This is the post no one has been waiting for. The system I dread writing about more than any other. It’s the wasteland of Dipotopia. Desolate and destitute, dark most days, and it always smells like fresh cat urine. To put it mildly the Seattle Mariners system is putrid. We’re talking a handful of interesting players, and then several waves of system depth types. Two of the more exciting, and not to mention major league ready prospects, were shipped away over the last year and a half in Luiz Gohara and Tyler O’Neill, netting humbling returns. While the most recent draft yielded an uninspiring class for the most part. It did have it’s bright spots, consisting of a pair of talents in Evan White and Sam Carlson. They also netted a couple of intriguing arms in Seth Elledge and Wyatt Mills. The Mariners did make a serious run at Shohei Ohtani, but fell short in the end. Their International period was hardly a failure however, landing one of the top power bats in the class in the Dominican Republic’s Julio Rodriguez. There’s also been a cloud of bad luck following a once promising 2016 draft class, primarily Kyle Lewis, and the saga of his knee injury and subsequent recovery attempts. There’s also the feel-good story of the Arizona Fall League in Eric Filia, that morphed into the reality check of the winter following a drug of abuse suspension. So that’s what we’re working with today. Allow me to get through this misery so I can begin the next Minor league Update. It’s the Seattle Mariners Top Prospects! (puke emoji)Please, blog, may I have some more?
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I’m on a mission to finish these minor league previews if it kills me. The off-season ran short, I got caught up with family and work, and here I am in mid-May scrambling to get caught up. Poor planning, my apologies to all of you. That said, y’all didn’t think I’d let you head into the weekend without a minor league update to step to did you? Oh hell naw! In no way, shape, or form would I ever leave you, my readers, my people, my children. Especially on a glorious Thursday! This week no one man ruled the roost more than the Washington Nationals’ Juan Soto. (Okay, Vlad, but how much can I write?) The 19 year old rightfielder with the sweet lefthanded swing, Soto saw promotion to AA Harrisburg last week. His Eastern League debut was the center of the prospect world, if only for that night, as it just so happened to come against the visiting Vladimir Guerrero Jr.. Soto did not disappoint, going 2-for-4, with a homer, a double, and 4 RBI. That was his AA debut, and we now have a week worth of games to dig into. While the .286/.400/.476 is pretty impressive, his walk rate of 16%, coupled with a downright OCD K rate of 16% is equally as impressive. To summarize, Soto is 19 in AA, hits for contact, hits for power, and has both elite walk and k rates for a player so young. Lance and I discussed Soto on Saturday’s new Prospect Podcast, and I ranked him at #2, when I teased an updated Top 25 on Twitter this past weekend. At this point it’s tough for me not to view him as the second best bat in the minors. Here’s why, Soto has never lacked production, he’s really only lacked health, with a couple of unfortunate injuries cutting his 2017 short. Otherwise, we might have seen him ranked inside the Top 10 entering the season. So far Soto has jumped three levels, walked more than he’s struck out, and has homered 13 times through 37 games in low-A, high-A, and AA. That’s Smut!
Please, blog, may I have some more?
