This draft was so slow that I lost half my starting rotation before the draft ended. This draft was so slow that when it started Minnie Minoso was still alive. This draft was so slow when it started Tupac was still dead. I didn’t enjoy my time last year in the 15-team NFBC slow draft. I drafted Mark Trumbo, Prince Fielder, Cliff Lee, Anibal Sanchez and Patrick Corbin and my only chance was a big year from Nadir Bupkis, who gave me just that. See, there’s no waivers and the league is 50 rounds deep, so if you’re hit by injuries, you’re done. So, I was talked into doing the league one more time, but knew I had to draft starters early and often, and, of course, prior to the draft even completing I lost Zack Wheeler and Tony Cingrani. Many will disagree with me, but I’m under the firm belief that it’s a lot harder and more fun to win a league like a Razzball Commenter League, than it is to win a super-deep league. With super-deep leagues, if you’re hit by injuries, you’re done. That’s neither fun nor challenging. That’s just shizzy luck. You can say I should’ve known Wheeler and Cingrani weren’t safe, and I’d say to you that neither are any of the pitchers that are healthy all year. They just happened to stay healthy. It’s not like the guy that drafted Alex Cobb is any smarter than the guy who drafted (insert pitcher that is healthy right now that may not be healthy by the time you read this). How’s dem grapes? Sour! Anyway, here’s my 15-team, 5×5, roto, NFBC slow draft team and thoughts:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (5) | 2013 (9) | 2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [70-92] AL West
AAA: [74-70] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City (2015: Fresno)
AA: [67-73] Texas League – Corpus Christi
A+: [78-62] California League – Lancaster
A: [70-69] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [48-28] New York-Penn League – Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
George Springer, OF | Jon Singleton, 1B | Jake Marisnick, OF (from Marlins) | Collin McHugh, RHP

The Gist
This is a fun system for fantasy prospects and reminds me of the Rangers’ farm with a stud building block, toolsy outfielders, and a couple of nice arms to round things out. The Astros have talented young players surfacing on the major league team as well, with George Springer entering his sophomore season and Jake Marisnick in the mix for an outfield gig. I like Marisnick as a sleeper this year, as he’s always had that 20/20 type of profile and now finds himself in a better park for hitting. Jon Singleton needs some polish after hitting just .168 in his rookie year, but I’m still buying the 23-year-old in dynasties thanks to his power potential. Mike Foltynewicz and Rio Ruiz would have both been towards the top half of this list prior to being traded to Atlanta.

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Last week was about speculating which players might be getting the call this September and providing any kind of fantasy value in redraft leagues. With September now a week old, we have the names of the players who have indeed been added to rosters. With all of these call-ups, it’s important to remember that playing time could be sparse and their impact in a 12-team standard mixed league may be minimal. However, those of us who are playing in deeper leagues or keepers may have been rostering some of these players already. In that case their call-ups are more meaningful. They can add depth to the fantasy roster and sometimes it’s just fun to get a look at someone you’ve been hoarding in your NA spot or on your farm. Additionally, just because September 1st has come and gone doesn’t mean more players can’t be added as the month progresses and the MiLB playoffs come to an end. We’ll take a look at the pitchers next time, but for now let’s dive into some of the bats that got the call to the majors this past week…

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September call-ups are almost upon us. Despite monster minor league numbers, it appears the Cubs are not going to add Kris Bryant to the roster. Bryant dominated in 2014, hitting an obscene .328/.438/.674 with 43 home runs, 114 runs, 102 RBIs and even 15 steals across two levels of the minors. I couldn’t hit that in Bases Loaded on my Nintendo. While the Cubs did promote Javier Baez and Jorge Soler to get their feet wet, they seem content to leave Bryant where he is whcih in turn makes him worthless to the prospect hounds in redraft fantasy leagues.

There are two sides to the situation. On one hand Bryant could be added to the roster which gives him some major league at bats and makes all of us fantasy owners very happy. On the other hand, the Cubs could give him the full year in the minors without having to drop anybody from their 40-man roster or start his clock. That clock is important, as Bryant being called up a month or two into next seeason could buy the Cubs another year of his services should he decide to become free agent when eligible. Bryant will be worth the wait, but that’s what we’ll have to do – wait. That leaves us to figure out who is worth a look this September. Assuming that the following players will all be called up, here are some of the names (along with their 2014 MiLB stats) that I think could help fantasy owners in redraft leagues this September…

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Another week completed, another step closer to excitement for prospect-watchers waiting impatiently for the next round of call-ups, and the ultimate “Christmas In July” for prospect-hounds across the globe as we get to spend the day with the ultimate showcase – the Futures Game. In honor of this great event, this week’s Minor Accomplishments Sunday Twelve-Pack will include several players that will be participating in the game, as well as some that would’ve been at Target Field for it (yes, I’m looking at you Arismendy Alcantara, Jimmy Nelson, and Christian Bethancourt).

The All-Star Break is upon us, the playoff picture’s beginning to come into focus for several teams that were “on the fence” a week ago, and trades completed over the next three weeks will lead to many more openings for prospects to get a look at the MLB level, as well as advancement opportunities for players further down each organizational pecking order.

