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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Willie Calhoun vs. Gleyber Torres. Nick Senzel vs. Willie Calhoun. Willie Calhoun vs. Michael Kopech. These are just a few of the Willie Calhoun centric conversations Ralph Lifshitz and I engaged in during this week’s prospect podcast. We also got to a few of the other guys in our 2017 end-of-season top 20 prospect rankings, debating how high Scott Kingery’s upside is, is Ryan McMahon worthy of a top 20 ranking, and if Royce Lewis could be the next Victor Robles. We discuss everybody from Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Eloy Jimenez, to Taylor Trammell, Juan Soto, and Alex Reyes. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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I know, you thought it was going to be 100 prospects right? Well, it’s a good news/bad news thing. The good news is I will be ranking the Top 100 Prospects and beyond, however I will be doing them in increments of 50. So the bad news is you only get 4,000+ words and 50 prospects to read. Lets be honest, we are amongst friends here right? Even 4,000 words is at least two, if not three bathroom sessions. I know that’s when you read these, and I’m cool with it. Now that we’ve made assumptions about your bathroom reading habits, lets move along. As always, I’ve tried to balance the right now value of “close to the majors” prospects vs the high end talent. While also trying to be somewhat objective, and conscientious of the general consensus, which is important to trade value. That’s not to say I don’t go rouge and aggressively rank some players I like. Ahhh, who am I kidding it’s all personal bias. So here you go, dig in. The next 50 will drop on Wednesday at the stroke of midnight.

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It’s the last day of fantasy baseball. Bummer… I know, I don’t want to talk about it either, but I’ve run out of ways to open posts at this point in the season. So, I’m going to just state the obvious, and awkwardly fumble into the purpose of this pointless, yet verbose opening. I have a surprise for you, a sneak peak if you will of my forthcoming memoir “Fights & Prospects: Life as a Crab & The Top 100 Prospect List”. I’ve decided in an effort to market myself as a Rick Flair-esque persona, I’m going to write a tell all autobiography. Only I’m not going to talk about myself at all, but simply give you an updated Top 100 next Sunday. Today is the first ten from that list. So the Top 10 Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball if you will. Titles are fun! It’s drawing heavily from my Positional ranks that we just finished, and bridges the gap to the Top 100 and beyond. In closing, thanks for reading this season, and remember to check here for prospects rundowns for all 30 MLB systems throughout the off-season.

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Not even football season can slow down the prospect train, as Halph is back with another jam-packed episode. Luckily, or unluckily depending on what mood you prefer Ralph in, we recorded this before the Patriots got spanked on Thursday night. We started the show by talking about a bunch of recent call-ups, including Victor Robles, Harrison Bader, Luiz Gohara, Walker Buehler, Brian Anderson, Jeimer Candelario, and Dan Vogelbach. Then, we shifted gears to dig into our top 12-ish fantasy shortstop prospect rankings, discussing everyone from Fernando Tatis Jr., Gleyber Torres, Brendan Rodgers, and J.P. Crawford, to Yu-Cheng Chang, Andres Gimenez, Wander Javier, Delvin Perez, and many more. Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 15% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game (now shipping to Canada). It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:

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Over the past few seasons few positions have gotten more hype than shortstop. With players like Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Alex Bregman, Addison Russell, Amed Rosario, the names go on and on. Some of these names were obviously major difference makers in fantasy, while others have ridden “real baseball” prospect hype to overrated status. Much like with catchers on the mainstream prospect lists, the demands of the position defensively significantly increase these player’s values. We don’t care about defense though, there’s only two questions we ask ourselves as dynasty managers. Does this Rotowear shirt make me look fat? No, wait, wrong question. We ask ourselves A. Can he hit? B. Will he stick at the position? The latter of which is ehhh, with a side of meh sauce. I really only care if they can hit. If a player is moved to second, third, or center, it really doesn’t matter, you know, as long as the skills play. I understand position scarcity, but my focus when drafting, adding, or trading for prospects in fantasy leagues is to land the best possible hitters. With this in mind I present to you the Top 10 Shortstop Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball.

