This season I will be taking over for Nic Gardiner’s column — 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. Ronald Acuna (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Early-May
Holding strong at 83% ownership, Ronald Acuna is not a normal stash player — his upside is immense and his ownership despite when he will be called up. I had originally thought it would be after super-two, after rethinking things I do think it will be later than most predict, but perhaps not quite that late. The Braves are not in any rush as the bottom has not fallen out of Preston Tucker and promoting Acuna after a sluggish start to the year would be a mistake. The Braves can practice patience, let Acuna get a rhythm going (he absolutely will) – then bring him up.
As with most prospect situations, they can change on a dime if their MLB counterpart gets hurt – such is the fate of Nick Senzel. Eugenio Suarez fractured his thumb and has a rough timetable of 6-8 weeks. Although the Reds may be in rebuild mode, this presents an opportunity to try out their budding superstar. On Tuesday the Reds moved Senzel back to third base to get reps in AAA, presumably, a call-up will be in order soon. Senzel is a must own as he has an impact bat that can be slotted in shortly.
Unlike Ronald Acuna, Gleyber Torres has had a torrid start to the year (ignoring his 5.7% walk rate) and his MLB counterpart, Neil Walker, has been exceedingly uninspiring (although quite unlucky). Torres is a top 5 prospect that is a must own when called up. He isn’t walking much this year, but a larger sample size should return him to a double-digit walk-rate.
Early results matter for early call-ups and 28.6% strikeout rate and a 2.9% walk rate are not going to do it for Willie Calhoun. Although it has only been eight games and a few good games would revolutionize those numbers – but that’s why we do weekly columns! Calhoun is an offense-first prospect in the minors to work on defense (at least, his stated reason (which while probably for service time is not entirely unbelievable)), we probably have some time until he gets the call. The loss of Elvis Andrus further lessens the need for Calhoun as the already unlikely to compete Texas Rangers are probably even further from competing.
I am still puzzled by Austin Hay’s assignment in AA after becoming the first player from the ’16 Draft to play in the MLB. Although it would not have been surprising to get an AAA assignment after his September call-up, the Orioles seem intent on taking it slow. Hays has started the year slowly and will need to pick up the pace if he wants to get promoted (whether to AAA or the Majors) – small sample sizes being what they are.
6. Francisco Mejia (Cleveland Indians) – ETA Early-June
If/when Francisco Mejia gets called up this year, it is looking more and more as though it will not be at catcher. While that still seems to be his long-term projections, the Indians are doing everything in their power to get Mejia’s bat into its offense — even if that means as an outfielder. With the claim that Mejia’s defense is not ready (and that Cleveland pitchers prefer Yan Gomes) – the Indians are trying out Mejia in the outfield (probably taking over in right field). There are still multiple scenarios for Mejia to get playing time (Mejia plays C and DH) (Mejia plays 3B, DH, and OF) – the Indians are trying to suss out where he will fit. Now is the time for the Indians to win it all and they will be better off with Mejia on their roster.
Victor Robles is headed to the disabled list with a hyperextended left elbow — there has not been a timetable released for his return. Once a timetable becomes clear – we will be able to better assess Robles’ potential call-up, for now, expect it to be delayed as the Nationals will want to give him enough games in AAA before calling him up (he had only played four games this season). Robles is a top 5 prospect and should be owned immediately when up. A shame too as Adam Eaton went on the disabled list this week as well – Robles could have had his shot much sooner than expected.
Dustin Fowler will be ready whenever the Athletic’s think his knee is healthy and has had enough at-bats to shake off the rust. Fowler has hit the ground running (literally, 3 steals in his first 8 games). If Fowler keeps it up, the Athletics won’t have a choice but to call him up — although the fact he wasn’t called up after Boog Powell went down seems to be a sign of how patient the Athletics are approaching Fowler. Fowler is projected to be a solid outfield bat to fill the end of your roster.
While Willy Adames is off to a slow start, it is only a matter of when he will right the ship. Adames is ready to go and will be up whenever the Rays decide. He is a consistent player who will not wow in any one category but should be a serviceable shortstop for those in need (and will be likely to stick at short unlike many other prospects currently listed at shortstop).
Jake Bauers will suffer from the same service time manipulation as Willy Adames and like Adames is ready for the Show now. I am a sucker for first basemen that can steal bases – Bauers has a real shot at a 20/20 season once given the opportunity to produce.