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If you take enough shrooms, you start to dream about how Rick Porcello is from the magical land of Zeranok, where Buehrles and Moyers can cruise 15 MPH below the speed limit. Off shrooms, you just see Zeranok as zero ERA, no K. Yesterday’s 9 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 0 Ks was solid, great, adjective. Hard to not get excited about a complete game shutout, but I’m gonna try. Heard a lot made of the fact that Porcello only needed 95 pitches to finish off the A’s. That’s wonderful. Somewhere, Greg Maddux smiled, then he tried to go behind the counter at his local post office to show them how they can be more efficient and nearly got arrested. “Can we all just form a two-person line as we wait for Wet Willie’s Wild Slide?” That’s Maddux at a water park with his kids. I hear ya, Greg, when people are grouped together in a party of six in an amusement park line it drives me crazy too. The worst is when they get up to the front and suddenly they have 25 other friends that were with them. Any the hoo! A 95 pitch CG SHO is great IRL (you like how I was illustrating efficiency with acronyms; though this parenthetical defeats that purpose), but Porcello’s efficiency doesn’t do a whole lot for me in fantasy if it comes with no Ks. His K-rate is 5.2 and his walk rate is 2. That’s pretty blehtastic. I’d own him, since he gets the Rays next. He’s not suddenly shooting up to ace status for fantasy. I know, I know, that Porcello is one funghi, but he’s actually pretty close to borderline for 12-team mixed leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday 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.

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On Razzball Radio last week, where you finally got to see my perfectly circumferenced face, that looks like almost any chubby latino catcher that you can think of (to name a couple: Ramon Castro, Josmil Pinto), I got into my win-now approach. I traded high impact prospects (Gregory Polanco and Anthony Rendon) for a more immediate influence, (Robinson Cano).

I often wind up with no top prospects by year’s end, but still wind up with a sundry of “B” prospects that turn into more i.e. Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson last year for nothing! It’s about this time of the year that I start delving into C prospects in dynasty leagues for warm bodies to displace my empty prospect slots. Often, guys that come up will have initial contact problems, so I look for guys that can elevate their BABIP through both power (ISO) and speed (SPD). An extreme example is Yasiel Puig. He had contact problems last year, but he’s a monster in the power and speed departments ensuring an elevated BABIP. This year he’s put that together with a rational HR/FB ratio and a really nice contact and discipline jump. He’s elite.

It seems like I’m always seeing current and former Mets when I do this. This year is no different thanks to Andrew Brown and Eric Campbell (current Mets) as well as Nick Evans and Mike Jacobs (former) – all on this list due to their wOBA’s and ISO. While we might find more eventual, longer-term impact in AA, for this post, let’s look at the AAA minor league leaderboard (as of 5/30), including the Mexican League ranked by wOBA combined with BABIP (weighed by ISO and SPD)… just trust me:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (9) | 2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [51-111] AL West
AAA: [82-62] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [83-57] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [82-58] California League – Lancaster
A: [81-57] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [44-32] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
Jonathan Villar (SS); Robbie Grossman (OF); Brandon Barnes (OF); L.J. Hoes (OF); Marc Krauss (OF); Jake Elmore (MI/OF); Brad Peacock (RHP); Paul Clemens (RHP); Brett Oberholtzer (LHP); Jarred Cosart (RHP); Jose Cisnero (RHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Houston Astros, is the best executive in the game with regard to player procurement and development.   He’s the man responsible for the seemingly never-ending stream of talent flowing up from the St. Louis farm system, and you can sure as shizz expect to see similar output from this Houston org over the next several seasons.  The fantasy-relevant arrivals actually began last summer, with prospects like Jonathan Villar (be sure to read Sky’s outlook on him) and Jarred Cosart.  Look for the impact to only increase in 2014 as George Springer, Mark Appel, and Jonathan Signleton are set for big league debut.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [55-107] NL Central (AL West beginning 2013)
AAA: [78-65] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [81-59] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [74-66] California League – Lancaster
A: [69-69] South Atlantic League – Lexington (Quad Cities of MWL beginning 2013)
A(ss): [15-25] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League Players — Mesa Solar Sox
Jarred Cosart (RHP); Chia-Jen Lo (RHP); Alex Sogard (LHP); Nick Tropeano (RHP); Jiovanni Mier (3B); Jonathan Singleton (1B); George Springer (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Marwin Gonzalez (SS); Matt Dominguez (3B); Lucas Harrell (RHP); Dallas Keuchel (LHP); Rhiner Cruz (RHP); Fernando Abad (LHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow is so flippin’ awesome. I cannot stress this enough. In little more than a year at the helm of the Astros, he’s turned the organization into one of the most fascinating franchises in the sport. Obviously, they’re not among the better ball clubs — not at the MLB level, at least — but by surrounding himself with baseball bloggers and NASA engineers, Luhnow has created an environment that celebrates new ideas and is well ahead of the curve in terms of analytics. Houston had a few nice prospects in place when he arrived, but the system as a whole was shallow and weak. Luhnow spent his first year cutting big league payroll, adding depth to the farm via trade, and spending big in the draft. I imagine more of the same is in store for 2013, so expect another sub-60 win season as Houston joins the AL West. It might be a few years before they’re competitive again, the Astros are transforming much more quickly than I thought was possible. They’re building cost-controlled depth, and waves of promising prospects are set to arrive in Houston beginning this year. So even if Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aren’t voted into the HOF this afternoon, Astros fans can sleep soundly. The future is bright, indeed, for Houston.

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