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.
1. Kyle Tucker, OF, (Houston Astros) – ETA Late June
June has been an enlightening month for Kyle Tucker, who is now slashing .413/.446/.640 (including a current 11 game hitting streak), 3 home runs, and 6 stolen bases in that time. Tucker now has a double-digit walk rate on the season and a sub-20 percent strikeout rate. Tony Kemp has been holding his own in the Majors, hitting .306 since he was called up in May, but Tucker is the Astros’ prized prospect and at the slightest decline in Kemp’s performance should get the call.
2. Willie Calhoun, OF, (Texas Rangers) – Late June
Willie Calhoun is hitting .311/.338/.486 with 2 home runs and only 7 strikeouts in 74 at-bats. Calhoun is ready to give the Majors a shot, but there is a lack of playing time for him with rookie Ronald Guzman manning first, Joey Gallo in left field, and Shin-Soo Choo as the team’s designated hitter. Moving Choo at the deadline would be difficult as he is owed $42 million between 2019 and 2020. Taking the struggling Guzman off of first to make room for Gallo would stunt any growth the Rangers hope to develop in Guzman, but would allow Calhoun to play left.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Perhaps not everyone is as bearish as I am regarding Eloy Jimenez‘s call-up time in 2018, but Jimenez was finally promoted to Triple-A this past week, signaling he is one step from the Majors. It was inevitable that Jimenez would take time in Triple-A before heading to the Majors – he had been kept off of this list as September seemed to be his call-up time and was in Double-A. Calls for Jimenez to reach the Majors have reached a fever pitch and if he dominates in Triple-A the way he has all season in Double-A, Jimenez will be writing his own ticket to the Majors. I still caution against stashing a player for that long as that bench spot could be better utilized to win games between then and now, but Jimenez will be a must-own prospect across the board. The White Sox will do everything in their power to keep another year of control over Jimenez, which is why I still caution September … for now.
4. Max Schrock, 2B, (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA Late June
Max Schrock is still a Redbird, not a Cardinal. Schrock has really cooled in the month of June, but still provides an upgrade to the wild card hopeful Cardinals. Schrock is a floor to build a middle infield around, he doesn’t walk or strikeout frequently – hitting is his calling card. He has fringe top-10 at his position talent – his ceiling isn’t particularly high, but you could comfortably play him if you’re a manager in need of a middle infielder.
5. Matt Thaiss, 1B, (Los Angeles Angels) – ETA Late July
Matt Thaiss fits the bill. Thaiss is hitting .321/.361/.580 in Triple-A this season, with 12 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A. Thaiss has moved quickly through the minors and his low strikeout rate should help make him a consistent player for most leagues.
6. Peter Alonso, 1B, (New York Mets) – ETA Early August
Dominic Smith is not likely the Mets’ solution at first base, but will play there until the Mets are comfortable with calling Peter Alonso up. Alonso only has 6 games under his belt at Triple-A and with the Mets out of contention, the team is not in any rush to force Alonso any sooner than necessary. In Double-A Alonso was hitting .314 with a 15.8% walk rate, 18.3% strikeout rate, and 15 home runs. If that guy shows up in Triple-A during July – a late-July or early-August call-up could be in the cards.
7. Frank Schwindel, OF/1B, (Kansas City Royals) – ETA Mid July
Since last season, Frank Schwindel has cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate, and hit for more power while maintaining a near .300 batting average. Schwindel can provide above average power without sacrificing batting average. He will play for the cellar-dwelling Royals, but given their lineup’s inability to hit, Schwindel should quickly work his way to the heart of it. Slide Lucas Duda to designated hitter now that he’s healthy, demote Hunter Dozier, and drop in Schwindel at first base. Or demote Abraham Almonte and let Schwindel get reps in the outfield while Jorge Soler is injured. There is no shortage of places for Schwindel to play on this team.
8. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Late July
Christin Stewart is in the midst of one heck of a slump, having not hit a home run in June and batting only .225 this month. The thing is, he is still walking at a double-digit rate (10.3% – a rate he’s walked consistently nearly his entire minor league career), his strikeout rate is still the lowest its been in the minors (20.9%), and his ISO still has him ranked as a slugger. If March through May was Stewart’s ceiling and June is his floor, somewhere in between will be a successful slugger. Left field for the Tigers is a black hole devoid of talent, Stewart would make the first improvement on a team looking to rebuild by 2020/2021.
9. Nick Gordon, SS, (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Early August
Nick Gordon has taken a big hit and could be a week away from dropping off of the list now that Jorge Polanco is on the cusp of his return and Gordon hasn’t impressed since his promotion to Double-A. Gordon is a well-rounded prospect that will not exceed at any one thing, but can contribute enough to be relevant in deeper fantasy leagues in 2018. Gordon is off to a rocky start in Triple-A, but still represents an upgrade for the fading Twins – Gordon needs to get on base first.
10. Myles Straw, OF, (Houston Astros) – ETA Early August
The appeal of Myles Straw at the top of your offense is alluring – since his promotion to Triple-A, he is on a 1 steal per game pace. Straw has no power, but has the raw appeal of Dee Gordon in his ability to get on base and then move base-to-base. The Astros are full-up in the outfield, even more so when Kyle Tucker is called up – but Straw is a rare breed in today’s MLB and the Astros may choose to hold onto him at the deadline this year and call him up to keep their team moving as the summer comes to an end. The Astros have shuffled their outfield all season, shuffling an outfield of George Springer, Tony Kemp, Tucker, and Straw sounds pretty appealing.
curious to hear your thoughts on why Hiura is not on this list. Defensive concerns? Too many infielders on the 25?