The Stash 4/7: The Top 10 Pitching Prospects to Stash
This season I will be taking over for Nic Gardiner and his baby — the Stash. Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers that you should be stashing on your team. Unlike my other dynasty content that will focus on who to own for their production years down the road, these rankings will be done for a potential splash during the 2018 season (there will be discrepancies). Players that will be called up sooner will be ahead of players with more talent who might only be called up late in the year — we want to give you an edge. Prospects are a great way to stay ahead of everyone else rather you are in a dynasty league or a 10-team league.
This is definitely a weird start to the year as prospects like Jack Flaherty, Dillon Peters, and Tyler Mahle have begun the year in the Majors while other top names like AJ Puk, Brent Honeywell, and Jose De Leon are down with injury (or if you’re Forrest Whitley, down with a suspension). Future callups will settle down more as the year progresses, but for now, here is who you should have your eye on.
Michael Kopech‘s arrival to the Majors will depend on two things this spring: how quickly he can develop his change-up and whether the improved control he demonstrated as he rose through the minors is real. If he has a dominant April/May – I see no reason why the White Sox wouldn’t give him the call.
Luiz Gohara is injured and will need time in AAA to start the year – something he would have needed anyway, now he’ll get them as rehab games. Much like teammate Sean Newcomb, Gohara is a hard-throwing pitcher moved up quickly by the Braves. His MLB-level competition is low and will likely be competing with other top-level Brave’s prospects, but Gohara should get the call after a few innings in AAA. The Braves have an embarrassment of riches in the minors and whatever the opposite of that is in the majors (an embarrassment?) I would expect at least a few arms up this year.
Matt Strahm went down with a knee injury in July 2017 – although he is healthy, the Padres have opted to work him in the minors to shake off any rust. It is still unclear whether he will go back to starting or whether the Padres keep him as a reliever – but I’m making this ranking with the optimism he is in the minors to get stretched out and start (this in part because, well, the current Padres rotation). Strahm’s last meaningful sample size came in 2016 – now healthy, I see a bounce-back opportunity.
4. Stephen Gonsalves (Minnesota Twins) – ETA April-May
Phil Hughes is probably the closest thing the Twins have to a #5 starter right now. The Twins will be soon desperate to fill that void and it will come down to Fernando Romero or Stephen Gonsalves. Gonsalves struggled for 22 innings in AAA last year, but otherwise had an excellent season in AA. Gonsalves is starting the year in AAA (whereas Romero is starting in AA) – I expect both to be up at some point this year, but if Gonsalves picks up where he finished in AA – expect him sooner than later.
5. Tom Eshelman (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA April-May
Tom Eshelman was a candidate to start the year in replacement of Jared Eickhoff, but was held down in favor of Ben Lively. Lively had a lackluster 2017 and Eickhoff will probably be out until late-May/Early-June. If Lively struggles, I think Eshelman gets the call – sooner than later. He likely won’t make it above the 4/5 spot on the Phillies rotation but could make for a great back-end piece to your bullpen.
6. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA June
Mitch Keller is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, but has only thrown 6 games in AA. At 22 (as of Wednesday), it is foreseeable that the Pirates continue to move him quickly if he maintains the level of success he had in 2017 — 3.03 ERA / 1.00 WHIP / 116 strikeouts across 116 innings pitched.
Poor Chance Adams is blocked by a veteran rotation and has no chance of breaking in until he’s traded at the deadline or an injury opens up a spot on the roster. I’m putting my money on injury – CC Sabathia‘s days of pitching 200 innings are gone – with a career-low 148 innings in 2017. Given the uncertainty of injuries, Adams is not higher on this list.
8. Ryan Borucki (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Injury
Similarly, I have a difficult time placing Ryan Borucki on the Blue Jay’s roster. Jaime Garcia is the clear replacement, but at 8+ million a year, Borucki will really have to impress in AAA to get a call-up sans injury. He is on the fast track, but could very well be a late 2018 arm – tentatively penciled in for 2019.
9. Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) – ETA June
I think Max Fried has the potential to be called up even sooner if he continues where he finished in the Arizona Fall League and the Brave’s rotation is as big of a dumpster fire as it probably will be. If he can maintain his improved control, Fried could make a good piece to fill out your roster.
The Dodgers have already announced a soft cap on Walker Buehler‘s workload in 2018 at 140-150 innings. Buehler is starting the year back in AAA and now two years removed from Tommy John surgery. I think the Dodgers will keep him in the minors and limit his workload early before calling him up to push him.