As the season rolls along, my choices for starters to profile should be wearing thin. Luckily for all of you, myself, and my relationship with anyone not in the Crab Army, spot starts and rookie callups give me the perfect intersect of my two worlds. Now as any good Seinfield fan knows, worlds colliding can be catastrophic. Just ask George Costanza. That however is not the case for your loyal and eccentric Prospector/Pitchspector. It’s all good on this end. Why? Because I’m more than happy to dig into the ratio roulette that is rookie starting pitchers. In the grand tradition of my messiah like activity on the prospect side, I’m here to observe these wild cards, provide my take, and lead you on the path to true fantasy salvation. This is a really long winded, and pompous, way to say I’m profiling Reynaldo Lopez’s White Sox debut today. I’ve been lower on Lopez than many other prospectors in the industry. For what feels like two years now, I’ve been constantly banging my shoe on the table of the United Prospect Nations, sternly proclaiming that “Lopez is a pen arm!” I’d make a joke of my followers storming the town square with Pier 1 style tiki torches, but the rest of the Lifshitz clan prolly wouldn’t appreciate that. Anywho, here’s what I saw.

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Yesterday, Phils’ manager, Pete Macktheknife, said, “Everybody wants to see (Rhy Hoskins‘) bat but Tommy Joseph has done well enough where there’s enough games left for him to show even more improvement.  It’s hard. You don’t want to put Tommy Joseph on the bench so maybe (having Hoskins play outfield) is a way to do it.”  Hey, quick question, anyone got a participation trophy for Joseph?  Sounds like he could really use one!  “I accept this participation trophy on behalf of all the players who are at positions where the club has a better prospect in the minors, but is too cheap to promote them.  Especially to my runner-up, Shin-Soo, way to keep down Willie Calhoun!”  A bunch of prospblockers, the lot of you!  Don’t even get me started on the absolute craziness that you risk putting your top prospect in left field just to keep playing Tommy Joseph.  Hoskins should be okay out there, but there’s a ton more risk with injuries in left field than standing on 1st.  I grabbed Hoskins in all leagues.  He was top 30 for Prospector Ralph’s top 100 fantasy baseball prospects, and might be the last big name to come up that can make a difference.   For this year, I’d say Hoskins = Mark Reynolds with way fewer Ks.  Long term, well, I won’t say Votto, but his OBP is insane for a kid.  Scouts call players kids, did I sound like a scout?  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It’s just like old times, as we here at Razzball are profiling a Brewers starter this week. I can’t put my finger on what that means, but I digress. The familiarity doesn’t just end there my friends, oh no, we just happen to be covering the MLB debut for one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, Brandon Woodruff. On the heels of a somewhat out of nowhere breakout in 2016, Woodruff exploded onto the dynasty league radar, and squarely into the ranks on several top prospect lists. After leading the minors in strikeouts last year, the righty credited an increased pace, thanks to the direction of AA pitching coach Chris Hook. After a solid showing in the challenging confines of Colorado Springs earlier this season, Woodruff was called up in mid-June to make a spot start. Unfortunately he was injured warming up, was scratched from his debut, and did a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Recalled Friday to face the contending Rays in Tampa, Woodruff might be an interesting stream down the stretch in re-drafts of all sizes. Let’s see how the highly touted rookie looks vs a seasoned AL East lineup. Not a bad litmus test.

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Tim Beckham was a perfect 4-for-4 Friday night at Camden yards with his fourteenth home run of the year. He’s now homered in back to back ball games. Welcome to Baltimore, Timmah! Where everyone hits everything. Beckham’s bomb came off Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander in the second inning to tie the game at one. He added base hits in each of his next three trips to the plate. Sure, his .279/.331/.453 slash is nothing to write home about, but that was with Tampa. Let’s leave the past in St Petersburg and let’s look at that slash line for Beckham since arriving in Baltimore: .688/.688/1.375! Much nicer, right? And that 2.063 OPS? Unreal! OK, so maybe I’m having a little too much fun with small sample sizes but the truth is Tim Beckham is a hot little crab cake right now! He’s 11-for-16 in his last four games with three doubles and two homers. He’s also scored five runs with four RBI in that stretch. As long as J.J. Hardy is sidelined, Beckham should see playing time every day and you need to ride him while he’s hot. Also, for a player in the midst of a career year in Tampa, playing in the friendly Camden confines and in a much stronger Orioles line up should only help his production. He’s out there in about 85% of leagues, if you’re in need of a hot middle infielder, there are few bending it hotter than Beckham right now.

Here’s what else I saw in fantasy baseball Friday night:

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Jose Siri is locked in, not just because he’s found a way to avoid iPhone jokes for a majority of the season, but because lately Siri has the answer. What? You didn’t think I’d go there? It’s like you hardly know me. (BASEBALL FOCUS.) Not since Francisco Mejia’s 50 game hit streak have we had a streak so epic. So not since last year, and even that, meh not really true. Regardless Reds outfield prospect Jose Siri is in the midst of a 34 game hitting streak, one that’s raised his average to .299, and left him with the very healthy slashline of .299/.343/.541. Siri has never been much of a contact guy, and has fallen into the power/speed upside camp. So far in 2017 the strikeouts are way down, the walks are up, the average is up, and the homers and steals have nearly doubled! So things are going good for Siri. Here’s a look at Siri cranking a homer against South Bend earlier this season.

