Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers that you should be stashing on your team. Unlike dynasty content focusing on who to own for their production years down the road, these rankings will be done solely for 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.
The Blue Jays are now 4-15 in their last nineteen starts. Josh Donaldson hit the disabled list this week. Still no Vlad Guerrero Jr. If healthy, Donaldson should be traded at the deadline now that it has become clearer that the Blue Jays will not vie for the final AL wild-card spot. There is a real chance that Guerrero Jr. gets the call after the trade deadline – but the question I have remaining is why hasn’t Guerrero Jr. been called to Triple-A (other than to share time with the players he’ll play in the majors with – a la Bo Bichette). Given his promotion to the minors at best is two months away, why not give him some conditioning at a higher level – if he struggles (he likely wouldn’t) it would give the Blue Jays all the more reason to keep him down until next spring. The Guerrero fever is running hot – but that doesn’t make business sense to the struggling Blue Jays to bring him up right now (even at a cost to this year’s dismal ticket sales).
1. Nick Senzel, SS/3B, (Cincinnati Reds) – ETA Early July
Nick Senzel is back on the field after missing nearly a month, his performance over the next month or so will be more determinative of his call-up time. He’ll either be a slightly post-Super Two and share time until the trade deadline or if he struggles, a trade deadline call-up after a spot has been made for him. The Reds are firmly out of contention and racing to the bottom – Senzel will be up once he is back on track. I feel like there could be a bit of prospect fatigue given how hot Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez fever is right now – but don’t sleep on Senzel.
2. Willie Calhoun, OF, (Texas Rangers) – Late June
Willie Calhoun is again making the headlines for all the wrong reasons after getting benched for not running down a ground ball last Sunday. His bat has been consistent in the month of May, hitting .292 over the past month and striking out only 9% of the time. His signature power has eluded him so far this season with only 4 home runs and 13 doubles – it’s not gone, just dormant. The Rangers too are well out of contention and incidents like Sunday will only justify the Rangers’ decision to keep Calhoun down until their choosing.
3. Max Schrock, 2B, (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA Early June
Max Schrock last struck out 7 games ago and only 17 so far this season. His low walk rate will limit his on-base percentage, but Schrock should be a consistent bat near the top of the Cardinals lineup (eventually). He makes great contact, but won’t hit a dazzling amount of home runs or steal a tremendous amount of bases. There is a clear need for Schrock to replace Kolten Wong and it should be a matter of when not if.
4. Willy Adames, SS, (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Mid June
Willy Adames has had tepid success since returning to Triple-A after a brief stint in the Majors. Like Max Schrock contact is Adames’ calling card with slight contributions everywhere else. Daniel Robertson is in full regression mode having hit .229 over the past 30 days and Adeiny Hechavarria is still on the disabled list – one less issue for Adames’ promotion in the short term. The Rays are notorious for how slow they promote, but Adames should be up soon and become the long-term solution at shortstop for the Rays.
5. David Fletcher, 2B/SS, (Los Angeles Angels) – ETA Mid June
Despite 30 more at-bats, David Fletcher actually has fewer strikeouts than Max Schrock (alright, by one). Fletcher is now hitting .350 on the season in Triple-A, while Ian Kinsler is hitting .222. When Fletcher gets the call he might not grasp the starting role immediately – but he has more than demonstrated his value to the Angels who now find themselves 5.5 games back in the AL West. The Angels will need a difference maker to come up asap – Fletcher is that guy.
6. Nick Gordon, SS, (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Mid June
Nick Gordon has done well in his two weeks in Triple-A. He is batting .330, but is have a mild issue with strikeouts similar to those in 2017. It isn’t uncommon for newly promoted players to positively regress and given Gordon’s 9% reduction across last season and this – I would expect Gordon to figure it out and gain consistency with enough at-bats. The Twins have a need at shortstop until Jorge Polanco returns in early July – Gordon’s window seems to be closing for now.
7. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Early July
Christin Stewart’s power has finally tapered a bit – but he is still on track to surpass his 2017 Double-A total of 28 in 2018, in Triple-A. He has seen massive gains in his batting average and on-base percentage thanks to a 6.5% cut in his strikeout rate (although he did double his strikeouts from April (13) to May (26)). The Tigers are awkwardly still in competition this year for the AL Central despite being 28-30 and while they won’t play to compete, Stewart would be an improvement in left field. The next week or so will better determine whether Stewart is a mid-summer call-up or a September call-up.
8. Austin Riley, 3B, (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Early July
Austin Riley is doing unsustainably well in Triple-A, but that won’t stop the buzz from building that he should get the call, and he just might. The Braves are rolling out Johan Camargo at third base, but Riley figures to be the Braves’ long-term cornerstone. The Braves have every reason to risk a Riley promotion as they are in it to win it and currently sit atop the NL East. Even if Riley doesn’t translate in 2018 – it would be worth the risk for the Braves as he wouldn’t be less of a contributor than Camargo, Ryan Flaherty, or Jose Bautista. They’ll play the upside at a weak position (or trade for a guy like Josh Donaldson or Manny Machado).
9. Jake Bauers, OF, (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Late June
Jake Bauers is back on the list after going on a tear these past two weeks, finishing May with a .318 batting average 3 home runs and 4 stolen bases. While his speed would provide more value at first base – he should make for a serviceable outfielder. The Rays are slow to promote players, but we should see both Bauers and Willy Adames up at some point this summer.
10. Kyle Tucker, OF, (Houston Astros) – ETA Mid June
Tony Kemp is giving the Astros every reason to keep Kyle Tucker down in Triple-A and Tucker isn’t doing enough to force his way into the Astros lineup only hitting .257 over the past month with 5 home runs and 4 stolen bases. Tucker should get the call despite his shortcomings and split time in the outfield as the fourth outfielder usurping Josh Reddick and/or Jake Marisnick as the team’s utility outfielder.
Ryan McMahon: McMahon is off to a solid start since his call-up last week. He offers an above average amount of power for second base – a position he has 5 eligible games at so far this season – plan accordingly once he does get eligibility in your league. Strikeouts may limit his production and therefore ownership – but if he can make that correction, he will deserve to be owned in most leagues at second.