Not even football season can slow down the prospect train, as Halph is back with another jam-packed episode. Luckily, or unluckily depending on what mood you prefer Ralph in, we recorded this before the Patriots got spanked on Thursday night. We started the show by talking about a bunch of recent call-ups, including Victor Robles, Harrison Bader, Luiz Gohara, Walker Buehler, Brian Anderson, Jeimer Candelario, and Dan Vogelbach. Then, we shifted gears to dig into our top 12-ish fantasy shortstop prospect rankings, discussing everyone from Fernando Tatis Jr., Gleyber Torres, Brendan Rodgers, and J.P. Crawford, to Yu-Cheng Chang, Andres Gimenez, Wander Javier, Delvin Perez, and many more. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game (now shipping to Canada). It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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Over the past few seasons few positions have gotten more hype than shortstop. With players like Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Alex Bregman, Addison Russell, Amed Rosario, the names go on and on. Some of these names were obviously major difference makers in fantasy, while others have ridden “real baseball” prospect hype to overrated status. Much like with catchers on the mainstream prospect lists, the demands of the position defensively significantly increase these player’s values. We don’t care about defense though, there’s only two questions we ask ourselves as dynasty managers. Does this Rotowear shirt make me look fat? No, wait, wrong question. We ask ourselves A. Can he hit? B. Will he stick at the position? The latter of which is ehhh, with a side of meh sauce. I really only care if they can hit. If a player is moved to second, third, or center, it really doesn’t matter, you know, as long as the skills play. I understand position scarcity, but my focus when drafting, adding, or trading for prospects in fantasy leagues is to land the best possible hitters. With this in mind I present to you the Top 10 Shortstop Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

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With a rash of Callups in the last week, there’s guaranteed to be numerous players exceeding their rookie limits over the coming weeks. This new batch of players will move up top 100 lists and into the discussion of the top 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 prospects in the game. A player who finds himself squarely in the conversation for top overall prospect in the game is the Dunedin Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The highly touted 3rd baseman is easily one of the top 5 bats in all of the minor leagues at the tender age of 18. Over the last month he’s added to his already impressive 2017 campaign by slashing .385/.483/.646 with 6 homers and 23 RBI. With the power stroke taking a step forward it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vlad Jr. ranked as high as 1st overall in some off-season prospect lists. He’s easily the top prospect in the Florida State League this season, and in all levels of A ball. He matches his father’s uncanny ability to make contact with balls anywhere in and out of the zone, with a far more patient approach than his namesake. At this point Guerrero should be owned in all dynasty formats. Here’s what else is going down in the MiLB.

P.S. Here’s Vlad Jr. hitting a homer to clinch a FSL playoff spot on Thursday Night.

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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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On Saturday’s edition of the prospect podcast Halp and I discussed our updated first year player draft rankings. Each of us agreed that the number 1 pick in this June’s draft had slipped ahead of Hunter Greene and into the top spot on our respective ranks. Yesterday afternoon, the Twins did us a great service. They affirmed our decision with the promotion of Royce Lewis to full season Cedar Rapids of the Midwest league. So far the top pick has been an exciting take, and surprisingly polished. The numbers are more good than great, but then again, he was playing high school baseball three months ago. Still .271/.390/.414 with 3 homers and 15 steals, ain’t too shabby in 36 games. The young shortstop has the ability to be an impact fantasy player in multiple categories at peak. Meaning his ability to stick in the middle infield doesn’t dictate his value. He was in the lineup hitting leadoff last night for Cedar Rapids, and went 4 for 5 in his debut, with 2 runs scored, an RBI, and a steal. As for my updated first player draft rankings, you can hear my thoughts on this week’s podcast, but the actual updated list we’ll save for October… 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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Way back in the wild west days of the international market, teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox approached the July 2nd signing period the same way Glenn Quagmire approached a night at the strip club. Cash in hand ready to make it rain on the first young talent that caught their eye. It was in one of these talent-laden spending sprees that a strapping young Dominican power hitter by the name of Starling Heredia first surfaced. In one of the more gluttonous international splurge’s since your creepy Uncle took that “trip” to Bangkok, the Dodgers dropped $45.38 million in that period on players like Yadier Alvarez, Yusinel Diaz, Omar Estevez, Ronny Brito, Oneal Cruz, and of course Heredia. The Dominican outfielder was ranked 9th in the class by Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, two spots behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and ahead of such currently buzzy names as Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Leody Taveras, and Aramis Ademan. He was described in the scouting reports at that time as a “the best corner outfield prospect in the class by some scouts, in part because of his raw power and projectable body.” Tools grades rated his raw power at a 60, and his hit tool at 55, pretty aggressive grades for teenage hitter. Don’t be too frightened, but at that time he listed Yasiel Puig as his role model. Then again Puig was good then. So what’s to Heredia? Is this just another rookie season flash or are we looking at a potential star in the making from the notorious Dodger pipeline.

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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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It only took a little over 24 hours for the Luis Robert sweepstakes to come to a close. As news broke yesterday afternoon that the Chicago White Sox had struck a deal in the $25 million to $30 million dollar range with the 19 year old Cuban phenom. This is a significant development on a few fronts; for real life baseball, this will be the last deal signed under the old rules, where teams weren’t capped on international free agents under the age of 23. It’s also significant because, the White Sox, might just have in their possession, 2 to 3 of the top ceiling prospects in the minors at the moment. Those of course being Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and now Luis Robert. The other element to this story is Moncada and Robert will forever be linked to each other, not just by nationally, or organization, but also by dollars and the expectations attached to those presidential flashcards. As for Luis Robert the player, much like Moncada, he’s as high end in terms of talent as they come. Many have graded Robert’s hit tool a touch below Moncada’s at a 55, with some concern about his swing and miss. Where Robert edges out Moncada is in his 70 grade speed mark, and 60 grade fielding. Some scouts see Robert’s power ceiling being higher, but even those scouts mark it as a splitting hairs difference. So we’re talking about a true 5 tool talent, with some additional polish to his fielding. Though it tends to be overlooked in fantasy it’s actually a major positive for his owners, as it might accelerate his ETA two years from now. There’s little doubt in my mind he’s the clearcut top overall choice in 2017-18 First Year Player Drafts, and it’s really not close at the moment. Here’s who else is making noise in the MiLB…

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The dynamic duo known as Halph is back again! For those of you who don’t know who Halph is, that would be yours truly the God MC, and the notorious Michael Halpern of Imaginarybrickwall.com. We’re a super duo, we’re Halph! It’s California week on the Prospect Podcast, as we touch on two teams in the Golden State. We start with the sunny San Diego Padres system, a farm overflowing with talented prospects. The discussion opens with a look at Anderson Espionza’s real life value vs fantasy value. We then play would you rather with Hunter Renfroe and Aaron Judge, discuss Manuel Margot’s future value, and discuss why Chris Paddack is worth a stash in dynasty. I continue to wax poetic about my love of A.J. Preller, and it’s to the point now that you could turn it into a drinking game on this episode. There’s some Razz 30 FYPD talk, oh yeah that’s our new 30 team dynasty league, run by yours truly. We then briefly touch on some of the options in the Giants system. So it’s 80% Padres, 10% bullshizz, and 10% Giants. It’s the latest episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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