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.

 

1. Luis Robert, OF White Sox | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .310/.491/.536, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 12 SB

He was the last of the 8 figure international signees, and he offers one of the more intriguing profiles in fantasy. In many ways a classic 5 tool Cuban bat, with power, speed, approach, and some question marks

2. Royce Lewis, SS Twins | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .279/.381/.407, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 18 SB

The top overall pick in the 2017 draft brings 5 tools to the table at a premium position. Between Robert and Lewis the higher floor belongs to the shortstop, but Robert has another level of upside as a potential 30/30 candidate. I can’t see Lewis reaching that height, but he’s not far off. A peak season of .280/25/25 isn’t out of the question.

3. MacKenzie Gore, LHP Padres | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-1, 21.1 IP, 1.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 34 K, 7 Bb

The third overall pick in the draft might arguably be the better prospect between he and fellow superstar hurler Hunter Greene. A lefty with an arsenal of four above average or better pitches, a prototype frame, and great athleticism that allows him to repeat his off the wall mechanics. Gore dominated rookie ball, and could be one of the more hyped pitching prospects of all time when he finally reaches the bigs. Elite talent.

4. Hunter Greene, RHP Reds | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: 0-1, 4.1 IP, 12.46 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 6 K, 1 Bb

The most discussed player from last June’s draft, Greene played mostly as a position player in his pro debut, but has pitched more in fall instructs. So far the results haven’t been good. He mixes a fastball that can touch 100, with two breaking balls that look more average to fringe at the moment. Random note: His father is a well known private investigator that does work for A-List Hollywood actors. In other words, Greene’s father is Ray Donovan.

5. Jo Adell, OF Angels | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .325/.376/.532, 5 HR, 30 RBI, 8 SB

Quite possibly my favorite bat in the 2017 draft, Adell came into pro ball with lots of hit tool question marks, but quickly silenced critics with sub 25% k rates and solid walk rates across two levels of rookie ball.

6. Keston Hiura, 2B Brewers | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .371/.422/.611, 4 HR, 33 RBI, 2 SB

Ranking 85th in my midseason top 100, Hiura has been solid through his first half a season of pro-ball. He’s just returned to the field recently, playing 3 games at second at the end of the season, and has done the same in fall instructs. If you’re unaware of Hiura’s elbow injury do some googling. Hiura was one of the best college bats from the 2017 draft, pairing excellent contact, with plus approach, and above average power. If he can tap into more of his raw power, then Hiura has a chance to be a stud fantasy player. If he doesn’t he’ll be similar to later career Dustin Pedoria with a little more pop.

7. Heliot Ramos, OF Giants | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .348/.404/.645, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 10 SB

No player from this June’s draft has done more to raise their prospect profile than Ramos. At just 17 years old, Ramos had a dominant showing in Arizona vs older competition. The 19th overall pick generates plus power from his elite bat speed, and pairs it plus speed. Despite the great numbers, Ramos has a ways to go still at the plate, he strikes out too much (31.8%), and was very lucky on balls in play (.500 BABIP). Regardless this is a supremely talented player.

8. Brent Rooker, 1B Twins | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .281/.364/.566, 18 HR, 52 RBI, 2 SB

Though he was ranked behind players like Pavin Smith and Brendan McKay heading into this June’s draft, Rooker has had arguably the most impressive showing of any player entering pro-ball in 2017. After just 22 games at rookie level Elizabethton Rooker earned promotion to high A Fort Myers of the Florida State League. From there he hit 11 homers in 40 games and slugging .552 splitting time between first and the outfield. There’s 40 homer pop potential in Rooker’s bat.

9. Kyle Wright, RHP Braves | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: 0-1, 17 IP, 2.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 18 K, 6 Bb

Didn’t pitch a ton after a long college season, but many thought Wright was the best college player in the draft. He has a plus fastball that sits 92-95, with sink, touching 97 when he needs it. His secondaries are led by his plus curveball with nice two plane movement, and an average slider. He should move quick, but in a stocked Braves system just how quickly he ascends is hard to peg. Looks like a sure fire number three with the upside of a number two starter

10. Nick Pratto, 1B Royals | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .247/.330/.414, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 10 SB

It’s not often that a first base only prep player goes in the first round, let alone the first 15 picks in the draft, but that’s the case with the Royals Nick Pratto. He ranked 184 on my mid-season top 200, and 12th overall in my pre-draft prospect rankings. The former California prep star has loose wrists, all fields power, and feel to hit. For this reason he gets loads of Joey Votto comps. I’m sure to be a bit higher than most on Pratto, but he may have the highest upside on this list. He’s still three plus years away, so he’s not the right fit for every league, but you should be aggressive in going after Pratto in first year player drafts of deeper dynasty formats.

