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?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (7) | 2012 (13) | 2011 (19) | 2010 (15) | 2009 (18)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [94-68] NL Central
AAA: [80-64] International League – Indianapolis
AA: [63-79] Eastern League – Altoona
A+: [57-77] Florida State League – Bradenton
A: [82-58] South Atlantic League – West Virginia
A(ss):  [43-52] New York-Penn League — Jamestown

Graduated Prospects
Gerrit Cole (RHP); Justin Wilson (LHP); Bryan Morris (RHP)

The Run Down
This Pittsburgh farm is a definite top tier system for fantasy, loaded with impact potential on both sides of the game.  After watching homegrown talents like Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole graduate into the big leagues over the past two seasons, we’re already accustomed to looking toward the Pirates for youthful fantasy help, and that trend should continue in 2014 as Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon appear ready for big league arrival.  Looking deeper, though, there’s impact talent at every level of this org, and even after Polanco and Taillon push through to the majors, prospects like Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows figure to fill those voids nicely.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (13) | 2011 (19) | 2010 (15) | 2009 (18) | 2008 (26)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [79-83] NL Central
AAA: [89-55] International League – Indianapolis
AA: [72-70] Eastern League – Altoona
A+: [60-77] Florida State League – Bradenton
A: [61-79] South Atlantic League – West Virginia
A(ss): [35-41] New York-Penn League — State College (Jamestown beginning 2013)

Arizona Fall League PlayersScottsdale Scorpions
Vic Black (RHP); Brandon Cumpton (RHP); Tyler Waldron (RHP); Matt Curry (1B); Gift Ngoepe (SS); Adalberto Santos (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Starling Marte (OF); Yamaico Navarro (INF); Jared Hughes (RHP); Jeff Locke (LHP)

The Run Down
There are systems out there that have more quality depth than Pittsburgh in the starting pitching department, but no other club boasts a one-two pitching punch that can match Pirates’. Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are future front-line starters and they’ll both be knocking on the big league door this season. Pirates fans have lots to look forward to, as Cole and Taillon prepare to surface in the bigs alongside a solid and youthful core of offensive talent that includes Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, Starling Marte, and Pedro Alvarez. Given what they currently have and what’s set to arrive, it’s difficult to imagine this Pittsburgh team not contending for a NL Central division title within the next few years, but with the Reds and Cardinals set for long-term success, and the Cubs creeping back toward relevance, the competition will be supreme. But regardless of whether or not they’re playing postseason baseball in Pittsburgh, the Pirates organization figures to continue its recent trend of helping us fantasy owners.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Brandon Phillips isn’t the shiniest tool in the toolbox, but he hit two homers off Beachy yesterday.  He’s gone from a 30/30 2nd baseman to a 20/20 2nd baseman to now an 18/15 2nd baseman, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely screwed if you overpaid for him on draft day.  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Here’s what’s gonna happen.  You’re gonna be out at a family BBQ for Memorial Day.  Your weird uncle that has coke bottle glasses is going to ask your girlfriend if she’ll pass the potato salad just so he can get a glimpse of her bra when she moves her arm, and then your friend is going to text you, “Anthony Rizzo called up!  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The draft was being hyped as the deepest in years, and was littered with lots of starting pitching prospects. It also makes anyone who has been around fantasy baseball awhile feel old.  With the offspring of Dante Bichette, Dwight Smith and Bobby Bonilla being some of the names eligible to be drafted. Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?