What’s the difference between a doughnut and a Dave Dombrowski Farm system? The doughnut usually leaves some crumbs behind! Wocka Wocka! In grand double D fashion, the long-necked one, emptied the farm to upgrade the major league squad. Some moves worked (Chris Sale & Craig Kimbrel) others have fallen flat(I.E. Travis Shaw+ for Tyler Thornburg). Regardless, the Red Sox minor leagues have acted as Dombrowski’s personal check book, in the early part of his tenure. For the past ten years Boston has had one of the strongest farm systems in the game, producing talent like Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Bogaerts, Bradley, Betts, Benintendi, and recently Rafael Devers. The team now faces the challenge of restocking the once proud farm, following three years of trades, and a lost international period, due to a penalty received for rule violations. The last two drafts have been solid, but unspectacular, and have taken the Red Sox in a different direction. The focus has been heavily on pitching, giving the Sox depth in an area where they’re typically weak. Six of the following Top Ten is comprised of pitchers, and four of the six were drafted over the past two years. It likely would have been an even split between pitchers and positional players if not for the unfortunate, and tragic passing of July 2nd gem, Danny Flores. The shocking loss certainly leaves an already thin system further exposed. Will it be completely emptied to land Giancarlo Stanton? Or will the Sox stand pat this offseason, add in the June draft, and look to be players at next year’s trade deadline? One thing is for sure, with Dombrowski at the controls, someone’s getting traded in this beeyatch.

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The concept is simple: phrase hypothetical scenarios where events that didn’t happen actually did, or events that did happen actually didn’t (I’m already confused). Detailing how these changes – or lack thereof – would have impacted the coming 2018 fantasy baseball season creates some interesting “what ifs”.

What if Giancarlo Stanton didn’t adjust his mechanics?

For anybody with an idea of what Giancarlo Stanton looked like in the box from years prior, his shift from June to July of 2017 was noticeable – very noticeable. While I often find more satisfaction in subtle changes – 2017 Chris Taylor comes to mind – if a change pushes said player into the MVP discussion, I put my particulars aside.

I’ve always found Stanton’s motions in the box exceptionally rhythmic. Flat bat, considerable bat speed, two-handed follow through with a uniquely refined path to contact that creates head-scratching home runs like this one.

Stanton closed off his stance considerably, becoming an aesthetic comp to Adrian Beltre, plus 20 pounds and six inches (of height – get your mind out of the gutter!).  “TewksbaryHitting.com” has a nice breakdown of this evolution, despite having nothing to do with Barry Manilow or whatever a “tewk” is. Their freeze frame gif captures the gradual rotation of Stanton’s upper body prior to the pitch, making his numbers more visible to the pitcher.

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In his brief cup of coffee last year, Harrison Bader hit three homers, stole two bases in only 85 ABs.  Mr. Prorater says, “He’s a 20 homer, 15 steal guy in a full season of at-bats.  Also, if I saved a dollar a day my whole life, I wouldn’t be in hock up to my eyeballs.  Prorating sucks!”  Damn, Mr. Prorater, so happy and sad — sappy?  Nah, prolly not.  A 20-homer, 15-steal guy is nothing like what he is though, right?  In Triple-A in 431 ABs, he hit 20 homers and stole 15 bags.  Okay, that’s spooky like your grandma’s linen closet.  “I don’t seem so dumb now, do I?  By the way, my mortgage is $3200 a month, so if you hang out for an hour, I’m gonna have to charge you $4.44, based on a 30-day month.”  Okay, Mr. Prorater is now getting annoying.  Prospector Ralph placed Harrison Bader 29th overall on his top 50 prospects for 2018 fantasy baseball.  There, he said, “More than likely Bader will surpass his rookie limits in the first half of next year.  My hope is the Cardinals do Bader a solid and trade him to a place he can start opening day.  Because, make no mistake, he is ready.  Bader’s fatal flaw is his lack of power vs. right-handers, which could see him on the weak side of the platoon early in his career.  Grey’s fatal flaw is his hairlip.”  Ouch!  Totally unnecessary.  So, what can we expect from Harrison Bader for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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I’d like to take this time on a Tuesday morning to formally apologize to one Austin Riley, Braves third baseman. I should have ranked you at least 6th in my third base rankings. I didn’t, I ranked you 10th. I tried to make up for it by slipping you into the Top 100, at 95th, but even that feels a little low. You’ve really made good in the Fall League slashing .302/.362/.698 with 6 homers, and 17 RBI. He’s been part of a dynamic Braves quartet that I profiled in my Arizona Fall League check-in, and my Braves 2018 Minor League Preview. Riley comes along at a perfect time in prospects lists, as there’s a definite shortage on dynamic talent in the corner infield. After a difficult stretch in the Florida State League for the first two-thirds of his season, Riley was promoted to AA Mississippi, and the power returned. In 48 games at AA, Riley hit .315/.389/.511, with 8 homers, and 27 RBI, slugging numbers much more in line with his career norms. Riley has credited his continued improvement to the Braves developmental programs, who have worked at shortening Riley’s swing, and improving his conditioning. Both areas where he’s made significant strides. He’s eased concerns regarding his defense, getting mostly average grades with his glove, but plus and double plus grades on his arm. Meaning it’s increasingly likely Riley sticks at the hot corner long term. It’s usually the wrong time to buy a player when he’s coming off a noisy Fall League, but Riley is the rare exception where he’s widely unowned in dynasty formats of 14 teams or less. Here’s some other Minor League news…