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With a rash of Callups in the last week, there’s guaranteed to be numerous players exceeding their rookie limits over the coming weeks. This new batch of players will move up top 100 lists and into the discussion of the top 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 prospects in the game. A player who finds himself squarely in the conversation for top overall prospect in the game is the Dunedin Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The highly touted 3rd baseman is easily one of the top 5 bats in all of the minor leagues at the tender age of 18. Over the last month he’s added to his already impressive 2017 campaign by slashing .385/.483/.646 with 6 homers and 23 RBI. With the power stroke taking a step forward it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vlad Jr. ranked as high as 1st overall in some off-season prospect lists. He’s easily the top prospect in the Florida State League this season, and in all levels of A ball. He matches his father’s uncanny ability to make contact with balls anywhere in and out of the zone, with a far more patient approach than his namesake. At this point Guerrero should be owned in all dynasty formats. Here’s what else is going down in the MiLB.

P.S. Here’s Vlad Jr. hitting a homer to clinch a FSL playoff spot on Thursday Night.

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Doesn’t it seem like every summer the national press needs a narrative to link onto and dubs it the “year of the something or other”? Think about it for a second, in recent seasons we’ve had “The year of the rookie”, “The other year of the rookie”, “The year of the homer”, “The year of the juiced ball”, so on and so forth. You get the point, sports writers are boring and unoriginal the whole lot. Well, I for one would like to follow in the grand tradition of sport writers, and apply this lazy, tired, haphazard, and cliche approach to my minor league baseball coverage. Therefore, I am dubbing 2017 MiLB “The Year of the 19 year old”.  Why? Because between Ronald Acuna, Bo Bichette, Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka, and now the Astros Forrest Whitley, the biggest news-makers have been 19 years of age.

Speaking of Whitley, recently promoted to AA Corpus Christi, the righty went 6 scoreless Thursday, allowing two hits, and striking out a career high 11 batters. Not too shabby for a kid facing high school competition 15 months ago. I ranked Whitley 75th overall in my top 100 back on July 2nd. Which was right about the point that his season took off. It was a high rank on a fantasy focused list for a teenage starter in A ball. I can recall really not being able to explain why I liked Whitley 25 spots higher than Ian Anderson when asked by Halp on the Prospect Podcast. I just fell in love with the idea of a 6’7 240 lbs monster with a arsenal of offerings. Since that date Whitley has rewarded my faith, dominating the Carolina League in a way no teenager should. Going 3-1 over his next 6 starts, while racking up 50 k’s to 9 walks in 31.1 innings.

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On Saturday’s edition of the prospect podcast Halp and I discussed our updated first year player draft rankings. Each of us agreed that the number 1 pick in this June’s draft had slipped ahead of Hunter Greene and into the top spot on our respective ranks. Yesterday afternoon, the Twins did us a great service. They affirmed our decision with the promotion of Royce Lewis to full season Cedar Rapids of the Midwest league. So far the top pick has been an exciting take, and surprisingly polished. The numbers are more good than great, but then again, he was playing high school baseball three months ago. Still .271/.390/.414 with 3 homers and 15 steals, ain’t too shabby in 36 games. The young shortstop has the ability to be an impact fantasy player in multiple categories at peak. Meaning his ability to stick in the middle infield doesn’t dictate his value. He was in the lineup hitting leadoff last night for Cedar Rapids, and went 4 for 5 in his debut, with 2 runs scored, an RBI, and a steal. As for my updated first player draft rankings, you can hear my thoughts on this week’s podcast, but the actual updated list we’ll save for October… Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB

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Since surviving a vicious industry wide-Cub Fan driven smear campaign, Eloy Jimenez has been a man with a mission. Since joining Winston-Salem, the Chi-Sox high A affiliate, he’s slashed .352/.418/.690 with 5 homers and 18 RBI’s in his first 20 games. The 20 year old slugger has continued to make improvements at the plate in 2017, walking at a 10% clip, while maintaining K rates at or below 20%. The combination of contact, patience, and power is a rare one. This is why I rank Eloy amongst the very elite prospects in the game, with such contemporaries as Acuna, Robles, Guerrero, and Tucker. He’s likely to spend the remainder of 2017 in Winston-Salem, before being assigned to AA next season out of camp. He has a real shot at the number one prospect in all of baseball, once Ronald Acuna heads to the majors. Despite all of his recent success and oodles of upside, it will be years before we find out just how high of a price the Cubs paid for Quintana. That’s not to say that Jimenez is can’t miss, though he’s a close as they come. The Chicago White Sox system is full of future potential stars, but none shine brighter at the moment than Eloy. A future .280/35/100 player is the ceiling, with a power hitting DH floor. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw Jimenez some time in late 2018, with the mostly likely time frame being September. Here’s what else I saw in the MiLB…

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