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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As of 4/10, these middle infielders are all owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues, and contingent on the context, I would conditionally own them all. And that’s how you alliterate league format dependency.

While they’re ranked by %ownership, I’ll furnish my zeal for each:

#1 – Kolten Wong (6.5%) – He’s only 23, so give him a little time. He’s already got a top-20 contact rate this year and has impressively walked more than he struck out. He’s batting .276 with a .382 OBP and 2 stolen bases. I’m not sure why he’s owned < 10%. Mark Ellis (DL/knee) and Daniel Descalso won’t consume that much time away from him. Very soon, he’ll be owned in over 10% of leagues, so make that happen sooner than later. 70+ runs near the top of that lineup with a 7HR-45RBI-20SB-.270BA is playable at MI.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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 Indians Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Ed Carroll from Wahoos on First and co-host of the Wahoo’s on the Mic podcast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (20) | 2012 (29) | 2011 (7) | 2010 (3) | 2009 (7)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [92-70] AL Central
AAA:  [71-73] International League — Columbus
AA:  [68-73] Eastern League — Akron
A+:  [57-83] Carolina League — Carolina
A:  [54-83] Midwest League — Lake County
A(ss):  [30-44] New York-Penn League — Mahoning Valley

Graduated Prospects
Yan Gomes (C); Cody Allen (RHP); Danny Salazar (RHP); Nick Hagadone (LHP)

The Run Down
The Tribe are coming off a surprisingly successful campaign in 2013, winning 92 games and earning a spot in the postseason.  Big league acquisitions had a lot to do with that success, but a fair amount of it needs to be attributed to homegrown talent, too.  At age 26, Jason Kipnis isn’t quite a youngster anymore, but he was drafted and developed by this org, and his breakout year can’t be ignored.  The same can be said for graduating prospects, Yan Gomes and Danny Salazar, both of whom offered value in the fantasy game (Gomes was actually acquired via Toronto, but you get the idea).  What remains on the Cleveland farm is a nice collection of talent, including two top-50 prospects, and perhaps a couple more in the 50-100 range.  Pitching is the glaring weakness here, and only one pitcher makes this top 10.  Of course, when considering that shortage on the pitching side of things, it’s probably important to also consider that the Tribe graduated Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister in the last two seasons.  Not too shabby.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are several questionable farm systems in baseball, but the Chicago White Sox are certainly one that stands out. For years now, the Sox have maintained a firm MLB-first approach to player personnel. They’re a principled franchise that would rather allocate its baseball operations budget toward free agent signings and MLB extensions than toward draft spending. And when they do stumble upon a real-deal prospect, they usually like to trade him for a veteran dude, someone to help that playoff push. It’s a model that occasionally works — they won a World Series by it in 2005 — but it’s not one that’s built to sustain success. And now, in 2013, the White Sox are awful. They’re in total rebuild mode — everything is for sale. This is finally their opportunity to change direction, to try to build a system that cultivates and utilizes impact talent. They’ve already dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for Brandon Jacobs, an upside outfielder with a skill set that might be very useful in the fantasy game. Don’t stop there, Chicago. Tear it all down.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (29) | 2011 (7) | 2010 (3) | 2009 (7) | 2008 (19)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [68-94] AL Central
AAA:  [75-69] International League — Columbus
AA:  [82-59] Eastern League — Akron
A+:  [63-77] Carolina League — Carolina
A:  [71-68] Midwest League — Lake County
A(ss):  [30-45] New York-Penn League — Mahoning Valley

Arizona Fall League PlayersScottsdale Scorpions
Shawn Armstrong (RHP); Trey Haley (RHP); T.J.

Please, blog, may I have some more?