I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.

In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.

Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

When Ryan Zimmerman hits a homer, they should play the Coming to America clip where Murphy says, “In dee face,” at the basketball game.  Speaking of Africa (sentence intro commonly found on fantasy baseball blogs), why is it called Out of Africa if it’s in Africa?  Granted, I’ve never seen that movie, but the one thing I know about it is that it is in Africa!  Straight Outta Compton is in Compton, but they get OUTTA OF COMPTON!  This post is brought to you by Meryl Movie Lovers, or MeMoLos, as they’re commonly referred.  Two more homers for Ryan Zimmerman yesterday, bringing his season total to 19 homers.  Shame I didn’t believe in him (and still don’t).  Why do I have more doubt than Meryl Streep in a habit?  Answer me that, MeMoLos!  He’s 32 years old, and, in his last two years, he had 15 and 16 homers.  In eleven years, he’s only topped 26 homers once.  So, don’t even give me that crap that I should’ve seen this coming.  He’s hitting .372!  Last year, he hit .218 and .249 the year before, and only hit over .300 one year in his career.  He’s not having a career year.  Nope.  He’s combining all of his years together into one year, putting them into a Magic Bullet, pulverizing them for five minutes and drinking it.  And, like Meryl sold French cuisine to an American audience in Julie & Julia, I’m still selling Zimmerman.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Dirt McGirt, Dirty Nasty, Tha Ol’ Dirty Chinese Restaurant, Big Baby Jesus, Odubel Herrera went 0-for-5 with 5 Ks.  Last Phillie to do that was Pat Burrell.  Burrell remembers wistfully, “Ah, yes…’Slump Buster September 2008.’  That was Jamie Moyer’s granddaughter’s friend.  She was like a keg with two arms.  She looked like Matt Stairs with longer hair.  I believe Brett Myers introduced us.  Now that I think about it, maybe that’s why she was always flinching.”  Odubel’s average is down to .226 and his OBP is .275.  M-E-T-H-O-D MAN that is bad.  Shame on a Herrera.  Ooh, baby, I like it raw, but that’s filled with salmonella.  He swings at the third most pitches outside the strike zone and his strikeout rate is up 4% while his walk rate has fallen 4%.  Put it all together and you have one of the worst hitters in the majors right now.  So, can he come out of it?  Future:  Cloudy.  He’s more of a .265 hitter, but swinging at balls outside the zone can quickly spiral and shove him further into his slump.  Before last year, he had a full season of 8 HRs and 16 SBs, couple that with .265 and you’re not looking at the guy you thought you were getting in March.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Pitching prospects are funny. Sometimes the best major league starters seemingly come out of nowhere. A mechanical tweak, or improved grip on a breaking pitch can sky rocket a prospect’s status to new heights. Sometimes, a high floor prospect that wasn’t getting too many prospect hounds or dynasty managers excited, progresses to the point of at least real mid-rotation upside. The later seems to be the case of the Reds AA righthander Tyler Mahle. On the heels of a perfect game just about a week ago. One in which, he made quick work of the 27 batters, throwing just 88 pitches. He produced another strong showing Friday, going 6 scoreless innings, striking out 6, and allowing 5 to reach. Mahle’s displayed pinpoint control throughout his time in the minors, and the results have been good outside a blip during his first go-at AA last season. A four pitch arsenal includes an average low 90’s fastball, a plus changeup, and a slurvy breaking ball. He’s not someone I foresee breaking a K per inning rate, but so far the swing and miss has been there, with 34 K’s in 32.1 innings. If Injuries to Reds starters begin to pile up, we might see Mahle in the big leagues by mid-July. As always Great America Ballpark is a horrible landing spot for any young starter, but I’m more inclined to believe in one with control and tendencies to induce weak contact (14.8%) and ground balls (44.4% GB).

