Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

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Since surviving a vicious industry wide-Cub Fan driven smear campaign, Eloy Jimenez has been a man with a mission. Since joining Winston-Salem, the Chi-Sox high A affiliate, he’s slashed .352/.418/.690 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s in his first 20 games. The 20 year old slugger has continued to make improvements at the plate in 2017, walking at a 10% clip, while maintaining K rates at or below 20%. The combination of contact, patience, and power is a rare one. This is why I rank Eloy amongst the very elite prospects in the game, with such contemporaries as Acuna, Robles, Guerrero, and Tucker. He’s likely to spend the remainder of 2017 in Winston-Salem, before being assigned to AA next season out of camp. He has a real shot at the number one prospect in all of baseball, once Ronald Acuna heads to the majors. Despite all of his recent success and oodles of upside, it will be years before we find out just how high of a price the Cubs paid for Quintana. That’s not to say that Jimenez is can’t miss, though he’s a close as they come. The Chicago White Sox system is full of future potential stars, but none shine brighter at the moment than Eloy. A future .280/35/100 player is the ceiling, with a power hitting DH floor. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw Jimenez some time in late 2018, with the mostly likely time frame being September. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

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Crabs gon’ eat, whether you like it or not. The best advice I can give is move out of the way when they come through your town. If they request buckets of your finest chum, drop it on your porch and back away slowly. From east to west, from north to south, and every where in between, Crabs inhabit this fine land. They might be your UPS driver, insurance agent, or state senator. They’re your husbands, friends, and neighbors. They are a secret society of highly intelligent fantasy baseball masters, and Samurai’s of the comment section, prepared for battle at the drop of a hat. I am of course discussing the inhabitants of Razzball’s own 30 team dynasty league The Razz30. It’s been a month of elite level play, with several teams still in the hunt for the 4 playoff spots in the AL and NL. Our trade deadline came and went on Monday, and there was action galore up until the last bell. As we close in on the end of our first year of independence, I’m glad to report that the state of the league has never been stronger. To all my smooth gooch rocking, white monster drinking, thirsty villains, get out the spreadsheet. Claws Up!!!

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As any person over 6 feet will tell you, being tall is overrated. Your entire life comes with bigger expectations that due to your height you have the ability to do things smaller men can’t. Everything has to be bigger, stronger, and faster. It’s in this vein I introduce you to 6’8 Cuban import Michel Baez. Yes that is spelled correctly. While researching this post, trying to look under every rock for as much information as possible about the giant righty, I came across the comment section of MLB Trade Rumors from the day he signed. Let’s just say there are some gems. For example the guy who was really put off that a 6’8 pitcher didn’t throw 100, but a reported 93-97. You know, because control, command, fastball plane, and deception don’t matter at all. Only velocity!!! BTW is 96-97 not fast? Someone else wondered why the Padres gave him $3m, when he’s 6’8 and unknown. How can you miss a 6’8 guy? You know, because talented 5’10 guys never stick out on scouting trips. Scouts and prospectors only notice big shiny things. Okay, I’m getting off track here. Regardless of the opining of MLB Trade Rumor commenters, Baez did in fact fly under the radar. Turning out to be yet another diamond in the rough unearthed by my spirit animal A.J. Preller. How under the radar was Baez? So much so, that in the fall he didn’t appear in any of the international free agent rankings on MLB.com, Baseball America, or Fangraphs. Fast forward 9 months and many are saying Baez is a slam dunk for Top 100 lists going forward. Hell, he ranked #141 for me on my Top 200. A few weeks late I think I might have sold him short, then again he’s an A ball pitching prospect. Now let’s dig into Baez, and see if he might be the Top 100 guy many are touting.

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We recorded the podcast too early to discuss the Tyler O’Neill for Marco Gonzales trade, but maybe that was for the best because Ralph Lifshitz and I were liable to wax poetic about “The King of the North” for the entire hour. Long story short, it really doesn’t change either of their fantasy values all that much other than the obligatory NL to AL drop for Gonzales. We did record the podcast right on time to get into the Blake Rutherford and JD Martinez trades, though, along with Yoan Moncada’s long awaited MLB debut. We talked Rafael Devers and Derek Fisher knocking on the door of the majors, and then dove deep into lower minor breakouts, including Michel Baez, Starling Heredia, Jahmai Jones, Royce Lewis, Heliot Ramos, and many more. Finally, we hammer home the insanely high quality of RotoWear.com‘s t-shirts, and implore you to head over there and enter promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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With the rapid speed at which Ronald Acuna has ascended through the minors, I ought to take every opportunity to write about him while I still can. If you hadn’t heard, Acuna was promoted to AAA on Wednesday evening, and the Braves best position prospect since Jason Heyward is now just a call away. Exciting news for dynasty league owners all over. In my updated Mid-Season Top 100 I ranked Acuna 5th in all of baseball, and after seeing the confidence the Braves have in the precocious 19 year old, how could you not? He brings to the table hard contact with an all-fields approach, 30 steal speed, and a huge ceiling. The plate discipline could be better, but to put things in perspective, he’s 19 and playing at the highest levels of full season ball while many of his contemporaries are just beginning short season and rookie ball. So I expect plate approach to be an area where things should improve as Acuna matures as a hitter. What he does at Gwinnett will be telling, particularly if he really struggles for the first time in his career. How he deals with that, adjusts, and rebounds will be the true test of his metal. It’s tough to say if he will struggle or not, but if he hits the ground running, I could picture a world, maybe as soon as a month, where Acuna is considered the top prospect in the game. Trust me I’ve made bold proclamations about Acuna before. Here’s what I said when I ranked him #42 overall in the pre-season, “Could be this season’s Victor Robles. Five tool player, that tore up Australia this winter, poised for a big jump in the mid-season list. Trade for him now”. I was right on both fronts, but was more conservative with his ETA setting it at 2019. That’s obviously no longer the case, outside of unforeseen circumstances of course. **KNOCK ON WOOD** Anyway, Acuna has a strong chance of seeing at least a few weeks of action in September, but I wouldn’t expect a call-up in the next few weeks. Though the possibility of Acuna breaking camp in 2018 is less remote than it was a few months ago, I’d be surprised by any promotion before mid-May next year. He’s a name to know for players in all formats, as this could be a stud in the making. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

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That’s right, we’re pushing well beyond the 100 threshold this year, and pushing it all the way to 200. I for one am excited, but that might just be the speedball of cocaine, redbull, meth, and the behind the counter cough syrup. I’m seeing the words and their auras, man. No jokes, this is all from a vision, an immaculate epiphany I was led to by a culturally appropriated wise character of some sort. Really, I just wanted to get into a whole bunch more prospects I didn’t get a chance to talk about. If you didn’t catch it, last week I dropped my Top 100, this is a continuation of that going from 101 – 200 with full writeups and statlines for each. Hopefully you get caught up on few off the radar names, brush up on some old ones, and get your prospecty fill for the All-Star Break. It’s the Top 200 Fantasy Baseball Prospects!

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