Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

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It’s taking everything out of me not to dedicate every lede to White Sox Prospect Eloy Jimenez. Last night my new novio debuted in AA with a bang, going 2 for 4 with a homer. At the moment with Victor Robles struggling somewhat in AA, and Devers in the majors, it’s a battle between the Braves Ronald Acuna vs Eloy Jimenez for the number one prospect in the minors. Before you dismiss this as a silly discussion, think about what type of prospects and players you prefer. Are you the type to bet on a middle of the order bat like Rafael Devers or Eloy Jimenez? Or do you prefer the 5 category stud with Mike Trout upside like Yoan Moncada or Ronald Acuna? It’s a tough call, and as my Uncle Manny would say, “I ain’t going to kick either of them out of bed for eating cookies”. Yeah, my uncle is a strange guy when it comes to baseball, and you thought I was bad. All this to say, it’s a battle that will rage well into 2018. In the words of the street poets Black Sheep, you can get with this or you can get with that. The choice is yours. I waffle back and forth, as I typically prefer the mashers, but Acuna’s assault on AAA is hard to ignore. I’m going to hold judgement until I have to… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

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On Saturday’s edition of the prospect podcast Halp and I discussed our updated first year player draft rankings. Each of us agreed that the number 1 pick in this June’s draft had slipped ahead of Hunter Greene and into the top spot on our respective ranks. Yesterday afternoon, the Twins did us a great service. They affirmed our decision with the promotion of Royce Lewis to full season Cedar Rapids of the Midwest league. So far the top pick has been an exciting take, and surprisingly polished. The numbers are more good than great, but then again, he was playing high school baseball three months ago. Still .271/.390/.414 with 3 homers and 15 steals, ain’t too shabby in 36 games. The young shortstop has the ability to be an impact fantasy player in multiple categories at peak. Meaning his ability to stick in the middle infield doesn’t dictate his value. He was in the lineup hitting leadoff last night for Cedar Rapids, and went 4 for 5 in his debut, with 2 runs scored, an RBI, and a steal. As for my updated first player draft rankings, you can hear my thoughts on this week’s podcast, but the actual updated list we’ll save for October… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB

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There’s really no need for any introduction on this one, it’s the post upon which all prospectors are judged. It’s the Mid-Season Update to my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Full disclosure, I was loosey-goosey with the eligibility rules this time around. So, while some players in the majors and under their limits might appear on this list (Clint Frazier, Franklin Barreto, Etc.), others don’t (Raimel Tapia). No rhyme or reason to it, what-so-ever. This list feels more upside heavy to me, but there was no slant or algorithm for my ranks. Just good old fashioned personal bias, of which I have plenty. Seriously, I’m an opinionated lad! But that’s why I do this in the first place. Please keep in mind, this list is 100% fantasy focused. Meaning it might differ quite a bit from other Top 100’s you may come across. Anyway, thanks for reading and enjoy! The next 100 (101-200) will be out on Thursday.

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Okay, this is weird, but Sonny Gray and I are complete opposites.  Sonny Gray is in Bay Area, and it’s Grey Albright in Los Angeles.  Weather you like it or not, that’s weird!  Pun noted too!  Grey Albright plays fantasy baseball; Sonny Gray plays reality baseball!  It’s freaking me out!  Grey Albright’s face is mustachioed; Sonny Gray’s is not.  Sonny Gray is athletic; I am not.  He works for a newspaper called Ballrazz, which is super-terse and serious.  It’s uncanny!  Yesterday, Gray (him) went 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 baserunners, 11 Ks, lowering his ERA to 3.34.  Okay, time to take a new look.  I did like him at one point in his career, before everything went sideways.  His velocity and two-seam fastball are back.  Right now, his two-seam is his best pitch, however, his curve is not back to where it was in 2015.  Watching some video on him showed a guy that can get swings and misses, but had a bit of a favorable strike zone yesterday.  I’d be careful in shallower leagues, but he looks closer to his breakout from two years ago than he has in a while.  Now, if he’s married to a younger woman, I’m gonna plotz over all of our opposites.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday for fantasy baseball:

