Recently, I rather foolishly rekindled my interest in baseball cards. It was a cheap ploy under the Christmas Tree to spark my sons’ interest in not only a boyhood hobby of mine, but also to maybe teach them something about the game I love. To my oldest, age 7, I gifted a 1976 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt, one of my all-time favorite players, and the fake autograph in my very first baseball mitt, courtesy of the good folks at Franklin. To my youngest son, age 2, it was an obvious choice. His first name is Nolan, and despite the hall of fame trajectory of one Mr. Arenado, for now at least, there is only one true King of House Nolan. That is Nolan Ryan, father of flames, bringer of whiffs, first of both his first names. All this to say, I bought him a 1979 Nolan Ryan. Which features my favorite Nolan Ryan, Angels Nolan Ryan. When you write your own fantasy articles you can have your favorite Nolan Ryan. You could go baby Nolan Ryan, Mets Nolan Ryan, Astros Nolan Ryan, Rangers Ryan, Cowboy Ryan, Executive Ryan, the possibilities are endless! Hell, you can picture Nolan Ryan singing lead for Skynyrd in front of an Angels band! Can you tell I dabbled in more of Aunt Sierra’s medicated brownies? They were leftover from Christmas, and technically I hadn’t eaten any this year. Anyway, where I’m all going with this is, my fascination with Nolan Ryan stems from two places. First, RBI baseball circa O.G. Nintendo 1988. Second, my best friend’s dad had a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card, and it was one of the coolest rookie cards I had ever seen. It was particularly unusual to a child of the late 80’s – early 90’s card era, because it was a dual player card. He shared the card with Jerry Koosman, a lefty that won over 200 games with a 3.36 ERA over a 19 year MLB career. Drawing inspiration from this co-inhabited card, I decided to to do a dual 2018 Dynasty Sleeper post with a couple of Phillies pups I’m currently crushing on. A pair of teenage phenoms, outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz, and righthanded pitching prospect Francisco Morales. Check the artwork below, major props to Kenneth Cashman! Rotowear.com!

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I’m the one man army Ason, I’ve never been tooken out, I keep Prospectors looking out, I drop knowledge like Lancy dropping babies, enough to make an Albright go craaaaaazy! Sorry, always wanted to start a post like that, and I decided it shall be done over my morning coffee. In case you missed it I released the top 50 Prospects for 2018 on Sunday. Funny enough this is the perfect segue to today’s post, the second part of my top 100, this time with even more words! We’re going through 51-100, and I have to say this is by far the most difficult section of all my prospect rankings. It’s in intersection where up and comers full of helium, mix with droppers, solid-close-to-the-majors types, and super-young pure upside plays. I try to balance them all, and at times tiers dovetail, and weave together more than they stay in any sort of specific order. It’s an inexact science this prospecting. There’s so many unknown variables within each player and each player’s opportunities in a given organization at a given time. Constantly changing and evolving. All this to say that there’s a lot of educated guessing, and there’s bound to be some serious misses. Hello Tyler Glasnow!

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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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I was all set to open with Triston McKenzie’s 6 no hit innings, but then Rafael Devers collected his third hit of the night in his AAA debut. In the midst of writing this post while regretting my choice to spend my Saturday afternoon, and early evening, and night watching that Marathon Red Sox and Yankees affair, I had the alert pop up on my phone that Devers was about to make his 4th at bat of the night. So I turned away from McKenzie, turned away from Ronald Acuna (2 for 4, 2R, 1Bb, 1 RBI) and Ozzie Albies (1 for 5, 1R) vs Yoan Moncada (1 for 4, 1R, 2 SO’s) in the Charlotte vs. Gwinnett game, and tuned into the PawSox vs Syracuse affair to witness Devers 4th at bat of the contest. The Chiefs (Washington’s AAA affiliate) brought in veteran Neal Cotts of 10 years MLB experience to get the lefty on lefty matchup with Devers. Ahead of Cotts in a 2-1 count Devers hit a ball middle-up to right field for his first AAA homer.

The following inning he made a bare-handed play on the run, throwing out Pedro Severino.

The rumors are swirling regarding Todd Frazier to the Red Sox, with Ken Rosenthal deducing the trade was “almost inevitable”. I for one as a life-long Red Sox fan, and avid follower and fan of prospects, team-building, and organizational depth make this plea to one David Dombrowski. Sir, please don’t trade anything for Todd Frazier and his .210 batting average. Give Lin another week or two, let Devers shine in Pawtucket, and call the kid up around the trade deadline. It costs you nothing but a 40 man spot, why delay the inevitable for a rental? Xander Bogaerts came up late in 2013, and was better for his experience down the stretch and into the post-season. Much like Ronald Acuna has in the early stages of his AAA career, Devers may force the Red Sox hand, as he just looks so much better than anything they can acquire. Simple logic really, why give up assets when you don’t have to?… Anyway, here’s what else I saw in MiLB.

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This Sunday I attempt to write the first Phillies Minor League Preview not from the magic fingers of former Prospector Mike. I will try my best today to carry the torch, and provide the best damn Phillies Prospect breakdown this side of Broad St. Thankfully it’s a deep system, filled with intriguing prospects with fantasy potential. The rebuild has been a slow burn in Philly, but with a young talented rotation, and a wave of youngsters in the pipeline, they’re a team on the rise. The great thing about the Philly system is the talent at every level. They have close to the majors players like J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Nick Williams. Players a year away in Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens, and low minors prodigies like Mickey Moniak and Sixto Sanchez. Power hitters, speedsters, hit tool guys, and pitchers, there’s something for everyone. So turn on the fan, light a match, and give me five minutes while you’re on the throne. It’s the Top Philadelphia Phillies Prospects.

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Scatter brained, unfocused, all over the place, just a few terms you might use to describe this hodge-podge of prospect analysis I bring to you here on this the lord’s day. We’re going to break this into three parts, first part will be a little analysis of the recent transactions involving Yulieski Gourriel and Anderson Espinoza, then we’ll jump into some updates on 2016 draft picks, now that they’re roughly a month into their professional careers, and we’ll close with some updates on international signings. If you’re looking for more than this I suggest you seek wisdom from those smarter than I. Yes, those people exist, roughly 79% of you reading this fall into that category in fact.

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