This is the “no-man’s land” of prospects – that time between the end of the minor league regular season and the the start of the offseason leagues. That makes it a natural point to look back on the year that was. This next series of posts will focus on a breakout prospect from each team, broken down by division. These are players who “broke out” statistically in 2015 and were either ranked in the bottom half of their team’s preseason top ten list or didn’t make their team’s list at all. Some of these names will look familiar and have already been scooped up in many dynasty formats. Others may still be flying low enough that their big performances have gone undetected. This week we’ll look at five breakout prospects from the AL East.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Please, blog, may I have some more?
When I think of the term “Hebrew Hammer” I think of Moishe Steinbergowitzman, the handyman that put the deck on my neighbor’s house. That dude was out there every morning at 8am hammering away, except for Saturdays. Friday nights must have been his night to cut loose and throw back some Manischewitz. Of course there is also Mordechai Jefferson Carver, the baaadest Heeb this side of Tel Aviv. However, neither of these descendants of Abraham are the Hebrew Hammer to which I am referring.
The minor league playoffs will be starting this week, and the Altoona Curve have cut their magic number down to two entering last night’s games. Altoona is the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they called up top prospect Austin Meadows to help the cause. Meadows has rewarded them with great play, with multi-hit efforts in two of his three games, including a triple. Meadows has always been linked to Clint Frazier in my brain, since both came out of Georgia high schools in the 2013 draft and both were/are super toolsy prospects. Meadows hasn’t displayed a ton of power to this point, topping out at seven dingers this year in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. The 20-year-old has done a lot of everything else though, hitting over .300 at each stop in his young career and swiping 20 bags this season. He’s a great fantasy prospect because he’s either going to keep contributing across the board with solid power and speed numbers, or he may trade in some speed for homers as he fills out his athletic frame. It’s hard to say right now which way he’ll trend, but power tends to develop later and the carrying hit tool makes him a no-brainer Top 50 spec and one that could find himself creeping into the Top 25 now that he’s reached the upper levels. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues this week, with a special focus on players who’ll have some 2016 fantasy value…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Every other week Razzball ranks the prospects closest to contributing to your fantasy roster. The list is limited to players who still have rookie eligibility (less than 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched) and who are currently in the minor leagues. It’s not a list based on talent alone, but rather it’s a mixture of talent and opportunity. It will change frequently over the course of the season as prospects graduate to the majors, injuries occur, or service time roadblocks are passed. While chatting with J-FOH this week, he mentioned how important it is to look at your team’s needs at this point in the year, so I’ve divided the list into three needs-based “chunks”. With the minor league season winding down and September call-ups almost here, this will be the last edition of the power rankings. Here are the top 15 prospects on the cusp of the major leagues for 2015 fantasy baseball…Please, blog, may I have some more?
With just over a month and a half left to play, it’s still a tight two-horse race between Razzball’s J-FOH and Hannibal Montana for the first Razznasty championship. The big story right now though is MattTruss (The Hippos). Truss has gained nearly 20 points in the standings since our last league update in early July and now sits comfortably in third place. How has he done it? Basically he’s dominated the rest of us since July 1st – leading the league in RBIs, wins, and strikeouts over that span. But that’s not all. The Hippos have also been top five in four other categories, including hitting the second most homers and posting the second best ERA since the beginning of last month. In other words, it’s been a balanced attack on the standings, and I am now officially scared of hippos. There is still a lot of ground between Truss and our two leaders, but anything can happen when you’re a 2-ton animal on the move.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Entering June, it’s becoming a two-horse race between Hannibal Montana (Csifu) and Razzball’s own J-FOH in our dynasty league – the Razznasty. There’s a group duking it out behind them, but both teams have pretty much dominated the league so far. Since our last update, J-FOH has pulled away from R’azbahl Al Ghul and closed the gap on Csifu’s first-place lead. Csifu’s squad continues to pitch incredibly well with an absurd 2.56 team ERA. J-FOH leads the league in homers (by 18), and has gone toe to toe with Csifu in wins and saves. His 3.04 team ERA is good for second in the league while his WHIP is sitting third. Somehow these two teams managed to avoid the starterpocalypse and forgot to invite the rest of us into their bunker. Read on for a look at the full standings, this month’s trades, and our league’s FAAB report.Please, blog, may I have some more?
