As I discussed recently with a good friend, I just missed my musical times growing up. I started getting into the rock of the early 90’s. Y’all can call it grunge, I’m cool with that. Don’t really care what you want to label it as but I enjoyed my Alice ‘n’ Chains and Soundgarden in my Middle School years. And just as high school began, the good music started to die. I got stuck with the fallout of all the Mouseketeers becoming music stars and invading my audio living space. Gone was ‘Burden In My Hand’ and in was ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’. It was a jolt, to say the least. I finished out my High School years going backwards musically, exploring all the bands that influenced the bands I loved growing up so I could avoid the complete and under dreck that was on the radio every day. Of course, that does not make one immune to it. Hell, even people who admit to hating Journey can probably sing a few bars. When Thong Song hit my ears, I thought it was a joke. I mean, it quotes Ricky Martin’s ‘La Vida Loca’. Who does that if they’re trying to be taken seriously? Sisqo I guess. And no, Sisqo, I won’t look up how to make the weird mark above the ‘o’. You’re just not worth it. But more to the point, ‘If Loving Kolten Is Wong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right’ has been used so I decided to bring upon you the pain of my late teen years to make a title. Sorry about that (ok not really), but I thought you’d like the song (ok, not really again). Of course, I bring to you this conversation about Kolten Wong because he hit 2 homers Thursday night to go along with a steal and now has 9 HRs and 17 steals on the year over 251 AB. Stretch that out to 500 AB and you have an 18 HR, 34 steal season at 2B. To put that in perspective, Daniel Murphy is on pace for 13 HRs and 17 steals in 656 at bats this year and is the 7th best 2B on the year, according to Yahoo. Like I told Nick on the podcast over the All-Star Break, I think Wong turns some teams around down the stretch run. Given that it’s his rookie year, I’m willing to look past the up and down that his been this year with Kolten and realize his .247 average is masking something that could be great in 2015 and beyond. That Wong, wa-Wong, Wong, Wong! In other news for 2014 Fantasy Baseball…

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Happy Hump Day (cue the Geico camel) fellow prospect hounds! Another week of minor league action is in the books as the top prospects continue jockeying for spots on various “up and coming” lists, and try to better position themselves for promotions closer to their ultimate goal — a call to “The Show”. Time for our weekly look at some of the prospects that have made some noise recently in the hope of climbing a little closer to the big leagues, whether that step ultimately comes this season or a little further down the road. Refill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and let us guide your continuing research as we try to help you scoop your fellow fantasy competitors with our Wednesday Twelve-Pack.

We’ll start by mentioning the obvious, Cubs fans that follow me on Twitter got the news Monday afternoon that Javier Baez was on his way to join the big club in Denver for last night’s game. Batting second and playing 2B (where he likely winds up for the long haul at this point), he struck out against Brett Anderson in the 1st, grounded out to Nolan Arrenado in the 3rd, struck out against Franklin Morales in the 4th and 6th, and lined out to Brandon Barnes in RF with the bases loaded in the 7th against Matt Belisle after the Rockies pen imploded and walked half the guys on the Cubs’ 40-Man Roster. (EDIT: Baez did deliver his first big league hit, a solo shot off of Boone Logan in the top of the 12th, and was 1-6 with 3 Ks at publishing deadline.) Don’t fret Chicago hopeful, Kris Bryant isn’t far behind.

A couple of the guys we’ll take a look at this week had help clearing their way when the smoke cleared on one of the wackier non-waiver trade deadline days in memory as players on their organizations’ big-club rosters were moved. The deals won’t necessarily create immediate openings for them at the MLB-level, but they’ll help move timetables and ETAs along. Here’s who I’m watching closer going into week 19…

