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. Willie Calhoun, OF, (Texas Rangers) – ETA Late July
Willie Calhoun upped his hitting streak to 17 and has a hit in 29 of his last 32 games. He has only hit 2 home runs and 11 doubles in that span, so the power needs to arrive if Calhoun is to his full projection, but the is no hitter hotter in Triple-A right now than Calhoun. He does not strike out often (10.3%) and gets on base at an above-average rate (.347 OBP) – his transition to the MLB should be smoother than most. Calhoun does not have a specific place to play on the Rangers quite yet, but the team could shuffle its starters around to make room for Calhoun in left.
2. Vlad Guerrero Jr., OF, (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
With the Blue Jays announcing that Vlad Guerrero Jr. will be headed to Triple-A after he works his way back up the minor league ladder rehabbing a knee injury he suffered back in early June – this officially places him on the same track as Eloy Jimenez. Guerrero Jr. should be set to get a September call-up then sit for the first few weeks of March/April until he is called up in earnest by the Blue Jays. Guerrero Jr. is undoubtedly the most talented prospect in baseball right now and was slashing .407/.457/.667 and 11 home runs in Double-A before his injury.
3. Eloy Jimenez, OF, (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Eloy Jimenez is still on the disabled list with a strained left adductor muscle, but is expected to be back sometime this week. Jimenez is one of baseball’s top prospects and should get the call in September before getting to start in earnest sometime mid-spring 2019. Jimenez was slashing .317/.368/.556 with 10 home runs in Double-A before his June call-up to Triple-A. He hit the ground running in his first two weeks and is expected to cruise through Triple-A in the small amount of time he’ll be there.
4. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Late August
Christin Stewart returned this past week after two weeks on the disabled list. His only two hits in his first 19 at-bats were home runs (#14 and #15 on the year) and more importantly, given the lack of hits, he only struck out once. Stewart’s strikeout rate is at 19%, down 5% from his 2017 season in Double-A. Stewart walks at a 10% rate and finds himself on-base frequently. He has finally put all the pieces together and is looking to be a major league contributor for years to come.
5. Alex Verdugo, OF, (Los Angeles Dodgers) – ETA Late July
Alex Verdugo has made a mockery of Triple-A ball all season long slashing .350/.395/.521 over 253 at-bats. Verdugo his for a modest amount of power and will get a handful of steals, but has otherwise been locked out of the MLB due to lack of need. The Dodgers are looking to buy at the deadline and there is no better chip for them than Verdugo – I would expect to see Verdugo in the MLB around the trade deadline and on another team (although allegedly not enough for Manny Machado, allegedly).
6. Frank Schwindel, OF/1B, (Kansas City Royals) – ETA Mid August
Frank Schwindel is repeating Triple-A and it is showing how much improvement Schwindel has made since 2017. His walk rate is up four percent to 6.7%, his strikeout rate is down four percent to 12.8%, and he’s showing that his 20+ home runs each year in the minors is repeatable at higher levels. Lucas Duda and Hunter Dozier getting priority on the Royals roster, but Dozier is now hitting a meager .210 and a 32% strikeout rate. Schwindel is an improvement for the roster.
7. Peter Alonso, 1B, (New York Mets) – ETA Early September
Peter Alonso has yet to find his groove after 23 games in Triple-A, batting only .190 and striking out at 31.1%. Although the double-digit walks are inspiring and his batting average seems to be a bit unlucky (.213 BABIP), until Alonso strings together a few successful series, the Mets will be in no rush to displace Dominic Smith who has strung together a similar line in the MLB. Alonso should turn it around and when he does be in line for a short-term promotion, although the longer it takes for him to do so, the more likely his call up will be of the September variety.
8. Matt Thaiss, 1B, (Los Angeles Angels) – ETA Mid August
Matt Thaiss has proven that he can hit in Triple-A and while the power expected of a first baseman may never materialize, he would provide a consistent presence wherever the Angels were to fit him in their lineup. Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols have first base and designated hitter locked up – despite Pujols hitting the disabled list, I would not expect Thaiss to get the call as Pujols is expected to only have a minimum stay on the disabled list. Thaiss is in a logjam as the Angels are now so far out of a wild-card spot they won’t be selling off Thaiss at the deadline.
9. Luis Urias, 2B/SS, (San Diego Padres) – ETA Late August
While Willie Calhoun has had the hottest bat as of late in Triple-A, Luis Urias hasn’t been a slouch with 24 hits in his last 28 games, including 9 multi-hit games — he is hitting .324 over that span. Urias does not hit for much power or steal many bases, but he has a 70-grade hit tool that will keep him consistent. On the season he is slashing .278/.391/.411 and is the heir apparent to replace the lackluster Jose Pirela or the struggling Carlos Asuaje and Freddy Galvis sometime this summer.
10. Myles Straw, OF, (Houston Astros) – ETA Late August
Myles Straw throughout the week to see how many bases he’s up to this season. This past week he stole 5, bringing his season total to an even 50 stolen bases. I very well may be pining after Straw, hoping he’ll get the call-up and for as complete a team as the Houston Astros are (currently 8th in team stolen bases), Straw’s speed and bat would make for a better leadoff hitter than George Springer, bridging the gap between the Red Sox offense and Astro offense. With Kyle Tucker and Tony Kemp‘s success, there are even fewer places for Straw to play, but if Straw got the call – the Astro offense would still be better for it.
Kyle Tucker: Tucker had an underwhelming first week, perhaps overshadowed by one of the weirdest ends to a ball game this season – Tucker is worth owning universally and has the ceiling of an all-star.
Should I expect to see Victor Robles on this list as we approach September?
Hard to say – although he is a top prospect for a reason – he’d have to take time from Harper, Eaton, and Soto. I think at least in 2018 he might not get enough at-bats to make him worth a roster. If Soto falls off in the second half, then yes, absolutely own – but I don’t see that being the case.
Do you see Taylor Ward getting called up and getting significant AB in the 2nd half?
I think he’ll get the call at some point with Cozart down, but I don’t know how significant his playing time will be.
Any word on if Taylor Ward is worth a move up the list if he gets the call up with Cozart out? The capability of him being moveable between 3rd and Catcher would be a great help, and it’s not like anyone worthy is holding down the fort at catcher anyways, if at bats are needed. He’s been absolutely ripping at Triple A.
Ward could be worthy of a speculative add, but I think David Fletcher will slide full time into 3B (he’s already had 16 starts there this season). Andeltron Simmons at SS and Ian Kinsler at 2B – chances seem strong that Ward would stay down for seasoning for a bit longer.