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 weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.

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For those of you who don’t remember, here’s the gist (and we’ll keep this blurb here all season so as not to confuse any newcomers):  Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise.  Back in February, I rolled out my Top 50 Fantasy Prospects for 2014 (part 1, part 2), and those are already garbage.  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 Wednesday, providing a weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent. 

It’s our first PPR list of the year (don’t get confused, football meatheads), and I’m too excited to chat, so let’s get right to it:

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The prospect ETA game is a tough one to gauge.  With injuries, uncertain Super Two dates, and varying front office opinions with regard to “readiness”, there are simply too many variables involved that are impossible to predict for.  When commenters task me with an ETA question, my answer is a guess, and I’m almost always way off.  Yet, people keep asking.  So, in an effort to put your impatient minds at ease, today we’ll be running though some notable ETA’s, and I’m going to get specific with my guesses.  If my usual vague “mid-season-ish” response is crap anyway, then why not pin these down to the day and spice things up?  Here we go:

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What does Beastie Boys and Peter Cetera have in common?! This post…

Back in the day

There was this post around the way

It pointed to SP sleepers as good late round plays

You asked, “Are they worth an add?” I said, “You May”

THEY’LL MAKE YOUR PANTS TIGHT AND THAT’S OKAY

If you clicked on the link in the first…stanza?… I listed a slew of pitchers as sleepers by their pitch repertoires. Some interesting sleepers starting with the fastball was Burch Smith, Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Santiago.  That post and my prior post on pitch repertoires took into account mainly pitches’ Swinging Strike% and GB/FB ratios. There are many others I’d point out on that list – Devastating Danny Salazar as my favorite, but I’ll attend to ESPN’s % ownership in conjunction with this ‘Stuff’ for waiver wire options. Here are guys with < 10% ownership that make my pants tight:

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You, “So, Grey, I appreciate a well-coiffed mustache as much as the next straight man, but are you trying to tell me Luis Valbuena isn’t a virtual lock at 3rd base?” Crazy shizz, right? The Cubs made the right move and went with Mike Olt to at least platoon at 3rd base. Here’s what I kinda said in the past, “Don’t you love when New Yorkers say the expression, “I got your _____ right here!” Coming out of the right taxi driver’s mouth, it’s like a cello being played by Yo-Yo Ma. Sometimes it can get confusing when you are actually trying to tell someone you’ve located something. Like, “I got your cellphone right here!” Probably sounds like you’re being an a-hole. Well, in that vein, take a a scruffy taxi driver’s voice, throw it through two packs a cigarettes a day for 20 years and give me a little, ‘I got your loyalty to Luis Valbuena right here!’” And that’s me kinda quoting me! I wrote that nonsense in 2012 when he was on the Rangers and behind Michael Young. That’s how long this whole Mike Olt saga has been going on. I received straight C’s in math, but I’m gonna try to count Olt’s post-hype hypeness. Okay, ready? Good. He’s a post-post-post-post-post-post-POST-post-hype prospect. Whew. I hope I didn’t put the italics ‘post’ where the capped ‘post’ was supposed to go. Olt was supposed to break out two years ago. Supposed to be a Chris Davis clone. Last year, Olt was in a backwards spiral of epic proportions. He hit .168 in 152 plate appearances at the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, but he had something wrong with his eyes. His eyes are fixed and he has other strengths. Strength being one of them. He can hit the ball a country mile (which is further than a city mile due to a lack of public transportation). He also has a decent enough glove. It’s a Rawlings. It’s a tanned leather. He will platoon in the early going, but, at this point, there is absolutely no reason to hold him back if he can hit. He won’t put up a great average, but there is a chance here for 30 homers if he can get the at-bats. 30-homer 3rd basemen don’t fall off the wagon every day, unless it’s an overcrowded wagon specifically labeled, “30-Homer 3rd Basemen.” Oh, and I’ve moved him up in my top 400. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in Spring Training for fantasy baseball:

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Our offseason prospect series is through — all 30 minor league previews with fantasy-specific top 10′s are in the books.  For years we’ve written this same series, finished it, and then just sort of rolled into the regular season stuff without any fanfare.  This year, though, we’re wrapping up the minor league previews, and adding a nice little bow on top.  This post will serve as the bow.  The purpose is twofold: (1) For the first time we have links to each of our MiLB previews all in one place, and (2) we’ve ranked each farm system from a fantasy perspective, giving you a simple guideline as to which orgs are stacked with fantasy impact, and which orgs are virtually void of it.  Let’s cut to it:

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It started with a twitter murmur. Hey Sky, you up to do a draft? Well, I say, I’m already in five leagues. What day? What is the set up? Are pants mandatory or optional? But of course with only 140 characters available, I had to abbreviate to ‘In 5. Day? Set Up? Pants? Lulz’. I don’t know why I said ‘Lulz’. I think it’s required to put in one text word into every tweet you send out or you get your account suspended. Ef you @Seaworld! Sorry, inside joke. Let’s move along. Suffice to say, over a long course of contact and back and forth I eventually joined into the fray that is The League Of Street Cred thrown together by Ryan Hodge of Fantasy Insiders. The title tells you exactly what you get by winning this league. Street Cred. That’s right, no money involved, unless Street Cred has an exchange rate. I’m assuming mine is worth one Bitcoin at this point…all this to say, the evite was accepted and I hopped in and drafted with this cadre of the fantasy expert macabre below…

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Another Cuban has washed ashore, dreaming of American capitalism and getting seriously laid in Miami. The Cardinals signed shortstop, Aledmys Diaz. Let’s give you a comparison that may or may not do it for you. Diaz hit 12 homers and stole 11 bases with a.315 average in his last year in Cuban ball. Recent raftee by the Dodgers, Alexander Guerrero hit 21 homers, stole 2 bases and hit .290. Right now, Guerrero might be losing the starting job to Dee Gordon who can’t hit his weight, and he weighs 143 pounds. It’s nice that another Cuban gets to realize his dreams like Yasiel Puig and Tony Montana, but I’m not even sure if Diaz will make an impact this year, or ever. Despite his name resembling “All Days,” he’s being projected as a bench player. Oh, and I just had a great idea. I’m not sure who can make this happen, but we should get Fidel Castro on the podcast to talk about baseball. Speaking of which, we’re recording the first podcast of the year today and it should be on-site tomorrow. You can hardly wait. No, you! Anyway, here’s what else I’ve seen in Spring Training for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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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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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (8) | 2012 (5) | 2011 (23) | 2010 (28) | 2009 (26)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [81-81] NL West
AAA: [60-84] Pacific Coast League – Reno
AA: [79-60] Southern League – Mobile
A+: [77-63] California League – Visalia
A: [81-58] Midwest League – South Bend
A(ss):  [34-42] Northwest League — Hillsboro

Graduated Prospects
A.J. Pollock (OF); Didi Gregorius (SS); Adam Eaton (OF); Will Harris (RHP); Tyler Skaggs (LHP)

The Run Down
The Arizona farm has been one of great interest to fantasy players over the past few years, and that trend holds true for 2014.  The D’backs have done a fine job in acquiring impact talent through recent drafts, and the trade market has been friendly to their system too.  I’ll admit, though, that this 2014 crop of prospects is a little more top-heavy than what we’ve grown used to seeing from Arizona — once Archie Bradley, Chris Owings, and Braden Shipley surface in the bigs,  this will be a system in need of high-end talent to emerge.  Fortunate for them, lower-levels prospects like Stryker Trahan, Justin Blair, and Jose Martinez seem poised for breakouts in the year ahead.

Please, blog, may I have some more?