FB502: Minor League Research & Analysis

05/20/2007 8:25 PM - 

FantasyBaseball.com University Series
Contributed By: Bryan P. Douglass

There are many aspects of baseball separating the game from the rest of the professional sports world. One of those aspects is the depth of their developmental system for talent. Every professional sport draws new talent from various sources, but baseball is one of the few sports utilizing a system of tiered developmental leagues being owned and operated by the same professional organizations that could someday give these athletes a chance at fame and fortune. Minor league baseball has been an important part of the Major League Baseball system for over a century, and the developmental leagues of the game and the yet-to-be cultivated talents that fill those leagues have become one of the more popular facets of professional baseball.

Fantasy baseball enthusiasts have brought the demand for information concerning these players to an all-time high. In an effort to obtain knowledge about the potential future of baseball commodities, as well as a competitive edge over the fellow roto aficionado, many fantasy baseball players have begun following the news, rumors, and reports regarding minor league baseball. The vast majority of the players that now fill your roto rosters spent time in the minor leagues, and the ability to forecast the rise of these players through the system has become one of the more valuable tools in fantasy baseball.

FantasyBaseball.com’s Fantasy University has brought you many informative and entertaining lessons thus far. In Masters Lesson FB502, we will take a look at the world of minor league baseball. We will provide some insight into the various sources of information on these future stars of the MLB and we will discuss how you can utilize and employ this knowledge in your fantasy baseball experience. As always, knowledge is the supreme commodity of roto baseball, and the examination of this talent pool and the resulting intelligence to be gained is more than worthy of attention and consideration.

Minor League Research & Analysis

First Draft

The Major League Baseball Draft is the first significant opportunity many baseball fans will utilize to view and analyze the new talents of professional baseball. While this event is not as widely covered or publicized as some of the other professional sports drafts, it is similar to many of the professional leagues in that the talent pool will often come from both the college and high school levels of the game. If you are a fan of college baseball, there will be some familiar names that will join the professional ranks, and many of the major sports television networks will air college baseball games with some regularity. However, information on the top high school players is not as easily found, and the typical baseball fan will be hearing these names for the first time when they are officially selected in the draft. The modern MLB drafts have been littered with high school entries, and the draft will offer the fantasy baseball player a premium view of these formerly unknown commodities as well as the prospects from the collegiate level of the game.

This is an excellent opportunity for the roto enthusiast to gather valuable information on the potential stars of tomorrow. The sporting news outlets covering this event will often provide insight into the traits of these players, including scouting reports, strengths, and concerns (we will discuss the value of information technologies in a moment). These prospects will enter the minor leagues and will have the opportunity to progress as quickly and as far as their talents and skills will allow. The sooner you realize this potential, the more likely you are to be the first to take advantage of your new knowledge.
 
The Luxury of Demand

The rules of economics have become the fantasy baseball enthusiasts’ best friend: the supply will be controlled by demand. As more and more fans have found the fantasy experience and cultivated a love for the game, the demand for information has grown. In today’s society, the benefits of technology have allowed the supply of information to grow at an amazing rate. Today’s baseball fan has an enormous pool of resources to consider when seeking the knowledge they desire, including an ever-increasing number of websites, magazines, newsletters, and other publications dedicated to the sport. Many of these resources tout in-depth minor league baseball coverage, and a number of them are fully dedicated to the coverage of minor league baseball and the prospects of the game. If you want to locate quality information about the future stars of the MLB, it has never been easier to do so.

There is one more significant factor worthy of mention when discussing the means of obtaining baseball information. Technology has not only offered providers and seekers of this information places to share and exchange their offerings, but the power of the rumor has also taken on a whole new definition. For years, many baseball fans have relied on word-of-mouth as their primary source of baseball rumors and speculation. With the ease and abundant use of email and other digital technologies, this process of spreading the “word-of-mouth” has become much, much easier and can spread much more quickly. Fantasy baseball fans are known to gather in groups, whether it is a pack of long-time league mates, a group of enthusiasts meeting on an internet forum to discuss various fantasy baseball topics, or just a simple gathering of fantasy baseball lovers talking shop over brews at the local pub. When you increase the amount of information these individuals can find, and make it easily accessible, they are sure to spread the word. Keep your ears open and take advantage of all of the resources available to you.

