All year we’ve been ranking the top prospects closest to the majors. With September call-ups quickly approaching, this post is a little different. Instead of limiting the list to players with their rookie eligibility intact, this will include any players currently in the minor leagues regardless of their at bats or innings pitched totals. There’s a catch, though. It’s only going to list players who are currently healthy and on their team’s 40-man roster. If you see a big name omitted, it’s probably because they aren’t currently on the 40-man. That can still be manipulated of course, but if a player is already on the roster, it increases the chances they’ll get a look next month. I also decided to weed through it for players that I thought could actually have some relevance in fantasy. With guys like Domingo Santana, Trea Turner, and even Aaron Altherr already up, this isn’t exactly the sexiest group. But there are some nice players in here, and if they can find playing time, they could also help your fantasy team down the stretch. When looking at who to pick up, I’d recommend focusing on teams that are out of the playoff hunt and who may be more inclined to give their younger players a look. Zeroing in on injuries (or potential ones) is also a good move. I bolded a few of the names that I think are interesting gambles…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I’m picturing Droopy Dog saying, “Going down,” to my Excitement for Jose Fernandez. My Excitement for J-Fer is hooking up with a strobe light honey at a club, and my Excitement for J-Fer’s friend later tells my Excitement for J-Fer, “She was cute, except for that protruding Adam’s apple.” My Excitement for J-Fer just got a $300 red light camera ticket. My Excitement for J-Fer put the green trash can at the curb the day it was supposed to put the blue can and then puts the black can at the curb the day the green can was supposed to go out. My Excitement for J-Fer exclaims, “Why can’t I even throw out the trash right?!” My Excitement for J-Fer sighs and puts an emoji in its text messages that symbolizes its childhood hero Hulk Hogan being a racist. As you’ve likely heard, Fernandez is out indefinitely with a bicep strain. Hopefully, he can be fine for next spring, i.e., I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t return this year. Otherwise, as the old beer jingle will tell you, J-Fer, the pitcher to draft when you’re DL’ing more than one. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This is a true story. Pamela Anderson has an identical twin sister, and when Pam went to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune, her twin, Peggy, stayed behind in Minnesota. That part everyone knows. The part less people know is Peggy followed nearly all of Pam’s career moves, but in Minnesota. Peggy starred in a Minnesota-based TV show, Lakewatch, she took off her clothes for the Minnesota rag, The Viking, and she filmed a sex tape with Chris Mars. Sadly, the people of Minnesota canceled Lakewatch to show more Paul Molitor car commercials. The people of Minnysota asked Peggy to “Please put on a sweater” in The Viking, and Chris Mars was hung like a California Raisin. Peggy, like so many things Minnesota gets its hard Norwegian hands on, disappeared from people’s consciousness. Now replace Peggy with Aaron Hicks, replace Pamela Anderson with A.J. Pollock and imagine they’re related. When Hicks first came up, people thought he was going to be better than Pollock. No, not dumb people. In Double-A, Hicks had 12 homers, 32 steals and a .285 average. Then strikeouts enveloped his game in the majors and he hit .192 with a 27% K-rate in 2013, and hit .215 with a 25% K-rate in 2014, but this year, .277 and a 17% K-rate! That’s a huge improvement. That’s what she said! What? Oh, and he’s only 25 years old. Right now, he has 6 homers and 9 steals, so the power/speed combo hasn’t disappeared like Peggy Anderson, but the K-rate has. I’d own Hicks in all leagues, and am starting to prep myself for him to be a sleeper for 2016. As long as David Wasslewoff, Peggy’s old co-star, doesn’t try to coerce him into revamping the Lakewatch series. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Of course, the title is referring to Nelson Muntz, but Jimmy Nelson sounds like a sitcom character too. Like the kid who is sweet to the parents, but is really the devil incarnate when no one is looking. Eddie Haskell, if your references go back that far. Fun fact! Chad Billingsley’s grandma starred in that show. So, Jimmy Nelson had a solid game last night (6 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 4 Ks, and his ERA is down to 3.57), but that’s not THAT good (caps for emphasis, not aesthetics). No, but his month of July ERA was 1.64. THAT is THAT good (not for emphasis, but now my autocorrect ‘learned’ THAT and wants THAT capped and I can’t shut THAT off). Where is all of this coming from? Great question, clunky expositional transition! I’d say it’s not where it’s coming from, but where has it been? Ooh, you like that switcheroo. Nelson had a 1.46 ERA in the PCL with a 9.2 K/9 last year, throws 93 MPH and has worked hard to add a curve that he never had before this year. He feels like a guy that will click at some point, and be a top 20 starter. This year could be rocky still, but I think he’s worth trying for a few starts to see if he’s already turned that corner. I’ve been rocking three starters in my RCL league since April, but after streaming Nelson yesterday, I kinda want to hold him. While an Air Supply song plays softly in the background. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Brandon Crawford went 2-for-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs with two homers (17, 18). Crawford has a big flashing sign over his head that reads, “Career Year.” Under said sign, he has a smaller sign that reads, “Or could this be a legitimate breakout?” Under that sign, there’s yet another sign that reads, “There is no third sign.” Then under that there’s a smaller sign that reads, “Is that meta? Why even go through the trouble of hanging a third sign?” Then there’s yet another smaller sign that reads…Ugh, I can’t even read it, the font is too small. Let’s stick with the signs we can read and that make sense, “Career year” and “Or could this be a legitimate breakout?” His previous career high was 10 homers in 153 games last year, and prior to that he had never homered ten times in any professional league. In four full years with the Giants, he only had 26 homers coming into this season. That was in over 1800 plate appearances. His previous career high in HR/FB% was 7%. This year it’s over 17%. He’s in the top 30 in the league for homers per fly balls. For the most part, a guy who hits a lot of homers per fly balls are, as you can imagine, not guys that had a previous high of ten homers in over 1800 plate appearances. They’re guys like Just Dong, Braun, Te(i)x, Miggy, etc. etc. etc. The homers will disappear, but I wouldn’t mind so much if Crawford was more than a .255 hitter. The most obvious comp is a young J.J. Hardy, if he was an actual comp, but he’s not. Hardy hit 26 homers in his 2nd full season, Crawford never came close to this before, and I don’t think he ever will again. So…*picks up megaphone* All right, guys, let’s lose all the signs, except the first one. And get back to work! Ugh, teamsters. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (4) | 2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1) | 2009 (4)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [92-71] AL East
AAA: [87-57] International League – Durham
AA: [71-69] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [67-65] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [82-56] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss):  [38-37] New York-Penn League — Hudson Valley

