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Welcome to the 2016 Razzball Team Previews! You’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. And I mean everything, folks. We’ve got line-ups, charts, Slurpees, lube, a guide for beginner electricians, and even a cactus! Well, that’s a lie. That’s what Jay had last year sitting in front of him. This year? Um…a little less lube? Take that as you will. But hey, we’ve got teams to preview and questions to ask, so let’s hop to it. We a very special guest for this post…Tony Pente, to provide his take on what the team has in store this season. Now enough rambling, let’s see what 2016 holds for the Baltimore Orioles!

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I got you something for Chrimbus! It’s a jar of tartar sauce. Oh, you don’t like it? Then how about some Baltimore Orioles pitching prospects instead? That tartar sauce is looking a lot better now, you ungrateful reader. Pitching prospects break all the time, but the Orioles seem especially good at it. Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey still have a lot of upside, and of course they will still be perched atop most Orioles lists, but both will also need to prove healthy to regain their lost fantasy value. I own a share of Bundy myself, so I feel your pain out there. Harvey is just a big bowl of I don’t know. Get past those two risky arms, and there are two hitting prospects I like a lot…power lolita Jomar Reyes and 2015 breakout Trey Mancini. If you need more instant gratification, Baltimore is currently in the process of signing Korean import Hyun-soo Kim. Praise Rang! So while this system isn’t a treasure trove of impact fantasy talent, there’s at least enough here to pass the time while you wait in line to see Winter Man. Remember – keep your Chrimbus bush trimmed and wet for Winter Man and he’ll bring you that pasta bear you’ve had your eye on.

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A couple of years ago Bret Sayre invited me to participate in his dynasty league – The Dynasty Guru Expert League, or TDGX. At the time I was writing for him at his site, and while I don’t anymore, I’ve been allowed to remain in the league as a representative of Razzball. I’d like to say my team has been killing it, but that hasn’t been the case in the first two years. The league is a lot of fun, and there are representatives from sites like Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, Baseball HQ, and CBS. It’s deep and it’s challenging. Tim McLeod and Ian Khan took the championship in each of the first two years, so major kudos to them.

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All year we’ve been ranking the top prospects closest to the majors. With September call-ups quickly approaching, this post is a little different. Instead of limiting the list to players with their rookie eligibility intact, this will include any players currently in the minor leagues regardless of their at bats or innings pitched totals. There’s a catch, though. It’s only going to list players who are currently healthy and on their team’s 40-man roster. If you see a big name omitted, it’s probably because they aren’t currently on the 40-man. That can still be manipulated of course, but if a player is already on the roster, it increases the chances they’ll get a look next month. I also decided to weed through it for players that I thought could actually have some relevance in fantasy. With guys like Domingo Santana, Trea Turner, and even Aaron Altherr already up, this isn’t exactly the sexiest group. But there are some nice players in here, and if they can find playing time, they could also help your fantasy team down the stretch. When looking at who to pick up, I’d recommend focusing on teams that are out of the playoff hunt and who may be more inclined to give their younger players a look. Zeroing in on injuries (or potential ones) is also a good move. I bolded a few of the names that I think are interesting gambles…

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The Indians just unloaded Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to the Braves, which created some breathing room on the roster. Bradley Zimmer could be one of the guys that benefits the most from all that extra oxygen. I ranked Zimmer 14th on my power rankings last week on a whim, but this recent trade has me looking at him as a legit call-up option as we head into September – one that could make a fantasy impact. I get to the Rubber Duck games in Akron a bunch, and seeing Zimmer in person you can definitely see where the Yelich comps come from. He has a long stride with sneaky plus speed, squares everything up, and shows good instincts on the basepaths. He’s one of those players that stands out on the field without even seeing him make a play. Already big and tall, it looks like a frame that could pack on even more muscle. Zimmer is following the typical path of a college bat, and while Double-A is one of the hardest jumps for a prospect, he’s holding his own with a .244/.359/.462 slash line, three homers, six doubles, and six steals through 21 games. He has yet to be caught stealing and his strikeout rate hasn’t spiked against the tougher arms either. He passes the eye test, the stats are yummy, and we could be looking at not only a September call-up but also a quick promotion to the bigs next summer. His ceiling would look something like .270 with 20 homers and 20+ steals in center or right field. Scoop him up in keepers and keep your eyes on him in redrafts for help down the stretch. Speaking of Akron, come say hi if you’re at the Jim Gaffigan show or the Hamburger Festival today. I’m easy to find. Just look for the depressed guy in the Expos cap. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…