Juan Soto’s 1st HR in AA (5/10/18)
Oppo taco ? pic.twitter.com/CMs6CXareH
— Prospect Gifs (@prospectgifs) May 11, 2018
To say the Giants have been one of the more uninspired farm systems of late is an understatement on par with saying Kate Upton is busty. We know. It’s a defining characteristic of this organization. It’s been so bad that people were actually excited about Christian Arroyo, a player that’s truly nothing more than system depth. To put it lightly 2017 was a disastrous campaign for the Giants, as they finished with the league’s worst record, despite paying the luxury tax. Sure Madison Bumgarner’s (first) freak injury played into that, but there were bigger issues. First amongst them is a lack of exciting bats in the lineup. The San Francisco organization did a good job this off-season, acquiring both Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, for underwhelming prospect packages. They also drafted a few exciting talents in top Puerto Rican prospect Heliot Ramos, Jacob Gonzalez son of former Arizona Diamondbacks star Luis Gonzalez, and Seth Corry, an intriguing lefty from the Utah Prep ranks. With the number 2 overall pick in the draft this year, San Francisco has a great opportunity to add onto a strong foundation from last year’s class. It’s the Giants Top Prospects for 2o18.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Seems like I can’t write one of these posts any longer without tripping over a Junior. Hell, Ronald Acuña added one for good measure. I’m about to change my eldest son’s name to Ralph Lifshitz Jr. just to get the most of the current environment. While it would be entirely in my power, and justifiable, to dedicate this space to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., I will refrain, and instead turn your attention to another highly rated Junior, Fernando Tatis Jr. It was a rough beginning to the season for Tatis, and while you could still point to a pretty putrid slashline, over his last 11 games he has 5 homers, including 3 in the last 5 games. He was a nearly universal Top 10 prospect entering the season, and was aggressively assigned to AA San Antonio. Looks like the time to panic is over and Tatis is back on track. No adjustment in Tatis’ ranking from me.
Please, blog, may I have some more?
Home run #6 for Fernando Tatis Jr. ???(5/4) pic.twitter.com/2SbMRLjJ8x
— Prospect Gifs (@prospectgifs) May 5, 2018
Every year a player shows up in April and makes you regret your ranking. The honor of “that guy” in 2018, at leats so far, goes to Juan Soto. Ranked 25th on my Top 100 Prospects coming into the season, if I re-ranked today, I’d move Soto up as many as 10 spots. Upon receiving an assignment to low-A Hagerstown, it was obvious from the jump his competition in the Sally was overmatched. Soto slashed .373/.486/.814 with 5 homers and 24 RBI in 15 games, and was quickly promoted to high-A Potomac of the Carolina League. So far through 5 contests he’s hitting .318/.400/.591 with a double, triple, and homer. Here’s a look at the homer he hit on Wednesday versus Wilmington. The swing is a thing of beauty, with a super quick and simple motion, strong wrists, and fast hands. It’s all evident in the video below.
— NatsGM (@NatsGMdotcom) April 26, 2018
Please, blog, may I have some more?
Soto is already looking like he belongs in high-A, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he spent a good chunk of the summer in AA Harrisburg. He’s moving toward a near certain Top 10 rank come mid-season, and a potential Top 5 come pre-season 2019. However, we won’t see Soto at the major league level until later on in 2019. To encapsulate, Soto is a year away, but an elite talent, one that needs to be owned in every dynasty league. He pairs the ability to hit for both power, and average, and shows advanced understanding of hitting. Working counts, making adjustments with two strikes, and avoiding strikeouts. He has a real shot to be the best rightfielder in the game in his prime years.
Just when you thought you would be sparred any more Tyler O’Neill propaganda, I strike with the Cardinals Top Prospects list. You just can’t shake it! Tyler O’Neill or no Tyler O’Neill, the Cardinals have long been a strong player development program. Earning the reputation for top notch scouting, homegrown stars have been the calling card of the Red Birds. The highlights of homegrown talent are too deep to list, but more than a few potential hall of famers have passed through this farm system. With a new crop of exciting kids and a AAA team that rivals a few of the weaker MLB lineups, the future remains bright in St. Louis. If only we could say the same for Nelly. If you need an audiobook to go with this, check out yesterday’s podcast! Enough of that, it’s the St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects.Please, blog, may I have some more?
