Many famous gingers have helped make me the man I am today. Lion-O from Thundercats, Jessica Rabbit, and the fat kid from The Sandlot immediately come to mind. Then there have been a few nightmares featuring this guy. But now that prospects are my focus, my new bro with the orange fro is Clint Frazier. Frazier got some hype as a stud fantasy prospect when he was drafted 5th overall by the Indians in 2013, but when he didn’t completely murder A-ball pitchers last year he may have lulled us to sleep. After a roller coaster first half, Frazier is killing it again in July – hitting .486 with three homers and three steals in his last ten games alone. He now has 11 homers, 23 doubles, and 12 steals on the year despite a really poor June where he hit .216/.337/.364. Bradley Zimmer recently leap-frogged Frazier to Double-A, but keep in mind Zimmer is also two years older than him. Practice patience with Frazier if you own shares and you’ll be rewarded. He’s more Lion-O than Carrot Top…trust me. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…

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Here’s a look at the best prospects for fantasy baseball right now. It’s a fluid list, and you’ll see some big changes as well as some new faces from the preseason Top 50. I’m sticking to a cap of 130 at bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues when determining who is still eligible for this list. So while some of the names have already been promoted this year and are expected to graduate, I’m still going to rank them. If Miguel Sano drinks too much nerve tonic with only 100 MLB at bats, he’d still qualify for prospect lists heading into next year, so he’s included on this one. This list does not include any 2015 draftees or J2 signees. The +/- column on the right shows how much each prospect rose or fell from my preseason list. I wouldn’t sweat players who moved just a few slots. Instead, I’d focus on the double-digit changes and the new additions. For lengthier notes on some of the biggest movers, you should check out last week’s post. Personally I skew towards hitters and rank only a handful of pitchers that I really like. Keep in mind that I’m coming at you from the perspective of our fantasy game, so it may differ from a traditional prospect list when it comes to certain players. Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here is this year’s midseason Top 50 prospects for fantasy baseball…

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It’s the Futures Game! USA vs. the World, and this time it counts! That’s right, at the Futures Game the youth of this fine country will take on the youth of the world in a game of based ball, with the winner claiming the rights to a new “spice” cache recently discovered on the planet Arrakis. MLB is hoping that this year’s event will have fewer robotic umpires going rogue and maiming spectators. I wouldn’t count on it, since they are using the same software as their MLBTV apps. Connecting to server…buffering 33%…playback failed…we’re sorry that your child was thrown into a hot dog stand by one of our robotic umpires. Please accept this signed batting glove from Eric Sogard with our sympathy. At least this year we’ll have hoverboards to get around on! Oh, and then there’s the Tron-style jai alai match between hologram Pete Rose and hologram Bud Selig during the seventh-inning stretch! Wait…none of this is happening? The Futures Game is just some prospects playing an exhibition?! *throws computer across the room…sighs deeply* Fine, here are a few of the prospects from today’s game you may not have heard of…I’ll be in the garage working on my hoverboard blueprints.

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So he’s not technically a prospect, but Jon Singleton returned to the majors on Friday after spending the first three months in Triple-A. Still just 23 years old, the slugging first baseman/designated hitter was on point in the minors to start the year – leading the Pacific Coast League in homers (17) and RBI (66!) while slashing .280/.387/.553 in 70 games with Fresno. Singleton got a taste of the bigs last year and hit 13 homers in 362 plate appearances. He also hit .168 and struck out at a 37% clip though, so the Astros put him back in the easy bake oven to start 2015. Hopefully the extra time in the minors has him better prepared for major league pitching this time around. The Astros seem to think so, as GM Jeff Luhnow mentioned that Singleton would likely eat into both Chris Carter and Evan Gattis’ playing time. He’s worth a look in pretty much any format thanks to his power, but don’t expect much more than .240 from him in the batting average department. It’s also worth mentioning that after hitting ten homers in May, Singleton only hit three in June and saw his slugging percentage dip to .457. Wet blanket…engaged! Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues…

