I told you last week about the implications of Xander Bogaerts’s Triple-A promotion. This week, we celebrate another Triple-A promotion, as the Mariners have bumped Taijuan Walker from Double-A Jackson to Tacoma. Walker has everything you look for in a pitching prospect — size, stuff, athleticism… the works. He’s as elite as they come. After an up-and-down 2012 at Jackson, the 20-year-old returned to Double-A in 2013, performing with much greater consistency this time through. Walker cranked it up a notch in June, though, posting a 33/3 K/BB in 25 IP this month. He’s only 20, and it’s probably a little premature to wonder about a 2013 arrival considering the M’s have arms like Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Hultzen waiting for an opportunity, but Walker’s ceiling is the best of the bunch. By far. Now that he’s just one stop from the bigs, he needs to be on your fantasy radar.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First, I’m sure a good chunk of our readers are dads, so happy Fathers Day to ya! I’m not a dad, but I have one, and he’s the man. I’ll be hanging with him later today, watching golf and enjoying good booze. I just might even root for Phil Mickelson, even though I suspect that dude’s a phony jerk — all those fist bumps and fake smiles aren’t fooling me, Mickelson! Anyway, my dad likes him, so go Phil. Now I’m tempted to write an entire post about pro golf, but some of you might consider that boring, so I’ll get on with the usual prospect talk instead.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In case you missed it, May rolled over into June yesterday, which is an exciting development for those of us who’ve been stashing guys like Wil Myers, Zack Wheeler, and Christian Yelich. Most folks are projecting dates in mid-June for the Super Two cutoff, so we’re likely just a couple weeks away from some high-impact call-ups. Of course, these Super Two projections are an inexact science, and it’s always possible that ball clubs err on the side of caution, and give it an extra week or two for cushion. In any case, Myers, in particular, is heating up at just the right time. I’d already speculated that his cold start wouldn’t delay his timetable much, but you can forget that conversation entirely now. Through his last ten, Myers is batting .341 with 5 homers and 19 RBI. If he’s somehow available in your league, now is a good time to stash him.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With the constant influx of new talent, new names, new statistics, it can be easy to lose sight of a prospect who’s fallen from grace. A little more than a year ago, in their 2012 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America ranked Joe Benson as the #2 overall prospect in the Twins organization. Benson was coming off a 2011 in which he hit .285/.388/.495 with 16 homers at Double-A New Britain, finishing the year with a call-up to the big club and a spot on the 40-man. He was on the fantasy radar before injuries delayed his 2012 debut, but he hasn’t been relevant since then. Across four levels in 2012, the former 2nd round draft pick managed a line at .202/.288/.336. And after watching him hit .192/.256/.285 through 43 games at Triple-A Rochester this season, the Twins had seen enough and released Benson to make room for P.J. Walters. The Rangers claimed him have assigned him to Double-A. At 25 years old, there’s still a glimmer of hope for the toolsy outfielder, but that will fade quickly if the horrendous hitting continues.

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 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Astros Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy James from Astros County.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [55-107] NL Central (AL West beginning 2013)
AAA: [78-65] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [81-59] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [74-66] California League – Lancaster
A: [69-69] South Atlantic League – Lexington (Quad Cities of MWL beginning 2013)
A(ss): [15-25] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League Players — Mesa Solar Sox
Jarred Cosart (RHP); Chia-Jen Lo (RHP); Alex Sogard (LHP); Nick Tropeano (RHP); Jiovanni Mier (3B); Jonathan Singleton (1B); George Springer (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Marwin Gonzalez (SS); Matt Dominguez (3B); Lucas Harrell (RHP); Dallas Keuchel (LHP); Rhiner Cruz (RHP); Fernando Abad (LHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow is so flippin’ awesome. I cannot stress this enough. In little more than a year at the helm of the Astros, he’s turned the organization into one of the most fascinating franchises in the sport. Obviously, they’re not among the better ball clubs — not at the MLB level, at least — but by surrounding himself with baseball bloggers and NASA engineers, Luhnow has created an environment that celebrates new ideas and is well ahead of the curve in terms of analytics. Houston had a few nice prospects in place when he arrived, but the system as a whole was shallow and weak. Luhnow spent his first year cutting big league payroll, adding depth to the farm via trade, and spending big in the draft. I imagine more of the same is in store for 2013, so expect another sub-60 win season as Houston joins the AL West. It might be a few years before they’re competitive again, the Astros are transforming much more quickly than I thought was possible. They’re building cost-controlled depth, and waves of promising prospects are set to arrive in Houston beginning this year. So even if Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aren’t voted into the HOF this afternoon, Astros fans can sleep soundly. The future is bright, indeed, for Houston.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We’ve recently devoted a bit of time to the discussion college ballers, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to lead with this absurdly awesome catch from Derrick Salberg of Lower Columbia College.  The context of the moment makes the grab even more unbelievable:  two outs, bottom of the ninth, one runner on, LCC leading 4-2.  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, it’s not how the Nationals envisioned the arrival, but Bryce Harper is here.  The promotion is based more on necessity than performance – Harper’s hitting just .250/.333/.375 in the early going at Triple-A Syracuse.  Looks like he’ll occupy the 7th spot in the Washington batting order while Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse are shelved on the DL.  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I spend most of my time here focusing on prospects who’re nearing their big league debuts.  Today, though, I’m gonna be discussing some guys a little further out.  In these rankings, talent trumps all – although, I broke that rule a few times based on lack of experience (see Bundy, Sano, Starling).   Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?