I don’t pay much attention to Spring Training Statistics. You never know who the statistics are coming against. Baseball-Reference did, however, have an amazing tool last year that attempted to quantify the quality of opposing pitchers or batters faced during spring training games on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being MLB talent and 1-3 being high A to low A level. This tool is great, but it averages all the Plate Appearances or batters faced. You would still need a deeper dive to see if your stud prospect smacked a donger off of Chris Sale or off of your kid’s future pony league baseball coach. So what should we watch for in March when we’re starved for the crack of the bat? Ignore “best shape of their life” stories and Spring Training statistical leaderboards. Pay attention to injuries and lineup construction and position battles! Also pay attention to where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado sign… Note that those two signings can instantly eliminate some of the position battles detailed herein.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Please see our player page for Carter Kieboom to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.
Time flies when you’re having fun. Well, at least I’m having fun. I can’t speak for you kind reader. We’ve only two more divisions to cover for minor league rankings and spring training is just around the corner. I can smell the pine tar! While lurking on Reddit last week, I stumbled upon a great tool created by a user named BoBtheMule. I reached out to him about it and it turns out he’s a Razzball reader. Basically, he compiled all the prospect rankings from free sites on one sheet. You can check it out here. It’s very well done. Anyhoo, I thought it would be fun to see where I’m higher or lower than some of the other big sites (six others to be exact, including Razzball’s own Ralph from ProspectsLive). Anyhoo part two, I’ve been out of the game for a time, and while I don’t peep other rankings when creating my own, I do think it’s interesting to go back and look at how my rankings compare to others in the industry. As Kierkegaard pointed out, “Life can only be understood backwards.” Let’s take a look!Please, blog, may I have some more?
Rankings season is upon us. Rejoice and be glad! Just like when your dad lets you open one present on Christmas Eve before Santa comes the next morning, I’m dropping the first of three Top 100 prospect rankings on January Grey Rankings Eve. January Grey Rankings Day should be a gosh dern national holiday. This Top 25 will be followed by a Top 50 on Wednesday and finally the rest of the Top 100 next Sunday. For detailed info on any of these prospects, go to the 2019 Minor League Preview Index. There, you’ll find links to all thirty team pages, their top ten prospects, and my (vague and misinformed) thoughts on each of them. Later this offseason, I’ll release a special list just for redraft leagues once some playing time etc. situations come into sharper focus. Enough chatter. Here’s the Top 25 fantasy baseball prospects for 2019…Please, blog, may I have some more?
Two weeks ago the 2019 Astros prospects list published. One of the more difficult players to figure from that group was Forrest Whitley. He’s one of the most talented arms in the minors, but simply didn’t pitch much in 2018 due to suspension and injury. That’s where leagues like the AFL (Arizona Fall League) and LIDOM (Dominican Winter League) come in handy. They give us an extended look at prospects that would otherwise be haunted by question marks heading into spring training. So far, Whitley’s numbers in the AFL should quell any fears. Through two games started with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he’s struck out 14 batters in seven-plus innings while allowing just three free passes and two earned runs. Those are the ace-like numbers his fantasy owners need in their life, and they were enough to earn him Pitcher of the Week honors. Here’s what else is happening around the offseason leagues…Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Arizona Fall League is in full swing and my colleague Jason Pennini is out in the desert taking in Fall League action. Scouting is Jason’s full-time gig, with professional experience last summer with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. So he brings a unique perspective and understanding of what teams are looking for. Not only does Jason touch on some of the top performers in the first week of the AFL, he gives us some instructional league looks. He hit on players like Peter Alonso, Forrest Whitley, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan India, among others. It’s another episode of the Razzball Prospect Podcast powered by ProspectsLive.com. As always make sure you stop by Rotowear.com, and support our sponsor by picking up some of the freshest T-shirts out there.Please, blog, may I have some more?
Piece by piece, pick by pick, signing by signing the Tampa Bay Rays have quietly built the best farm system in baseball. Stocked at all levels with players of all types. This balanced blend of pitching and hitting, power and speed, big stuff guys and pitchability types. There’s no shortage of prospects to discuss on the Rays farm. While much of the recent discussion and helium has followed wunderkind Wander Franco and his assault on the Appy League. He’s not the hottest player in the Tampa system at the moment. That honor belongs to recently promoted second baseman Vidal Brujan. The 20 year old switch-hitter is a contact machine, showing an uncanny ability to get his bat on balls in all quadrants of the zone. With a mature approach at the plate, it’s apparent right away that Brujan has a plan. His ability to recognize and make in swing adjustments is rare. When I caught the spark-plug (coded short person language) in the New York-Penn League last year with Hudson Valley, he stuck out like a green hat with an orange bill. Rarely do you see a player this athletic in short season ball, that seemingly has the foundations figured out. But there was Brujan. He’s never going to be an impactful power hitter, but his swing does have loft, and he has the ability to drive balls to the gaps. Quick hands generate his plus bat speed, but it’s his laid back approach, and ability to make split second reads on spin that really set him apart. That’s before we even talk about his speed and base-running ability. He’s quick, getting clocked at 4.26 on the turn by Jason Woodell just weeks ago. He uses that speed too, wrecking havoc this season between the Midwest League and Florida State League, stealing 49 bases on 67 attempts. I envision a top of the order table setter with 25+ steals, a high batting average and 12-15 homers, but 30+ doubles. If I was in a dynasty that used points scoring, I’d make it a priority to add Brujan. Through 12 games in High-A he’s slashing .409/.519/.614 with a homer and 6 steals. Go add Brujan da 5’9 (that’s his listed height) before he goes BOOM!
