Ranking prospects for fantasy purposes is a tricky exercise. The variables involved are constantly in flux — talent emerges, talent regresses… opportunity comes, opportunity goes… clubs get cold feet because of service time, clubs don’t give a shizz about service time. So, given the fluid nature of this prospect business, we’re going to keep a running ranking throughout the season. This post will run every other Wednesday, providing a weekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.

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The early stages of the MiLB season have brought loads of speculation with regard to Oscar Taveras and Stephen Piscotty, and which prospect the Cardinals will summon to St. Louis first. I’d love to be able to provide some clarity to that question, but frankly, such call-ups depend on so many different proprietary factors, and it’d be pretty stupid of me say something like, “Piscotty is gonna be the guy ’cause he’s hitting a bunch of singles at Triple-A.”  Piscotty, by the way, has collected 15 hits (12 singles) through his first 37 AB at Memphis.  He’s a fine prospect, and he’s zoned in right now, but the gaudy average (.405) is probably drawing a bit more attention than it should.  Meanwhile, Taveras is slugging north of .500.  He’s still the higher-impact fantasy talent, and he’s still the better prospect.  This is not to suggest that Oscar will definitely be up before Piscotty — only that it’d be silly to lose perspective on the situation.  Taveras is the true prize.

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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Rockies Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Bryan Kilpatrick from Purple Row.

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To begin, I should make it clear that this is not a list of my top overall prospects.  No, this is a 2014-specific list, and it exists only to serve those of us in fantasyland.  The names that follow are, at this moment, the prospects who have the best chance at offering positive fantasy contributions during the 2014 season.  Those of you who follow my Prospect Power Rankings series during the season, understand that time-specific prospect rankings are fluid — it’s a tricky game, weighing potential impact against current opportunity, and outlooks can change drastically overnight.  There are too many variables at work to peg these ETA’s accurately, and that is precisely why we revisit these rankings often throughout the year with the aforementioned power rankings.  Consider this a starting point.  Numbers 26-50 will run next week, but for now, let’s dig into the top-25.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (21) | 2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10) | 2009 (20)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [74-88] NL West
AAA: [67-76] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs
AA: [68-70] Texas League — Tulsa
A+: [75-65] California League – Modesto
A: [63-73] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [34-42] Northwest League — Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
Nolan Arenado (3B); Corey Dickerson (OF)

The Run Down
I must admit, I’m quite impressed with this Rockies farm, and after writing a thousand or so words on its best and brightest prospects, I’m in need of cigarette and a shower. Don’t get me wrong here, this isn’t a top tier organization, but from the perspective of upside and potential fantasy impact, this Rockies org isn’t far behind the powerhouse systems of the Twins, Cubs, Astros, and Cardinals. Pitching headlines this group — Jonathan Gray brings a Gerrit Cole-type projection, and Eddie Butler could be the Michael Wacha of 2014. The seven hitters that follow Gray and Butler all bring considerable offensive tools and big fantasy ceilings, themselves. Sure, there’s plenty of risk with this group, but you gotta admire this collection of raw talent.

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Back in May, I wrote a Courtney Hawkins fantasy. You can read it here. At that point in time, Hawkins was at High-A Winston Salem knocking homers at a good rate, but he was struggling to make contact, striking out more than 50% of the time he stepped to the plate. Near the end of the writeup, I said this: “The Sox must be thrilled with the huge power Hawkins is showing, but if the K’s continue at this rate, they’ll need to consider bumping him down the ladder to a level where he can more easily focus on approach and pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve in that regard, and for fantasy baseball purposes, I truly hope he doesn’t go the way of the Donkey. Either way, though, he’s a fascinating dude to follow.” So here’s our Courtney Hawkins update, almost four months later: .182/.252/.407, 19 HR, 9 SB, 38% K-rate in 95 games at High-A. In other words, the whiffs continued, and the White Sox never demoted him. Hawkins is an extraordinary athlete with enormous upside, and I rarely am one to question a team’s development strategy, but it bothers me that the Sox have allowed their 19-year-old prized prospect to struggle so severely all season long. He won’t be ready for Double-A next spring, and I’m beginning to worry that this 1st rounder might never realize his potential.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (16) | 2011 (10) | 2010 (10) | 2009 (20) | 2008 (7)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [64-98] NL West
AAA: [75-69] Pacific Coast League – Colorado Springs
AA: [75-64] Texas League — Tulsa
A+: [73-67] California League – Modesto
A: [88-52] South Atlantic League – Asheville
A(ss): [32-44] Northwest League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League PlayersSalt River Rafters
Isaiah Froneberger (LHP); Cory Riordan (RHP); Lars Davis (C); Jose Gonzalez (C); Corey Dickerson (OF); Kent Matthes (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Jordan Pacheco (1B); Wilin Rosario (C); Josh Rutledge (SS); D.J. LeMahieu (2B); Charlie Blackmon (OF); Drew Pomeranz (LHP); Christian Friedrich (LHP); Adam Ottavino (RHP); Rex Brothers (LHP)

The Run Down
It’s difficult not to swoon at the fantasy upside of various bats in this Rockies system. Every hitter on this list brings a ceiling that’s hard to measure based on MiLB figures, alone. That’s what makes the top three guys so exciting — their potential would be impressive in any system, but throw Coors Field into the equation, and the intrigue swells substantially. On the flip side, the arms of the Colorado system carry the stigma of being future Coors Field pitchers. Their intrigue, conversely, is shrunk by the stadium at which they’re bound to play. But ballpark factors aside, Colorado has put together a farm system with plenty of depth and plenty of hope. No one here is to be ignored, so do keep an eye on these names as the 2013 season gets underway.

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