11. Tristen Lutz, OF Brewers | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .311/.398/.559, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 4 SB

I guess you might say I sweat the Brewers style, and I prolly do. But they just keep trading for, drafting, and developing talented players. Lutz is the next in a long line. A complete hitter with plus contact skills and power, Lutz looks like a prototypical middle of the order hitting corner outfielder.

12. Bubba Thompson, OF Rangers | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .257/.317/.434, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB

One of the better athletes, if not the best high school athlete in the draft, Thompson offers potential 5 category upside. A 60 grade runner, Thompson’s loose right handed swing shows potential for more power, and consistent contact.

13. Austin Beck, OF Athletics | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .211/.293/.349, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 7 SB

Insane bat speed, raw power, and a plus runner, Beck is one of the more toolsy players in the draft class. Unfortunately he’s also one of the most raw, and he struggled at times in rookie ball. The tools are all there, but he’s going to need time.

14. Logan Warmoth, SS Blue Jays | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .302/.350/.418, 2 HR, 23 RBI, 6 SB

Good all-around college shortstop that knows how to hit. Swing is more geared for line-drive contact, but Warmoth made improvements to his game power year over year at North Carolina. So it stands to reason he could tap into more. Should move quickly, could be up in Toronto by mid-2019.

15. Adam Haseley, OF Phillies | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .284/.357/.405, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 6 SB

Another good all around hitter from an ACC school, much like Warmoth, Haseley could be a fast mover seeing the majors by 2019 if all goes well. Reminds me of Jacoby Ellsbury, brings speed, contact, and gap to gap power.

16. Alex Faedo, RHP Tigers | Level: N/A | 2017 Stats: Did Not Play

The Tigers rested Faedo after he threw 123.2 innings as the ace of the Florida team that won the national championship. After starting slow in the spring as he recovered from off-season knee surgery, Faedo began to regain the giddy up on his fastball. By the end of the season Faedo was working 92-94, and touching 98 on occasion. His fastball has great action and movement, making it tough to barrel up. Which is why the returned velocity is such a  boost to his value. He throws an excellent slider, that gives him a true out pitch. From time to time he mixes in an average change.

17. Chris Seise, SS Rangers | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .284/.330/.400, 3 HR, 36 RBI, 6 SB

What a draft Texas had with 3 prospects in my Top 25. While Seise doesn’t have the upside of Thompson or Crouse, he’s still a high end offensive talent in the middle infield. The shortstop dominated in Arizona before struggling upon promotion to the Northwest League, but still managed to end strong there, and showed the ability to adjust. Contact, developing power, and some speed.

18. Pavin Smith, 1B Diamondbacks | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .318/.401/.415 0 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB

Let’s just get this out in the open, I’m a little nervous about Smith’s power translating to pro-ball. While Smith’s production wasn’t bad, and he did manage to connect for his first homer in a playoff game a couple weeks ago, 3-4 homers in the statline would have gone a long ways. The contact and approach are outstanding, let’s hope he can snap out of the power drought and tap into 20-25 homer power. Some view Smith as the replacement for Goldy in Arizona, but a move to a corner outfield spot would not surprise me.

19. Hans Crouse, RHP Rangers | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 20 IP, 0.45 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 30 K, 7 Bb

I have a feeling I’m going to own a lot of Crouse and Pearson coming out of first year player drafts. Crouse’s combination of deception, a plus-plus high 90’s fastball, and a nasty breaking ball, keeps hitters off balance. Hence the .109 batting average against in his pro debut. An ultra fiery, and competitive personality, Crouse might excel in a relief role at the MLB level in the next few years, despite his age.

20. Nate Pearson, RHP Blue Jays | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, 0.60 WHIP, 26 K, 5 Bb

The righty who dominated at Central Florida this year, combines a massive starters build at 6’6 245, with a plus-plus fastball that sits 97-99, while at times touching triple digits. He mixes in three secondaries that all flash plus, which contradicts lots of reports coming into the draft questioned the quality of his slider, curve, and changeup. However, since turning pro, all three have been lauded in recent reports. Has front end ceiling, but bullpen ace floor.

21. Evan White, 1B Mariners | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .277/.345/.532, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB

I could have easily flip-flopped White and Smith in these ranks, and there’s probably a case that could be made for each inside the top 15. White only played in 14 games for Everett of the Northwest League, but he did a ton of damage, slugging .532 with 12 RBI. The question that surrounded White in the spring was his ability to hit for power. But he answered those questions by slugging .637, and doubling his homer total at Kentucky, before flashing nice power in his pro debut. In my opinion the most likely on this list to jump 10 spots.

22. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B Rays | Level: A | 2017  Pitching Stats: 1-0, 20 IP, 1.80 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 21 K, 5 Bb | 2017 Hitting Stats: .232/.349/.376 4 HR, 22 RBI, 2 SB

McKay ranks numero uno on the MLB.com top 10 positional ranks for first base. So he has his fans as a positional talent. I on the other hand have completely flipped from where I was in May, and prefer McKay as a left handed starting pitcher, and the numbers back it up. That said, McKay, if he focused on hitting full time, could be a very solid power prospect I just don’t buy that he’s ever going to pursue that route full time. On the off chance he does I have ranked him here.

23. J.B. Bukaukas, RHP Astros | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: 0-0, 10 IP, 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 9 K, 5 Bb

Excellent fastball/slider combo, with many labeling Bukauskus’ slider as the best breaking ball in the draft. Not very big at 6 feet, 190 LBS, so he gets comped to other short starters with good collegiate track records like Sonny Gray and Carson Fulmer. There’s high end upside here, but some pen risk questions too.

24. Jeter Downs, SS Reds | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .267/.370/.424, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB

Might be one of my favorite prospects in the draft, named after Derek Jeter, Downs is a great all around hitter with advanced approach, raw power, and speed. Could have been ranked as high as 12 on this list, but I don’t think you’ll need to reach that high to get him. The Reds have been striking gold in the draft of late, and there’s reason to think that’s stopped with Greene, Downs, and Stuart Fairchild at the top of their crop.

25. Ryan Vilade, SS Rockies | Level: Rk | 2017 Stats: .308/.438/.496 5 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB

Made my Top 10 3rd base prospects list at 12. I know that doesn’t make sense. I’m enamored with Vilade’s mix of power, contact, approach, and athleticism. Technically Vilade is a shortstop, but he’s expected to move off the position, and his bat looks like it will play anywhere. Already showing the ability to make hard contact, best exemplified by his elite 26% LD%, Vilade has power to all fields. The whispers are that Vilade could see a full season assignment out of camp next year, making Vilade one of the more unheralded talents of the current draft class.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ProspectJesus and Check the Minor League Preview Index for all off-season content

  1. Miketron says:
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    Any consideration into including someone of the other top international guys like Wander Franco or Daniel Flores? I’m guessing no because they are so young/far away.

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Miketron: I have Franco at 27 in my next list coming Sunday. No one from J2 was super hyped this year.

      I have George Valera at 32, with Everson Pereira, Ronny Mauricio, and Julio Rodriguez all in the next 25.

      Flores is pretty far down, a lot of his value is tied to his defense, though he does have plus raw power. My understanding is he’s a little rawer at the plate than expected. I actually ranked Danny Diaz higher.

  2. Shane Whited says:
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    So I’m guessing none of these guys will be in the majors next year?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Shane Whited: No, there’s a chance Wright is by the end of the season, but it would surprise me. That said it’s not unheard of for a player to accelerate their ETA with a great first half, both Alex Bregman and Andrew Benintendi did two years ago.

      • Shane Whited says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: Do you do a top 50 for guys that are already in the minors instead of from the draft?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Shane Whited: Look below, I did a top 100 prospects a few weeks ago.

          • Shane Whited says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: I found it. Thanks.

  3. Richard Davis says:
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    I own picks #9 and #16 in my First Year Player Draft. The draft will also include players like Jesus Sanchez, Yordan Alvarez, and Brandon Marsh(Because they are unowned), and hopefully Otani(if he posts). Would it be better in your opinion to USE both my picks and get 2 prospects(I’m targeting Pratto and Marsh), or trade BOTH picks for a top 3 pick to get Luis Robert or Royce Lewis?
    Where would you rank Jesus Sanchez, Yordan Alvarez, and Marsh on this list? I already know Otani would be #1. Thanks, great work as always

  4. Alan says:
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    Thx Ralph. If things went really well, any of these NL only guys have chance for a Tatis/Trammell type breakout??? Or dare I say Acuna type :)

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Alan:The most likely to go Acuna is Heliot Ramos, but he’s far more raw with the bat than Acuna was a year or two ago. Tristen Lutz could make a big jump. The other is Jeter Downs, he reminds me of Trammell a little.

  5. IV says:
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    Hey Ralph, just took over a deep league dynasty team and your lists have been a big help with valuing my current farm. Team is definitely in a rebuild.

    My question is as follows: I have the 3rd pick in the off-season minor draft this winter and Roberts, Baez and Adell are all unowned from your top 100. I know you have Baez ranked before Adell, but would it be wrong to take Adell if both him and Baez are still there for my first pick? I feel like Adell might be safer just due to being a hitter.

    Appreciate your thoughts!