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The first-place Astros will promote right-hander Lance McCullers to pitch against the Athletics tomorrow. The 21-year-old will make the jump straight from Double-A to the majors. McCullers was drafted 41st overall out of high school back in 2012 and features two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball. That combination should lead to a decent amount of strikeouts if he can command both pitches. McCullers probably tops out as a #3 starter in the majors, but he’s shown improved control this year with a 3.5 BB/9 (down from 5.2 and 4.5 in the two previous seasons). His strikeout rate has also ticked up – posting a 13.3 K/9 in 29 innings at Double-A Corpus Christi. McCullers is a viable fantasy play in most formats right out of the gate. Even in shallower leagues he’s worth a spin as a streamer. Here’s what else is happening around the minor leagues right now…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (9) | 2013 (3) | 2012 (2) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (2)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [67-95] AL West
AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – Round Rock
AA: [80-59] Texas League – Frisco
A+: [82-56] Carolina League – Myrtle Beach (2015: High Desert)
A: [80-59] South Atlantic League – Hickory
A(ss): [40-36] Northwest League – Spokane

Graduated Prospects
Rougned Odor, 2B | Nick Martinez, RHP | Michael Choice, OF

The Gist
This system is full of risk/reward prospects with big ceilings. It’s also deep, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 10 to be honest. Fringe top ten guys like Keone Kela could help the major league bullpen as soon as 2016, and Kela’s triple-digit heater looks like the stuff of a closer. Then there’s Delino DeShields Jr. who was a Rule 5 selection from the Astros. DeShields hit 11 homers and stole 54 bases in Double-A last season. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a fantasy relevant prospect on this farm. Heading into 2015, Rougned Odor will get another extended look at second base while Jurickson Profar continues to battle shoulder issues. For what it’s worth, I still like Profar in dynasty leagues and at just 22 years old he still has plenty of time to get things back on track.

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The Arizona Fall League is over, but prospect season is in full swing. Razzball is posting fantasy-driven top ten prospect lists every Wednesday this offseason so be sure to check them out. While the AFL isn’t a long season, it features some of the better prospects in baseball and it’s worth looking back at a few of the top performers in the league this year. Moving forward, we’ll focus on the winter leagues. Big leaguers and prospects from many MLB organizations are still playing baseball! There are several leagues like this, but I tend to gravitate toward the Dominican Winter League the most. Players like Maikel Franco, Joc Pederson, and Rymer Liriano are just a few of the names you’ll find on the DWL rosters. Last year’s MVP, Gregory Polanco, created quite the buzz in 2014. The league runs until the end of December and I’ll check in on some of the performances there periodically in this Minor Accomplishments series. To follow along, you can live stream games here, here, and here. Just brush up on some Spanish first! Back to the AFL…here were this year’s top performers with some commentary:

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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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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (3) | 2012 (2) | 2011 (15) | 2010 (2) | 2009 (1)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [91-72] AL West
AAA: [73-71] Pacific Coast League – Round Rock
AA: [70-70] Texas League – Frisco
A+: [77-62] Carolina League – Myrtle Beach
A: [76-63] South Atlantic League – Hickory
A(ss):  [38-38] Northwest League — Spokane

Graduated Prospects
Leonys Martin (OF); Jurickson Profar (INF); Martin Perez (LHP); Nick Tepesch (RHP); Tanner Scheppers (RHP)

The Run Down
The fact that the Rangers can graduate Jurickson Profar, Leonys Martin, and Martin Perez all in the same summer, and return the next spring with a farm system that continues to rank among the best in baseball should speak volumes about the savvy of the organization’s procurement and development systems.  Texas is heavily involved of all aspects of baseball development, and the top ten I’ve listed here features prospects who were drafted, signed out of Latin America, or acquired via trade.  The mix of talent as a whole is oozing with high-impact potential, and while this group brings perhaps a smidge more risk than other orgs near the top of the league, it still needs to be considered among the top tier of fantasy farms.

Please, blog, may I have some more?