Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It’s been well documented, my love for Tyler O’Neill, the muscle bound Hercules I dubbed the King In The North. So while it came as a shock that the Mariners would move such an erupting talent, it really didn’t because, Dipoto. After praising his recent drafting, the Segura-Haniger deal, and the organizational shift toward plate approach development he repays me with this? He goes ahead and trades a talent Taylor-made for the modern game. A workaholic, on base machine, with 70 grade power. It’s easy to get lost in O’Neill’s batting average, and strikeouts rates without exploring deeper. I don’t blame fans that haven’t taken the time to isolate his production since late May to the present. I say this because O’Neill is on an absolute tear. Since May 20th O’Neill has slashed .275/.362/.569 with 16 homers and 5 steals. I understand the value of a controllable starter, I’m just not completely on the level with why this starter was the target. Marco Gonzales had some prospect status a few years back, but he’s dealt with multiple injuries and a history of bouts with command. I’m just a lowly prospect writer so my opinion doesn’t matter, but I’m clueless as to what Dipoto is thinking here.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

July 9th at 4pm marks the exact time I’m certain Prospector Ralph’s mind will explode with excitement. That feeling of pure elation can only be achieved in one scenario. Watching the game’s budding talents in the 2017 Futures Game – streaming on MLB.com – after spending countless hours researching and following prospects of this caliber (From the Razzball family and its incredible base of readers, we sincerely thank you for your work Ralph!). Well, maybe there are a few other scenarios. According to BuzzFeed there are 42 others where this pure form of joy and satisfaction arises. They include unraveling knittingcrunching leaves, and breaking the yolk. Aside from the fact that I’m certain breaking the yolk is a sexual innuendo for something completely different, we live in a truly sad world if these things make people as happy as Ralph on Futures Game Sunday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There’s really no need for any introduction on this one, it’s the post upon which all prospectors are judged. It’s the Mid-Season Update to my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Full disclosure, I was loosey-goosey with the eligibility rules this time around. So, while some players in the majors and under their limits might appear on this list (Clint Frazier, Franklin Barreto, Etc.), others don’t (Raimel Tapia). No rhyme or reason to it, what-so-ever. This list feels more upside heavy to me, but there was no slant or algorithm for my ranks. Just good old fashioned personal bias, of which I have plenty. Seriously, I’m an opinionated lad! But that’s why I do this in the first place. Please keep in mind, this list is 100% fantasy focused. Meaning it might differ quite a bit from other Top 100’s you may come across. Anyway, thanks for reading and enjoy! The next 100 (101-200) will be out on Thursday.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With roughly two months worth of baseball activity behind us, it’s time to re-rank some stuff. Sure, that’s an awful reason to rank things, and what’s baseball activity anyway? But Keith Law gets to update his after a couple of months, so why can’t cha boy Ralphie L? Some things have changed, for sure, some top prospects have either graduated, or are on the cusp of graduating. Most notably Andrew Benintendi, Dansby Swanson, Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Aaron Judge, and Tyler Glasnow. I figure if you’re in the majors, I ain’t gonna rank ya no more. There’s been a few jumps, the most significant of which is Chicago Cubs prospect Ian Happ. For those of you who don’t follow minor league box scores, he’s pretty much the Eric Thames of the minors leagues. Only minus the beard or the Popeye muscles. My excitement over Lewis Brinson and Cody Bellinger should be easily identified, they slot second and third respectively. As for the rest of the list you’re going to have to see for yourself. No, I won’t be sliding Tyler Mahle into my Top 25, after the perfect game last night. I had to get it in somewhere, right?

