The Astros are the defending world champions and just punched their ticket to the 2018 ALCS with a roster full of homegrown studs. So we can excuse them if the current system doesn’t stack up to previous years. And yet, this top ten still boasts three specs that should appear on just about every top 100 list this preseason. The Colin Moran trade and David Paulino’s graduation are the only notable changes to the group from last year. They’re a bit pitching heavy and the current MLB roster doesn’t leave much room for new talent to step into everyday roles, but that’s picking nits. On the plus side, any prospects that do manage to graduate in 2019 – I’m looking at you Kyle Tucker – are stepping into a winning environment and a stacked lineup. This year’s previews will use a simple A, B, C grading system to tier/group the prospects and as always I’m attacking these lists as a fantasy player.

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Ah, the minor leagues…just look at all those empty seats. Oh, hi! I’m Mike. You may remember me from such fantasy baseball posts as Buxton’s Millions and Locker Room Towel Fight: The Blinding of Hector Olivera. “Mike, that’s great and all, but I wish there was some way I could go to one place for all of the fantastic minor league previews you are going to write…like some sort of index.” Well don’t choke on your Kahlua and coffee, but you are reading that index at this very moment! Imagine the man hours it took me to create a table that includes (and correctly spells) the names of all thirty major league teams. For the next four to six weeks (or until I decide this requires too much effort – whichever comes first) I’ll be your guide through the minor league systems of every single MLB team. We’ll also argue with each other about the Top 100 overall prospects for the 2019 fantasy baseball season and play Who the Eff is That? with the Top 50 first-year player draft signees. But for now…just relax. Gaze upon the ordered centeredness of the table below. And know that I do all of this for you out of the kindness of my heart while in a partial blackout.

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If the excitement of the World Series wasn’t enough, the Mets can also celebrate the success of Michael Conforto and Steven Matz in 2015. Both look like solid fantasy options moving forward. As much as it hurts my insides as a Phillies fan, the Mets should be good for a while with that pitching staff. On the farm there aren’t a ton of impact fantasy players if you’re not counting Matz anymore. Dom Smith might be your best bet, but he’s yet to show his game power. Amed Rosario hasn’t taken off offensively, and Marcos Molina went under the knife. There’s a lot of international talent in the low minors however, and those signings will keep feeding the system. What this farm lacks in star power it makes up for in depth.

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So you and 11-29 of your closest friends have decided to take the plunge and start a fantasy baseball dynasty league. Congratulations…we’ve been waiting for you. Since you enjoy pain, you’ve volunteered yourself as the league’s commissioner. There was much rejoicing, but now the parade is over and you’re left sitting in front of your mom’s computer wearing a Burger King crown wondering what the hell you’ve gotten yourself into. First of all, stop crying. It’s unbecoming. Second of all, that’s what I’m here for buddy! Let’s take a look at how I go about forming a dynasty league from scratch. Hopefully this post will help your league keep the arguments and bloodshed to a minimum and you’ll avoid dying alone. You’re welcome.

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The Rangers have one of the deepest systems in the majors and it’s packed with upside for fantasy. Even after trading away three good prospects in the Cole Hamels deal, it’s still a beast. The appeal for our game is the type of player – toolsy, power bats, power arms…all good stuff. One of the pleasant surprises on the MLB roster was Delino Deshields, who the Rangers selected as a rule 5 pick from the Astros organization. If you’re like me, you threw Deshields on your farm for some depth and by the end of the season it was all like ‘whoa this is a solid player right here’ and then Grey’s writing a sleeper post on him and next thing you know he’s got an ADP in the teens. Grey is influential like that. Coincidentally, the Rangers also lost Odubel Herrera in the rule 5 draft to Philly, and that young man had a hell of a season too. Just goes to show that this whole prospect game isn’t always easy to peg, and you have to stay on your toes and roll with it. Back over to the Texas farm now, which features three top 50 fantasy prospects.

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If you lurk in the comments section of any fantasy baseball blog, you’ll see a plethora of “who should I keep” type questions. Keeper leagues – no matter how many players you can protect – are eventually going to require you to choose between players on the fringe of your roster. Who you decide to keep and who you decide to set free is important, especially when your team is competing. You can always trade your fringe guys for draft picks or something like that, but then you’re still choosing between who to put on your block and who to keep for yourself. I used to agonize over these decisions. But after a while I started to see some patterns in the good choices versus the bad ones, and now it’s not such a big deal. I also started taking a lot of downers at that time, but I’m sure the two events are in no way related. If you want to ignore this and do your zag thing, go ahead. I’m just going to try to explain how I personally decide on keepers when there’s a “tie” on my list and only one seat at the table.

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The Yankees have a strong system, and by holding on to their prospects last summer they’re going to enter the 2016 season with a lot of potential energy. Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge are poised to help the big club this year. So is Greg Bird, although he technically lost his eligibility. Because the Yankees are active in the international market, there’s a solid crop of teenagers coming up in the low minors. It’s not going to be anytime soon, but you can sort of see how this might converge into an even stronger group in the next year or two, especially when you factor in their crop of new draftees stateside. Of course not all of them will make it, but the more lottery tickets you own the better your chances, right?

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What a wild year for the Astros. They made the playoffs, called up their star shortstop Carlos Correa, and made some big trades that have changed the look of this farm heading into 2016. It’s still very strong and full of great fantasy options, but just look at the list of players who left this system – Brett Phillips, Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Domingo Santana, Rio Ruiz, Mike Foltynewicz, Nick Tropeano. Not to mention losing Delino DeShields in the rule five draft and the quality graduations. That kind of hit would cripple most systems, and yet here we are with still one of the best farms in the game right now. Last year’s draft netted the Astros two top bats in Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker, and they saw a big breakout in A.J. Reed, who could be in line to play first base for Houston early in the 2016 season. It’s a good time to be an Astros fan.

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This system is what’s known as a three-bagger. You’ll need one brown paper bag for its head, one brown paper bag for your head, and a third brown paper bag handy in case one of the two paper bags currently in use happens to rip. Sean Newcomb was a lefty arm that would have easily topped this list if he hadn’t been traded to the Braves. Sad trombone. The Angels had a first round pick in 2015 (26th overall) but used it on Taylor Ward, a glove-first catcher with pretty limited fantasy value. All in all, you’re going to have a tough go finding prospects worth your time in shallower formats. Some of the players listed might not even be worth your time in really deep ones. And yet together, hand in hand, we march on…

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Today I will continue my proud tradition of not watching football and instead focus on the most notable fantasy prospects in the San Francisco Giants organization. As usual, they don’t have a true blue chip prospect. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t players on this farm who will develop into good fantasy pieces. In fact, over the past few years the Giants have been pretty good at bringing guys up that weren’t on the prospect radar and presto-changeo they are suddenly on everybody’s fantasy team. Matt Duffy comes to mind. Joe Panik is another. The pitching-friendly home park and the Giants’ success in developing arms also makes the pitching prospects a little more interesting than they’d normally be.

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