Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (24) | 2013 (13) | 2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [96-66] NL East
AAA: [81-62] International League – Syracuse
AA: [53-89] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [78-58] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [87-53] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [34-41] New York-Penn League – Auburn

Graduated Prospects
None

The Gist
The Nationals won 96 regular season games in 2014 but were eliminated in the NLDS by the Giants. Along the way, Anthony Rendon emerged as one of the best young players in the National League and Bryce Harper returned from injury to have a solid second half. Harper just turned 22 in October. Tanner Roark took the fifth starter gig and ran with it, rounding out a nasty starting rotation. Unlike some other contenders, the Nationals’ farm is in good shape. In addition to the talented major league rotation, the Nats have some of the best pitching prospects in the minors. They are also loaded with toolsy outfielders that could contribute to the major league roster soon or be used as trade bait to fill other needs. In the 2014 draft Washington used its first round pick to land even more pitching – drafting right-hander Erick Fedde 18th overall.

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Happy Hump Day (cue the Geico camel) fellow prospect hounds! Another week of minor league action is in the books as the top prospects continue jockeying for spots on various “up and coming” lists, and try to better position themselves for promotions closer to their ultimate goal — a call to “The Show”. Time for our weekly look at some of the prospects that have made some noise recently in the hope of climbing a little closer to the big leagues, whether that step ultimately comes this season or a little further down the road. Refill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and let us guide your continuing research as we try to help you scoop your fellow fantasy competitors with our Wednesday Twelve-Pack.

We’ll start by mentioning the obvious, Cubs fans that follow me on Twitter got the news Monday afternoon that Javier Baez was on his way to join the big club in Denver for last night’s game. Batting second and playing 2B (where he likely winds up for the long haul at this point), he struck out against Brett Anderson in the 1st, grounded out to Nolan Arrenado in the 3rd, struck out against Franklin Morales in the 4th and 6th, and lined out to Brandon Barnes in RF with the bases loaded in the 7th against Matt Belisle after the Rockies pen imploded and walked half the guys on the Cubs’ 40-Man Roster. (EDIT: Baez did deliver his first big league hit, a solo shot off of Boone Logan in the top of the 12th, and was 1-6 with 3 Ks at publishing deadline.) Don’t fret Chicago hopeful, Kris Bryant isn’t far behind.

A couple of the guys we’ll take a look at this week had help clearing their way when the smoke cleared on one of the wackier non-waiver trade deadline days in memory as players on their organizations’ big-club rosters were moved. The deals won’t necessarily create immediate openings for them at the MLB-level, but they’ll help move timetables and ETAs along. Here’s who I’m watching closer going into week 19…

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Good morning fellow prospect nuts – one more week in the books, the trade activity picking up steam, and the prospects are beginning to move around all over the place. All this action prior to the juiciest rumored pieces being dealt in advance of this week’s non-waiver trade deadline gives us hope that there’s much more activity to look forward to and that we may get a look at some of the players that may be competing for 2015 MLB jobs during camp next spring earlier than September.

Time for our weekly look at some of the prospects that have made some noise recently in the hope of climbing a little closer to The Show, whether that step ultimately comes this season or a little further down the road. Refill your coffee cup, get comfortable, and let us guide your continuing research as we try to help you scoop your fellow fantasy competitors with our Sunday Twelve-Pack.

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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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Good God, Joey Gallo is on fire right now. He’s been on fire pretty much all year, in fact, but right now, in particular, he’s a blazing inferno of glorious power. Gallo homered 3 times on Friday, and once more on Saturday, giving him 8 in his last 10 games, and 18 on the season. He’s batting .340/.453/.792, and he’s even tossed in 4 stolen bags. His K% is 12 points lower than last year’s, his BB% is 5 points higher, and he’s even grown two inches taller since last summer. OK, I’m lying about the growth thing, but the other parts are true. Gallo, age 20, appears ready for upper levels baseball. There’s little left for him to prove in A-ball, and I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before he’s promoted. I’m anxious to see how his improved approach adapts to the advanced arms he’ll see at Double-A. Until then, enjoy the show.

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2013 was supposed to be a breakout year for Trevor Story, who was coming off of an exciting 2012 campaign at Low-A Asheville where hit .277/.367/.505 with 18 HR and 15 SB. That line, combined with the fact he was stepping up to the hitter-friendly environment of the Cali League, made for some serious hype last spring – hype which his on-field performance couldn’t match. Story ended 2013 with a forgettable .233/.305/.394, 12 HR, 23 SB line. He’s out to repair his image in 2014, though. In a repeat assignment at High-A Modesto, the 21-year-old SS/3B is hitting .306/.394/.516 with 9 XBH (1 HR), and 11 SB in 71 PA.

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Our offseason prospect series is through — all 30 minor league previews with fantasy-specific top 10’s are in the books.  For years we’ve written this same series, finished it, and then just sort of rolled into the regular season stuff without any fanfare.  This year, though, we’re wrapping up the minor league previews, and adding a nice little bow on top.  This post will serve as the bow.  The purpose is twofold: (1) For the first time we have links to each of our MiLB previews all in one place, and (2) we’ve ranked each farm system from a fantasy perspective, giving you a simple guideline as to which orgs are stacked with fantasy impact, and which orgs are virtually void of it.  Let’s cut to it:

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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Nationals Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Patrick Reddington from Federal Baseball.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (13) | 2012 (1) | 2011 (14) | 2010 (24) | 2009 (21)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [86-76] NL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Syracuse
AA: [77-65] Eastern League – Harrisburg
A+: [84-55] Carolina League – Potomac
A: [80-57] South Atlantic League – Hagerstown
A(ss): [26-49] New York-Penn League — Auburn

Graduated Prospects
Anthony Rendon (2B/3B); Tanner Roark (RHP); Taylor Jordan (RHP)

The Run Down
Once again, the Nationals are sporting an exciting group of prospects, with fantasy intrigue at every level of the org.  Even after graduating Anthony Rendon and Taylor Jordan, and then trading away Robbie Ray, this Washington farm is still primed to churn out big league productivity for the next handful of years.  If there’s a weakness to this top ten, it’s that a handful of the prospects listed are on the wrong side of the age curve, developmentally.  That sort of trend needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.  You can’t write a prospect off simply because he’s 25 — there are other variables to consider.  And having had the chance to weigh the risk, I’m not overly concerned with that aspect of the Nationals farm.

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Back in May, I wrote a Courtney Hawkins fantasy. You can read it here. At that point in time, Hawkins was at High-A Winston Salem knocking homers at a good rate, but he was struggling to make contact, striking out more than 50% of the time he stepped to the plate. Near the end of the writeup, I said this: “The Sox must be thrilled with the huge power Hawkins is showing, but if the K’s continue at this rate, they’ll need to consider bumping him down the ladder to a level where he can more easily focus on approach and pitch recognition. There’s plenty of time for him to improve in that regard, and for fantasy baseball purposes, I truly hope he doesn’t go the way of the Donkey. Either way, though, he’s a fascinating dude to follow.” So here’s our Courtney Hawkins update, almost four months later: .182/.252/.407, 19 HR, 9 SB, 38% K-rate in 95 games at High-A. In other words, the whiffs continued, and the White Sox never demoted him. Hawkins is an extraordinary athlete with enormous upside, and I rarely am one to question a team’s development strategy, but it bothers me that the Sox have allowed their 19-year-old prized prospect to struggle so severely all season long. He won’t be ready for Double-A next spring, and I’m beginning to worry that this 1st rounder might never realize his potential.

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