It’s the holiday special edition of the prospect podcast, and Halp and I are full of cheer. There’s talk of Jelly Donuts, Egg Nog, the need for a craft rum movement, and so much more. We also lay it on you heavy for your naughty behavior, with a big olde lump of coal. Genuine and from a mine! We talk three of the most wretched systems in baseball, the Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals, and Los Angeles Angels. Each system has only a few players to offer so we packed it into one. If you’re on the fence about whether you should tune into something I’m openly deeming awful or not, three words. Stabby the Cat. She’s back, but not really. Believe me, no one can make the Angels, Royals, and Marlins more fun than Halph! I mean come on Kansas City Royals Prospects!! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Festivus, it’s the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Prospect Podcast.

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I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to get into the mood to write this post. As fun as a system like the Astros or the Braves is to write up, is as painful as a system like the Royals is to do the same. Then it hit me, the Royals system is your hometown bar. You know the dingy one with a name like Home Plate, Donovan’s, or The Old Mill. Not because you need to be drunk in order to even go in there, though alcohol certainly helped write this. It’s because you’ve been avoiding it like the plague every time you venture home. But one night in a moment of weakness one of your old high school buddies talks you into going. So you get over your irrational fear of seeing the girl that dumped you for the guy that only got his name right on his SAT’s, and that once popular jock that’s gained 60 pounds of Burger King breakfast, and has gone from filling up stat sheets in his glory days, to filling up sweatpants and rap sheets with petty misdemeanors. In other words, everyone in the Royals system is 25 and watching their once promising futures vanish with each passing Jager-bomb. That’s not a joke, this has to be the oldest group of hobos I’ve ever covered. I hesitate to say I’m talking about Kansas City Royals Prospects as much as I’m talking about washed up Kansas City Royals Prospects. Amirite?

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It’s time for the Dodgers’ mailbag with your host, Grey Albright and I’m here with Dave Roberts.  First question up, Billy from Toluca Lake asks, “Why didn’t we sign Johnny Cueto?”  Dave Roberts runs full-speed towards 2nd and slides head-first…safe!  Well, that doesn’t exactly answer the question, but he is still quick.  Okay, next question, “Was there ever a chance of re-signing Greinke?”  Dave Roberts brushes dirt from his uniform and motions for the ump to call him safe, and he likely would’ve been safe if we were in a game and not just taking questions from Dodger fans.  Okay, next, “What exactly is Brandon Beachy doing as a Dodger?”  Dave Roberts takes off for third, what a speed demon, though we’re not sure what that has to do with the Dodgers losing pitchers one per hour.  Early yesterday, the Dodgers announced Hyun-Jin Ryu hit the DL with elbow tendinitis.  There’s no clear timetable for his return, but I’d guess sometime in the future.  Him returning in the past seems to be a long shot, at best.  Ryu didn’t look good after he returned from injury and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t return until next season.  If you have no DL room, you should look on Redfin.  Might be time to get in a bigger place.  For now, I’d drop Ryu.  Next up for the Dodgers was Clayton Kershaw would be shut down indefinitely.  Ouch.  I hate to see the top guys in the game get shut down.  It hurts the game that we all love.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I don’t own him, and am pumped about the teams that do have him, losing him.  Schadenfreude!  If he’s shut down now, I’d say the earliest he could possibly return is mid-August.  Filling in will be Julio Urias and his special brand of 5 IP, 3 ERA, blink-and-you-miss-it starts, which makes me wonder if he’s seen himself pitch.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Well here it is the post you’ve been hollering for in the comments since November hit. That’s right ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, cats and dogs, pastrami sandwiches and tuna melts, white wall tires and low profile tires, good guys and bad guys, curved brims hats and flat billed caps, and anyone else that reads Razzball; it’s the top 100 live from my garage in suburban Massachusetts. Ahh-huh you’re being magically whisked away to a garage, with flickering lights and an awkwardly handsome gentleman with a laptop. That’s me, and on my computer is a list, it is yours to read, berate, discuss, commit to memory, burn to keep you warm. What you do with it, is really up to you I suppose. This ranking is pretty straightforward, it lists each player, their position, and a link to their team’s minor league preview. Within each preview you’ll find that players blurb. On one final note, all of these ranks take into consideration a variety of factors including ceiling, proximity, and floor. Consider this post interactive, instead of me waxing poetic after each player explaining why I rank so and so where, I leave it to you to call me to the mat and defend my rankings. Without further ado the 2016 Top 100 Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