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Braves are in a rebuilding period, and after a few trades their farm looks a lot different than it did at this time last year. Mike Foltynewicz, Williams Perez, Jace Peterson, Adonis Garcia, and Matt Wisler all surfaced in the majors with mixed results. In one of the more surprising moves, Atlanta took on Cuban import Hector Olivera from the Dodgers as part of a much larger deal that included Alex Wood and Jose Peraza. Peraza would have easily topped this year’s list, and while Olivera is a very good prospect in his own right, the initial reaction to the trade was confusion. 2016 will be a continuation of the rebuild, and the Braves can add another premium prospect with the third overall pick in the draft.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A number of players have been signed or traded since our organizational minor league previews started posting. Things can get crazy in the offseason and Jimmy Rollins is now a Dodger. I’m going to need a minute with that one [sniff]. Talk amongst yourselves…I’ll give you a topic…does Mookie Betts have a job?…discuss. Okay, I’m all good now. Some prospects who were signed or moved in the trades are impact players that are worthy of a spot on their new team’s top ten list. By the timing of the previews, they end up in a sort of top ten list “limbo”. Consider these posts a division by division catch-all for such players. It’s also an opportunity to discuss a few of the names that were borderline top ten but didn’t quite make the cut for their organization’s list. In other words, some of the notable “#11s”. Here are the prospects that fell through the cracks in the NL East…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Arizona Fall League starts up next week and it gives us all a few more looks at some fantasy relevant prospects. Some players are getting in the extra reps for development, while others are making up for lost time due to injuries earlier in the season. Either way, all 30 MLB clubs are represented across six teams in the desert. This week we’ll take a peek at the big names on the Salt River Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas. Included with the blurbs are the combined stats for each player’s 2014 season regardless of minor league level. I’ll wrap up the AFL previews next week before we begin the 2015 team-by-team minor league countdown…

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (9) | 2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [51-111] AL West
AAA: [82-62] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [83-57] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [82-58] California League – Lancaster
A: [81-57] Midwest League – Quad Cities
A(ss): [44-32] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Graduated Prospects
Jonathan Villar (SS); Robbie Grossman (OF); Brandon Barnes (OF); L.J. Hoes (OF); Marc Krauss (OF); Jake Elmore (MI/OF); Brad Peacock (RHP); Paul Clemens (RHP); Brett Oberholtzer (LHP); Jarred Cosart (RHP); Jose Cisnero (RHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Houston Astros, is the best executive in the game with regard to player procurement and development.   He’s the man responsible for the seemingly never-ending stream of talent flowing up from the St. Louis farm system, and you can sure as shizz expect to see similar output from this Houston org over the next several seasons.  The fantasy-relevant arrivals actually began last summer, with prospects like Jonathan Villar (be sure to read Sky’s outlook on him) and Jarred Cosart.  Look for the impact to only increase in 2014 as George Springer, Mark Appel, and Jonathan Signleton are set for big league debut.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2012 (17) | 2011 (26) | 2010 (30) | 2009 (30) | 2008 (29)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [55-107] NL Central (AL West beginning 2013)
AAA: [78-65] Pacific Coast League – Oklahoma City
AA: [81-59] Texas League — Corpus Christi
A+: [74-66] California League – Lancaster
A: [69-69] South Atlantic League – Lexington (Quad Cities of MWL beginning 2013)
A(ss): [15-25] New York-Penn League — Tri-City

Arizona Fall League Players — Mesa Solar Sox
Jarred Cosart (RHP); Chia-Jen Lo (RHP); Alex Sogard (LHP); Nick Tropeano (RHP); Jiovanni Mier (3B); Jonathan Singleton (1B); George Springer (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Marwin Gonzalez (SS); Matt Dominguez (3B); Lucas Harrell (RHP); Dallas Keuchel (LHP); Rhiner Cruz (RHP); Fernando Abad (LHP)

The Run Down
Jeff Luhnow is so flippin’ awesome. I cannot stress this enough. In little more than a year at the helm of the Astros, he’s turned the organization into one of the most fascinating franchises in the sport. Obviously, they’re not among the better ball clubs — not at the MLB level, at least — but by surrounding himself with baseball bloggers and NASA engineers, Luhnow has created an environment that celebrates new ideas and is well ahead of the curve in terms of analytics. Houston had a few nice prospects in place when he arrived, but the system as a whole was shallow and weak. Luhnow spent his first year cutting big league payroll, adding depth to the farm via trade, and spending big in the draft. I imagine more of the same is in store for 2013, so expect another sub-60 win season as Houston joins the AL West. It might be a few years before they’re competitive again, the Astros are transforming much more quickly than I thought was possible. They’re building cost-controlled depth, and waves of promising prospects are set to arrive in Houston beginning this year. So even if Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio aren’t voted into the HOF this afternoon, Astros fans can sleep soundly. The future is bright, indeed, for Houston.

Please, blog, may I have some more?