He is however, still only a depth prospect in most dynasty formats. Despite recent success, he’s had a history of swinging and missing, inconsistency with his approach, and some off the field concerns. Despite all that a high upside low minor player remains, and one that might be worth a speculative grab in 16+ team leagues. At 22 he’s old for A ball and he could use a promotion to high A to really put this breakout to the test. No matter the details the streak pushes on… Here’s the rest of the happenings in MiLB.

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That’s right, we’re pushing well beyond the 100 threshold this year, and pushing it all the way to 200. I for one am excited, but that might just be the speedball of cocaine, redbull, meth, and the behind the counter cough syrup. I’m seeing the words and their auras, man. No jokes, this is all from a vision, an immaculate epiphany I was led to by a culturally appropriated wise character of some sort. Really, I just wanted to get into a whole bunch more prospects I didn’t get a chance to talk about. If you didn’t catch it, last week I dropped my Top 100, this is a continuation of that going from 101 – 200 with full writeups and statlines for each. Hopefully you get caught up on few off the radar names, brush up on some old ones, and get your prospecty fill for the All-Star Break. It’s the Top 200 Fantasy Baseball Prospects!

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Does anyone remember when Vince Vaughn was funny? It was a time long ago in a land far, far away, your wife was still dating guys wearing Armani Exchange shirts, and George W. Bush was using words like strategrey. It was long before the abortion that was True Detective Season 2, or Couples Retreat, and sometime between Swingers, and The Breakup. In that wrinkle in time Vince Vaughn ruled the box office, and the douchy part of our soul where things like Ed Hardy t-shirts, mirror selfies, and Criss Angel performances still roam free. So where am I going with this awkwardly constructed analogy? I’ll hurry up and get to the point, today’s subject Vince Velasquez has much in common with his big screen brother in initials, way beyond his first name and banal use of the word “Bae-be”. He too started his career with a bang, and universal love during his brief stay in Houston, and then the early season dominance in 2016. And much like Mr. Vaughn, Velasquez took on the task of leading man in the drama that is the Philadelphia Phillies 2017, but unfortunately he just hasn’t been able to recapture the magic. Maybe Velasquez’s nightmare seems less like a heroin dream, and more like a string of poor performances. But the effect is still the same, you just don’t view their latest release with the same excitement you used to. So when I was tasked with covering Velasquez this week by our fearless leader Grey Albright, it felt like a choir singing to me. Perhaps it was the angelic voice of Mr. Albright, perhaps it was my paycheck. Either way, when Grey Albright comes to you and asks “Can you see what’s happin’ with this young brother”, you A. wonder when he became a member of 5% Nation, B. you profile Vince Velasquez. So to the God Grey Albright this is for you…

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Has there been any “sleeper” more hyped this season than Charlie Morton? It seems like we’re constantly being reminded of the spike in velocity, the swing and miss stuff, the combination of swinging strikes, and groundball rate. Knowing all this I was dying to profile Morton and see what all the noise is about. Speaking of Noise, my Pittsburgh scout, and favorite right testicle Dr. Kenneth Noisewater, has a basket full of hot takes on Morton, that mostly consist of different ways to say Charlie Morton sucks. Perhaps Noisey is right, perhaps all the lemmings in the fantasy industry are right. Much like the ATLiens that raised me to be an emotionally well adjusted gangster, I just stay in the middle and drop bombs, mostly in the toilet. I stay regular ladies and gents. Let’s take a closer look at this “new and improved” Charlie Morton, and see if it’s in fact a new recipe, or the same re-packed garbage.

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What you didn’t think I was going to go full homer with my debut pitching profile? I mean, it’s as if you don’t even know me? Suffice it to say we’ve turned the keys to the Top 100 pitching ship from one homer, to another. Truth be told, it was a busy weekend, as I covered for Grey on Friday, recorded the Prospect Podcast on that night with Halp, traveled to New York for Smokey’s 40th birthday, took in the Saturday Yanks vs. O’s game with Smokey and the crew, wrote my Minor League Update, and drove back to Massachusetts Sunday morning. Not to mention I was only tasked with this honor Thursday evening, right after I returned from my oldest son’s first baseball practice of the season. So to say it’s been a hectic few days is an understatement. However, a date for Edurado Rodriguez with the Cubs seemed like a good test for his new found swing and miss tendencies. It should be mentioned, that coming into the game Ed-Rod sported a 33 at bat hitless streak vs righthanded batters. So I was going to be paying extra attention as to how he attacked righties vs lefties, and what sequencing, pitch, etc. was leading to his success. Let’s get into it.

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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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