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The Phils have Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis, who was played for 162 games last year, something I still cannot get over.  Imagine a team playing Freddy Galvis 162 games.  I can’t and it happened!  Any hoo!  Both of these guys are arbitration eligible which could make them attractive in a trade to a smaller market team.  As if you can’t imagine Cesar Hernandez or Galvis playing for the A’s next year.  Plus, the Phils just hired “Hottie With His Shirt Off” Gabe Kapler.  The Jacked Jew!  By the way, if you would tell anyone who doesn’t know better that there’s a Jewish manager for the Phils named Gabe and he’s sexy AF, they’d tell you that you are absolutely bonkers.  There hasn’t been a handsome Gabe since the 1979 Battle of the Network Stars when Isaac from The Love Boat sprayed water in Gable Kaplan’s face.  Gabe Kapler is like the visual representation of a John Legend song.  Okay, enough homoerotic fantasy baseball.  Scott Kingery!  That’s who we’re for.  I mention Cesar Hernandez and Galvis because they could be standing in the way of Kingery’s playing time.  Kingery plays predominantly 2nd base, which means Cesar would have to move, but Hernandez could play short, which works if Galvis moves.  So, what can we expect from Scott Kingery for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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I’ve spent a good two hours, racking my brain, trying to come up with a band with a few good songs, and a whole lot of garbage. The problem is, no matter who I say, some fan of some band is going to get triggered. We don’t need anyone triggered, it’s Sunday Morning baby, get high feel the good vibes. So I’ll instead say Collective Soul. They had a bunch of hits, can’t remember listening to an album, ever. But they had radio songs people knew. The Baltimore Orioles are Collective Soul. They’ve had some hits over the years, most notably Manny Machado, recently Jonathan Schoop, but overall they have a lot of mediocre talents and garbage. One of the strangest dynamics of GM Dan Duquette’s tenure is his detest for the international market. He routinely deals away his bonus pool slots, and now his cash allotment for players. Over the past 12 months he’s acquired Yerfy Ramirez, and a bunch of garbage for all of his tradable money. Needless to say, not venturing into the July 2nd market puts a lot of pressure on the Orioles to nail their draft picks. While they have hit on a couple, it’s few and far between. They’ve struggled to truly develop a frontline starter. As Kevin Gausman continues to flash equal parts brilliant and repugnant. Dylan Bundy showed promise, but still has a ways to go to reach his potential. This inability to develop frontline pitching is not due to a lack of trying. As the O’s have gone starter in the first round five of the past seven seasons. The question is, are any of them good? Short answer, more below… (Big Market Tease High Five>)

