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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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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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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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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Welcome my loyal Prospect disciples, sit back, relax, drink your coffee, crack a Beck’s if you wish, and get your popcorn ready. For Minor League Preview season has returned! Today we start with the improving Arizona Diamondbacks system, though improving might be disingenuous as this might have been the worst system I covered last season. Then again, there wasn’t even any mention of Jon Duplantier in last year’s write up, so maybe it was on me. Then again, again, when in doubt blame Dave Stewart, so I will. Dave Stewart, it’s your fault!! Your low brimed ice grille no longer has the same affect it had in your Oakland A’s salad days!!! Enough about Dave Stweart. For we are just a little over 12 months into the Mike Hazen era, and so far it is glorious. Big shouts to Abington, Massachusetts. Hazen has not only righted the ship on the major league level, he’s also coming off a strong draft, that was a thirst quenching boost to a thirsty system. In fact four of the players discussed in today’s breakdown were selected in last June’s draft. This shouldn’t come as a shock as the Princeton grad started his front office career in player development, and scouting, helping to build the Red Sox current young core. Needless to say Arizona is a system on the rise, let’s see what they have blooming on the farm.

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Every year in early October, a few hundred prospects converge on the Minor league complexes of Arizona to celebrate the grandest of all prospecting expeditions. The Arizona Fall League. Now I want you to backup, and read the words “Arizona Fall League” like you’re Ham Porter talking about Babe Ruth. Okay, now that you’ve reread the opening sentence, I’d like you to read the last one again in a “silly” old lady’s voice. Okay, now that you’ve done that we can move on. BTW, if you didn’t do any of that out loud, you win. You’re not an idiot. As for the Arizona Fall League, or the AFL as us “cool kids” call it, tis’ back in full swing. In case you don’t know it’s a 6 team league in Arizona run by MLB, and the teams are comprised of top prospects from almost every MLB organization. The ultimate goal is to showcase these talents for scouts and MLB executives, but there’s a multitude of reasons why players head to Arizona. It might be further refinement of a new swing adjustment or pitch, but it’s very often to make up time. Over the last few years we’ve had a string of exciting prospect classes in Arizona, and this year is no different. Needless to say, we’ll be covering some of the top prospects in the game today. Even one that earned his own Rookie post from the incomparable Grey Albright.

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I’m going to keep this brief, because it’s more or less an intro in the middle of a post. Or maybe it’s because I’m lazy. Or maybe the W is ruined on my computer? Then again you saw that perfectly healthy W, so that’s not going to work as an excuse. But I’m too lazy to come up with another. Blah, blah, blah, stuff, stuff, oh yeah! I released the Top 25 First Year Player Draft Rankings on Wednesday, because I wanted to take your work week bathroom reading to the next level. Can’t have a newcomer just show up and steal the show. Not that there’s a new comer, but Lance has been known to steal the show. That’s if by “the show” you mean “my pants” (heart eyes emoji). But in all seriousness, Lance stole my pants. Okay, I’m done with the buffoonery I pinkie swear! Below is the next 25 players on my big board for first year player drafts. Keep in mind, every league’s scoring can be slightly different, so adjust accordingly, and use my words to guide you. I’m Prospect Mufasa. Onto picks 26-50!

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It’s my favorite time of the year, the time when I start to research the first taste of pro-ball for all recent draftees, and prepare for the first year player drafts in several of my leagues. Depending upon the league the rules can vary, but by in large, you’re picking players from the recent draft, the July 2nd International class, and the remaining players on the free agent pool. I’m going to be breaking this post into two parts, first the Top 25 today, followed by the next 25 on Sunday. If my math is right I’m ranking 50, but I had to use my hands three times, and my toes twice. Plus I have to double count my fourth toe, because I lost my pinkie toes after starting Kevin Gausman early in the season. So toe math aside, if you’re in a 12 team league with limited minors (5-10 per team), this is the only post you’re going to need. Ya dig? Moving on, I have to say, now that I’m finished with the top 50, and I’ve researched each team’s draft class from top to bottom, this year’s crop is far more interesting that I thought. There’s tons of talented hitters with combinations of power, and speed, high end power arms from all levels of amateur ball with ace upsides, and  some talented bats in the middle infield. These rankings are subject to change, but it’s unlikely, as all of these players are done with competitive baseball for the season. Feel free to chime in with players you love, players you think will bust, and the players you hope to see in the next 25. Thanks for reading, and good luck in all your first year player drafts this off-season.

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According to Whitney Houston the “Greatest Love of All” had something to do with children’s laughter or something like that. I however, Ralph Z. Lifshitz, Prospector for Hire, Prospect Jesus, Bringer of Light, Master of his Domain; believe the ‘Greatest Love of All” is the satisfaction I gain from combing through scouting reports, end of season statistics, used garbage cans at minor league complexes, and sleeping with the wives of scouts for information. Some of those women aren’t handsome, or maybe they are. I usually get rather “engulfed” in the Olde E before I make it through the door. I’m jumping around aren’t I? Sorry, I started drinking early today. I actually was trying to explain how much I like sleepers but really got caught up in the Whitney analogy, and the Mother of Dragons name thing. So, to my original point, every off-season I build a list, usually starting around mid-August, of under the radar names to target in the later rounds of my 30 team dynasty draft. Last year my list included Sixto Sanchez, Jose Albertos, Jesus Luzardo, Seuly Matias, and Ty Blach, nailed my pitching, but hitters either didn’t pan out (Ramon Laureano), or are still too young to be blowing up (Eguy Rosario). This year however, I feel my list is full of strong hitters that just might be difference-makers. I’m a giver, so I decided to share a few of the names I’m going to be targeting this offseason. You won’t see the 50 plus names down there, but you will see 8 players I’ve highlighted from my list that I hold in the highest regard.

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I’m the one man army Ason, I’ve never been tooken out, I keep Prospectors looking out, I drop knowledge like Lancy dropping babies, enough to make an Albright go craaaaaazy! Sorry, always wanted to start a post like that, and I decided it shall be done over my morning coffee. In case you missed it I released the top 50 Prospects for 2018 on Sunday. Funny enough this is the perfect segue to today’s post, the second part of my top 100, this time with even more words! We’re going through 51-100, and I have to say this is by far the most difficult section of all my prospect rankings. It’s in intersection where up and comers full of helium, mix with droppers, solid-close-to-the-majors types, and super-young pure upside plays. I try to balance them all, and at times tiers dovetail, and weave together more than they stay in any sort of specific order. It’s an inexact science this prospecting. There’s so many unknown variables within each player and each player’s opportunities in a given organization at a given time. Constantly changing and evolving. All this to say that there’s a lot of educated guessing, and there’s bound to be some serious misses. Hello Tyler Glasnow!

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