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Moving right along through our Top 100, we have the back half of the top 50 prospects for 2019 fantasy baseball. I could say that this is where the list gets interesting, but it’s just a list of (potential) baseball players on the internet, so “interesting” might be giving myself too much credit. If you’re just joining us, you may want to check out the top 25 prospects for 2019 fantasy baseball. And for full reports on each team’s prospects, you’ll want to hit the 2019 minor league preview index. Two things you’ll notice about this chunk of the list: 1) it’s where the better 2018 signees reside; and 2) more pitching. I find that this section of the rankings goes nicely with a 12-year-old Highland Single Malt. Or Dewars. Either way. It’s ten in the morning.

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The first year player draft is an annual event for dynasty leagues, especially the really deep ones where everybody and their brother is already owned. They consist of players from the previous season’s draft and any international signings. These rankings will sometimes include MLB-ready prospects from abroad, and they’ll be relevant in standard redraft leagues. I’m spending a little extra time with the top ten, and next week the rest of the top 50 will roll out. That should get you through at least the first few rounds of a first year player draft. I’ve played in some really deep dynasty leagues and the approach changes dramatically depending on your competitive window, your draft position, and how many picks you have (some people collect FYPD picks like an 80’s kid collects Pogs). These rankings don’t take any of that into account and instead occur in a vacuum. I tend to value hitters over pitchers, hit tools over every other tool, and up-the-middle defenders over other positions. Also, these rankings consider 2018 performances in addition to the players’ scouting grades (some fared better than others in their first go at pro ball).

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The Astros are the defending world champions and just punched their ticket to the 2018 ALCS with a roster full of homegrown studs. So we can excuse them if the current system doesn’t stack up to previous years. And yet, this top ten still boasts three specs that should appear on just about every top 100 list this preseason. The Colin Moran trade and David Paulino’s graduation are the only notable changes to the group from last year. They’re a bit pitching heavy and the current MLB roster doesn’t leave much room for new talent to step into everyday roles, but that’s picking nits. On the plus side, any prospects that do manage to graduate in 2019 – I’m looking at you Kyle Tucker – are stepping into a winning environment and a stacked lineup. This year’s previews will use a simple A, B, C grading system to tier/group the prospects and as always I’m attacking these lists as a fantasy player.

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Another rainy weekend limited my looks on Saturday, as my intention to hit Lowell was washed out with a solid bout of the olde waterworks. Unfortunately, this forced on a Saturday of couch-sitting and MiLB.TV viewing. While nothing ever quite captures a player’s ability like a first person look, this at least allows me to be at several games at once from the comforts of my home. I’m starting to sound like copy for a commercial. Maybe it’s just regret eating me alive, and I’m apologizing in a round about way for not having anything first hand this Sunday. Doesn’t matter, the minors are in full swing and we got lots of players to cover. Because I’m just going to cover Vladimir Guerrero Jr. exclusively going forward we lead with him. Vlad kept his homer streak going Saturday, rising the number to four consecutive games. In fact it all started with the homer used in the lede on Thursday. He then hit another that night, followed by a homer Friday night, before sneaking (it was off the fielder’s glove) this one over the fence in right for a little Oppo-taco action.

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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.

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One of the things I’m tasked to do around these parts, is to identify the ETAs of some of the best and brightest prospects. Often the most difficult part of my job is weighing need vs service time vs development for each of their respective clubs. Sometimes numbers, even in the high minors, can be deceiving. Not to mention, each team has a unique approach to its handling of home grown talent. One player I’ve been asked about, almost as much as any in 2018, is the Astros Kyle Tucker. While Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, Josh Reddick, and Marwin Gonzalez split time in the Houston outfield, Tucker waits. The waiting game however, has not halted Tucker. Instead, he’s been in full fledged assault-mode the past few weeks, slashing a silly .400/.444/.650 with 9 runs, 8 RBI, a homer, and a perfect 4-for-4 on the basepaths. The lefthanded hitting Tucker has the ability to contribute in a full 5 categories in roto leagues, bringing an advanced approach, and a swing conducive for power growth. He’s worth stashing and streaming in RCLs, on the off chance he gets the call, and is 100% a priority stash in deeper mixed leagues, though he’s likely owned. Tucker is a top five fantasy prospect at the moment and needs your attention. Here’s what else I’ve seen over the past few days.

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