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After 25 minutes of intense Google searching, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt Willy Adames is not William Adama.  Though, 24 of those 25 minutes involved me removing a Firefox toolbar add-on that identified Cylons from humans.  Meanwhile, searching Willy Adames on Razzball, reveals a flurry of results that tells me he has fallen dramatically in Prospector Ralph’s eyes.  He was a top 25 prospect for 2017 fantasy baseball, where PR seemed to be self-soothing, saying things like, “Not the best start to his Triple-A career,” but “…lots of young players take a month to settle into a new level.”  Apparently, less players take two years to settle in, because PR dropped Willy Adames all the way to 57th overall on his top 100 prospects for 2018 fantasy baseball.   There, he seemed to still be excited about Adames, while couching his comments with much more room for disappointment, mentioning how others now think he’s overrated.  Underrated, overrated or simply rated that is the question, after “To be or not to be,” “How do I get my hand unstuck from a Pringles can?” and “Am I the only one that calls diarrhea, ‘The Squirt Locker?'”  Anyway, what can we expect from Willy Adames for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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Can’t stop, won’t stop, making these bad boys all about fantasy baseball rookie hitters, but every once in a while you need to remove the blinders and look at a pitcher.  This doesn’t mean get totally enamored by pitchers.  Like Teddy KGB would say in a terrible Russian accent, “Nyet, nyet, nyet!  You sons of beeeeech, you tricked me, nyet!”  We must focus on hitters, but sometimes a great pitcher comes along, and we have to take a peeksie-poo.  Brent Honeywell is one such pitcher.  Three quick GIFs, from me to you.

I have a big takeaway from these GIFs.  Honeywell looks pretty low energy like Jeb!  Whether it’s the fastball in the first two GIFs or the bye-bye junk in the third GIF.  You gotta feel bad for the hitter when he gets to the third drop-off-the-table-snap-don’t-need-no-police-just-stay-off-my-back-or-I-will-attack-with-an-offspeed-pitch-that-you-won’t-smack pitch.  That’s only two pitches of his possible six pitches.  The last one, which I can’t stop watching, is just unhittable.  Looks like a circle change to me, but he’s got so many pitches in his repertoire — change, curve, fastball, screwball, cutter, knuckle-curve — who knows what he’s throwing, the hitters definitely don’t.  So, what can we expect from Brent Honeywell for 2018 fantasy baseball?

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How angry would Braves fans be if I spent the entire opening to their personal prospect spank bank eulogizing Roy Halladay? I won’t do that, though I did think about just writing 1,000+ words about how much I loved Doc. Then again, perhaps a Doc Halladay eulogy, might be easier to swallow for Atlanta fans, than more talk of John Coppolella. That being said, I have no idea if they will lose Kevin Maitan, my guess is no. More on Maitan and disappearing value in a few. The best way to sum up the Braves farm is to say. “This system is deep AF!” That was the most millennial description of the Braves system possible. It’s true, I went 15 deep into the Diamondbacks system, I’m going 25 deep today! I hope the phallic undertones aren’t lost on you. Because make no mistake, the Braves are the biggest swinging johnson in the room. Their 10-20 is better than most team’s top tens. So whatever black magic, underhanded dirty shizz Coppolella was doing. It was working. This team has outsigned, outdrafted, and outtraded all comers. That includes you Yankees and White Sox! I’m talking the last two years of course. Any later than that is a different era. For you Prospect hounds this system has it all, future MLB arms of all types, a through the roof prospect superstar in Ronald Acuna, power bats, speedsters, glove first catchers, bat first catchers, relief arms, and Methodists!

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A lot of thoughts that make their way around the fantasy baseball industry contain some selection bias. I’m guilty of it all the time. I watch a pitcher dominate in a singular start and begin to sweat, thinking about how my exposure looks across leagues – Luiz Gohara’s September 29th start against the Phillies comes to mind (7 IP, 9 K, 7 baserunners). But this kind of bias implies some misallocated favorability. In Gohara’s case, I didn’t watch his debut start against the Rangers (4 IP, 6 ER, 8 baserunners), or his mediocre final start of 2017 against the Marlins (6 IP, 4 ER, 8 baserunners).

Applying this logic to the World Series produces similar results. Two of seven games were some of the best I’ve seen in awhile; we’ve been spoiled these last few years. Game 7, however, drew the most eyes, but was lackluster at best. I kept waiting for the Dodgers to crawl back and give us 2016’s Game 7 2.0, but my desires were unfullfilled.

Every time a baseball game is played – particularly at such a high level – we can learn something. Taking it in context with what has already happened and how it can affect – negatively or positively – the future is vital. Below let’s blend some World Series looks with in-season recollection and look at two players that stood out to me: Alex Bregman and Joc Pederson.

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