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @IV: No that’s totally a reasonable swap. I love Baez and he should be in the bigs by mid-2019. Adell will take longer but when he’s a year and a half away he’ll likely be a top 10-20 guy. So from a talent standpoint it’s reasonable, and fits your team

  6. Rob says:
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    awesome stuff Ralph. still don’t know how you put the time in. it’ll be interesting to see what happens with McKay.

    was pumped about Bukaukus through this season but have a weird feeling he’s BP bound in a kind of Devenski way.

    I’ll be watching Reynaldo Rivera for Detroit. Huge (6’6 250) lefty 1B/OF who might be worth a deep league stash for power.

    what are your thoughts on Jake Burger? looks like an athletic big guy who moves awkwardly but looks powerful. he going to crack the next 25-75 for FYPD?

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Rob: McKay really is interesting, if I’m the Rays I roll with him as a starter. He’s actually the first player to play both ways out of the draft since the Sox took Casey Kelly in the first round. That guy was a bust!

      I have doubts about Bukauskas, but he has the stuff and track record of success at a top program to break big next year. It’s tough with draft starters because the depth of their starts, innings, and even competition rarely tells us anything, until the following season. Hitters can break out in half a year, drafted arms usually need another half of baseball.

      Lopez is a little lower on my list than 75, but he’s interesting.

      Jake Burger was in and out of the top 25. I think he finished at 28 for Sunday’s post.

      • Rob says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: cool. I do like how Bukaukas apparently told teams not to trade him a year ago so he could go to UNC, obviously killed it, and banked $3.6 mil. Which Lopez? You’re not going to have Rivera in the top 100 are you?

        I wish there was some way in hell Rooker would fall to me at like 26-27 or wherever I’m picking next year

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Rob: Somehow Rivera autocorrected to Lopez. Racist iPhone!

          Twins in Razz30 was just saying the same thing about Rooker

          • Rob says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: gd racist phones make me sick white power

  7. Anon Gonzalez says:
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    You know what would be cool? If you did one of these for 2017 MLB Debut players. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t– but it would be a lot cooler if you did.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      What’s cooler than being cool?

      • Rob says:
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        @Grey: I think Lupe said it best:
        This life goes passing you by
        It might go fast if you lie
        You’re born, you live, then you die
        Oh, oh, oh, oh
        If life goes passing you by
        Don’t cry
        If you’re breaking the rules
        Making your moves
        Paying your dues
        Chasing the cool

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Damn, I love me some Lupe… Whatever happened to him? I haven’t heard any new shizz from him in years (maybe I just missed it)

          • Rob says:
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            @Grey: no clue. Food and Liquor was so good. I remember trying to get into that Tetso album from a couple years ago but didn’t give it much of a chance. apparently he dropped one this year.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Oh, see that’s the problem… Not Lupe, the fact that I’ve ignored his new stuff…

              • Ralph Lifshitz

                Ralph Lifshitz says:
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                @Grey: I think after he started criticizing Obama he got black listed. He dropped off the face of the earth.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Blacklisted seems like the wrong word to use here

                  • Rob says:
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                    @Grey: Barack listed. or if you’re confucius, barack risted.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Haha

            • Ralph Lifshitz

              Ralph Lifshitz says:
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              @Rob: you peeping Massone’s new shit? Guy is back with a vengeance. Every time he spits it’s 99 again.

              • Rob says:
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                @Ralph Lifshitz: mysonne ripped hot97 a while ago but I haven’t checked him out lately. love how he goes after mumble rappers

      • The Vaporizers says:
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        @Grey: iiiiiiiiice coooooooooooold. Aliright, alright, alright, alright

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Haha

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @Anon Gonzalez: So like a list of players that reached their limits this year? Or just players who got their first taste? I can do it. Just let me know he specifics

      • Anon Gonzalez says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz:

        Guys who made their MLB debuts because some leagues have drafts of just these guys. I’m in a DMB league like that. So anyone who debuted – i.e. Bellinger, Devers, Hoskins, Rosario, Robles, etc. Would love it if you could do that! Guys who get too many ABs fall away from the prospects lists.

  8. J-FOH says:
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    Does Bukaukus rhyme with Michael Dukakis? I can’t even read Bukaukus name without a giggle. Does he hit dongs in large groups? Does he use lots of bats? Balls in bunches?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Haha

    • Rob says:
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      @J-FOH: lots of chin music

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Rob: haha!

        known to go deep

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Ha! Nice!

        • J-FOH says:
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          @Grey: would love to see a spray chart on him

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            HAHA

    • Ralph Lifshitz

      Ralph Lifshitz says:
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      @J-FOH: I know, it’s like an onomatopoeia for a lackadaisical fart.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Ralph Lifshitz: why are you talking about Trevor Plouffe?

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @J-FOH: That’s a silly fart. Get your fart sounds straight Jack!

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Ralph Lifshitz: the machine with a sticking trigger fart is silly

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