The Arizona Fall League is essentially a month-long series of all-star games among prospects across several levels of minor league baseball. 2019 brings our first opportunity to react to the outcomes during the fantasy season, so let’s check in and see how the kids are playing.
Miami Marlins OF Jerar Encarnacion brought some helium out of the Futures Game and has started hot among this super-talented field. He’s a premium athlete who’s already gone yard once in Arizona and can put on a show in batting practice. Scouts have expecting a bounce with the bat any day now. I’d add now in deeper dynasty and keepers (300 or so minor leaguers owned) and track closely throughout Fall.
The preview season is upon us, and we’re kicking it off with the Diamondbacks and Orioles. Lower case yay… On their own these are two relativity boring systems, but combined they create a super system, still less exciting than next week’s topic the Braves. Another lower case yay. Lance and I kick off the show with some discussion of the Dee Gordon trade, the prospects headed the Marlins way. We touch on Kevin Maitan signing with the Angels, and some other “hot stove” news, before delving into discussions of Jon Duplantier’s mechanics, Ryan Mountcatle’s leg kick, and how good Austin Hays really is. 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:
Welcome my loyal Prospect disciples, sit back, relax, drink your coffee, crack a Beck’s if you wish, and get your popcorn ready. For Minor League Preview season has returned! Today we start with the improving Arizona Diamondbacks system, though improving might be disingenuous as this might have been the worst system I covered last season. Then again, there wasn’t even any mention of Jon Duplantier in last year’s write up, so maybe it was on me. Then again, again, when in doubt blame Dave Stewart, so I will. Dave Stewart, it’s your fault!!Your low brimed ice grille no longer has the same affect it had in your Oakland A’s salad days!!! Enough about Dave Stweart. For we are just a little over 12 months into the Mike Hazen era, and so far it is glorious. Big shouts to Abington, Massachusetts. Hazen has not only righted the ship on the major league level, he’s also coming off a strong draft, that was a thirst quenching boost to a thirsty system. In fact four of the players discussed in today’s breakdown were selected in last June’s draft. This shouldn’t come as a shock as the Princeton grad started his front office career in player development, and scouting, helping to build the Red Sox current young core. Needless to say Arizona is a system on the rise, let’s see what they have blooming on the farm.
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!
As any person over 6 feet will tell you, being tall is overrated. Your entire life comes with bigger expectations that due to your height you have the ability to do things smaller men can’t. Everything has to be bigger, stronger, and faster. It’s in this vein I introduce you to 6’8 Cuban import Michel Baez. Yes that is spelled correctly. While researching this post, trying to look under every rock for as much information as possible about the giant righty, I came across the comment section of MLB Trade Rumors from the day he signed. Let’s just say there are some gems. For example the guy who was really put off that a 6’8 pitcher didn’t throw 100, but a reported 93-97. You know, because control, command, fastball plane, and deception don’t matter at all. Only velocity!!! BTW is 96-97 not fast? Someone else wondered why the Padres gave him $3m, when he’s 6’8 and unknown. How can you miss a 6’8 guy? You know, because talented 5’10 guys never stick out on scouting trips. Scouts and prospectors only notice big shiny things. Okay, I’m getting off track here. Regardless of the opining of MLB Trade Rumor commenters, Baez did in fact fly under the radar. Turning out to be yet another diamond in the rough unearthed by my spirit animal A.J. Preller. How under the radar was Baez? So much so, that in the fall he didn’t appear in any of the international free agent rankings on MLB.com, Baseball America, or Fangraphs. Fast forward 9 months and many are saying Baez is a slam dunk for Top 100 lists going forward. Hell, he ranked #141 for me on my Top 200. A few weeks late I think I might have sold him short, then again he’s an A ball pitching prospect. Now let’s dig into Baez, and see if he might be the Top 100 guy many are touting.
That’s right, we’re pushing well beyond the 100 threshold this year, and pushing it all the way to 200. I for one am excited, but that might just be the speedball of cocaine, redbull, meth, and the behind the counter cough syrup. I’m seeing the words and their auras, man. No jokes, this is all from a vision, an immaculate epiphany I was led to by a culturally appropriated wise character of some sort. Really, I just wanted to get into a whole bunch more prospects I didn’t get a chance to talk about. If you didn’t catch it, last week I dropped my Top 100, this is a continuation of that going from 101 – 200 with full writeups and statlines for each. Hopefully you get caught up on few off the radar names, brush up on some old ones, and get your prospecty fill for the All-Star Break. It’s the Top 200 Fantasy Baseball Prospects!
