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8/30 Edition: Top 10 Minor League Pitchers to Stash

Hello there, readers of the not-so-distant future! By the time you read this, you may have a much better grasp on the tenuous reality that is predicting major-league call-ups without...

Hello there, readers of the not-so-distant future! By the time you read this, you may have a much better grasp on the tenuous reality that is predicting major-league call-ups without all that sweet, sweet insider info. But as I am writing this from the present moment’s past, I will do my best to infer based on the current knowledge in my possession. Good luck, and don’t talk to that guy named Matt tomorrow night! Oh wait, you’re from the future, not me. Curses, foiled again!

These players are ranked in order of most likely to make an impact for your fantasy team in 2015. It does not include pitchers who have already pitched in the majors this year.

1. Jose Berrios (MIN) – Berrios has just been getting sweeter and sweeter over the past few months. In his latest show of dominance, he struck out 12 batters over seven innings. While he had a rough start in Triple-A, at this point his numbers are better in every way since the promotion… lower ERA and FIP, more strikeouts, more walks, yes please with a berry on top. He’s a strong bet for a promotion and a must start in all but the deepest of leagues.

2.  Tyler Glasnow (PIT) – As of the time of writing, Glasnow has not yet thrown what may be his final start in the minors. He’s not quite yet a finished product, but with his drool-inducing stuff, he can get away with that. Whether or not he gets the call is still uncertain, but I think his odds are better than those of Snell, and he has the benefit of pitching in an easier division.

3.  Blake Snell (TB) – To you Snell what the Blake is cooking? I don’t think his odds of promotion are especially great despite what has been a fantastic minor league campaign, complete with the bildungsroman coming-of-age story of a pitcher who rose the ranks against the odds and learned how to control his pitches in the process. Should they give him even a spot start, I would boldly stream him in each one, but he may join the pen to limit his innings, should he be promoted at all.

4.  Robert Stephenson (CIN) – Stephenson, much unlike Snell, has not conquered his command demons, at least not convincingly. The advantage he does have over Snell, while it is based on circumstances out of Stephenson’s control, is that he’s expected to join the Reds’ rotation in his next start. This in spite of a forearm injury, which was apparently more minor than feared. He will be fun to watch but risky to own, because while his pitches are often described as electric, much like lightning, he has no idea where they’ll go. The upside is worth the risk as long as you have some breathing room in WHIP, especially if you need Ks.

5. Michael Fulmer (DET) – With a few Tigers pitchers on the shelf, Farmer and Boyd (two rural-sounding names) have the rotation spots for now, but I would nod my head knowingly if Farmer has another clunker and gets moved to the pen to make way for Fulmer. His profile is not all too dissimilar to Boyd, but hopefully he has a less disastrous debut.

6.  Erik Johnson (CHW) – While it’s not so easy to predict whether Johnson or Montas will get to start in September, if either (or both), Johnson has momentum on his side. In his last outing, he struck out 7 over 8 innings and walked 0, allowing 10 hits and 2 runs. But at this point, I feel like the team just hates him or something so we’ll see. He’s clearly more polished than in the past yet much like John Lamb has punchout stuff to back it.

7.  Frankie Montas (CHW) – Call him Frank, Frankie, Francellis, Francophile, it doesn’t matter because if you’re facing him, you’ll be called “out”. He was called up once but since he didn’t throw a single pitch, I’ll give him a permission slip. While his control is in low tide and has ebbed and flowed through the year, his fastball is fantastic and he can rack up serious strikeouts. At 22, he probably has dibs over Erik Johnson, and his upside is higher but he’s a higher risk due to the lack of consistency.

8.  Jose De Leon (LAD) – De Leon’s so good, he stays on this list even though he’s likely in the bullpen. He’d transitioned nicely to the pen, and now is even MORE dominant than he was before, which is really, really dominant. As a long reliever he could vulture some wins and still get a ton of strikeouts compared to other relievers. He’s still inconsistent from time to time but too awesome to pass up.

9.  Jharel Cotton (LAD) – Cotton’s also so good, he stays on this list even though he’s likely in the bullpen. He got promoted to Triple-A, and struck out 6 batters… in 2 innings. For those of you playing at home, that’s a 27.00 K/9 and a FIP of -0.89. In the pen he could be a monster, and they Dodgers need help sorely there so he should find his way into plenty of innings. He’ll probably amass more value there than many starters, and maybe even more strikeouts. In holds leagues I’d put him even higher.

10.  Aaron Blair (ARZ) – What Blair lacks in upside, he makes up for in solid-ness. He’s as solid as a solid block of cheese. Cheddar cheese because that’s a solid choice. He’s not the most exciting but he could string together some strong starts.  Heh.  String cheese.

Honorable Mention:  Miguel Almonte (KC) – For a brief period a couple years back, Miguel Almonte became a trendy name.  He popped up on sleeper lists everywhere.  Then he got boring and they found a new gut.  But since his promotion to Triple-A, he’s been piling on the strikeouts, jumping from a 7.39 K/9 in 67 Double-A innings to a 10.44 K/9 in Triple-A.  His walk rate is the same, and while some of this may be due to 3 of his 9 outings in relief, it doesn’t fully explain it.  But this versatility should make him a call-up sleeper who could vulture some wins out of the pen and perhaps even earn a few spot starts.  This time, be the trendsetter.

Players of Note:  Kyle Crick (SF) has been giving his owners a crick in the cervical region, because he’s been a pain in the neck. He has a BB/9 of 9.40, which is bad even for him, as well as most little leaguers… that’s more than one base-on-balls per inning. Strangely, he has a sub-3 ERA thanks to his 10.29 K/9, but even in the bullpen I wouldn’t bet on him succeeding in the majors.  The odds of Alex Reyes (STL) getting promoted are not very high, and if he did, it’s probably in the pen, but he’s stupid good and worth a speculative stash. I am also stashing Austin Voth (WAS) in the hopes that being out of contention means they’ll open up a slot for him to prove his mettle. Francis Martes (HOU) just got promoted to Double-A, but he can find himself the beneficiary of an even bigger promotion before he even settles in. He’s still only 19 but posted strong rates and as a reliever can continue to produce good pen numbers if he can keep his head on straight. Tyrell Jenkins (ATL) had been having a fair campaign in Triple-A but was shut down with a dead arm last week. It’s still better than boneitis.

Nick Pollack

Founder of Pitcher List. Creator of CSW, The List, and SP Roundup. Worked with MSG, FanGraphs, CBS Sports, and Washington Post. Former college pitcher, travel coach, pitching coach, and Brandeis alum. Wants every pitcher to be dope.

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