Japhet Amador is a giant man, standing at 6-foot-4, weighing in at 315 pounds. In the Mexican League, where he’s played for the last four years, they called him El Gran Burrito. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto once remarked that Amador is welcome at the Presidential Palace anytime, as long as Amador brings his own snacks. When Jose Altuve heard the Astros signed Amador, Altuve was thrilled. No more walking around for Altuve; Amador will just carry him around in a baby bjorn. I watched video of Amador and I’ve never seen such a slow bat through the zone. He looks like a Mexican Meat Loaf in a celebrity softball game. I swear, Amador stopped to eat one of those spicy dried mango candies halfway through his swing. His power is huge, but I’m not sure he’d gonna be able to catch up to anything. Last year in the Mexican League, he hit 36 homers and he’s 27 years old. The Mexican League is supposedly comparable to Triple-A, only instead of buses for transportation, the teams pile into a Toyota Tercel. Right now, he looks pegged for Triple-A, but since the Astros have Robbie Grossman, Marc Krauss, Jesus Guzman and J.D. Martinez vying for everyday ABs, anything could happen. I’d take a flyer on Amador in AL-Only leagues, and wait and see in mixed leagues. Best case scenario, he gets the DH job and hits 25+ homers and .220. The worst case scenario, you draft Altuve and Amador accidentally sits on him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw recently in spring training for 2014 fantasy baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (12) | 2012 (14) | 2011 (16) | 2010 (14) | 2009 (27)
2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] NL Central
AAA: [66-78] Pacific Coast League – Iowa
AA: [76-62] Southern League – Tennessee
A+: [75-51] Florida State League – Daytona
A: [55-80] Midwest League – Kane County
A(ss): [41-35] Northwest League — Boise
Junior Lake (OF); Chris Rusin (LHP); Hector Rondon (RHP); Blake Parker (RHP)
The Run Down
Twins and Astros fans might take umbrage with this statement, but from a fantasy perspective, the Cubs have the most exciting farm in the minors. It starts with Javier Baez, of course, but the impact potential runs throughout this top ten, with every prospect bringing at least one high-end fantasy tool to the table. And I could’ve gone deeper too, with upper-levels arms like Arodys Vizaino and Neil Ramirez set to surface this season, and top latin talent, Eloy Jimenez, lurking at the instructional level. Plain and simple: this system is stacked. Some of you know that I was raised a Cardinals fan, and that the Redbirds are still my team. As such, I should be taken seriously when I tell you that the future of the Cubs is really friggin’ bright, and it is near, and it scares the piss out of me.
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.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 Cubs Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Mauricio Rubio Jr. from CubsDen.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Javier Baez | SS, Cubs | Born: 12/1/1992
I realize I’ve been a little Javier Baez-centric lately (see here and here), but I’m not going to apologize for that. I’m also not going to apologize for the fact that I already wrote one of these posts on Baez around this time last year. No, I’m actually going to take this time to write a few hundred more words on him because he’s pretty much the hottest thing going in Minor League Baseball, and y’all need to take note. Baez is beasting right now. There’s no gentle way to put it. For the past month the 20-year-old has been drilling lasers all over Southern League ballparks, and in many cases, out of said ballparks. Since being promoted to Double-A Tennessee in early July, Baez has posted 28 XBH (14 HR) in 185 PA for a slugging average of .631, which is an insane figure for a middle infielder.Please, blog, may I have some more?
For the past few seasons, Jose Abreu has been regarded as Cuba’s best offensive talent. The 26-year-old slugger has spent the past decade playing pro ball in Cuba where he routinely was at the top of the league in AVG, OBP, SLG, RBI, and HR. Well, it now seems he’s played his last game in Cuba, as reports earlier this week explain that he has left his homeland and has begun the process of becoming a MLB free agent. At 6-3, 250, Abreu is a large man with next to zero defensive appeal. He’s a 1B/DH type, so he’d fit best with an AL club, but scouting reports suggest he has enough glove to get by at first, so don’t rule out the NL entirely. Wherever he signs, it’s gonna be for big money and an immediate big league opportunity. Abreu is an MLB-ready masher, and at age 26, there’ll be no reason to start him in the minors. If all goes as planned, he should be occupying a regular MLB role by Opening Day 2014. There’s upside here in the neighborhood of .300 AVG and 30+ HR. It’ll be interesting to see how early he’s off the board in mixed league drafts next spring.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The White Sox traded Jake Peavy to the Red Sox not long ago — perhaps you remember it. The three-team swap sent Peavy to Boston, Jose Iglesias to Detroit, and a handful of lower levels prospects to Chicago. It also sent 22-year-old outfielder, Avisail Garcia, to the Southsiders. In the aftermath of the trade, I rushed to add Garcia wherever I could, working under the assumption that Alex Rios would also be moved before the trade deadline, which would create an immediate opportunity for Avisail. Well, it took about ten days longer than I anticipated, but Rios is now playing for Texas, and Garcia is now a regular in Chicago. If you’ve been paying attention to my ramblings, you already know that I’m a big fan of Avisail. He has the tools to help across the board in the fantasy game, and high-impact potential in HR, AVG, and RBI categories. Garcia is still a little raw, and his approach needs some refinement, but I’m thrilled to see him finally getting an opportunity to play everyday in the bigs. If you’re in need of outfield help, I absolutely endorse adding him in mixed formats.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Phillies paid a shizzload of dough to sign the big league-ready Cuban RHP, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The deal is worth up to $60 million, $40+ million of which is guaranteed. So, if we’re taking for granted that Ruben Amaro knows what he’s doing, then it’s a safe assumption that Gonzalez is going to quickly blossom into a front-end starter and a coveted fantasy asset, a la Yu Darvish, who signed for similar money. But I’m not so sure about all that. Gonzalez is 26 years old and he’s been pitching in international ball long enough for talent evaluators to have come to a consensus on his projection, so it’s surprising to find such mixed opinions on the guy. The Phillies are paying him starter’s money, but there are plenty of folks around baseball who don’t even see Gonzalez working out long-term in a starter’s role. Clearly I’m skeptical about the Phillies’ financial commitment, but even so, I’m not completely writing off the possibility of M.A.G. earning every dime of that contract on the mound. With a deep arsenal of fastballs and various off-speed offerings, all of which he throws with deception and good command, Gonzalez appears to be a guy who’ll keep hitters guessing and tally up the whiffs — there’s certainly enough upside to be stashing him in deep leagues. Still, my inclination is that there’s not $60 million dollars worth of talent here.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Quite a bit has changed since the 2013 MiLB season began in April, and folks have been clamoring for a mid-season prospect list. Well, here it is, 50-deep. But before we get into it, a quick primer on the criteria for this top 50: There was no specific timetable considered, so the rankings below can be considered a dynasty league list. You’ll notice that the ETA’s here range from this season all the way to 2016. To prevent any overlap with lists that Grey and JayWrong put together last week, I’ve included only prospects who are currently in the minor leagues. That means I had to remove Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick from the board after news of their call-ups — Yelich was #7, Marisnick #40. It also means I couldn’t list Carlos Martinez, who’s currently working in relief for the Cardinals — he would’ve been ranked right around #20.
Anyway, I’ll be writing notes on all of these fellas during the off-season, once the dust has settled on the 2013 season and I’ve had a chance to take a more thorough look at depth charts, injuries, etc. For now, I’ve included only a few pertinent details: age, current level, fantasy impact categories, and ETA. Each player is linked to his player card on Baseball-Reference.com, or his Razzball player card where possible. My hope is that this list will help dynasty leaguers sort out their rosters as keeper deadlines approach. Enjoy.Please, blog, may I have some more?