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
Adam Wainwright is 36 and in the final year of his behemoth 5 year / $97.5 million contract. He has seen mild success this year, but hasn’t projected sustainable success since 2014. Although much of the Cardinals’ rotation has struggled to start the year, they could shift Wainwright or Miles Mikolas to the bullpen. There is not a clear path for Jack Flaherty at the moment, but as time passes a path may become clear – I cannot see the Cardinals keeping Flaherty down long if he continues to dominate AAA.
2. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Mid-June
Michael Kopech‘s third game of the season was a mixed bag. He struck out 10 batters, but only threw 62% of his pitches for strikes. Control remains to be Kopech’s biggest flaw and he did not use his third pitch (changeup) frequently enough to effectively demonstrate whether he is ready. A larger sample size will be telling, but with the White Sox struggling – fans will want to look toward someone.
3. Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Mid-May
The Braves have scheduled Luiz Gohara for at least two games in AAA to wrap up his rehab – if his remaining starts are as rough as his sole start in AA, it may take longer for Gohara to get back into the Majors. Gohara has elite upside in strikeouts, but will need to keep his walks under control if he wants to get the call early this season.
4. Mike Soroka (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Mid-May
I am, at least a little surprised to hear Alex Anthopoulos list Mike Soroka (saying he was “very very close”) as a top call-up option alongside Ronald Acuna. I thought he’d get nearly a full year in AAA — he’s only 20 and just starting out in AAA. Luiz Gohara would be up if not for injury and Max Fried also logged some innings in the majors last year before continuing to breakout in the Arizona Fall League. Both seem like more rationale choices to test out when an opportunity presents itself, but it sounds as though the Braves are chasing Soroka’s ceiling, which is among the highest in the Brave’s farm system. If he continues to do well in AAA – monitor closely.
5. Fernando Romero (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Early June
Superficially, Fernando Romero has done well in AAA thus far – if he is able to reign in his control, he could make his initial success continue moving forward. The Twins do not have an obvious place for Romero, but may find a spot on the roster at some point as the summer begins.
6. Matt Strahm (San Diego Padres) – ETA Mid May
The Padres have now started Matt Strahm in AA for two of his three rehab games, but he has only pitched a grand total of 7.1 innings – striking out 13 batters in the process. If Strahm starts to pick up more innings, it’ll be a great sign for his progress.
7. Nick Kingham (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA May
If a Pirates’ starting pitcher were to make the jump into the Majors, it would be Nick Kingham who is still pitching with the same elite control he had in 2017, but with a spike in strikeouts. I don’t think the 11.12 K/9 will remain, but we could be seeing a breakthrough point for Kingham. While he has been getting a little lucky (.236 BABIP), even with some regression Kingham looks like a stable option if Steven Brault continues to falter.
8. Walker Buehler (Los Angeles Dodgers) – ETA Late-June
The Dodger’s plans for Walker Buehler might become a little clearer by tomorrow or Monday with Rich Hill landing on the disabled list with finger inflammation and a cracked fingernail. Hill is not expected to be sidelined long, but a spot starter will be needed while he is out and Buehler is one of the candidates to take his place. Regardless of whether he gets the call, he’ll be back on this list next weekend – but if he does get called up, he may force the Dodgers hand with a gem.
9. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA July-August
Mitch Keller is looking incredibly sharp after two games in AA this year, letting up his first run after letting up three hits and two walks over 5.1 innings — he struck out five. I’ve dropped Keller because his ETA is incredibly likely to not be this year, but I’m still gambling that his upside forces the Pirates to do something that would result in 2018 value.
10. Chance Adams (New York Yankees) – ETA Injury
The Yankees have a team ERA of 4.66 (for a frame of reference, Houston has a 2.34 and the White Sox have a 5.91). Yankees starting pitching would be hard pressed to start the year worse than they have, but that still hasn’t opened any doors for Chance Adams. An injury is still his best option into the Majors, but until Adams can demonstrate that he could actually improve the team’s ERA – he will not be going anywhere.
Max Fried (Atlanta Braves) – While I think Fried should get the call ahead of Mike Soroka, it would seem as though Fried is at the very least, third on the Braves’ call-up sheet, dampening his immediate value for now.
Ryan Borucki (Toronto Blue Jays)– A slow start coupled with no obvious space has dropped Boruki’s stock. Nick Kingham was more deserving of the spot with both a possible spae in the Majors and a torrid start to the year.
A prospect that I have not seen touted much is Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes. The only knock I see on him has been his walk ratio in the past. However this year he even has that under control. Do you have any thoughts on him?
Hard to say, the Brewers have Jimmy Nelson back in July-ish and have a stabler option in Brandon Woodruff (who I think would get the shot at a starting role if one becomes available). I think the most likely scenario for a spot in the rotation is for the Brewers to put Suter in relief? I really like Burnes when he does get the call – but with so few innings in AAA and an unclear path to innings, I have him outside of my top ten for 2018.
I would like to know your thoughts on a few not so high profile pitchers: Eric Lauer, Shane Bieber and Mitch White.
Lauer appears to be slated to start in Colorado this week, Bieber seems to be next in Cleveland and White seems to have a lot of upside and could be a quick riser.
In my dynasty league, I have Bieber and White in my farm system. I do not expect either to be relevant in 2018 as both teams have fairly set rotations – but love their long-term upside. I am adopting a wait and see approach with Lauer. I think he has gotten lucky so far this year and a first taste in Denver isn’t an enviable assignment.