There’s admittedly a special place in my heart for left-handed pitchers already, but I’m falling hard for Blake Snell. The 22-year-old southpaw ranked 9th in my Rays Top 10 prospects this offseason. Here’s what I said there: “His arsenal features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus slider, and plus changeup. His ceiling is more of a mid-rotation starter, but in deep leagues he’s a prospect worth checking in on just in case he figures out his control and takes another step forward. He will face a bigger challenge in 2015 when he gets his feet wet in Double-A.” His feet are officially wet. After just four games in High-A, Snell was promoted to Double-A Montgomery and made his first start Friday night. He responded with six scoreless innings, striking out eight while allowing just one hit and one walk. On the season, Snell has now pitched 27 innings and has yet to allow a run. He has struck out 35 batters and opponents are hitting just .124 off him. If you’re in a deeper dynasty format with some minor league slots to fill, I’d be getting on the Snell train. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s not all bad news for Phillies fans. The major league squad looks pretty lousy, and when Aaron Harang is your best arm the fans probably won’t be dancing down Broad Street. But there’s hope on the farm, and this week’s Minor Accomplishments leads off with some Phillies prospects who are off to hot starts. Maikel Franco had a cold April in 2014, but this year he’s hitting .371/.436/.686 with a homer and six doubles at AAA Lehigh Valley. With only Ryan Howard and Cody Asche standing in his way, expect Franco to be a fixture in this year’s Prospect Power Rankings. Drop down a level to find Roman Quinn, who has stolen seven bases through seven games and leads the Eastern League in that category. He’s not all wheels, as he’s also hitting a cool .471 with a home run. At Single-A Lakewood, Carlos Tocci is also off to a good start. The 19-year-old is hitting .361/.439/.528 with a homer, three doubles, and four steals through his first nine games. Here are some of the other notable performances from the start of the minor league season…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (20) | 2013 (4) | 2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1)
2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [77-85] AL East
AAA: [75-69] International League – Durham
AA: [66-74] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [63-70] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [61-77] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss): [46-30] New York-Penn League – Hudson Valley
Jake Odorizzi, RHP | Brad Boxberger, RHP | Kevin Kiermaier, OF
The Rays have had a very busy six months. They moved their ace David Price in a three-team deal that landed Willy Adames and major leaguers Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly. In July, they signed arguably the best international prospect available for just under $3M, which put them over their bonus pool limit. More recently they traded Jeremy Hellickson to Arizona for two quality prospects and sent Wil Myers in a surprising three-team deal that brought back another package of young talent headlined by Steven Souza of the Nationals. 2014 saw young arms like Jake Odorizzi, Brad Boxberger, and Chris Archer take steps forward in their development. It also surprised us with Kevin Kiermaier, who filled in for Wil Myers during his DL stint and proved to be a nice little power/speed combo in deep fantasy leagues. The Rays’ small budget won’t be any different in 2015, but the front office will – Andrew Friedman left for the Dodgers after ten years with Tampa Bay.
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1) | 2009 (4) | 2008 (1)
2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Durham
AA: [74-63] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [55-79] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [80-60] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss): [52-24] New York-Penn League — Hudson Valley
Arizona Fall League Players — Phoenix Desert Dogs
Lenny Linsky (RHP); Tim Beckham (2B); Hak-Ju Lee (SS); Richie Shaffer (3B); Kevin Kiermaier (OF)
Matt Moore (RHP); Jake McGee (LHP)
The Run Down
The Rays’ player development systems have always been top-notch, and for the past several years, they’ve maintained one of the better farm systems in the game. As a matter of timing more than anything else — some bad luck, too (see Beckham) — the system was a little lighter than usual in the high-impact department near the end of last season. They were growing older, and more expensive at the big league level. It appeared that they were deviating from Andrew Friedman’s operational model — a patient, bottom-up approach that had discovered and nurtured talent better than just about any other organization — that had made them a year-to-year contender in baseball’s toughest division. And then the James Shields deal happened and the natural order was restored to the baseball universe. All of a sudden, Wil Myers became a Ray, and the once-lacking high-impact department was replenished with one of the more high-impacty dudes in the minors. Beyond Myers, Tampa added MLB-ready pitching depth in Jake Odorizzi. They also nabbed Mike Montgomery on the cheap — sure, he pitched like a pile of hot garbage in 2012, but one year does not ruin a prospect. When considering this top ten back in October, I was kinda worried about having to cover a slew high-upside 18-year-olds who hadn’t yet played outside of instructional league. Thank you, Andrew Friedman, for making this post more interesting.