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It’s been a long time coming for the Kansas City Royals, but they finally tasted the sweet fizz of championship champagne last fall, and it was all due to Jonny Gomes. I’m not sure if you know this, but he’s the kind of guy you want to go to war with. Hacksaw Jonny musings aside, the Royals built a winner the old fashioned way. And by old fashioned I mean good drafting, solid player development, and excellent trading. In the process, they’ve graduated quite a few players onto their major league squad, traded some for established vets, and let others take the time needed to fully develop. The aftermath is there isn’t a ton of sexy fantasy prospects anymore, but the farm’s not barren, and there are some really intriguing players in the low minors. Dayton Moore and his constituents stuck to their philosophy, and in the end they’re the poster children for why prospects matter. Just ask Baseball America!

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (8) | 2013 (18) | 2012 (3) | 2011 (1) | 2010 (16)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [89-73] AL Central
AAA: [76-67] Pacific Coast League – Omaha
AA: [53-87] Texas League – Northwest Arkansas
A+: [65-72] Carolina League – Wilmington
A: [57-83] South Atlantic League – Lexington

Graduated Prospects
Yordano Ventura, RHP

The Gist
The Royals went all the way to the World Series in 2014, helped in part by the pitching of rookie Yordano Ventura. He averaged 96 on his fastball, second only to Garrett Richards. The 23-year-old will enter 2015 as the ace of the Royals’ staff. No pressure or anything. Brandon Finnegan, the Royals’ first round pick in 2014, contributed to the major league club as well. While he was impressive in the bullpen, it looks like the Royals will lean towards stretching him out in the minors. Other top prospects in this system will look to “bounce back” either from injury or disappointing performances. If you’re in need of a short-term prospect for this year Terrance Gore is likely to provide some stolen bases, but he’s behind Jarrod Dyson on a crowded outfield depth chart.

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The Arizona Fall League starts up next week and it gives us all a few more looks at some fantasy relevant prospects. Some players are getting in the extra reps for development, while others are making up for lost time due to injuries earlier in the season. Either way, all 30 MLB clubs are represented across six teams in the desert. This week we’ll take a peek at the big names on the Salt River Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas. Included with the blurbs are the combined stats for each player’s 2014 season regardless of minor league level. I’ll wrap up the AFL previews next week before we begin the 2015 team-by-team minor league countdown…

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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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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (18) | 2012 (3) | 2011 (1) | 2010 (16) | 2009 (11)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [86-76] AL Central
AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – Omaha
AA: [59-81] Texas League – Northwest Arkansas
A+: [63-77] Carolina League – Wilmington
A: [68-70] South Atlantic League – Lexington

Graduated Prospect
David Lough (OF)

The Run Down
For fantasy purposes, this Royals farm needs to be considered among the more exciting groups in the game.  There’s big time appeal for the fantasy game from numbers one through eight on this list, and that talent is spread out across the developmental stages, with high-impact prospects at almost every level of the org.  That distribution will make for a steady flow of mixed league-relevant arrivals over the next handful of years, and that includes this year, as front-end arms, Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer, prepare to surface in the bigs.

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For the past few seasons, Jose Abreu has been regarded as Cuba’s best offensive talent. The 26-year-old slugger has spent the past decade playing pro ball in Cuba where he routinely was at the top of the league in AVG, OBP, SLG, RBI, and HR. Well, it now seems he’s played his last game in Cuba, as reports earlier this week explain that he has left his homeland and has begun the process of becoming a MLB free agent. At 6-3, 250, Abreu is a large man with next to zero defensive appeal. He’s a 1B/DH type, so he’d fit best with an AL club, but scouting reports suggest he has enough glove to get by at first, so don’t rule out the NL entirely. Wherever he signs, it’s gonna be for big money and an immediate big league opportunity. Abreu is an MLB-ready masher, and at age 26, there’ll be no reason to start him in the minors. If all goes as planned, he should be occupying a regular MLB role by Opening Day 2014. There’s upside here in the neighborhood of .300 AVG and 30+ HR. It’ll be interesting to see how early he’s off the board in mixed league drafts next spring.

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