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You know when Shin-Soo Choo (2-for-4, 2 runs and his 10th homer) is hitting homers there’s a Dong Party going on. Dong Party is also my lead single off my album, “Who Let In All These Guys?” The CD cover had me dressed like a sailor, begrudgingly hoisting a man for a keg stand. None of this is ringing a bell? That’s weird, but it did perform better in Asia than here. Choo hadn’t homered since July 4th and only has 4 homers since May 22nd and is hitting .238. Can we say bust? If you can’t, you might want to see a speech therapist. Also joining the Dong Party was J.P. Arencibia (3-for-5, 4 RBIs and his 7th homer). That Arencibia is one spicy meatball! You know what one meatball said to another meatball? What’s up, metaball? What? No good? Okay, I won’t submit it to Highlights. Arencibia has 4 homers in the last eleven games, and has been known to go on a dong run. For those of you who just found us today Googling “dong run.” We won’t judge you here. Next up, for the Dong Party was Robinson Crusoe. He’s got a novel idea. It’s about a shipwrecking. Quite the yarn! Chirinos (3-for-5, 3 runs and two homers) has 11 homers on the year, and I’ve enjoyed owning him in a few two-catcher leagues, but he’s hitting .237 and I wouldn’t get too excited, especially not while you’re at a Dong Party. Finally, arriving at the Dong Party with a homer in the first inning was Adrian Beltre (1-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and his 16th homer). Getting a bangfizzle at a Dong Party is such a bummer. By the by, Such A Bummer was my follow-up single. Tell me if you want the Sound Cloud link. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac, and the illustration next to it was Salvador Perez’s abuelita. A little voice inside my head said, “Don’t look back. You can never look back.” I thought I knew what love was. I owned Javier Baez in every league I could grab him, but what did I know? Those minor league days are gone forever. He’s got to let them go! I can see you, Baez, your brown skin shinin’ in the sun. You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby. And I can tell you, my love for you will still be strong. Not Giancarlo strong, but strong never the hoo! Baez’s minor league numbers are eye-popping like John Lithgow in The Twilight Zone Movie — 23 homers, 16 steals and a .260 average in only 104 games. What are you? A 35/25 guy at shortstop? Why stop there? Why not just dress up like the Sun-Maid girl and feed me shrunken grapes? What? It’s my fantasy! Like Don Henley and later The Ataris sang, I grabbed Baez in every league that I could. He might not be any better than, say, Danny Santana this year, his K-rate in the minors is a little scary, and he might hit .220. Whatevs, it’s an upside gamble, which I like at middle infield. I’m guessing Baez will play 2nd base, Arismendy (I still love you!) will move to center field and one of the Cubs platooners will sit. To paraphrase Harry Caray, if the moon was made of Javier Baez would cha eat it? Well, would cha? I would! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Welcome to the All-Star break gang – the unofficial beginning of the second half signals the time to reorganize, revamp, and re-think approaches for us, as well as the folks making the calls for your favorite MLB teams. And, coincidentally, it also marks the time for me to revisit my Prospect Rankings. These are the current top-50 guys on my board that haven’t accumulated the standard minimum 130 AB/50 IP at the MLB level that most fantasy leagues recognize. When compiling my rankings, I try to consider as many variables as possible, but my main focus tilts toward future “difference-makers”… those guys that have the potential to make significant impacts when they reach “The Show”. Some players you’ll find on this list may be further away from making that impact than others, some may be struggling a bit right now (they may have been recently promoted to the next level to challenge them and are adjusting to stiffer competition), some may be on the shelf because of injury, etc., but this list represents the top-50 players I’d pick if you give me the first 50 picks in the MiLB phase of a draft in a newly forming fantasy league. These are the prospects GMs “dream on”, regardless of their current minor league level – the players they plan to build their rosters around at some point in the near future.

So here we go…

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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 biweekly glimpse of the soon-to-arrive impact talent.

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…And by “IBS”, I don’t mean irritable bowel syndrome. In this context, I mean BABIP verified by ISO and Spd scores. Two things induce my real life IBS: nutrition, and my high impact dynasty leagues. Consider this series your dynasty IBS treatment.

BABIP has little face, so I use ISO (isolated slugging) and Spd (FG’s speed score) to verify the BABIP.

Check out Part 1 of this series where I delved into Trois-A assets. While Joc Pederson and Gregory Polanco naturally lead the rankings in conjunction with Quad-A guys like Andrew Brown and Chris Dickerson, I pointed to some translatable future impact in Chris Taylor and Domingo Santana, among others.

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On Razzball Radio last week, where you finally got to see my perfectly circumferenced face, that looks like almost any chubby latino catcher that you can think of (to name a couple: Ramon Castro, Josmil Pinto), I got into my win-now approach. I traded high impact prospects (Gregory Polanco and Anthony Rendon) for a more immediate influence, (Robinson Cano).

