Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers that you should be stashing on your team. These rankings are done solely for prospects who could potentially affect the 2019 season. Their ranks are predicated on when they will be called up and raw talent—we want to give you an edge in building your team throughout the year. Not all prospects need to be stashed in every league as not all league compositions are made equally.
1. Jesus Luzardo, SP Oakland Athletics – ETA Mid July
Jesus Luzardo had his second rehab start last Sunday where he struck out nine batters in just four innings. Granted, it may have only been High-A, but Oakland saw all that it needed and sent Luzardo to Triple-A where he is expected to start today (Saturday). Luzardo is still without a clear timetable to the majors as he will need to demonstrate success in Triple-A (having been roughed up in his only four starts there) and raise his pitch count before Oakland would promote him. If healthy, Luzardo is the next elite pitcher in line for an MLB promotion.
2. Brendan McKay, SP Tampa Bay Rays – ETA Early August
Brendan McKay threw five scoreless innings in relief this past week, striking out seven. McKay continues to consistently throw five-inning gems, allowing only a trio of runs and walks over his first 20 innings in Triple-A. McKay is difficult to project this season as Tampa Bay has continued to promote him as a two-way player despite his pitching overwhelmingly outshining his batting, a limited pitch count, and a competitive Major League team in need of another arm as it competes at the top of the AL East.
3. Mitch Keller, SP Pittsburgh Pirates – ETA Early July
Mitch Keller and teammate Dario Agrazal both had their first MLB starts this past week and both were optioned back to Triple-A. Keller was the victim of some bad luck, but a 10.50 ERA and a 4.50 BB/9 was not going to keep him in the majors, even if his final start against bottom-dwelling Detroit looked sharper. Keller should bounce back into Pittsburgh’s rotation through a combination of talent and injuries soon enough. He will remain a high-ceiling, low-floor player until he can lock down his walk rate.
4. Dylan Cease, SP Chicago White Sox – ETA Early August
Dylan Cease struggled once again, giving up five earned runs over 5.2 innings while striking out seven. Cease should have one more start left in the month of June, a month he needs to move past after putting up an 8.80 ERA, his season ERA ballooning to 4.37. Mid-July has been Cease’s earliest call-up date as it will be about his Super Two date, but with only a handful of starts until then, Cease will need to put on a show to expect a call-up then.
5. A.J. Puk, SP Oakland Athletics – ETA Late July
A.J. Puk has been limited in his first three outings, throwing two innings per game as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Results matter less for now than seeing a healthy Puk pitch as the results have been tepid to start. With the 80-game suspension of Frankie Montas, Puk is well-situated to jump back in as a starter once he gets his pitch count up and should start for Oakland late enough in the season where his innings count should only be moderately restricted.
6. Rico Garcia, SP Colorado Rockies – ETA Late July
Rico Garcia was promoted to Triple-A this week after decimating Double-A ball to the tune of a 1.85 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 68 innings. At the time he was promoted, he was second to only Matt Manning and Ian Anderson in strikeouts, which is good company. Garcia’s first start in Triple-A went well, allowing only one run and striking out five over five innings. A few more starts like this one and Garcia should be a quick call up for a Colorado team in hot pursuit of an NL Wild Card spot.
7. Anthony Kay, SP New York Mets – ETA Late July
Anthony Kay‘s success in 2019 came to a grinding halt in his first two starts at Triple-A, giving up a combined nine earned runs over five innings. Thursday’s start was particularly poor, lasting only an inning and without a strikeout. Kay should have time to adjust and with three above-average pitches, should do better than this pair of starts.
8. Lewis Thorpe, SP Minnesota Twins – ETA Late July
Lewis Thorpe had a passable start this past week, where he let up two runs in four innings while striking out three. Thorpe has managed to trim his season ERA after his first two starts of the season set his season line up for failure. He has been effective in nearly every game since and is one of the strikeout leaders in Triple-A with 73 Ks in 56.1 innings. Thorpe will be an under-the-radar add when promoted and should be an effective fantasy asset.
9. Chance Adams, SP New York Yankees – ETA Early August
Chance Adams has made massive improvements since 2018, not least of which has been cutting his walk rate by almost a full point and his HR/FB rate by 4%. He has not allowed more than two runs in a start since April 17th and has five quality starts in six attempts over that span. Adams has been called up in long relief three times this season with modest success and will make for good bait at the trade deadline if he continues to deal in Triple-A. With New York still having young pitchers like Deivi Garcia coming up in a few years, Adams could be expendable.
10. Matt Manning, SP Detroit Tigers – ETA Early September
We are getting into a weird part of the year where most of the top Triple-A pitchers are in the majors and the top Double-A pitchers are starting to get promoted to Triple-A, with the predominant question whether any of those promotions will be fast-tracked.
Matt Manning is one such pitcher that has dominated Double-A, but has yet to be promoted to Triple-A. If called up this season, it would be no sooner than September, and Detroit hasn’t disclosed how soon they plan on moving Manning, Casey Mize, or Alex Faedo. All three are dominating in Double-A, but with an shoulder injury to Mize and Faedo historically needing time to adjust at each level, Manning is the most likely to make an impact this fall. It’s too soon to stash any prospective September call-ups in redraft leagues, but we are reaching the point of the season where the worthwhile arms will be a wait.
Zac Gallen – He was promoted on Thursday and was met with resounding success. He should stick around for at least as long as Pablo Lopez is on the Injured List, and starts like this will make it difficult to demote Gallen when that day comes.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)