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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Every few years a farm system develops to the point that it’s busting at the seams with talent. An organization builds and before you know it they’ve cultivated more talent than they can possibly use, and therefore have reached what I call the “embarrassment of riches” phase. This time is now for the Atlanta Braves farm system, long thought to be propped up by the organizations pitching depth, that is no longer the case. So far early in the 2017 campaign the Braves have produced two of the breakout stars of the young season in Ronald Acuna, and newly (re)converted catcher Alex Jackson. To call Acuna a breakout star is probably a bit disingenuous, as he was well within my Top 100 in the pre-season, ranking 42nd overall. This is how I described him then, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now.” I hope you listened to my advice and traded for him then, because after his entrance to AA on Tuesday he might be tough to wrangle from his owners. What exactly has the 19 year old outfielder done since his promotion on Tuesday? How about going 6/8 with 2 homers, 2 steals, 4 runs, and 4 RBIs. It’s funny how Acuna has exploded the last few weeks after initially struggling to start the season. After slashing .209/.261/.349 in the season’s first 11 games, Acuna is hitting .355/.398/.605 with 4 homers and 10 steals in the 18 matches since. As I said calling him a breakout is disingenuous, but he looks to be rising into another tier of prospects. As for his former and future teammate Alex Jackson the story is quite different. As the former 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft struggled for 2 1/2 years in the Mariners organization, before being traded to the Braves this offseason for a pair of fringe major league starters. Jackson at one point in time was one of the more decorated high school players in recent memory. Having been named a three time Baseball America All-American, a two time Under Armor All-American, and even winning Baseball Prospectus Prospect of the Year before even being drafted. A catcher in high school, the Mariners decided to move him to the outfield, where Jackson struggled. Slowly his body and skill set deteriorated, and many minor league experts, myself included had written him off. Bad move on our part. Since joining the Braves organization and being moved back to catcher, all Jackson has done is take siege of the notoriously pitching friendly Florida State League, hitting .296/.348/.592 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in 31 contests. He seems to have abandoned some patience in lieu of power, but when the results are good I’d take it every time. It’s getting to the point with Jackson, that if this continues into the summer he could easily rank within the top 5 fantasy catchers in the minors. Here’s the other happenings in the MiLB over the last few days.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Every year, after finishing my Top 100 post, I have a player or two I immediately regret not ranking higher. This year those prospects were Zack Collins, and Kyle Tucker. The funny thing is, Tucker wasn’t ranked that low at 32. Granted my prospecting brother from another mother Halp ranked him 21st, and based on last night it looks like Halp’s right. What happened last night? Welp, Tucker: Man and My Dreams, went 4 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles, and 7 RBIs. He’s now hitting .343 in the Carolina League, can you imagine what he would have done with a full season in Lancaster? BTW Lancaster is one of the most homer and hitter friendly environments in minors, and was the class A advanced affiliate of the Astros up until this season. As for Tucker, he’s a 5×5 player’s dream, with hit tool, speed, developing power, and massive upside. Seems only appropriate that I would open this week’s Minor League Update with a native son of Tampa, while I’m on vacation here. How meta.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Way back in the late fall, I released my Original edition of the first year player draft rankings. So, it’s been awhile since I first wrote those, and ranked these players out. I figured it was about time to update those now dated ranks. The question you may be asking yourself is “Ralph, why are you so handsome, and also what’s changed?” Well I’ll tell you, I “gots somes” experience now. Because, over the last month plus I’ve had several first year player drafts, meaning I “gots somes” actual real life draft knowledge to draw from. Not to mention my ever-evolving opinions and evaluations of players. So what better time to update the rankings, and give you an idea as to where my heads at after reviewing all of these youngins over the course of my team by team prospect rankings. I’ve fallen in love with some, soured on others, and been introduced to players I previously overlooked. If these rankings are too late for your league’s draft, my apologies, and I understand your angst. We’re deep into draft season, meaning our collective sweatpants smell of rot and butt cheeks, it’s okay to be ornery. I’ll make it easy, use small words, and discuss lots of wildly inaccurate and inappropriate expectations to put on a teenager. It’s all good though because it’s in the name of fantasy baseball.Please, blog, may I have some more?
After a two week hiatus so the Lifshitz clan could take Disneyworld by storm, the Razzball Fantasy Prospect Podcast is back. But wha wha wha wait it gets worse! We’re not gone yet so we’re givin our first…minor league system preview of the season. This week’s episode focuses on the prospect laden Braves system, with a little Orioles and D-Backs talk sprinkled in. So it’s prospects a plenty this week. I mean it’s the top Atlanta Braves Prospects people! There’s a lot of them! It’s a freaking prospect podcast right? Feels like a rhetorical question? Is that rhetorical? Nevermind it’s the Braves-centric latest episode of the Razzball Fantasy Prospect PodcastPlease, blog, may I have some more?