Support your Local Economy

Any person familiar with the art of the internet search can find a sizeable listing of websites and internet forums providing insight into the game of minor league baseball. While this is an excellent means of obtaining information and insight, there is another option for those seeking inside information on the prospective stars of tomorrow that is easily overlooked: the local newspaper.

Every major league team is covered by a team of beat writers and analysts dedicated to covering the team as well as the news and rumors surrounding the organization. These reporters are often very familiar not only with the top prospects in the team’s farm system, but also with the roster & personnel situations of the club, the ramifications of injuries or other problems that may arise during the season, and the realistic chances of these minor league players getting an opportunity to showcase their talents in at the MLB level. If you would like to include minor league research in your fantasy baseball game plan, it is hard to find a better list of resources than one including the local newspapers covering the cities the teams of the MLB call home.

The Importance of Foresight

We have discussed various methods of obtaining information and knowledge concerning the minor league prospects that may assist your efforts to win your fantasy league. However, there is one more topic we should cover to make the lesson complete. Baseball enthusiasts will often agree the ability to recognize potential is the key to success in this game. This notion holds true when evaluating the prospects of the game, and one must look beyond the individual talents of the player. The circumstances surrounding this prospect can provide more insight into this player’s potential than the skills and pedigree the player brings to the field.

Every roster in the MLB has a collection of players built to help the team achieve success. These commodities are spread throughout the positions based on the needs of the team not only at specific positions but also to fulfill offensive objectives. As a result, at times, situations are created that could allow a minor league prospect to advance to the MLB level if a player were to suffer an injury or hit a rough patch and fail to achieve the desired production. A good fantasy owner will recognize these situations before those decisions are made, allowing that owner to possibly anticipate those decisions and use that information to his/her advantage. Once again, knowledge is the name of the game, and the foresight this knowledge can bring benefits of sizeable value.
 
Fantasy Baseball Perspective

The Stars of Tomorrow are the Prospects of Today

The obvious advantage of analyzing minor league talent is the ability to anticipate the arrival of new talent in the major leagues. Some of the best values and bargains in fantasy baseball are the gambles taken on the potential of unknown commodities like minor league prospects. There’s rarely a shortage of these commodities. Professional franchises allocate a sizeable amount of their budgets to the cultivation of these players as they represent the future of baseball. Fantasy owners need to consider a plethora of potential contributors, and the addition of prospective talents can assist an owner in various ways, either by allowing them to add depth at certain positions with calculated gambles, by giving owners options at other positions by filling others with prospective talents, or simply by gaining what could become one of the valuable commodities in the game. Realizing this potential is half the battle, and that realization can come from time spent researching and analyzing the minor league systems of baseball.

Enhancing the Roto Experience

The world of minor league baseball can also open the door to new and innovative experiences in fantasy baseball. Many leagues operating with a ‘keeper’ system (a league allowing teams to carry players over from season to season) have introduced the innovative addition of a ‘developmental squad.’ This is an excellent way to introduce the prospects of baseball into your fantasy experience. A ‘developmental squad’ is a small group of players, often minor leaguers or young bench players, that have yet to achieve a certain number of innings but are seen as valuable commodities and are owned commodities of these fantasy teams. Fantasy owners can fill their developmental squad with some of the top talents in the minor leagues and watch them mature as professional baseball players. Once they reach a certain level of experience, often measured in innings played in the MLB, those players have to either be moved to the regular fantasy roster, forcing the release of another player, or have to be released. For those playing in a keeper format, this is an excellent way to introduce a new and exciting twist into your league, and it brings strategy and the need for baseball knowledge to a whole new level.

Minor league baseball is an exciting and enjoyable form of the game, and it is an excellent source of knowledge and information for the fantasy enthusiast. The rise of talent can happen quickly or can take a prolonged period of time, but the fantasy owner giving proper attention to the rising stars of baseball can gain a decisive advantage over his/her competition. There are numerous sources providing this information, there are always fresh young talents working their way into the rosters of the MLB, and the experience of tracking and evaluating these players is yet another way to enhance the enjoyment of the baseball.

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