It’s not all bad news for Phillies fans. The major league squad looks pretty lousy, and when Aaron Harang is your best arm the fans probably won’t be dancing down Broad Street. But there’s hope on the farm, and this week’s Minor Accomplishments leads off with some Phillies prospects who are off to hot starts. Maikel Franco had a cold April in 2014, but this year he’s hitting .371/.436/.686 with a homer and six doubles at AAA Lehigh Valley. With only Ryan Howard and Cody Asche standing in his way, expect Franco to be a fixture in this year’s Prospect Power Rankings. Drop down a level to find Roman Quinn, who has stolen seven bases through seven games and leads the Eastern League in that category. He’s not all wheels, as he’s also hitting a cool .471 with a home run. At Single-A Lakewood, Carlos Tocci is also off to a good start. The 19-year-old is hitting .361/.439/.528 with a homer, three doubles, and four steals through his first nine games. Here are some of the other notable performances from the start of the minor league season…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (21) | 2013 (25) | 2012 (26) | 2011 (28) | 2010 (12)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [88-74] AL West
AAA: [79-65] Pacific Coast League – Sacramento (2015: Nashville)
AA: [77-63] Texas League – Midland
A+: [85-55] California League – Stockton
A: [55-84] Midwest League – Beloit
A(ss): [33-43] New York-Penn League – Vermont

Graduated Prospects
Marcus Semien, INF (from CWS)

The Gist
The Athletics were in win-now mode in 2014, which prompted them to trade their prized prospect Addison Russell (and to a lesser extent Billy McKinney) to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. That left this already light system even lighter, but recent offseason moves have restocked the farm moving forward. By trading Samardzija to the White Sox and Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, the A’s acquired four of the ten prospects listed below as well as recently graduated middle infield prospect Marcus Semien. There may not be any “elite” fantasy prospects in this top ten now that Russell is gone, but there are still several players that could be useful fantasy options in the near future. High-A Stockton was loaded with talent and three of the top four on this list played their 2014 seasons on that team.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Arizona Fall League is a couple of weeks old now, so we’ll peek at a few of the highlights and lowlights. In a league with only six teams, there is a limited pool of players and we’ll have to take the small sample sizes with a grain of salt. There have been a few standout performances, and this league is a good way to get eyes on prospects returning from injuries or facing some tougher competition for the first time. One name from the AFL that has surfaced quite a bit this year is Reds’ outfielder Jesse Winker. Reports on Winker like his approach and power, with left field a likely destination when he reaches the bigs. Despite a concussion early in the season and a wrist injury that ended his season prematurely, the 21-year-old hit .327/.426/.580 with 13 homers in the hitter-friendly California League before a brief stint in Double-A. In 38 AFL at bats, Winker has two homers, two doubles, and a league-leading 13 runs batted in. He’s top 5 in average (.368), on-base percentage (.479), and slugging percentage (.632). I’m not totally on board the Winker train yet since he hasn’t seen much of Double-A, but I am at the station in line to buy a ticket. Here are some other noteworthy AFL prospect performances so far…

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Prospect hounds looking for some action now that the minor league season is over can turn their attention towards the 2014 Arizona Fall League. The league is made up of six teams and each of those teams is affiliated with five major league clubs. MLB clubs will typically send prospects that need some more reps to refine their skills against different (sometimes tougher) competition. Other players on these rosters may have been injured at some point in the past season and need the extra game action to continue their rehab and development. The preliminary rosters have been released for each AFL squad and there are a bunch of fantasy relevant prospects for us to take a look at. For the next three weeks I’ll write up two teams and a few of the significant names from each, what their 2014 MiLB season looked like, and what we might expect from them in fantasy baseball going forward. Let’s get right to it with Mesa and Glendale…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (25) | 2012 (26) | 2011 (28) | 2010 (12) | 2009 (3)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [96-66] AL West
AAA:  [79-65] Pacific Coast League — Sacramento
AA:  [62-78] Texas League — Midland
A+:  [69-71] California League — Stockton
A:  [77-62] Midwest League — Beloit
A(ss):  [33-43] New York-Penn League — Vermont

Arizona Fall League PlayersMesa Solar Sox
Ryan Dull (RHP); Omar Duran (LHP); Seth Frankoff (RHP); Bruce Maxwell (C); Max Muncy (1B); Addison Russell (SS)

Graduated Prospects
Nate Freiman (1B); Stephen Vogt (C); Dan Straily (RHP); Sonny Gray (RHP)

The Run Down
The first rule of Oakland Athletics prospecting is to never write off a pitcher.  These guys are going to be spending the bulk of their time pitching in the cavernous Coliseum, so any starting pitching prospect who’s pushing through the Athletics system is probably worth consideration in fantasy leagues.  That said, the list that follows is a little light on the pitching side of things — with arms like Sonny Gray and Dan Straily graduating their prospect status, there aren’t many high-impact starters left in this group.  Michael Ynoa can certainly fill that void with a healthy year, but for now, the bulk of the fantasy excitement is focused around Addison Russell and Michael Choice.

Please, blog, may I have some more?