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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Since surviving a vicious industry wide-Cub Fan driven smear campaign, Eloy Jimenez has been a man with a mission. Since joining Winston-Salem, the Chi-Sox high A affiliate, he’s slashed .352/.418/.690 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s in his first 20 games. The 20 year old slugger has continued to make improvements at the plate in 2017, walking at a 10% clip, while maintaining K rates at or below 20%. The combination of contact, patience, and power is a rare one. This is why I rank Eloy amongst the very elite prospects in the game, with such contemporaries as Acuna, Robles, Guerrero, and Tucker. He’s likely to spend the remainder of 2017 in Winston-Salem, before being assigned to AA next season out of camp. He has a real shot at the number one prospect in all of baseball, once Ronald Acuna heads to the majors. Despite all of his recent success and oodles of upside, it will be years before we find out just how high of a price the Cubs paid for Quintana. That’s not to say that Jimenez is can’t miss, though he’s a close as they come. The Chicago White Sox system is full of future potential stars, but none shine brighter at the moment than Eloy. A future .280/35/100 player is the ceiling, with a power hitting DH floor. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw Jimenez some time in late 2018, with the mostly likely time frame being September. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

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With the rapid speed at which Ronald Acuna has ascended through the minors, I ought to take every opportunity to write about him while I still can. If you hadn’t heard, Acuna was promoted to AAA on Wednesday evening, and the Braves best position prospect since Jason Heyward is now just a call away. Exciting news for dynasty league owners all over. In my updated Mid-Season Top 100 I ranked Acuna 5th in all of baseball, and after seeing the confidence the Braves have in the precocious 19 year old, how could you not? He brings to the table hard contact with an all-fields approach, 30 steal speed, and a huge ceiling. The plate discipline could be better, but to put things in perspective, he’s 19 and playing at the highest levels of full season ball while many of his contemporaries are just beginning short season and rookie ball. So I expect plate approach to be an area where things should improve as Acuna matures as a hitter. What he does at Gwinnett will be telling, particularly if he really struggles for the first time in his career. How he deals with that, adjusts, and rebounds will be the true test of his metal. It’s tough to say if he will struggle or not, but if he hits the ground running, I could picture a world, maybe as soon as a month, where Acuna is considered the top prospect in the game. Trust me I’ve made bold proclamations about Acuna before. Here’s what I said when I ranked him #42 overall in the pre-season, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now”. I was right on both fronts, but was more conservative with his ETA setting it at 2019. That’s obviously no longer the case, outside of unforeseen circumstances of course. **KNOCK ON WOOD** Anyway, Acuna has a strong chance of seeing at least a few weeks of action in September, but I wouldn’t expect a call-up in the next few weeks. Though the possibility of Acuna breaking camp in 2018 is less remote than it was a few months ago, I’d be surprised by any promotion before mid-May next year. He’s a name to know for players in all formats, as this could be a stud in the making. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

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July 9th at 4pm marks the exact time I’m certain Prospector Ralph’s mind will explode with excitement. That feeling of pure elation can only be achieved in one scenario. Watching the game’s budding talents in the 2017 Futures Game – streaming on MLB.com – after spending countless hours researching and following prospects of this caliber (From the Razzball family and its incredible base of readers, we sincerely thank you for your work Ralph!). Well, maybe there are a few other scenarios. According to BuzzFeed there are 42 others where this pure form of joy and satisfaction arises. They include unraveling knittingcrunching leaves, and breaking the yolk. Aside from the fact that I’m certain breaking the yolk is a sexual innuendo for something completely different, we live in a truly sad world if these things make people as happy as Ralph on Futures Game Sunday.

