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…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For those who missed it, we took a brief look at a handful of draft prospects earlier in the week, highlighting players who, by my estimation, have the quickest paths to fantasy baseball relevance. Without knowing who would end up where, it would have been a stretch to try to peg specific timetables on anyone listed. Even now, before signing bonuses have been agreed to, that sort of exercise seems silly. There is one ETA, though, that I can’t help but speculate over. The White Sox drafted Carlos Rodon third overall, and have begun the process of negotiating signing terms with Rodon’s agent, Scott Boras. Given Boras’s reputation, there are many who wonder if the Sox will even be able to sign the 21-year-old, but I’m not overly concerned on that end. Chicago established a precedent in 2010 when they pushed Chris Sale through to the big club only two months after drafting him in the first round, revealing a distinct willingness not to pinch pennies over service time. A similar fast-track for Rodon puts him (and Boras) one year closer to payday. I believe the “screw super two” attitude displayed by Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams will be a valuable bargaining piece for Chicago, and could lead to a bonus in the neighborhood of MLB’s slot suggestion. Granted, such a scenario would involve the lefty pitching in a relief role, it still wouldn’t derail any plans to have him join the starting rotation next spring. This is all to say that Carlos Rodon pitching at the highest level this season is not out of the question. Keep that possibility in mind during your upcoming dynasty drafts.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (10) | 2012 (19) | 2011 (13) | 2010 (6) | 2009 (22)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] AL Central
AAA: [77-67] International League – Rochester
AA: [66-76] Eastern League — New Britain
A+: [79-56] Florida State League – Fort Myers
A: [88-50] Midwest League – Cedar Rapids

Graduated Prospects
Oswaldo Arcia (OF); Aaron Hicks (OF); Chris Colabello (1B/OF); Chris Herrmann (C/OF); Ryan Pressly (RHP); Andrew Albers (LHP); Pedro Hernandez (LHP); Kyle Gibson (RHP)

The Run Down
With regard to fantasy impact on the farm, the Twins are right there with the Cubs at the top of the league.  And, narrowing our scope a bit, no team in baseball can boast a better one-two prospect punch than what Minnesota has with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.  But try not to distract yourself too much with the shiny, hyped-up names at the top of this list, because this org is loaded with talent from top to bottom.  The top ten we have here don’t even tell the whole story — we’ll have to let the steady flow of homegrown talent speak for itself over these next few seasons.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (19) | 2011 (13) | 2010 (6) | 2009 (22) | 2008 (15)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [66-96] AL Central
AAA: [72-72] International League – Rochester
AA: [75-67] Eastern League — New Britain
A+: [60-75] Florida State League – Fort Myers
A: [77-63] Midwest League – Beloit (Cedar Rapids beginning 2013)

Arizona Fall League Players — Peoria Javelinas
Logan Darnell (LHP); Kyle Gibson (RHP); Caleb Thielbar (LHP); Michael Tonkin (RHP); Evan Bigley (OF); Nate Roberts (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Chris Parmelee (1B/OF); Brian Dozier (SS); Liam Hendriks (RHP); Cole De Vries (RHP); Sam Deduno (RHP); Pedro Florimon (SS); Darin Mastroianni (OF)

The Run Down
There are certainly other teams in the discussion, but when evaluating the most improved farm systems in baseball over the past year, Minnesota needs to be considered near the top. Owning the #2 pick in the draft is always a nice way to bolster a club’s young talent, but the Twins went beyond that in 2012, as impact talents lived up to hype, and forgotten prospects returned to form. And they continued improving into the offseason, adding big-ceiling starting pitchers in Alex Meyer from Washington and Trevor May from Philadelphia. The Twins shipped out MLB outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in order to acquire those arms, but with capable outfield prospects pushing through from the minors this year, the added pitching depth seems like a smart move. Do take note of this system as there’s plenty to be excited about in terms of the fantasy game, and certain prospects should be making their impacts this year.

Please, blog, may I have some more?