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.
Nick Senzel has been hurt the past week and will likely delay his call-up time. The Reds will want to take a cautious approach with their gem and even Post-Super Two could keep an extra close eye on him before deciding he’s ready. Senzel is a must-own prospect and has the potential to make a large fantasy impact even on a dismal Reds’ lineup.
Last week I was asked a question about Max Schrock’s floor. Were he called up today, I would say his most apt comparison would be DJ LeMahieu – he’ll hit for a high average, contribute a few steals and home runs — an overall solid play for those without a top second baseman. Schrock has held a consistent .325 average for the past three weeks now and is ready to go at the major league level. As with Willie Calhoun, the closer we get to Super Two, the more likely it is we’ll have to wait until after Super Two. Kolten Wong is still hitting sub-.200, there is not a clearer replacement in all of baseball.
Since May 1, Willie Calhoun is hitting .343, striking out only four times in 36 at-bats. Although power seems to still elude him, Calhoun is finally hitting a stride that will finally justify his call-up. At this point in the season, it seems likely the Rangers will wait until Post-Super Two to preserve an additional year of arbitration. His ceiling is that of a must-stash, but the reality of his season is a wait until he’s called up.
Willy Adames is on a six-game hitting streak and just biding his time until the Rays call him up. Adames too is looking like a Super-Two callup (man, this list is going to be unrecognizable at this rate). Adames is Tampa’s long-term solution and will reflect that designation soon enough. Adames would make a great filler for those teams struggling at the position (I would imagine most Corey Seager owners about now).
I cannot honestly say which is more awkward, the fact that Nick Gordon is still in AA or that he isn’t in the Majors. Still hitting .342, Gordon as nothing to prove in AA and I believe the minor leagues. Similar to Max Schrock, Gordon does not excel at home runs or stolen bases, but has a great hit tool that will keep his value in the should-own range. Minnesota has been looking for a spark after starting the year 16 – 18 – Fernando Romero helped, Gordon would be the next great addition. Ehire Adrianza can only hit .200 for so long before the Twins want to win. Sigh.
Roman Quinn hasn’t played since last week due to a sore tendon, but in his first game back managed to go 0/0 with a stolen base and a run. Quinn will make a great replacement in Phillie as they compete with the Braves and Nationals (man, what a weird year). He would likely start in the Majors at the bottom of the lineup, which would dampen his value (what with Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera at the top), but his stolen base/average combo make Quinn a must-watch.
Kyle Tucker is only hitting .265 in May with two stolen bases and no home runs. While there may be a need for an additional outfielder, Tucker might not necessarily do any better despite his accolades as a top prospect. As with nearly every prospect above Tucker, Super-Two will be a large hurdle after which anything will go, but Tucker just hasn’t justified a call-up the same way as the above prospects have. Houston is going for a repeat and while Tucker was untouchable last year, another average/slightly above average season might put him on the trading block.
I too am caught up in the rush of Franmil Reyes. After starting the season meagerly, Reyes broke out hitting 20/30 with 8 home runs in the month of May (those eight home runs were over five games). While an illusion that would be foolhardy to chase, Reyes’ underlying offensive numbers indicate a palatable power prospect. Reyes is walking at a 12% clip and striking out at only 20%. Although his .344 season batting average will come down, “La Mole” has stirred enough excitement to justify a call-up, especially with Wil Meyers hitting the disabled list again.
9. Cristian Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Early June
The Detroit Tigers are on the cusp of being an above average offense (God help our pitching). Cristian Stewart was the Tigers first-round compensatory pick in 2015 and for the first time in his minor league career, is looking worthy of that designation. Generally thought of as a power-first bat, Stewart has added patience to his repertoire and is hitting .301 after cutting his strikeout rate by nearly 8%. Leonys Martin has hit the DL with a hamstring strain, leaving Nicholas Castellanos as the teams only productive outfielder. Stewart should get the call sooner than later and should help boost the Tigers offense into the top half of offenses.
I might be stretching a bit with this one, but Austin Riley was recently promoted to AAA after whacking the ball in AA this year and last. The Braves had just called Jose Bautista up to the Majors to slot in at third base. At 37 and his last successful season in the majors being 2015, Bautista is a clear stopgap at the position. Third base is Riley’s to claim and should at some point this summer as the Braves seek to win their division outright. The age of youth is upon Atlanta and Riley seems to be one of the next pegs.
Dustin Fowler: About time — it was rewarding to finally see Fowler get a real at-bat in the Majors. He isn’t a must-own, but certainly worth watching his first full week or two.