It is no secret, my admiration for San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller. While many remember the early win now moves in his tenure, it is the scouting and development of young talent that has really caught my eye. During his time in the Rangers organization, under the direction of former fraternity brother Jon Daniels, Preller was tasked with International Scouting. Something the Rangers did pretty well over that period. The same eye for talent on the international market has proven fruitful for the Padres, securing the services of several top signees over the last few periods, including Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, Gabriel Arias, Jeisson Rosario, and Tirso Ornelas. Some of his recent trades have helped build even greater depth, adding top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. for James Shields, as well as Logan Allen, Anderson Espinoza, Chris Paddack, Josh Naylor, and Esteury Ruiz in a collection of other trades. All this, and we haven’t even touched on some of the recent drafts. In just the last two seasons the Padres have added, MacKenzie Gore, Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Eric Lauer, Hudson Potts, Luis Campusano, and Mason Thompson. Needless to say I have my work cut out for me in this post. In case you’re not caught up on the Prospect Pod, Lance and I discussed this system on the latest episode. You can listen and read! Shameless Plug! Onto the San Diego Padres Top Prospects.Please, blog, may I have some more?
On a cold early April night in Connecticut, I got my first looks at both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in the flesh. In a matchup not short on prospects, I met fellow Razzball writers Paul (the) Martin, and Lance Brozdowski, as well as friend Scott Greene, founder of Prospects 1500. The four of us frequently paused baseball and fantasy discussion to get as many clips of Vlad, Bo, Brendan Rodgers, Sam Hilliard, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Garrett Hampson on our phones as we could. In the early going, I was impressed by the Yard Goats starter Jesus Tinoco, who was popping 95 with a wicked breaking ball. Second time through the order was not so kind however. We didn’t get a ton of offense from the trio of top prospects, but we did get a two run double from Bichette down the leftfield line, and a chopper just inside the third base bag that went for extra bases from Guerrero. Hartford’s Brendan Rodgers went 0-for-4, and Gurriel went 0-for-3 with two walks. One off the radar standout from last night was Yonathan Daza, who hit .341 last season at Lancaster, to go along with 31 steals on 39 attempts. He hit two hard ground balls up the middle, driving in Hartford’s lone run. All in all a good night, here’s some video from the game, as well as some other noisemakers in the early going of the MiLB season.Please, blog, may I have some more?
It’s been a long off-season, but we still have some systems to preview. So today, I get back on the horse and dig into a talented Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. For years now the Pirates have done an excellent job of drafting, scouting, and developing talent. Unfortunately this post comes a few days before I attend some extended spring work down in Bradenton, Florida, the off-season home of the Pirates. Annually I’m down in the Bradenton area for a week or two to see my in-laws, and I always sneak away and catch a couple of Bradenton games, or at least make it to the Pirates facility about 5 miles down the road from LECOM Park. So all this to say, I get a decent amount of looks every year at the Pirates talent in the lower levels. Last year I got first hand looks at top pitching prospect Mitch Keller, underrated speedster Cole Tucker, draft-bust Will Craig, and 2015 first rounder Ke’Bryan Hayes. This year I’m hoping to get some looks at some of the members of the Pirates strong 2017 draft class, as well as J2 standouts like Sherten Apostel. Once I have more info on Apostel, I’ll share it, but info is limited. Today we focus more on the bigger names in the system, and those with shorter ETAs. Regardless of your flavor of prospect, there’s something for everyone in this Pittsburgh system. It’s the Pittsburgh Pirates Top Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.Please, blog, may I have some more?
We’re moving slower than expected, so instead of the next 100 prospects, I’m cutting it into two posts of 50 prospects. Disappointing? Possibly, but you still got 6500 words to read, ponder, debate. It’s all there for the taking. What am I talking about? Honestly I’m not sure, I’m writing this at 3 AM, delirious from the research, coffee, and myrcene rich leaves. It’s the next bunch of blokes with big dreams and lots of upside for your fantasy roster. I’ve tried to get a little more “groupie”. Wait, what? I tried to group similar types together here. There’s an insane amount of upside guys in this post. So if that’s your jammy jam, you’re going to be pleased. Or maybe not, possibly you’re always grumpy, but that’s not my problem. Editing these posts is my problem! AHHHHHHH PROSPECTS. For the Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Prospects. Here’s the Top 150 Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball:Please, blog, may I have some more?