Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (22) | 2013 (29) | 2012 (30) | 2011 (27) | 2010 (23)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [73-89] AL Central
AAA: [63-81] International League – Charlotte
AA: [60-80] Southern League – Birmingham
A+: [61-78] Carolina League – Winston-Salem
A: [62-75] South Atlantic League – Kannapolis

Graduated Prospects
Jose Abreu, 1B | Marcus Semien, INF | Erik Johnson, RHP | Jake Petricka, RHP

The Gist
Despite another losing season, the White Sox are headed in the right direction. Cuban import Jose Abreu looks like a steal after leading the team on offense and winning Rookie of the Year honors. Chris Sale continued to pitch like an ace and won’t turn 26 until March. Lefty Jose Quintana proved to be a reliable arm as well and is the same age as Sale. The recent acquisition of Jeff Samardzija adds even more firepower to the rotation. As part of the return, the A’s received first base prospect Rangel Ravelo, who was included on this list prior to the trade. Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are two other young pieces ready to contribute in 2015 and are also good options in the fantasy game. Garcia lost most of 2014 to a shoulder injury but still managed seven homers in under 200 plate appearances. The bullpen was a battle all year, but the signing of David Robertson is an immediate boost and this year’s first round pick Carlos Rondon could contribute later this season before joining the rotation in the spring of 2016.

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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…

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For those who missed it, we took a brief look at a handful of draft prospects earlier in the week, highlighting players who, by my estimation, have the quickest paths to fantasy baseball relevance. Without knowing who would end up where, it would have been a stretch to try to peg specific timetables on anyone listed. Even now, before signing bonuses have been agreed to, that sort of exercise seems silly. There is one ETA, though, that I can’t help but speculate over. The White Sox drafted Carlos Rodon third overall, and have begun the process of negotiating signing terms with Rodon’s agent, Scott Boras. Given Boras’s reputation, there are many who wonder if the Sox will even be able to sign the 21-year-old, but I’m not overly concerned on that end. Chicago established a precedent in 2010 when they pushed Chris Sale through to the big club only two months after drafting him in the first round, revealing a distinct willingness not to pinch pennies over service time. A similar fast-track for Rodon puts him (and Boras) one year closer to payday. I believe the “screw super two” attitude displayed by Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams will be a valuable bargaining piece for Chicago, and could lead to a bonus in the neighborhood of MLB’s slot suggestion. Granted, such a scenario would involve the lefty pitching in a relief role, it still wouldn’t derail any plans to have him join the starting rotation next spring. This is all to say that Carlos Rodon pitching at the highest level this season is not out of the question. Keep that possibility in mind during your upcoming dynasty drafts.

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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 (29) | 2012 (30) | 2011 (27) | 2010 (23) | 2009 (16)

2012 Affiliate Records
MLB: [63-99] AL Central
AAA: [65-78] International League — Charlotte
AA: [77-63] Southern League — Birmingham
A+: [71-69] Carolina League — Winston-Salem
A: [61-76] South Atlantic League — Kannapolis

Arizona Fall League PlayersGlendale Desert Dogs
Chris Bassitt (RHP); Charlie Leesman (LHP); Stephen McCray (RHP); Kevin Vance (RHP); Micah Johnson (2B); Marcus Semien (SS); Brandon Jacobs (OF); Jared Mitchell (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Avisail Garcia (OF); Josh Phegley (C); Jordan Danks (OF); Andre Rienzo (RHP)

The Run Down
Back in July I went on a brief rant, imploring White Sox brass to change their ways and improve their flaccid trajectory. It went like this: “There are several questionable farm systems in baseball, but the Chicago White Sox are certainly one that stands out. For years now, the Sox have maintained a firm MLB-first approach to player personnel. They’re a principled franchise that would rather allocate its baseball operations budget toward free agent signings and MLB extensions than toward draft spending. And when they do stumble upon a real-deal prospect, they usually like to trade him for a veteran dude, someone to help that playoff push. It’s a model that occasionally works — they won a World Series by it in 2005 — but it’s not one that’s built to sustain success. And now, in 2013, the White Sox are awful. They’re in total rebuild mode — everything is for sale. This is finally their opportunity to change direction, to try to build a system that cultivates and utilizes impact talent. They’ve already dealt Matt Thornton to Boston for Brandon Jacobs, an upside outfielder with a skill set that might be very useful in the fantasy game. Don’t stop there, Chicago. Tear it all down.”

Well, they couldn’t quite tear it all down — there were no Adam Dunn buyers in the market — but they were able to make some key moves and splash some youth into an organization that desperately needed it. Most notably, Avisail Garcia was an outstanding acquisition. He’s ineligible for this list, but he’d be an easy #1 were he still hanging onto his prospect status. Don’t get me wrong here, this system is still lacking, but it’s no longer the weakest in the game, and its overall direction has improved greatly.

Please, blog, may I have some more?