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?

Happy Sunday again gang – hope there weren’t too many of you that overdid it with your personal firework shows to celebrate the 4th – baseball (as always) seems to help us in that regard every year around this time, and the big Billy Beane shocker provided everyone a great finale for a lot of contenders. Of course this also helps bring more clarity for those looking to make a run at the MLB-level (obviously defining the market for ANY contender looking to shore up their rotation) just as it will ultimately lead to even more prospect machinations and opportunities as we move forward.

Given the rising level of prospect interest this time of year (both in potential trade/promotion opportunities, but in general as well), and in addition to our hopes of expanding our prospect coverage and helpful information and discussion for you guys in our Razzball community, Sundays will feature, what I’ll refer to as my Sunday Twelve-Pack, as opposed to a Sunday Six-Pack. As always, pace yourselves – Monday morning still looms, and never drink and drive!!!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Happy Fathers Day, Razzball Nation, especially to the dads we have here on staff: Rudy and Mike and Nick are proud fathers, and I’ve heard Tehol has offspring on every continent, although that rumor is unsubstantiated. I’m not a dad, but I have one, and I’ll be hanging with him today, doing our usual Fathers Day bonding (sipping fine booze while watching the US Open). I hope everyone can find something equally gratifying to do with their dads, or with their sons and daughters. And however it is that you choose to enjoy the day, here’s to all the good fathers out there. Cheers.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (26) | 2012 (15) | 2011 (2) | 2010 (9) | 2009 (6)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [96-66] NL East
AAA: [60-84] International League – Gwinnett
AA: [76-63] Southern League – Mississippi
A+: [69-70] Carolina League – Lynchburg
A: [73-66] South Atlantic League – Rome

Arizona Fall League PlayersScottsdale Scorpions
John Cornerly (RHP); Juan Jaime (RHP); Aaron Northcraft (RHP); Shae Simmons (RHP); Kyle Kubitza (3B); Tommy La Stella (2B); Elmer Reyes (SS); Robby Hefflinger (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Evan Gattis (C/OF); Julio Teheran (RHP); Alex Wood (LHP); Anthony Varvaro (RHP); Luis Avilan (LHP); Cory Gearrin (RHP);

The Run Down
The high-impact fantasy potential on this list starts and ends with Lucas Sims.  Still, I view this Braves farm system as an underrated group, in that, there are a number of intriguing college arms here, and Atlanta, as an organization, has proven itself in recent years to be quite adept at developing college pitchers into MLB assets. (See Mike Minor and Alex Wood.)  On the offensive side of things, there’s far less appeal.  Hitting prospects like Bethancourt, La Stella, and Salcedo could all be spending time with the big club in 2014, and they each bring a glimmer of fantasy upside, but it’s the variety of upside that barely garners consideration in mixed leagues.  With a decent amount of talent pushing through the upper levels, this is a group worth monitoring early on next season, but there’s truly nothing here to get too excited over until Sims makes his way to Turner Field.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (15) | 2011 (2) | 2010 (9) | 2009 (6) | 2008 (8)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [94-68] NL East
AAA: [62-82] International League – Gwinnett
AA: [62-77] Southern League – Mississippi
A+: [72-68] Carolina League – Lynchburg
A: [62-76] South Atlantic League – Rome

Arizona Fall League PlayersPhoenix Desert Dogs
Chris Jones (LHP); Cory Rasmus (RHP); Zeke Spruill (RHP); Cory Brownsten (C); Edward Salcedo (3B);

Graduated Prospects
Tyler Pastornicky (SS); Andrelton Simmons (SS); Jose Constanza (OF); Randall Delgado (RHP)

The Run Down
Pitching depth is a beautiful thing. Injuries and whatnot can destroy Major League rotations and bullpens, so to have a pool of talented, cost-controlled options waiting in the upper levels of the farm is a luxury every team strives for. The Braves are overflowing with pitching depth in their minor leagues — some of it elite, some of it average, but the depth is real, and it’s hugely important. The same cannot be said for Atlanta’s prospects at the plate, however. Not to suggest that this system is void of promising hitting prospects, but the state of the farm in this regard is lagging behind. There is a fair amount of upside — a guy like Evan Gattis could blossom into a catcher-eligible masher as soon as this year. He also could bust and never see the bigs. The other bats here are rather young, and as we know, youth is volatile. So what the Braves have here is a bit of a lopsided system, but it’s a good system, and it brings plenty of fantasy intrigue. And along with the fantasy impact, it should keep Atlanta competitive in the NL East for the foreseeable future.

Please, blog, may I have some more?