There’s admittedly a special place in my heart for left-handed pitchers already, but I’m falling hard for Blake Snell. The 22-year-old southpaw ranked 9th in my Rays Top 10 prospects this offseason. Here’s what I said there: “His arsenal features a low-to-mid-90s fastball, plus slider, and plus changeup. His ceiling is more of a mid-rotation starter, but in deep leagues he’s a prospect worth checking in on just in case he figures out his control and takes another step forward. He will face a bigger challenge in 2015 when he gets his feet wet in Double-A.” His feet are officially wet. After just four games in High-A, Snell was promoted to Double-A Montgomery and made his first start Friday night. He responded with six scoreless innings, striking out eight while allowing just one hit and one walk. On the season, Snell has now pitched 27 innings and has yet to allow a run. He has struck out 35 batters and opponents are hitting just .124 off him. If you’re in a deeper dynasty format with some minor league slots to fill, I’d be getting on the Snell train. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (1) | 2013 (7) | 2012 (13) | 2011 (19) | 2010 (15)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [88-74] NL Central
AAA: [73-71] International League – Indianapolis
AA: [61-81] Eastern League – Altoona
A+: [78-61] Florida State League – Bradenton
A: [54-81] South Atlantic League – West Virginia
A(ss): [35-40] New York-Penn League – Jamestown

Graduated Prospects
Gregory Polanco, OF | Tony Sanchez, C

The Gist
30 teams…300 prospects…and we’ve reached the mountaintop. The Pirates continue to have a very strong farm system this year with a nice balance of hitting and pitching. Adding IFA Jung-Ho Kang makes it even stronger. While they’re thin on southpaws, they’re stacked with solid right-handed pitching. Gerrit Cole has already come up and established his value, but Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, and Nick Kingham should be ready to join him in the rotation at some point this year or next. The Pirates have had success developing Latin American talent like Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte, and they’ll look to continue that trend with prospects like Alen Hanson, Harold Ramirez, and Tito Polo. On a side note, this last minor league preview is a little bittersweet for me, as it will also be my last post with the site. I’ve accepted an offer to scout for the Phillies. The offer was just too good to pass up and hopefully I can help them find the next Domonic Brown. I wish you all the best and really appreciated my time here at Razzball.

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The title pretty much says it all, so instead of a big intro this opening paragraph will link you to some more helpful information regarding prospects. Here are the Top 30 prospects for 2015 redraft leagues. Here are the American League and National League Top 10 prospect indexes. We also have the Top 20 2014 signees for first-year player drafts in dynasty formats. Last but not least, here are my Top 100 keeper rankings. In the prospect rankings below, more specific ETAs are given as well as links to the organizational top ten list for each player. Just click on the team abbreviation to view my comments on individual prospects. Only two-thirds of the teams are written up, so apologies if not all of the links are live just yet. Ages listed are as of Opening Day 2015. Here are the Top 50 prospects for 2015 fantasy baseball…

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During the All-Star break last year, Mark Reynolds aka Mini Donkey, Adam Dunn aka Big Donkey, Ian Stewart aka Mini Mini Donkey and Pedro Alvarez aka El Burro got together to discuss the future of the Donkeys with Adam Dunn retiring. The conference took place at a Chicago-area Sheraton. Outside the Sheraton conference room, a sign read, “Dunn Done and Done?” Caterers vied hard to cater the event. Carpenters stood by in case Dunn sat down wrong on a chair. First to speak was Mini Donkey. He assured Dunn, the Donkeys could continue, saying, “All brays to you, but is this the end? Nay! There would still be all-or-nothing types for years to come.” Alvarez said something, but the translator was a no-show. Ian Stewart placed a cinnamon sugar donut on a pen and took practice swings, eliciting a stink-eye from Dunn. After a good hour of debate, Dunn wasn’t sure; his concern about their future worried him, so, naturally, he turned on the Futures Game. At that point, a Lithuanian maid walked into the conference room with a sign written in Batman-style font. The sign read: WHAMP! At six-foot, five inches, Joey Gallo devastates pitches. Last year, he hit 21 homers in only 68 games in Double-A. Before that, he hit 21 homers in only 58 games in High-A. Last year, 38 homers in 106 games. And he can’t hit above .240 in the minors. Adam Dunn stood up and exclaimed, “Four lady readers and gentlemen, we got ourselves a new Donkey — Big Donkey Jr.! And Ian Stewart please stop wasting donuts.” Anyway, what can we expect of Joey Gallo for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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A Scottsdale Surprise might sound like something you’d find listed in the Urban Dictionary, but it’s really just the last two teams in our Arizona Fall League preview series. Some of the best prospects in baseball will be getting their extra reps in this fall. Each team in the majors is represented across the six Arizona Fall League teams and we’ve already covered a few of the fantasy relevant prospects on Mesa, Glendale, Salt River, and Peoria. You can follow the links at the end of this post to view those. Stats included are the cumulative stats for 2014 across all minor league levels. Strong farm systems like the Pirates and Red Sox are represented on the Scottsdale and Surprise rosters, so let’s take a look at some fantasy prospects from each to put a bow on this thing.

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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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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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