On Monday night, my top scout (aka my daughter) and I, loaded up our rented scouting station (mini-van), and headed out to LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida to check out some Florida State League action. LECOM Park is actually the corporate name of McKechnie Field, often called the Fenway Park of Spring Training. Funny, I didn’t feel like my seat was designed for a garden gnome, but hey, everything is bigger in Florida right? Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Any the Arsenio Hall, my daughter and I headed out to go scout, and I use that term loosely, some of Bradenton and Clearwater’s top players. Bradenton is the Pirates Class Advanced A affiliate, and Clearwater is the Phillies. While my daughter and I munched on pretzels, hot dogs, and other assorted ballpark foods, I was reminded of why I love the minor leagues. Where else can you see potential future stars mere feet away, chat with coaches about breaking balls, and shoot some sweet scouting video without an usher booting you out of the stadium? Where am I going with all this? Be patient and I’ll tell you. Why are you so hasty bro? Well, I had an idea while shooting some scouting videos of Will Craig, and Cornelius Randolph. What if we had an army of amateur scouts throughout the country sharing their first hand video accounts?

Why not have my readers, and listeners, shoot scouting videos at the minor league games they attend throughout the year? From there, we’ll take your raw footage, edit it, and post it on Razzball’s YouTube channel. It’s crowdsourced scouting, and with smart phones more common than smart people what could be easier. So if you’re taking in a minor league game at anytime this season, whip out your phone and shoot some videos of top prospects you see. Once you do shoot them over to me via email at [email protected]

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You don’t really care about prospects, and I get that. You’re a redraft player, and probably a damn good one. You don’t want a top 100 list where half the guys won’t sniff a major league field for the next 2 years +. You need the right now, the rookie nookie, the sleepers in the waivers. The ones waiting in the weeds until the call comes, and the earliest bird plucks them minutes before the rest of the league, to a collective of moans and groans. This is the song of the RCL rookie scavenger. The man beating you to Trea Turner by 3 minutes, the guy who stashed Alex Bregman on and off for a month. You need to beat him this year, let this be your map, and the Twitter/MLB/Traderumors alerts be your batphone. I think I just mixed metaphors. Whatevs!!! You get the jist. Behold! The Top 25 Rookies for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. By the by, this list is 100% 2017 focused, so ETA, lack of a platoon or temporary fill-in status matters. I don’t care what he’s going to be in 2 years. THAT DOESN’T MATTER!!! It’s all about the right now, the present. I’m listening to Right Now by Van Halen. I’m wearing white jeans. I’m holding up signs that say, “Right now someone is drafting Ian Desmond unaware of his injury”. It’s that real.

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The dynamic duo known as Halph is back again! For those of you who don’t know who Halph is, that would be yours truly the God MC, and the notorious Michael Halpern of Imaginarybrickwall.com. We’re a super duo, we’re Halph! It’s California week on the Prospect Podcast, as we touch on two teams in the Golden State. We start with the sunny San Diego Padres system, a farm overflowing with talented prospects. The discussion opens with a look at Anderson Espionza’s real life value vs fantasy value. We then play would you rather with Hunter Renfroe and Aaron Judge, discuss Manuel Margot’s future value, and discuss why Chris Paddack is worth a stash in dynasty. I continue to wax poetic about my love of A.J. Preller, and it’s to the point now that you could turn it into a drinking game on this episode. There’s some Razz 30 FYPD talk, oh yeah that’s our new 30 team dynasty league, run by yours truly. We then briefly touch on some of the options in the Giants system. So it’s 80% Padres, 10% bullshizz, and 10% Giants. It’s the latest episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast.

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The Giants are one of the more unheralded organization’s in sports when you step back and consider the immense success they’ve achieved over the past 10 years. Yet they seem to rarely get credit when talking about the top teams of the last decade. And from a player development standpoint they’re just as underrated. While they’re certainly no juggernaut on par with the Astros, Red Sox, and Dodgers of the world; they’ve done a good job of developing a solid core of players, including two of the best at their respective positions in Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. However, in recent years the Giants have been short on high impact prospects, instead churning out role players, and back end of the rotation pitchers. While not much has changed in that regard, there’s hope that Bryan Reynolds, Heath Quinn, and 2015 2nd rounder Andrew Suarez could give them a few above average major league players in the making. Real baseball Ralph…… Why do I care? Honestly, depending upon league size you don’t have to. But for those of you who are deep league junkies like myself, there’s a core of interesting fringe prospects that could offer sneaky value in the short term. So you’ll notice there’s no Tier 1: Specs On the Beach in this system, but they’re overflowing with Tier 2: Floorbored types, led by 2014 first rounder Tyler Beede. This falls in line with their overall draft strategy over the past few seasons, preferring high floor picks to those with higher ceilings. I think this year’s crop strayed from that mantra a little in the later rounds but I’m sure San Fran will boring them up. Okay, now that I’ve attached one hundred qualifiers to this intro, let’s talk some prospects! It’s the Top San Francisco Giants Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.