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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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When you’re a skinny, nerdy, teenager with a 24 inch waist, and an unhealthy obsession with Gal Gadot, breakouts are no bueno. In fact, it can put a real damper on those “extended” bathroom breaks, where you’re just trying to get a “handle” on your burgeoning adulthood. You sit there in the mirror getting familiar with yourself like the protagonist in a Diablo Cody movie with her pants off. So it might come as shock to you, high school reader, that some times, breakouts, can in fact be great. I’m of course talking about minor league breakouts! I’m a minor league writer, not a dermatologist brah! Over the years, some of the most important moves I’ve made in my dynasty leagues have been adding mid-season breakouts from the wavier wire. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the names added last year in my 30 team dynasty league’s mid-season signing period. Luis Urias, Chance Adams, Koda Glover, Seth Lugo, Ben Gamel, Max Schrock, Greg Allen, Shed Long, Jose Albertos, and Fernando Tatis Jr, just to name a few. Keep in mind this is a 30 team dynasty league where over 900+ prospects are owned, and almost half the teams are managed by prospect writers. Still some good names right? The point I’m trying to make here is, there’s always new talent, breakouts, and undervalued assets in every format. With half of the full season leagues in their all-star breaks, let’s take a look at some of the names making hay here in the early going. Today we’ll take a look at the hitters, we’ll go into the other side of the ball with pitching breakouts on Sunday.

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Time was, when you looked terrible in a photograph, it was something you and the other people in the photo would get a good laugh over. These days, it gets blasted out to thousands of people, destined to be immortalized for eternity. Let’s all get a good laugh at the worst photo of Ralph ever taken. If you’ve ever watched his YouTube show, you know he doesn’t actually look like that, which is what makes it so funny. It would be pretty messed up otherwise. On to the podcast! We start by talking about the recent call-ups of Derek Fisher, Lewis Brinson, Matt Chapman, and Tom Murphy, before moving on to discuss our post MLB Draft thoughts on where certain prospects landed, including DL Hall, Jeren Kendall, and Pavin Smith. Finally, we close the show by figuring out where Mickey Moniak, AJ Puk, and Bo Bichette would fit into a top 100 ranking, and also try to predict who will be the next big-time prospects to get the call. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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We should’ve taken it as a sign of superhuman abilities, when Bo Bichette’s body digested his burst appendix last season. That’s so insane Chuck Norris is impressed. Matt Wieters facts never made a claim that lofty. That’s some X-Men mutant baseball machine stuff. The craziest part is he unknowingly played through it for a week, and raked!!! I know, I know a story this good, it’s really a lot to digest… Thank you, I’ll be here all week, literally. As exciting as it might seem to get a lesson in freaky anatomy happenings from me, that’s not why I bring up Bichette. Though it might be in line with his recent production. Freakish!! As I write this he just finished off a 4 for 5 night, with a double, a triple, and 2 runs scored. The game actually started as a 4 for 4 night, and was a diving grab away from being a 5 for 5 night. This isn’t an isolated incident either, but you knew that if you were paying attention.

After slashing .427/.451/.732 in 91 plate appearances during his stint in the Gulf Coast League in 2016. Bichette has continued that dominance in his first run at full season ball. He currently leads the Midwest League in batting average, OBP, Slugging, and has an OCD like 7 homers and 7 steals. He’s riding a 13 game hitting streak, and needs to be owned in all dynasty formats of all types. He’s outperforming teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who by the way, is performing pretty well. Bichette is of course a year older, so any comps should be taken with a grain of salt. All this to say, Bichette, who didn’t make my Top 100 in February might be in my Top 50 now. Things change fast in the minors…… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB.

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Growing up, some of the best players in baseball were legacies. Juniors, so to speak. Think Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr., so on and so forth. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays have taken it upon themselves to bring the Jr.’s back to the game. It started unsuccessfully with Dwight Smith Jr., but has taken a turn for the better with the latest crop of Juniors. On yesterday’s podcast we briefly discussed Vlad Guerrero Jr. and his Lansing Lugnuts debut. Mostly because it was going on while we were recording, and I for one, love a good distraction. What I’m getting at is, we might have done you a disservice not listing this team as one to watch. With an exciting combination of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (son of Dante), they’re definitely the best set of juniors out there. In fact the pair showed their oodles of upside Friday night, as each homered in the game. On Saturday they continued their assault on A ball, combining to go 3 for 8 with a run and an RBI. Some solid start for the duo, huh? Scouts rank Vlad Jr. amongst the top power prospects in the minors, and Bichette is viewed as a high upside middle infield prospect with 20+ homer upside. For our first Minor League Update of the season, it’s only right we go back to the future. Here’s what else is going on during opening weekend of Minor League Baseball.

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