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. Vlad Guerrero Jr., OF, (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
Vlad Guerrero Jr. is back in Double-A and should be headed to Triple-A in a few days. Since returning July 13 from a knee injury that took a month of his season, Guerrero Jr. is on a 6 game hitting streak and two multi-hit games. Guerrero Jr. is unquestionably the top prospect in all of baseball and is in line for a September call-up. September is only a month + a week away and Guerrero Jr. is only owned in 14% of ESPN leagues – now is the time to be stashing him if you aren’t already. Toronto will find room for him to play when he does get the call, with Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales shoring up third base and designated hitter respectively.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Eloy Jimenez also returned from the disabled list last week from a strained left adductor muscle that kept him out for two weeks. Jimenez is another player ready for the Majors, but won’t see action until September. Jimenez is hitting .318 on the season with 15 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A ball. Although the White Sox have surprised before (Yoan Moncada just last year) – the safe bet is that Jimenez won’t be up until September, but is worth the stash now in all but the shallowest of leagues.
3. Francisco Mejia, C, (San Diego Padres) – ETA Late July
Francisco Mejia was traded to the Padres this past week and San Diego has committed to using him as a catcher. I would expect to see Mejia up soon in the Majors and he is still the top catching prospect in fantasy leagues. Despite a slow start to the season, Mejia has slashed .383/.413/.582 since June 1 and is looking to continue on that torrid pace so long as he is in Triple-A. Mejia is ready for the Majors and would have been up already had the Indians needed a catcher and not spent most of the season trying to teach Mejia a new position.
4. Alex Verdugo, OF, (Los Angeles Dodgers) – ETA Late July
Alex Verdugo is a symptom of a stacked farm system and Major League roster. Despite hitting .354 this season (and currently on a 13 game hitting streak) with 8 home runs and 4 stolen bases in Triple-A, “there isn’t room” for Verdugo on the Dodger’s roster. The Dodgers would be best served benching Logan Forsythe, moving Chris Taylor to second base, and promoting Verdugo.
5. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Late August
Christin Stewart is a better player than he was in 2017 and is making all of the improvements needed to have sustained success in the Majors. He walks often, strikes out less, and is hitting better (albeit with a rather unlucky batting average). The Tigers have a clear need in left field and Stweart could be the stalwart that mans the corner as the Tigers begin their rebuild. There is little else for Stewart to prove in the minors – it is time to see if his 30+ home run projections translate.
6. Frank Schwindel, OF/1B, (Kansas City Royals) – ETA Mid August
Frank Schwindel, like Christin Stewart, is a markedly better player than he was in 2017. Schwindel is in a full repeat year of Triple-A ball making the comparisons that much easier to make to his game. His walk rate is up four percent to 6.5%, his strikeout rate is down four percent to 12.7%, and he’s showing that his 20+ home runs each year in the minors is repeatable at higher levels – despite sacrificing some power for contact. Schwindel is an improvement over both Hunter Dozier and Lucas Duda and Kansas City should give him a chance before the season is over.
7. Luis Urias, 2B/SS, (San Diego Padres) – ETA Late August
Luis Urias is swinging a hot bat and has steadily risen his average up to .278 on the season. San Diego is scraping by now with Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje. Urias looks to be a late-season call-up and if his development is sustained over the next month, could even come before September. Urias does not have overwhelming speed or power, but should make for an all-around contributor and near the top of the order for a young Padres team.
8. Matt Thaiss, 1B, (Los Angeles Angels) – ETA Mid August
Matt Thaiss is continuing to prove that his increase in power is not a fluke. Thaiss hit only 15 home runs total prior to 2018 and this season is already at 14. Thaiss is a bit landlocked with Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols locking down first base and designated hitter and neither are likely to move. Still, given the uniqueness of the Angels roster – there is room for Thaiss to get into the mix. It might be as a platoon for now, but if Pujols gets injured again – Thaiss would take the reigns full time while Pujols is out. Impressively, however, Pujols has only had less than 600 plate appearances once in his Major League career.
9. Cedric Mullins, OF, (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early August
Baltimore began its firesale this past week with Manny Machado getting shipped off to the Dodgers – Zack Britton should be next – shortly after that (or even as a package) Adam Jones may be moved. Jones is in the final year of his contract and is still producing, although not many teams need an additional outfielder (or one priced as high as Jones) Baltimore will be eager to sell of what they can, even if for a smaller return. Cedric Mullins would likely be the one to take Jones’ spot. Mullins is slashing .297/.354/.482 between Double-A and Triple-A with 10 home runs and 16 stolen bases (only 2 caught). Mullins doesn’t strikeout a lot and walks often enough – he should make for a serviceable replacement on a terrible team.
10. Peter Alonso, 1B, (New York Mets) – ETA Early September
Peter Alonso since getting promoted to Triple-A – most apparently his 29.4% strikeout rate. Although he has sustained his power stroke and walk rate from Double-A, Alonso is now striking out more than 50% more often than he did previously this season. His .200 batting average is reflective of these strikeouts and if he can tamp that number down should see a rise in his batting average. Until then, the Mets will be patient and roll with the equally ineffective Dominic Smith in the Majors. Although a September call-up could be on the horizon to test out Alonso before keeping him in the minors most of next season.
Willie Calhoun: Calhoun’s fire finally caught – he got his first start in left field for the Rangers on Friday. He should be added across the board.
Do like Garrett Hampson?
Love Garrett Hampson. I had written this article before he was called up, I would put him at #1 on the list for the immediacy of impact. Hampson has the chance to wreck havoc on the base and is one of the few minor league bats that has speed and can hit for a respectable batting average. I’d definitely snap him up.
Curious if anyone thinks the Brewers Keston Hiura gets called up and makes an impact this year. We may find out based on their moves at the deadline, as their 2B and SS rank 26th and 30th in WAR, respectively.
He may get a shot depending on how the trade deadline goes, but I’m not counting on Hiura making an impact even if he gets the call. With the Brewers in it to win it, I think they go with who they have until September (barring a trade). In September Hiura will get the call, but won’t get enough at-bats to be relevant in fantasy.