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A large part of success in fantasy, and dynasty leagues in particular, is identifying player trends. It’s a matter of knowing when to move on from a player before it’s too late, and it’s knowing when to buy a player before his stock explodes. In the coming weeks we’ll have a few posts dealing with who I’m targeting in dynasty leagues, and players I’m moving on from. In mid-September it’s still a bit too early to get into those discussions. So, let’s continue to look back at the year that was in prospects, shall we? In this vein, today we’ll discuss the players that broke out in the second half after bad first halfs; and on Wednesday we’ll speak on the lads that faltered in the second half after starring roles in the first. To add a bit of the tomfoolery Razzball is known for, let’s christen each post with the name of a like minded spirit. We’ll call the second half breakouts Samuel L. Jackson’s, and the second half stumpers Corey Feldman’s. There couldn’t be two stars with divergent career paths. I mean have you seen Feldman lately? He’s pretty much a novelty EDM act cult leader, but seems completely oblivious to this unlike the rest of the world.

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Over the course of the past few days, I’ve wondered if mentioning Colin Kaepernick in any way, shape, or form would boost readership here in the doldrums of the fantasy baseball season. Maybe I could say “click here to see so and so nearly naked”, or “this celebrity didn’t want this to get out”. What if I took the plunge into full on click bait and left the days of insightful minor league analysis for dynasty and fantasy baseball behind. Would it be me whining about Odell Beckham Jr. ignoring me at the Met Gala? Imagine prospector Ralph rubbing elbows with the A list. I mean seems appropriate, they’re A-list and I’m known for making a list. Thank you, thank you, you’re all too kind I’ll be here all week. In all seriousness, we’ve come to the end of the regular season in minor league baseball, and with it the end of my minor league updates for 2016. Don’t worry I’m going absolutely nowhere. I’ll be updating you on all things dynasty and prospects throughout the offseason. In fact you’ll probably have a triple dose of me with the podcast and all. So pump the volume on this track, throw some BBQ on the grill, and save some sticky ribs for your homie Ralph. The final minor league update of the 2 dot oh 1-6 is here!

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Salutations my loyal Razzscalians, and welcome to the latest installment of The Minor League update. I’m your Prospector and Chief Ralph Lifshitz and today I’d like to discuss a mighty slugger from The Great White North. A man with the forearms of a spinach swigging Popeye. A hitter with a swing so strong, that balls explode off his bat head like forgotten land mines in former war zones. The thunderous prospect I speak of is none other than the Mariners Tyler O’neill. The outfielder was a player that popped into many managers favorite prospects lists over the past few months, including yours truly. I mean what’s not to like about Tyler O’Neill “Prospect Power King of the North.”

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Back in 2012 a 26 year old Phillies first base prospect by the name of Darin Ruf hit 38 homers while playing for AA affiliate Reading. Ruf never approached a season like that before or since, and quickly washed out as he reached AAA and the majors. Over the seasons that have followed any Reading player with a power surge is looked at with skeptical looks and side eye. Dylan Cozens is the latest in a long line of Phillie farmhands to bear this cross. Over the past week Cozens has accelerated the home run pace of his magical 2016, hitting 6 homers and slashing .360/.429/.1.240. As of Saturday night Cozens’ home run total for the season sits at 32 in just 106 games. I’ve written about Cozens a few times over the past few months, and quite honestly the gaudy offensive numbers are tough to ignore. Prior to the 2016 breakout, Cozens was an intriguing prospect. Built like an NFL tight end, and blessed with raw power and base running ability. Cozens presents raw potential that would entice any dynasty owner to take a second look, but the red flags are there and shouldn’t be ignored. First and foremost, though Cozens has always produced raw power it never materialized until he reached Reading. To say that Cozens success is Reading aided is an understatement. Of his 32 homers he’s only connected for 6 away from FirstEnergy Stadium. The home and away slugging % splits are staggering, as he boast a Bondsian .801 SLG% at home, but a .415 on the road. That’s an absurd difference of .386! Or he’s a full Dee Gordon different at home. Next on the red flag rundown is Cozens long lefthanded swing. While it’s picturesque when it connects for a long fly, it’s down right ugly when he misses, particularly on balls to the outside part of the plate. Look no further than his nearly 30% k rate for evidence. The last, and in some ways, the most alarming of the red flags is Cozens splits vs southpaws. A .307/.391/.677 hitter vs righties, he morphs into Freddy Galvis when a lefty is on the mound, slashing .204/286/.387. Cozens has certainly made improvements this season, but he does come with risk; and even if he’s only a 15/15 threat with some split issues, he’s worth a spot in your minors in dynasties where 100-150 prospects are owned.

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As the season begins to wind down, and the grind of the first four months feeds into the stretch run of the final two months. The contenders begin to rise to the top in Razzball’s own dynasty league the Razznasty. We got a serious race going, with the top spot changing hands multiple times over the last few days. RCL Czar Matt Truss sits atop the mountain, for the next few hours at least. BTW Matt you are a Czar, watch out for Commies old friend. Look at that a Russian history lesson mixed with fantasy baseball. I’m gunning for a Smithsonian gig one day. In the meantime I’ll keep providing you with gushing articles about prospects, dynasty strategy, and PROSPECT PODCASTS!!! I hope everyone is ready for our first episode coming tomorrow!!! We’ll be talking the prospect side of the trade deadline, and some of the recent weeks callups. Benintendi anyone? Yes, I have to mention him twice a post.

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We all have certain prospects we’re partial to. Players that for whatever reason strike your fancy, and you’ll forever view them through rose colored glasses. For example I think Peter Gammons is still hyping up Matt Murton. Grey wrote like 7 sleeper posts about Jedd Gyorko. Former prospector Mike legally changed his name to Maikel Franco. I on the other hand trekked down to Pawtucket, RI on consecutive days in April to watch Nick Williams first hand. Did I like what I saw? Was I impressed? Click that button, find out.

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