A week after writing up one of the worst farm system in baseball in the Diamondbacks, I’ve been blessed with the task of covering arguably the best farm system in the Atlanta Braves. Over the last few seasons the Braves have done an excellent job of acquiring top prospects in trades, and via the draft. This approach that has left them with an embarrassment of riches. It’s not often you can trade an obvious over-performing pitcher for the top pick in a deep draft, and a handful of other good, young, and controllable assets. Fortunately for Braves fans, GM John Coppolella has very incriminating photos of Dave Stewart. Otherwise such outlandish trades like the Swanson and Toussiant deals wouldn’t have been possible. Since then, the Braves have added one of the top International signings in recent memory in Kevin Maitan, and took in quite a haul in last June’s draft. In other words, there is much to discuss in the Braves system. Instead of rambling for another 100 words about Disney magic, and how dumb Dave Stewart is, let’s just dig into one of the more exciting farms.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Two Saturdays ago, I released the top 15 picks in my First Year Player Draft Rankings. I then followed this up with the latest edition of the Prospect Podcast this past Saturday, where Halp and I mocked out the first 32 picks of a First Year Player draft with Matt Thompson of Friends With Fantasy Benefits, and Smokey. Today we complete the dynasty nerd trilogy with the resolution of my rankings. Because I’m incapable of making difficult decisions and setting boundaries I went a little past 30. Don’t complain, I’m giving you extra. How ungrateful can you be? In today’s post I get a little deeper into the J2’s, as I included 10 of them. This year we had a solid J2 class and a weak draft class, so there’s more of an International flavor in the 2017 rankings than there might have been in past years. (Hopefully the international flavor is Jerk seasoning, but I will settle for Chimichurri, or a solid curry.) It’s also a pitching heavy class, with it being an extremely soft year for college bats. I can’t remember having so many pitchers, particularly prep, in my rankings. Enough with the “Hi, hows ya fathers”, let’s get into it!Please, blog, may I have some more?
After a two week hiatus we’re back in the saddle again. This time we brought along a couple of friends to help us, well sort of. This week’s episode is a live mock first year player draft featuring two very knowledgeable prospect hounds in Matt Thompson, lead prospect writer for Friendswithfantasybenefits.com, and the ghost of Razzball’s very own Smokey. The four of us mocked out the first 32 picks on Twitter, so technically it’s not “live”, but not to worry this allowed us to discuss each player in detail. The goal is to get you prepared for your upcoming FYPD drafts this offseason. I know, I know, we’re such givers! Though it’s not all sunshine and Rose wine. Due to technical difficulties we lost out first run-through of the show with Smokey. So, this episode features Halp, Matt, and I trying our damndest to fill the void left behind by our grizzled vet, and to give you the rational behind the LOOGY’s picks. No need to fear prospect hounds, the Razzball Prospect Podcast is back, and stroking the flames of the hot stove all offseason.
P.S. For those following along at home I’ve included the draft results here.Please, blog, may I have some more?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the 2015 MLB draft was a damn good one. In just 14 months this class has already produced three everyday MLB players. It’s pretty much unheard of for THAT many players to move THAT quickly through the minors, and it’s not like any of the three look particularly lost. The real beauty lies here, the draft wasn’t particularly top heavy, we’ve had plenty of very interesting players already emerge from outside the first round; Willie Calhoun, Harrison Bader, Thomas Szapucki, and Cody Ponce to name a few. On the heels of this dynasty windfall, the question on everyone’s mind is; who are the studs and gems from this draft? Over the next few posts (today and Sunday) we’ll take a long look, maybe an awkwardly long look, at the first round and the gems of the later rounds. Did I say that already? I feel like I did….I try to sound like a sports reporter, but I kill too many brain cells to pull off the act. Meh, whatevs let’s talk about Nick Senzel!
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So it happened…. What????? The 2016 MLB Draft stoopid! I mean I am Ralph Lifshitz Prospector Esquire, and what else would I be talking about on a Sunday? Everyone else deals with the right now, but I, I deal with the future, the dreams of dynasty owners everywhere. So let’s get into the most difficult thing to predict, project, or understand. No, not Donald Trump’s campaign!!!! Are you even paying attention?!? The MLB Draft wake up!!! If you need proof as to why the MLB Draft is unpredictable, then click here and see how badly I missed on like 90% of my picks. Seriously after months of study and careful and thoughtful attention, I hit on 5 picks..FIVE out of 34! It’s cool I own it, I wear my mistakes like the rings of a pimp. So, let’s get into the steals, the stupid, the possible, and my general thoughts on the first few rounds of the draft.Please, blog, may I have some more?