Graduated Prospects
Wil Myers (OF); Chris Archer (RHP); Alex Torres (LHP); Josh Lueke (RHP)

The Run Down
The Tampa farm took a big hit in the high-impact department with the graduation of Wil Myers and Chris Archer, and furthermore when Taylor Guerrieri went down to Tommy John surgery in July.  What’s left is an organization that’s seemingly void of top shelf fantasy prospects.  Even so, it’s probably unwise to sleep on this group — the Rays have a superb player development system that take its time with prospects, often churning out fantasy relevance from the places we’d least expect.  There is plenty of potential in this organization, and even though it’s not the most exciting brand of potential, you can sure as shizz count on Tampa to get the most out of it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (11) | 2011 (3) | 2010 (1) | 2009 (4) | 2008 (1)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [90-72] AL East
AAA: [66-78] International League – Durham
AA: [74-63] Southern League – Montgomery
A+: [55-79] Florida State League – Charlotte
A: [80-60] Midwest League – Bowling Green
A(ss): [52-24] New York-Penn League — Hudson Valley

Arizona Fall League PlayersPhoenix Desert Dogs
Lenny Linsky (RHP); Tim Beckham (2B); Hak-Ju Lee (SS); Richie Shaffer (3B); Kevin Kiermaier (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Matt Moore (RHP); Jake McGee (LHP)

The Run Down
The Rays’ player development systems have always been top-notch, and for the past several years, they’ve maintained one of the better farm systems in the game. As a matter of timing more than anything else — some bad luck, too (see Beckham) — the system was a little lighter than usual in the high-impact department near the end of last season. They were growing older, and more expensive at the big league level. It appeared that they were deviating from Andrew Friedman’s operational model — a patient, bottom-up approach that had discovered and nurtured talent better than just about any other organization — that had made them a year-to-year contender in baseball’s toughest division. And then the James Shields deal happened and the natural order was restored to the baseball universe. All of a sudden, Wil Myers became a Ray, and the once-lacking high-impact department was replenished with one of the more high-impacty dudes in the minors. Beyond Myers, Tampa added MLB-ready pitching depth in Jake Odorizzi. They also nabbed Mike Montgomery on the cheap — sure, he pitched like a pile of hot garbage in 2012, but one year does not ruin a prospect. When considering this top ten back in October, I was kinda worried about having to cover a slew high-upside 18-year-olds who hadn’t yet played outside of instructional league. Thank you, Andrew Friedman, for making this post more interesting.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

This post concludes my little venture into draft prospecting.  It was fun while it lasted, and if you’d like to take a look at either Part 1 or Part 2, go ahead and click those links.  Today, I have three more first-rounders to discuss, but first, a quick recap of where everyone ended up from Parts 1 & 2:

Marcus Stroman (22nd pick – Blue Jays); Richie Schaffer (25th pick – Rays); Kyle Zimmer (5th pick – Royals); Mark Appel (8th pick – Pirates); Mike Zunino (3rd pick – Mariners); Andrew Heaney (9th pick – Marlins)

Now, these three:

Chris Stratton | RHP, Giants

Over the past decade, the Giants have been pretty successful in turning first-round arms into fantasy baseball gold.  Please, blog, may I have some more?

Please, blog, may I have some more?