This season I will be taking over for Nic Gardiner and his baby — the Stash. Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers that you should be stashing on your team. Unlike my other dynasty content that will focus on who to own for their production years down the road, these rankings will be done for a potential splash during 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. Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA Late May or Injury
If you (dearest reader) have spent any amount of time on our website – you’ll know certain pitchers are beloved more than the general consensus – Jack Flaherty is one of those pitchers. After breaking camp with the Cardinals, Flaherty looked sharp in his MLB debut, but was shortly optioned ted to AAA where he dominated to the tune of 11 strikeouts. Unfortunately, with Adam Wainwright back – there is no clear path to playing time (this is also why Alex Reyes is not ranked – chances are Reyes will begin in relief and with Greg Holland closing – Reyes just doesn’t have enough value except in deeper leagues where an ERA lowering reliever is useful). If Miles Mikolas collapses, Flaherty could be up – but I would expect the Cardinals to give him time before making any decision.
2. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Mid-June
Michael Kopech‘s 2018 debut was sterling. It was short lived at 4 innings, but Kopech struck out eight batters (while walking two and allowing two hits). The White Sox are locked into taking their time with Kopech in developing his changeup, so I would not expect him too soon – but with performances like these, he may force their hand.
Luiz Gohara played his first game in extended spring training, he should have a few more rehab starts before getting the call – but he will get the call. Gohara has a propensity for strikeouts that carried over during his brief stint in the MLB during the 2017 season – had it not been for his ankle injury, he would be pitching in the majors alongside Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb.
4. Fernando Romero (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Early June
In what seems to be a twist of fate since I last wrote my column, Fernando Romero got the nod for AAA, while fellow top-prospect Stephen Gonslaves got his start in AA. My biggest knock on against ranking Romero was what his starting in AA would mean for his development (for a guy who had never seen AAA ball) and call up time. Starting Romero in AAA indicates that the Twins have fewer reservations about moving Romero up quickly (after spending the full year in AA in 2017) — if he doesn’t stumble, a summer call-up should be on the table.
Matt Strahm, but I still think keeping tabs on him could pay dividends. After two games of AA rehab, Strahm as started one game and pitched relief in another – muddling what the Padres view his role to be in their organization. He pitched 2 innings, but it took him 47 pitches to do it. For now, I’m pig-headedly looking at the positive – in two innings Strahm struck out 6 batters and he had the stamina to throw 47 pitches.
Mitch Keller is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball (I know I started last weeks article with this sentence, but I really want people to know). There are few minor league pitchers I would rather have in my farm system in my dynasty league, but in a redraft league his value is muddied by the Pirates non-existent need for him (given they’re in a down year) and his AA placement. One game in and Keller is every bit the pitcher he is billed to be, striking out eight across six scoreless innings. The most realistic of expectations would have Keller as a fall call-up, but it is my fondest hope that he and the Pirate’s fans force the Pirate’s hand in their search for the next Gerrit Cole.
Damn, I knew I would be right about CC Sabathia going down, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. Realistically, Sabathia is only missing one start, so there was no reason for the Yankees to burn a call-up on Chance Adams — but it could be signs to come with Sabathia’s long-term health (being a hip injury on a 300 lb, 37-year-old man). Any extended injury and Adams will be busting down the door.
Ryan Borucki is clearly on the Blue Jay’s fast track to the majors and as a 24-year-old getting a full look AAA – something has to give. As with many prospect pitchers this time of the year, there is no clear place for him his affiliates roster. Performing well will be his only ticket into the majors this year – something I think he will do, making his call up a matter of when (and Jaime Garcia hasn’t been awful, yet).
I think Max Fried has the potential to be called up even sooner if he continues where he finished in the Arizona Fall League and the Brave’s rotation is as big of a dumpster fire as it probably will be. If he can maintain his improved control, Fried could make a good piece to fill out your roster.
Walker Buehler did exceptionally well in his 2018 AAA debut – he should dominate there for the next month or two. The Dodgers have him ticketed to only pitch 140-150 innings this year (let’s just say 145 for a weekly Buehler-counter). With 136 innings to go, every inning in the minors limits his immediate effectiveness in 2018 redraft leagues. While the Dodgers are committed to having Buehler start, given their depth of starting pitching talent in the majors – the Dodgers will not be in a rush to give Buehler the call. He has the widest range to be ranked, he could be number one because of his talent or he could be unranked for the same reason I kept Alex Reyes off, he could pitch relief or be in the minors too long.
Tom Eshelman – Ben Lively has struggled against MLB bats so far this year and has been unable to beat batters. Eshelman has suffered the same problems (but in AAA). If Eshelman is to usurp Lively, Eshelman will need to do markedly better than Lively – something that will be delayed for some time as the two continue to make their case.