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As the adage goes, ‘nobody wants you when you’re old’. Unless you’re a female and Grey Albright is nearby. Yo Sky, check out this smoking hot chick! *Clicks google image link*. Um, Grey? Yeah? That’s Raquel Welch. I know, right? Older the berry, the sweeter the juice, you know what I’m sayin’? *hi-pitched cackling ensues*. I get it, though, in this day and age where steroids can’t even be used to quell skin rash irritations without a 50 game suspension. We get to see athletes in their truest form: they’re human, they get tired, they get hurt, they age and their prime doesn’t last 10+ years. But as a fantasy player? EFF THAT NOISE. Bring back the greenies, baby! But I digress, the key is, ageism is a real thing at the draft table, especially for a late bloomer and in steps Steve Pearce. So what has my fantasy loins in a lather like Ann-Margaret just did a cat-walk in lady’s lingerie for Grey? Well, read on. Here’s why I think Pearce is a good get for deep leagues this year for 2015 Fantasy Baseball…

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (12) | 2013 (17) | 2012 (20) | 2011 (21) | 2010 (8)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [96-66] AL East
AAA: [65-79] International League – Norfolk
AA: [72-70] Eastern League – Bowie
A+: [65-72] Carolina League – Frederick
A: [66-73] South Atlantic League – Delmarva
A(ss): [27-48] New York-Penn League – Aberdeen

Graduated Prospects
Jonathan Schoop, INF | Kevin Gausman, RHP

The Gist
The Orioles’ farm is headlined by two solid pitching prospects, although both have dealt with elbow injuries of late. Dylan Bundy may see MLB time later this year along with hitting prospects Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez. The top half of this farm is pretty solid from a fantasy standpoint, and the Orioles already have nice young talent at the major league level in Manny Machado, Kevin Gausman, and Jonathan Schoop. Gausman was a good arm to own in the second half of 2014 after yo-yoing in the first, and may take a major step forward this year. Meanwhile, Schoop popped 16 homers in his rookie campaign. Machado is still just 22 years old and obviously has massive potential. With a bounce back from Chris Davis, this could be a very nasty offense in 2015.

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You know a hitter is going well when I look to pick him up, see he’s taken, then look again a few hours later to make sure I wasn’t incorrect the first time. Then I call over Cougs and tell her to look up the player, just to make sure I’m not missing something. Then I summon my dog to the computer, and he’s good for nothing, but he does look cute trying to work a mouse. Then I call up our neighbor, who is a reverse Cougar — have I ever mentioned that we have a neighbor who is in her thirties and dates only guys in their late-70’s? Daddy issues much? Plus, she takes on the old doodes’ personas, going to the library to use a computer, eating dinner at 4 PM, calling everyone “Sonny” — and my neighbor at the library doesn’t even see the player, so I know I missed out. Yet, this hitter is only owned in 30% of leagues, so he’s available somewhere, he must be! In the last week, Norichika Aoki is hitting .517. That’s not a misprint. In fact, it’s not even a print; it’s typed on a screen. Sure, he rivaled Nadir Bupkis for the least amount of fantasy value given between April and August, but he’s on fire now. I’d grab him in all leagues. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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…And by “IBS”, I don’t mean irritable bowel syndrome. In this context, I mean BABIP verified by ISO and Spd scores. Two things induce my real life IBS: nutrition, and my high impact dynasty leagues. Consider this series your dynasty IBS treatment.

BABIP has little face, so I use ISO (isolated slugging) and Spd (FG’s speed score) to verify the BABIP.

Check out Part 1 of this series where I delved into Trois-A assets. While Joc Pederson and Gregory Polanco naturally lead the rankings in conjunction with Quad-A guys like Andrew Brown and Chris Dickerson, I pointed to some translatable future impact in Chris Taylor and Domingo Santana, among others.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (17) | 2012 (20) | 2011 (21) | 2010 (8) | 2009 (9)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [85-77] AL East
AAA: [77-67] International League – Norfolk
AA: [71-71] Eastern League – Bowie
A+: [61-78] Carolina League – Frederick
A: [54-82] South Atlantic League – Delmarva
A(ss): [40-32] New York-Penn League — Aberdeen

Graduated Prospects
 T.J. McFarland (LHP); Steve Johnson (RHP)

The Run Down
Hey, it’s our first weekend post! Draft season must be near. Rejoice!  And when you’re done rejoicing, feel free to take in some words about the Baltimore Orioles farm, a top heavy group, but its headliners are extreme high-impact.  There’s a case to be made for Kevin Gausman being the top rookie pitcher in 2014, and it’s equally plausible that Dylan Bundy could carry that title in 2015.  The top three arms in this group are about as impressive a trio as you’ll find across Minor League Baseball.  On the other side of things, however, there aren’t many heavy hitters here.  This Baltimore system is depleted when it comes to power bats, and it’s fairly light on offensive talent as a whole.  But considering the absurd power and general awesomeness of their big league hitters, I doubt that O’s fans are too concerned right now with that aspect of their farm.

Please, blog, may I have some more?