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. Mitch Keller, SP Pittsburgh Pirates – ETA Early August
Mitch Keller underwhelmed in each of this three starts for Pittsburgh this season, but still sports a healthy 3.21 ERA and striking out 101 batters in 87 Triple-A innings. While he still has the occasional hiccup of a game, Keller has demonstrated that he has little to prove in Triple-A and in his three MLB starts his pitches can be effective when he reigns them in. Pittsburgh has expediently taken themselves out of contention, going 1-6 since the All-Star break.
2. Matt Manning, SP Detroit Tigers – ETA Early Sept.
Matt Manning is back rolling Double-A with his first start since July 2, throwing five innings while allowing two runs and striking out five. Manning is but one of four ace-caliber pitchers in Detroit’s Double-A system, but he is the further along than his compatriots and most likely to receive a 2019 promotion, if one were to receive a promotion.
3. Jesus Luzardo, SP Oakland Athletics – ETA Early Sept.
Jesus Luzardo is back to throwing from 90 feet as he works back from a lat strain injury he suffered during his rehab of a shoulder injury. Luzardo is still without a timeline but should be on track to see a meaningful number of starts in the Majors before the year is over. Luzardo is one of a handful of elite pitchers left in Triple-A and was dominant as he rehabbed in June.
4. Anthony Kay, SP New York Mets – ETA Late July
Zack Wheeler is in the final year of his contract and Noah Syndergaard is in consideration to be moved likely opening at least one spot for Anthony Kay to move up into with New York 6.5 games out from a Wild Card position. After dominating Double-A, Kay was promoted to Triple-A in mid-June where he has struggled to date. Home runs have been the primary culprit as he has let up six home runs in six starts after only allowing two in 12 Double-A starts. Kay is adjusting, slowly.
5. Conner Menez, SP San Francisco Giants – ETA Early August
Conner Menez is another player that dominated in Double-A to start the season and has been slow to adjust in Triple-A. Menez was promoted in June after throwing a 2.72 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.2 innings. San Francisco has promoted two of its top pitching prospects in Triple-A, leaving few left to take Madison Bumgarner‘s spot after he is moved at the deadline. Similar to Anthony Kay, after only allowing 5 home runs in 11 Double-A starts, Menez has allowed six home runs in seven Triple-A starts. Unlike Kay, Menez has gone his last three games without a home run.
6. Nabil Crismatt, SP Seattle Mariners – ETA Early Sept.
After throwing a two-hit complete-game shutout, Nabil Crismatt was promoted to Triple-A. The start capped off a great year in Double-A after having initially been demoted after three poor Triple-A starts in April. Crismatt threw a 1.94 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 83.2 innings and 14 starts. He had his first game back in Triple-A rained out and while Justin Dunn could compete for a late-season call-up, Crismatt has the edge for now.
7. Keegan Akin, SP Baltimore Orioles – ETA Early September
While Alex Wells is looking promising in Double-A, Keegan Akin has spent his full year in Triple-A to mixed success (only three quality starts in 17 starts). He sports a 4.50 ERA (but a 3.86 FIP) and a 10.69 K/9 (but a 4.61 BB/9). Baltimore might not start his clock in 2019, but given his walk issues (only two starts this season without a walk) the team may be better served to let him work out his kinks this season as the team competes with Detroit as the league’s worst.
8. Alex Faedo, SP Detroit Tigers – ETA Early September
Alex Faedo through the process of elimination is one of the better performing pitchers in the higher levels of the minor league. Faedo has been consistent most of the season, with three starts blowing up his season stat line 3.64 ERA (2.23 ERA with three starts removed). Detroit is going to be saturated with up-and-coming pitchers with Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser in contention for late-season callups.
9. Rico Garcia, SP Colorado Rockies – ETA Early September
Rico Garcia adds to the trend of an elite Double-A performance collapsing in Triple-A (Garcia allowed four home runs in 13 Double-A starts, but six in six Triple-A starts). Back-to-back six-run outings will likely bury Garcia for the immediate future, but a .395 BABIP and an unsustainable 53.2% left-on-base rate indicates better days are ahead for Garcia. While his strikeout rate has regressed, he is still striking batters out consistently.
10. AJ Puk, SP Oakland Athletics – ETA Early August
AJ Puk threw three more innings this past week, striking out five over those frames and allowing only one run off of a solo home run. He should be moving to Triple-A for a few appearances before debuting in the Majors. Puk is widely expected to assume a bullpen role to limit his innings as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery.
Brendan McKay – After a short few days in Triple-A, McKay started last night. Despite his struggles, he has a good shot at sticking around.
Kyle Wright – After a month of dominating Triple-A, Wright finally got another chance to start and blew it in a spectacular fashion. He still has a chance to stick in the rotation, but the outing did everything it could do demonstrate otherwise.
Graphic by Michael Haas (@digitalHaas on Twitter)