The Stash 07/29: The Top 10 Hitting Prospects to Stash
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.
This week’s article was written much sooner than normal as the author has a wedding to attend in the wilderness of northern Michigan – if a trade has happened that affects a players value – bear with him as he’ll do his best to update the article on Sunday night.
1. Vlad Guerrero Jr., 3B, (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
Whether or not Josh Donaldson is traded, Vlad Guerrero Jr. will get a call-up in 2018 (although a trade could still happen if the Blue Jays place Donaldson on revocable waivers). Guerrero Jr. is still ramping up to Triple-A, having only played a handful of games this past week and working his way back from a knee injury that kept him sidelined through all of June and most of July. Guerrero is owned in 15% of leagues and should be stashed in nearly all leagues with nearly a month until September.
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF, (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Eloy Jimenez has been on fire this past week, hitting like crazy and giving fans a taste of how ready he is for the MLB. Business will come first and Chicago will keep him down until September, but like Guerrero Jr., Jimenez is a must-stash prospect with a month to go until his projected call-up date. Having found his groove after recovering from an adductor muscle injury, Jimenez is slashing .342/.386/.605 with 5 runs in Triple-A.
3. Francisco Mejia, C, (San Diego Padres) – ETA Late July
Francisco Mejia had his debut game for the Padre’s farm system this past week. Mejia is the top offensive catching prospect and has slashed .379/.409/.572 since June 1. Walks are an issue for Mejia who walks at a paltry 5.4%, it will limit his effectiveness, but he should make up his lack on on-base percentage with high-end power and batting average for a catcher. In any other system Mejia would have been called up sooner, so expect San Diego to give Mejia the call sooner than later.
4. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Late August
Christin Stewart is ranked here for his potential for consistent power and although he has tapered off significantly as the summer has progressed, still looks to be an MLB caliber power hitter. Stewart walks consistently and has reduced his strikeout rate from last season until this season and it appears as though he should be sporting a batting average at least 0.10 higher than he currently possesses. Stewart has little else to prove in Triple-A and should make for an impact bat with the rebuilding Tigers.
5. Frank Schwindel, OF/1B, (Kansas City Royals) – ETA Mid August
Frank Schwindel has been exceedingly unlucky with his batting average this season, but in every other regard has shown how much he has grown as a player since 2017. In a full repeat year of Triple-A, his walk rate is up four percent to 6.7%, his strikeout rate is down four percent to 12.4%, and got to 17 home runs faster than he did last season. Schwindel is an improvement over both Hunter Dozier and Lucas Duda and Kansas City should give him an opportunity in 2018.
6. Luis Urias, 2B/SS, (San Diego Padres) – ETA Late August
Luis Urias‘ is neither particularly fast or strong, but will contribute enough to be a serviceable MLB contributor. For fantasy purposes, he could wind up being a fringe top-10 at second base and probably just outside the top-1o at shortstop. San Diego is out for the season and will only run Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje for so long. Urias has produced all season and has found a power stroke for the first time, sporting a .136 ISO (previous high was .109). Urias should be a late-season call-up and given the state of the Padre offense (and even less if Wil Meyers is dealt) he should slot in near the top of the order.
7. Cedric Mullins, OF, (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early August
Manny Machado and Zack Britton have been dealt, next on the chopping board is rental Adam Jones. There are several teams with strong ties to Jones and it is looking likely that an outfield spot will open up in Baltimore. Cedric Mullins has 10 home runs and 17 stolen bases this season (only one caught stealing). Mullins hits for a high average and strikes out at a reassuring rate. He, like Urias, would likely bat near the top of the anemic Baltimore offense – which could still provide some value as he can get on base frequently enough.
8. Matt Thaiss, 1B, (Los Angeles Angels) – ETA Late August
Matt Thaiss is at 14 home runs this season after hitting 15 between 2016 and 2017, proving his power is here to stay. Although he has cut his strikeout rate, his walk rate has plummeted resulting in a near .100 point drop in his on-base percentage to .331 – which isn’t bad, but is demonstrative of Thaiss embracing the flyball revolution as a means to staying alive as a player. Whether that translates into success in the Majors remains to be seen, but Thaiss has made improvements that make him a more impactful player. Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols are blocking Thaiss – but there are a number of opportunities this season ranging from Ohtani focusing on pitching, an injury, or a platoon with Pujols to ready Thaiss as his successor.
9. Peter Alonso, 1B, (New York Mets) – ETA Early September
Peter Alonso is still hitting .200 since getting called up to Triple-A and while he has been consistently cutting down his strikeout rate, it has not translated into gains, yet. Alonso’s OBP is buoyed by a 12.9% walk rate (despite a high walk rate in 2018, Alonso has not historically had this high of a walk rate). The Mets are in no rush to force Alonso into the MLB and at one point stated that he would not reach the Majors this season (before going on a tear and receiving an immediate promotion to Triple-A). If Alonso can find a groove in August, a September call-up is well within reach.
10. Danny Jansen, C, (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
Once Toronto completes its fire sale and September hits, Danny Jansen should get the call with an eye toward 2019. The ineffective Russell Martin and Luke Maile are gap fillers until Jansen is ready for the full time (well, rather until Martin’s contract runs out). Jansen should split time with Martin in September and even with a part-time role could wind up as a top-10 catcher in the month of September. While Mejia may be the top offensive catcher, Jansen and Keibert Ruiz are not too far behind. Jansen is one of a handful of players that walks more than he strikeouts (40/41 K/BB) and Jansen can hit with a bit of pop, having hit 10 home runs this season. Offensive catchers are a rare commodity and I expect to see Jansen’s name high on the draft board in 2019.
Alex Verdugo: Verdugo was called-up this week. Verdugo has been one of the most effective bats in Triple-A this season and should provide a stable bat wherever he lands in the stacked Dodger’s lineup.