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Holy moly, are we talking actual live MLB players past their limits this week? Yessiree Bobby Jimmy! Michael Halpern the smooth, and debonair brains behind Imaginarybrickwall.com, and yours truly bust into our Top Dynasty Targets for 2017. While we do blur the lines of reality, and talk some major leaguers, we don’t leave you hanging on the prospect front. It’s an all out attack on the senses. Seriously, this episode is so good you can both smell and taste it. Yummy seafood chowder! Am I selling hard here? Good, because in all truthiness, this is the episode where you get a new Ralph, a subdued Ralph. A Ralph who writes about himself in the third person. Maybe I always do that. We go in on everyone from Marcus Stroman to Tyler O’Neill, it’s the whole lot of dynasty values. So take heed, listen up, and check out the latest episode of the Razzball Prospects Podcast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Way back in the late fall, I released my Original edition of the first year player draft rankings. So, it’s been awhile since I first wrote those, and ranked these players out. I figured it was about time to update those now dated ranks. The question you may be asking yourself is “Ralph, why are you so handsome, and also what’s changed?” Well I’ll tell you, I “gots somes” experience now. Because, over the last month plus I’ve had several first year player drafts, meaning I “gots somes” actual real life draft knowledge to draw from. Not to mention my ever-evolving opinions and evaluations of players. So what better time to update the rankings, and give you an idea as to where my heads at after reviewing all of these youngins over the course of my team by team prospect rankings. I’ve fallen in love with some, soured on others, and been introduced to players I previously overlooked. If these rankings are too late for your league’s draft, my apologies, and I understand your angst. We’re deep into draft season, meaning our collective sweatpants smell of rot and butt cheeks, it’s okay to be ornery.  I’ll make it easy, use small words, and discuss lots of wildly inaccurate and inappropriate expectations to put on a teenager. It’s all good though because it’s in the name of fantasy baseball.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you my pièce de résistance!! Yes, applaud for me, revel in my greatness. I even broke out a fancy accent marked phrase, who does that but a pretentious liberal arts major with delusions of grandeur? This is my title fight, the list for which all prospectors are measured. It’s my Top 100 Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball. Now that I’ve gotten beyond all the muckedy muck, let me explain a little about my list, and ranks. First: Yes I 100% factor in proximity, and it effects my rankings. Second: Upside is the most important factor. Third: Production in the minors matters to me. Unless it’s in a crazy ballpark (cough, cough FirstEnergy Stadium: Reading, Pa), or contradictory to batted ball data. I’ve been deep in my hole since early October breaking down every system in the minors, reviewing video on Youtube, looking at batted ball data, checking the stats, and reading any and every scouting report I can get my hands on. It’s one part eye test/ one part player profile/ one part production. I’ve been training all offseason for this, only my training involves sweat pants, a laptop, and lots of snacks. Speaking of snacks, I’m hungry let’s get into the list!! You already know who’s ranked first… It’s Top 100 Prospects day!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

A year to forget for the Southside faithful. 2016 started with the Drake LaRoche controversy and ended with the first World Championship for the crosstown Cubs in 108 seasons. A strong April, was followed by an awful May, and a downward spiral for the whole organization. Team MVP Chris Sale voiced his distaste for retro fashion going Edward Scissorhands on an unsuspecting jersey. Leading many to speculate he could be on his way out the door. The rumor mill hasn’t exactly slowed with the ignition of the hot stove, and stocked organizations like the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Nationals circle Sale. Any of these rumored suitors could significantly alter the look, shape, and depth of this system immediately. As currently constituted it’s probably bottom 5, with a handful of interesting players in Collins, Burdi, and Fulmer. Followed by a corps of solid floor-bored types. With that said, it’s a system to know in deep dynasty formats. It’s the top Chicago White Sox Prospects, get excited!

**UPDATED 12/6 Post-Moncada Trade**

 

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Imagine the horror on Michael Halpern’s face when he found out that he was going to have to talk Red Sox Prospects this week with yours truly “The Funk Docta Spot”. Well we back, and we’re talking Sox Prospects, both of the Sox, the Red and the White. Both of the Sox is a euphemism for a whole lot of Red Sox and a like four White Sox guys. No worries, if Mr. Halpern speaks ill of any personal Boston Binkies of mine I’ll cuss him out over on ImaginaryBrickWall. In all seriousness we talk Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Rafael Devers, and a host of others. On the White Sox side we hit on Zack Collins and contemplate a hypothetical future one-two punch of Zack Burdi and Carson Fulmer in the White Sox pen. After that we fight about politics….No, we don’t it’s a lovefest! It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Prospect Podcast.

Please, blog, may I have some more?