who of American High School Students Who Paid $75 To Be In That Who’s Who Book. I’ll give you a little hint: if you were to just draft based on K-BB, you’d win your league. Why is K-BB so important? It’s so basically basic basically basic it’s silly. If you strikeout hitters and don’t walk them, good things will happen. For 2015, I’ll give Lester the projections of 15-9/2.92/1.08/206, which is number one fantasy SP numbers. Yup, he’s going to be solid once again. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:

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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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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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After speculating who might get the call this September, we now know which prospects are getting their feet wet in the majors. More importantly, we can decide which ones may provide some fantasy value. Unlike hitter call-ups, pitchers sometimes change roles completely when they first break in. So an arm like Taijuan Walker – whom we all know is destined to be a starter – finds himself pitching out of the pen to help the Mariners in their playoff hunt. It’s not exactly Earth-shattering and it happens often, but it means we’re not going to be streaming a start from the likes of Walker or Andrew Heaney over these last two weeks, making them all but irrelevant in anything but the deepest of redraft leagues. Here – in no particular order – are the September pitcher call-ups with varying degrees of fantasy relevance for the rest of this season…

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September call-ups are almost upon us. Despite monster minor league numbers, it appears the Cubs are not going to add Kris Bryant to the roster. Bryant dominated in 2014, hitting an obscene .328/.438/.674 with 43 home runs, 114 runs, 102 RBIs and even 15 steals across two levels of the minors. I couldn’t hit that in Bases Loaded on my Nintendo. While the Cubs did promote Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to get their feet wet, they seem content to leave Bryant where he is whcih in turn makes him worthless to the prospect hounds in redraft fantasy leagues.

There are two sides to the situation. On one hand Bryant could be added to the roster which gives him some major league at bats and makes all of us fantasy owners very happy. On the other hand, the Cubs could give him the full year in the minors without having to drop anybody from their 40-man roster or start his clock. That clock is important, as Bryant being called up a month or two into next seeason could buy the Cubs another year of his services should he decide to become free agent when eligible. Bryant will be worth the wait, but that’s what we’ll have to do – wait. That leaves us to figure out who is worth a look this September. Assuming that the following players will all be called up, here are some of the names (along with their 2014 MiLB stats) that I think could help fantasy owners in redraft leagues this September…

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The MiLB season may be winding down, but “the kids” continue to battle in an effort to catch everyone’s eye before off-season organizational meetings that will determine timetables and ETAs. The number of youngsters making noise as their seasons come to a close as players scramble for the chance to get a taste of “The Show” seems to grow each day.  Time once again for Razzball’s midweek look at what’s become the most important commodity in our favorite game – prospects. Our “Prospect Primer” reflects a handful of the prospects I’m keeping a close eye on late in Week 20 (for both shallow and deep fantasy leagues). Our bi-weekly prospect columns (Sundays and Wednesdays) will continue to focus on the more “well-known” prospects (our Top-50/Top-100) that are likely going to affect shallow to mid-level fantasy teams.

Disclaimer: The bi-weekly lists AREN’T a “re-ranking” of our Top-50/Top-100/Organization Lists. The players mentioned will typically be guys that owners in somewhat regular leagues NEED to be aware of (regardless of their current level) to keep from slipping behind as they want to stay competitive in “keeper leagues”. There may be a sleeper mentioned from time-to-time, but they may be more important to managers in deeper and more long-term leagues. The players listed aren’t in any particular order (you’ll notice they’re listed alphabetically), they’re simply guys you need to keep an eye on and someone you might be interested in targeting when you’re wheeling and dealing.

(Keep checking in daily for information regarding our end-of-season Top 100 and Organizational Top-10 Lists that will be rolling out as the minor league season ends – those of you following me on Twitter will be notified there as well.)

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