I often wind up with no top prospects by year’s end, but still wind up with a sundry of “B” prospects that turn into more i.e. Mookie Betts and Joc Pederson last year for nothing! It’s about this time of the year that I start delving into C prospects in dynasty leagues for warm bodies to displace my empty prospect slots. Often, guys that come up will have initial contact problems, so I look for guys that can elevate their BABIP through both power (ISO) and speed (SPD). An extreme example is Yasiel Puig. He had contact problems last year, but he’s a monster in the power and speed departments ensuring an elevated BABIP. This year he’s put that together with a rational HR/FB ratio and a really nice contact and discipline jump. He’s elite.

It seems like I’m always seeing current and former Mets when I do this. This year is no different thanks to Andrew Brown and Eric Campbell (current Mets) as well as Nick Evans and Mike Jacobs (former) – all on this list due to their wOBA’s and ISO. While we might find more eventual, longer-term impact in AA, for this post, let’s look at the AAA minor league leaderboard (as of 5/30), including the Mexican League ranked by wOBA combined with BABIP (weighed by ISO and SPD)… just trust me:

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Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland, “The rule is: jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.”  Carroll also was blasted out of his mad hatter on opium and really liked little kids (in a weird Michael Jackson-Jesus juice kind of way). However, your humble-but-nonetheless-poppy-fueled Guru says jam yesterday, cram tomorrow and jam it twice today. Now pass the hookah and pardon me while I pull on your bloomers about something here, Alice (and it completely applies to the jamming and the cramming we’re about to do): This Super Two nonsense is damn annoying. Not to just us fantasy ballers, but to anyone that’s a fan of young talent wasting away in the likes of Iowa and Indianapolis. Bring up Javier Baez and Gregory Polanco now! Don’t give me the ol’, “He needs more seasoning” B.S.. How much seasoning does Polanco need? He’s hitting .350, with six homers, 45 RBI and 11 steals in 50 games. I think this meat is tender enough, get him on the grill now. Of course teams put money above winning (and our fake teams), that’s why four watered down Sam Adams’ cost me a kidney at Fenway last week. What exactly is Super Two? As simple as I can put it is: once a player gets promoted, they start to accrue MLB service time. A player needs three years of MLB service time to qualify for salary arbitration. However, the top 22% of players promoted first in the season that have more than two years of service time, but less than three years, qualify for salary arbitration under the “Super Two” status. Get all that? Becoming arbitration eligible obviously means a significant bump in the bucks. So, it’s a big money grab by a bunch of Spaulding Smails that fart in the general direction of fans and our fantasy teams. And, while the Pirates playoff chances slip away, you pay $75 to park at PNC, and my Polanco has to have dinner at the Indy Applebee’s. Now that we’ve hit June, this Super Two stuff is about to end and there will be a bunch of prospects making their way to the party. At least the Twins called up Oswaldo Arcia and the St. Louis Cardinals came to their senses by bringing up  Oscar Tavares on Saturday. If the waiver wire in your league is full of Super Two’s, grab them now and screw the Queen of Hearts. With my Sunday rant out of the way, let’s head down this rabbit hole – it’s time to jam it or cram it.

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I’ve said before Homer Bailey is someone you should acquire in a trade. SAME! I’ve said Homer and homers are synonymous. SAME! Those homers should come down, literally. SAME! I…went…scuba…diving…while…eating…Captain…Crunch…SAME! His K-rate is down from last year and his walks are up…NOT SAME! I’ve also said his BABIP is absurdly high, which means he’s getting unlucky. SAME! I’ve said before the difference between his xFIP and his ERA are huge, but after his last start his ERA is starting to come down. Um, SAME but different? He’s not the same pitcher as he was last year. SAME NOT SAME! His Ks are a bit off. NOT SAME! It’s more likely he has a low-3 ERA the rest of the way than the plus-5 ERA he has right now. Um…Well…Dah, the Gobstopper! I wouldn’t trade anyone too huge to acquire Bailey, but the beauty of this is you don’t have to. He’s got a 5+ ERA, so trade for him your Never Nude jorts. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?