Please, blog, may I have some more?
— Jason Woodell (@JasonAtTheGame) August 14, 2018
This is for all the people that have come up to me over the last few weeks and asked “Yo, Ralph when’s that Top 100 droppin’ son?” And I said, “When it’s finished”. This is for y’all, one love! Oh but wait, there’s more to come too. This is simply a sweet, sweet 20% of the overall ranks. The full 500 will drop on Sunday. I want to thank all of my readers over the years for supporting me in all that I do here. These rankings posts are a lot of questioning your evaluations, and even more sleepless nights. So, I hope you enjoy. As for the Top 100, I’ve gone a little heavier in discounting pitching than in previous years, instead favoring upside bats. Why? Because pitching prospects are like reflections in side view mirrors, all much closer than they appear. Think about Shane Bieber vs. Tyler Glasnow, one guy was hyped to the max, the other was a boring strike-thrower that likely would never crack a top 250 for fantasy. Who would you rather own now? Speaking of upside, you’ll see the second half of this list is a little more upside heavy with some breakouts mixed in for good measure. What can I say? I like the young upside hitters. This exercise was a process,I began by listing nearly 700 players, then went player by player ranking each on a “would I trade this guy for this guy” trip, then I stared at the list changing ranks over and over again while I smoked like a German. That’s not a joke, this actually happened. All to whittle it down to the list below, the Top 100.Please, blog, may I have some more?
There’s times where you just need to trust your gut. About 14 months ago I added a UCLA righthander with impressive stats in one “open universe” league I’m in. His name was Griffin Canning, and while there were some mechanical knocks, injury history, and a lack of premium stuff. I saw something in early March of 2017. He mowed down the Michigan lineup going 8 strong, allowing 6 baserunners on 3 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 12. He showed a curveball with depth, a fastball in the low 90’s that he commanded well, a slider, and an off-speed pitch. Despite a very good 2017 season in the PAC-12, Canning dropped down boards due to his size, injury history, and the aforementioned mechanical issues. He dropped all the way to the Angels in the second round, and in what is becoming an increasingly reality based narrative, Billy Eppler stole another one. Coming off consecutive seasons at UCLA where he exceeded 100 innings, the Angels were prudent to delay his professional debut until 2018. The righty was assigned to High-A Upland out of camp, and such begins Canning’s second act. His first two professional starts produced 8.1 scoreless frames, with 14 punchouts, and 7 baserunners. He saw promotion immediately to AA Mobile and while his next few starts were struggles, Canning clicked in his next six allowing a single earned run over 32.1 frames. A few starts later Canning was promoted to AAA Salt Lake where he made his debut this Thursday, going four, allowing five baserunners on 2 hits, and 3 walks. Over his time in the Southern League he made 10 starts, going 1-0 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, and 3.7 Bb/9.
Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Griffin Canning curveball is fun. pic.twitter.com/fIOrBrkBXH
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) June 12, 2018
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
The biggest little pod in the prospect world is back with one of the hottest systems in the minors. The Toronto Blue Jays. In what is the final minor league system preview of the season, Lance and I jump into Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Nate Pearson, and the rest. To say we have a connection to this system is an understatement. We’ve essentially watched this team a handful of times already in the first month. Tack on Lance’s interview back in February with Nate’s pitching coach, and you have some hot takes and fresh looks aplenty. Before we get into all that, we speak on last week’s scouting date to Manchester, NH, where we took in the pitching duel of Sean-Reid Foley vs. the Yankees’ Dillon Tate. After waxing poetic about SRF’s strange mechanics, we dive into our 5 by 5, highlighting ten of the top prospect performers over the last week. We round out the discussion with a review of the Blue Jays and Nationals systems. As we comp Victor Robles, and ask if Juan Soto is a top 10 prospect. It’s a whole lot of loving in this episode! Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 20% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:Please, blog, may I have some more?