I have a confession to make. I grew up in South Jersey and I bleed Phillies burgundy. But over the past few years, I’ve grown more and more fond of the A’s. I’m even staying up past my bedtime to watch them. Maybe it was Moneyball. Maybe it’s exciting players like Chapman. Maybe it’s their fans. Maybe it’s the way they approach personnel. Whatever it is…they’re fun. And this minor league system is fun. It has a bit of everything. Heisman candidate? Check. First-round arm recovering from TJS? Check. Cuban stud muffin? Check. It’s deep, and it was difficult to whittle this list down to ten (pro tip: if you want to sound cool…say the ‘h’ before the ‘w’ in whittle…thank me later). It would have been even harder to put this together if Franklin Barreto, Renato Nunez, Dustin Fowler, and Ramon Laureano hadn’t graduated. But that’s the fun/challenging part of the gig. I have to pick ten guys in a system with more than ten decent specs to talk about. Then I get to defend my choices on the interwebs. #Blessed.Please, blog, may I have some more?
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It’s a busy time in the world of prospecting, as I and many others that cover the Minor Leagues crunch on mid-season lists, we’re also inundated with new prospects to research, project, and rank. The hardest part is trying to balance the handful of categories, or types, these players fall into. First we have the college hitters; usually the highest floor options in terms of fantasy, we’ve seen quite a few of these types return nearly immediate value over the last 5-7 seasons in dynasty leagues. Next we have the high upside prep hitters; another category that has done well of late, notables like Royce Lewis, Jo Adell, and Brendan Rodgers fall into this bucket. Prep bats offer some of the highest upside, but the floor can be pretty low. The next variety is July 2nd hitters; a group with a long and exciting track record, but due to the age of these prospects, there’s a high rate of failure, and a good chance many of them fall off expectations quickly. While there are major red flags, you still think to yourself “that upside tho”. The next three flavors are all pitchers, and each of them offers their own set of unique benefits and challenges. College pitchers, are the closest to the finished product, but you get a lot of “strike-throwing-so-so-stuff” types, and those types of players are available on every wavier wire from here to Beijing. Then we have Prep Arms, the most deceptive of investments. If you read enough prospect ranks, scouting reports, and particularly draft coverage you’ll find yourself enamored with some of these arms. Think MacKenzie Gore, Riley Pint, Jason Groome, or Forrest Whitley, that’s a very up and down record of success. The final bucket is one that I don’t bother paying too much mind to in most dynasty formats, July 2nd pitchers. Really, there have been some great arms to emerge from this bucket, but it often takes two years until we even know which arms really have any MLB projection. All this to say, my ranks are heavily influenced by this simple mantra. Draft hitters, add pitchers from the wavier wire. That’s the process, and it’s not to say it’s perfect, but more often than not I find myself filled with regret after drafting a pitching prospect. I am not saying that Casey Mize isn’t awesome, he is, and if this were a “real-life” list I would have ranked him first or second, but if I’m entering a draft today, there’s for sure 3 hitters I take in front of him. It’s fine if you disagree, but process is process. Below is the early version of my first year player draft ranks. I reserve the right to change my mind over the coming months, and plan to update these in early to mid-October.Please, blog, may I have some more?