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I remember when I got the call to the big leagues like it was just a few weeks ago. I was lounging on the couch, re-watching all of my favorite Paul Giamatti flicks, Lady in the Water in particular, when the name “Grey Albright” flashed across my cell phone. I knew immediately. I was being called up to the big league podcast. I texted Ralph, and he confirmed what I already suspected, that he was being called up to the MLB pitching staff, as well. All of this to say, Ralph and I could perfectly relate to Ian Happ, Brad Zimmer, and Anthony Alford getting called up to the Major Leagues this week. We discuss just how long we expect them to stay up, along with how much damage they can potentially do. We then move on to some of the other minor leaguers knocking on the door, including Rhys Hoskins, Dylan Cozens, Austin Meadows, Derek Fisher, Erick Fedde, and many more. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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“For the times they are a-changin”

– Bob Dylan

You will soon notice that things are going to be a little different around here, starting with this post. I would introduce myself, but if you are reading this, you likely already know me from the several hours of prospect banter I have recorded right here on the Razzball airwaves with the self-proclaimed “Prospect Jesus,” Ralph Lifshitz. This podcast is one thing that isn’t going to change, and Halph is back at it again this week, starting off by talking up Hunter Greene, along with two other prospective two-way talents in Shohei Otani and Brendan McKay. We then shift focus to some of the fast risers on Top 100 lists, including Cody Bellinger, Lewis Brinson, Anthony Alford, and Kyle Tucker. And oh yeah, we also may or may not mention a few of those changes I was talking about before. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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Every year, after finishing my Top 100 post, I have a player or two I immediately regret not ranking higher. This year those prospects were Zack Collins, and Kyle Tucker. The funny thing is, Tucker wasn’t ranked that low at 32. Granted my prospecting brother from another mother Halp ranked him 21st, and based on last night it looks like Halp’s right. What happened last night? Welp, Tucker: Man and My Dreams, went 4 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles, and 7 RBIs. He’s now hitting .343 in the Carolina League, can you imagine what he would have done with a full season in Lancaster? BTW Lancaster is one of the most homer and hitter friendly environments in minors, and was the class A advanced affiliate of the Astros up until this season. As for Tucker, he’s a 5×5 player’s dream, with hit tool, speed, developing power, and massive upside. Seems only appropriate that I would open this week’s Minor League Update with a native son of Tampa, while I’m on vacation here. How meta.

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Coming off a start in which he whiffed a career high 12 batters, Brent Honeywell continued his scorching hot start last night. The righty went 7 innings, allowing 1 run, 1 hit, and striking out 8 in the process. Now at AA Montgomery, Honeywell looks to ride his varied arsenal, including his infamous screwball, to the show by the end of the year. The only real question with Honeywell at the moment is, just how aggressive the Rays get moving him along? His control has always been elite, leading to walk rates in the 4-6% range. And while the ability to generate swings and misses has always been there, it’s noticeably ticked up this season. The time to buy Honeywell might be now as he continues his assault on the AA Southern League. I’m never one to invest much in a pitching prospect, particularly one in the AL East, but Honeywell is the rare exception.

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Baseball is back, and Halph cannot contain their excitement. With this week’s installment, we finish up our review of the top fantasy prospects in all 30 major league systems. The Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals: The Final Frontier. We once again butcher a few, if not all of the names. Sorry Justin Maese, I think. We discuss the always polarizing Rowdy Tellez, gorge ourselves on a little statutory Vlad Jr. love, and talk about why we both rank Anthony Alford highly. We fall asleep for a few minutes talking backend starters who throw sinkers. Then get our blood rushing again with the Washington Nationals now semi-depleted system. So there’s some butchering of Victor Robles name. A little talk of buzzy teenage power bat Juan Soto, followed by some Erick Fedde, and the rest of the Nationals system. It’s the latest episode of The Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?