The hardest decision to make about this prospect list is not who occupies the top spot but how to alphabetize the team’s name. I’m not sure a dumber thing has ever existed in the world of phraseology than The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Just. Stop. 

Although, big empathy for playing in a division with the Astros. 

My take coming into this was that the Angels have been on a very strange stretch for a long time. Kind of aimless. I was going to knock the Will Wilson sale. Who drafts a guy 15th just to sell him so you can move a bad contract? It doesn’t get much worse than that, in my opinion, and good on the Giants for raising their hand, taking the dead money and cutting Zack Cozart, who it looks like they might resign. Why do that? He’s a trade-able asset now. Maybe the Angels should’ve done that.

My take right now–after the hellstorm that is our baseball world–is that maybe they’ve finally got a chance. They’ve never had a real chance in that division–at least not for a long time now–because on the one hand you have Billy Beane in the prime of his career, and on the other you have the land of infinite cheating. Texas too has been extremely sharp for periods of the past decade and seems particularly sharp to me right now.

So it’s a tough road whether or not a cyborg squad populates the division. They’ll need to get something out of their pitching development program to have a chance, but the Dylan Bundy gambit could turn out better than the twin cores of Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey. The Angels are not without interesting pieces in the system, but the vast majority of future impact is on the hitting side. 

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As your dynasty league seasons come to a close in the coming weeks, much of the real work of the off-season begins. One of the biggest components of success in fantasy is based on the research you put in, particularly in the off-season. This is only magnified in the dynasty when much of the player movement likely takes place. Whether it be via trades, first year player drafts, or some form of free agency, now is when you build the foundation of your squad for the year to come. One of the best exercises in this preparation process for me historically has been digging in on short season and rookie ball performers. It’s good to know the landscape, and identify, through research of first hand scouting reports and video, which strong stat-lines are skills based versus statistical mirages. The next wave of buzz-worthy Top 100 types usually comes from these ranks with some mentioned below already there (See Franco, Wander; Rays). This is typically a great source of talent to focus on when building out your minor leagues, as many of these investments could return serious dividends on next year’s trade market come deadline time. Below we’ll touch on some of the names you should be targeting. Obviously depending upon your league rules and depth some suggestions might be more helpful than others. None of the players discussed will be 2018 draftees, they will be covered in a followup post.

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It’s Tucking K-way!!! The announcers at Fresno Grizzles games should just yell that out every time Kyle Tucker hits the batters box. Seriously, there is no one hotter on the planet right now than Kyle Tucker. Now gentlemen and three ladies, I know what you’re all thinking, “Real nice Ralphie, but where was this in the bigs kid?” BTW all of you have a Southie accent, and at least one Celtic cross tattoo. I just wanted to be clear about that. Oh, what’s that? The sound of a walkoff three run dong off the bat of Tucker? He finished up Saturday night 2-for-4 with 3 RBI, a run, a stolen base, and a walk. Tucker is hitting .478/.510/.1.087 with 9 homers, 18 runs, 20 RBI, and 6 steals over his last ten games. That’s some hero-ball type of stuff. Despite the struggles in his limited MLB looks I still foresee a future all-star, with 25-30 homer power, 15 steal speed, and a .270-.280 batting average. His setup, and swing are somewhat unique/unorthodox, whatever. With his uppercut bat-path, and upper body heavy swing, sometimes it almost looks like Tucker is throwing the bat, but he manages to get a lot of the barrel in the strike-zone, leading to a ton of good contact. All this to say, don’t sell on Tucker. 2018 might not be his year to contribute, but I’d be in on 2019 in all formats. The lingering question is playing time, but Tucker is good enough that he’ll force his way. It’s easy to forget he’s just 21, and will be 22 for the entirety of 2019. So there’s plenty of time to get things to click at the big league level. I do think there will be some swing and miss struggles early, but those should stabilize with experience. Tucker is an obvious candidate for a September promotion, and could provide some spark with the right amount of playing time.

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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!

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