When you’re a skinny, nerdy, teenager with a 24 inch waist, and an unhealthy obsession with Gal Gadot, breakouts are no bueno. In fact, it can put a real damper on those “extended” bathroom breaks, where you’re just trying to get a “handle” on your burgeoning adulthood. You sit there in the mirror getting familiar with yourself like the protagonist in a Diablo Cody movie with her pants off. So it might come as shock to you, high school reader, that some times, breakouts, can in fact be great. I’m of course talking about minor league breakouts! I’m a minor league writer, not a dermatologist brah! Over the years, some of the most important moves I’ve made in my dynasty leagues have been adding mid-season breakouts from the wavier wire. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of the names added last year in my 30 team dynasty league’s mid-season signing period. Luis Urias, Chance Adams, Koda Glover, Seth Lugo, Ben Gamel, Max Schrock, Greg Allen, Shed Long, Jose Albertos, and Fernando Tatis Jr, just to name a few. Keep in mind this is a 30 team dynasty league where over 900+ prospects are owned, and almost half the teams are managed by prospect writers. Still some good names right? The point I’m trying to make here is, there’s always new talent, breakouts, and undervalued assets in every format. With half of the full season leagues in their all-star breaks, let’s take a look at some of the names making hay here in the early going. Today we’ll take a look at the hitters, we’ll go into the other side of the ball with pitching breakouts on Sunday.
If Pirates played fantasy baseball, their league wouldn’t be all that different than the Razz30. There would be a fearless leader, as debonair as he is handsome. Let’s call him Captain Ralph Lifshitz, you know, just for Lifshitz and giggles. He would of course need a quality first mate, a tricked out pirate ship, and an army of ruthless heathens ready to snap at a moment’s notice. Our Jolly Roger, the Crab Army logo, would fly proudly above our vessel, as we sailed from port to port pillaging all we see. We are the Crab Army, fantasy baseball’s largest and most fearsome battalion of bandits. A consortium of like minded trolls, pranksters, and freaks from the fringes of society. Our reputation for ruthless commentary is only rivaled by the cleanliness of our gooches. With our sponsor Fresh Balls in tow, we press on through another month of top notch dynasty baseball action, and debauchery. May was a wild month, as The Army moved in on unclaimed territory, and took it for their own. We partied it up with Cowboy Cheerleaders, compared real and fake Topanga’s, and talked coffee. It’s the monthly update for the bad boys of Razzball. It’s the Razz30 Update. Two Claws way Up for my peoples.
At the quarterly Prospector meetings many topics are broached. Favorite sweatpants style, least favorite fellow Prospector, gold tooth picks, but far and away the most popular discussion amongst my peers, “Who’s your favorite Atlanta Braves Pitching Prospect?”. If you know anything about the Braves farm system, then you know there’s so many names to choose from. Think about it, there’s Anderson, there’s Soroka, there’s Fried, and Gohara, the list goes on and on. However, I Prospect Versace, find myself enamored with the best and brightest of them all, Kolby Allard. As a 19 year old in AA he’s setting the Southern League ablaze with a 1.36 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, and a 7.64 K/9 to a 1.91 Bb/9. The lefty was taken by the Braves 14th overall way back in the 2015 draft, and has really taken off since early injury woes. He’s made quick work of the lower levels of the minors, never sporting an ERA higher than 4 during his 90+ pro innings leading up to 2017. The stuff has never been an issue for Allard as he throws a plus fastball in the low to mid 90’s, a plus curveball (seen below), and an improving change. His control and command are advanced for a 19 year old, and with AA looking like just another notch in his belt, it wouldn’t surprise me if we see Allard in Atlanta come next year. On the most recent episode of the prospect podcast, we discuss whether or not Allard is the highest upside starter in the minors, and it’s truly possible. The only thing holding the young lefty back is a checkered injury history, with a previous back surgery. While he’s more than likely owned even in the shallowest of dynasty formats, he’s a must add on the off change he’s not. A worthy trade target for rebuilding clubs too. Here’s your minor league update for May 7th.
Alright 12 readers still with us in late October, get your firecrackers, noisemakers, and elated cheers ready. For the return of Minor League Preview season is upon us. I know, I know, exciting times across Razz Nation. With that said let’s curb your enthusiasm a little, we’re starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lower case yay…. What can be said about the Diamondbacks system that hasn’t already been said about Detroit? It’s been decimated, depleted, and burned to the ground. Mostly by Dave Stewart, but I’m sure Tony LaRussa had a hand in that too. Top prospects like Dansby Swanson, Isan Diaz, and Aaron Blair were shipped off, and to make matters worse they lost their first round draft pick after signing Zack Greinke. So we’re looking at a handful of second division regular types, some back of the rotation arms, and some long term toolsy players. Not exactly the bang you were looking for, but at least we have the Braves to look forward to. Heck they have at least 70 former Diamondback prospects. Holla Touki!!!