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.
I would like to address Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez. Their exclusion from their list is not due to lack of talent, but rather a combination of factors. Guerrero Jr. is clearly the most talented bat in the minor leagues and Jimenez has earned his spot as one of the MLB’s top prospects, however:
Guerrero Jr. does not have a clear spot to play. Yes, Kendrys Morales has been terrible this season, but it seems unlikely that the Blue Jays would put a 19-year-old phenom at desginated hitter and instead get him reps at his natural position even if in the minors. So long as Josh Donaldson is on the team, third base would be off-limits. At 9 games behind second place in the AL East, the Jays are, at best, playing for the second wild-card spot and at 4.5 games out, they very well could make it (although unlikely their AL East designation). At the deadline, if successful, they would make additions, at which point they may try Guerrero Jr. at DH/OF to get him playing time as he would undoubtedly make the Jays a better team. If they lose out and sell Donaldson, then a spot would open up, but the question remains – would the Jays give him the call? I believe they wouldn’t, at least not immediately after the deadline. A fall call-up seems more likely (then be held down in 2019 for service time, but that’s not relevant here). Guerrero Jr. has yet to see above Double-A (not that he needs to), but it would give a reason for the Jays to promote him without promoting him to the MLB.
Jimenez seems to be a fall call-up given the nature of the team for which he’s apart (dead last). That said, the White Sox called Yoan Moncada up in late July 2017 (granted, after half a season in Triple-A, not Double-A) – so it may be their front office’s preference to get prospects at-bats at the major level to work out their issues before they’re ready to compete as a team (something seemingly corroborated by Rick Hahn’s comments on Jimenez last week). Traditional expectations would expect Jimenez to be sometime near the fall, but as his real-life expectations become clearer in coming days/weeks, so too will his fantasy expectations. The Stash is inherently speculative and reactionary to the real world.
While Guerrero Jr. and Jimenez would both be must-owned, their vague call-up status and potential for a late call-up make it so that they shouldn’t be on this list, yet. That said, when to stash a prospect is entirely individualistic and league dependent – if you stash either, you may be able to reap dividends if they get a summer call-up instead of a fall call-up. With respect to this list, although they would be absolute stars, if they’re doing so in 3 months – that roster spot would be better used on an MLB player or a prospect who could start making a difference now, then again sudden call-ups do happen. Although speaking of exceedingly stunning call-ups…
1. Juan Soto, OF, (Washington Nationals) – ETA TODAY
In a stunning and whirlwind turn of events, Howie Kendrick ruptured his Achilles on Saturday night – forcing the Nationals hand into calling up Juan Soto. Soto is one of baseball’s top prospects and would have been a top 5 prospect by years end at the rate he has been tearing up High A and Double-A baseball. Soto is an immediate must-add for any team and has the potential to be an impact bat on one of the MLB’s best lineups. Soto is only 19 and has only 31 plate appearances in Double-A, so he is coming in incredibly green – but his ceiling is too enticing to pass on.
2. Nick Senzel, SS/3B, (Cincinnati Reds) – ETA Late June
Nick Senzel still hasn’t played a game since May 3rd, but is back at the Reds’ spring training facility to resume baseball activities and should be off the disabled list sometime this coming week. Senzel is one of baseball’s top prospects and should be up after getting a few games back under his belt. Senzel does not have a set place if called up, although he would be an improvement for the Reds infield. The Reds could use him as a utility guy or wait until the deadline and trade the freshly revived Scooter Gennett.
3. Willie Calhoun, OF, (Texas Rangers) – Early June
Willie Calhoun has finally started to heat up, hitting .298 in the month of May although lacking his trademark power with no home runs and only five doubles. Also, Calhoun has only struck out five times this month, which is pretty impressive. The Ranger’s season is over, so they are in no rush to call-up Calhoun, but he will be up this year – likely after Super-Two. The Rangers would put him out in left field, where he’s been working on his defense and slide Gallo primarily at first base. He would warrant full ownership once up, but not to stash in most league formats.
4. Max Schrock, 2B, (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA Early June
Max Schrock has been playing admirably well and Kolten Wong’s batting average keeps trending down, somehow. Wong is in the middle of a five-year contract, so the Cardinals are on the hook for two more years (~18 million), but the upgrade Schrock provides is undeniable. The Cardinals have now dropped to fourth in the NL Central (2.5 games behind) and one of the ways to keep competitive is through Schrock. There will reach a time where this happens, at which point Schrock has D.J. LeMahieu like upside.
5. Willy Adames, SS, (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early June
In nearly every way Willy Adames is repeating his 2017 season in Triple-A in 2018, only with a better batting average, now up to .311. The six-game hitting streak I mentioned last week, turned into a 12 game hitting streak that ended on Friday. Like Schrock, Adames will hit for modest power and run with modest speed, but will do enough to be a successful shortstop.
6. Nick Gordon, SS, (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Mid June
Eduardo Escobar has started to cool his jets and the Twins are only 2.5 games behind the Indians for first in the AL Central (also, amazingly, tied with the Tigers at 2.5 games behind). Similar to Willy Adames, Gordon is doing a repeat year, but in Double-A. The Twins are also only about one month away from returning their original shortstop, Jorge Polanco, from an eighty game suspension. It is looking less and less like we will see Gordon up until the fall.
7. Roman Quinn, OF (Philadelphia Phillies) – Early June
In 100 fewer plate appearances, Roman Quinn has matched up his countable statistics from last season. His value is mitigated by his likely batting position, 8th or 9th, but he has 30+ steal potential while batting for a respectable average. Steals are a premium and the Phillies are doing well (but with a gaping hole in right field) – Quinn could make for a savvy add for those in need of a speed.
8. Christin Stewart, OF, (Detroit Tigers) – ETA Early June
I love love love the improvements Christin Stewart has made to his approach this season, it has been paying dividends. Stewart has 30+ HR potential and is now hitting with an average that is more akin to J.D. Martinez than Khris Davis. The MLB will inevitably test Stewart’s new found self and with the Tigers magically in competition, Stewart would make a good addition. JaCoby Jones is only hitting .235 and Mikie Mahtook .188 in left field – Stewart would represent a massive upgrade.
9. Austin Riley, 3B, (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Early July
The Braves have been aggressive with their promotions this season and I do not think they will stop any time soon. Austin Riley tore up Double-A and was promoted last week to Triple-A where he hit the ground running. Strikeouts are a significant concern in Riley’s profile and if the Braves do rush him to the Majors would amount to the biggest make-it-or-break-it piece of his profile. The Braves have a need at 3B (the Braves just released Jose Bautista) – Riley may help to address that need. The Braves are at the top of the National League, just because they’re team is young and under team control for years to come, doesn’t mean they are not intent on winning now.
10. Kyle Tucker, OF, (Houston Astros) – ETA June
The Astros had clear plans for Kyle Tucker last season after designating him to their no-trade list. He’s hitting .280 on the season, but only .262 in May. 2020 Kyle Tucker should have more value than 2018 Kyle Tucker, but the Astros are one of the highest scoring teams in baseball and the Astros have a clear need in left field a la Derek Fisher (and Jake Marisnick having been mercifully demoted). I’m sure the Astros want the 21-year-old to season more in Triple-A, but as they are solidly in win-now mode, it may take precedence over his development. Moreover, Tony Kemp deserves the call-up he received this past week after his season in Triple-A. If he does well, it would take pressure off of the Astros to fill the need.
Franmil Reyes: The Padres jumped on the La Mole bandwagon this past week. While he has yet to participate meaningfully, its a situation worth watching after the ceiling Reyes presented over his final two weeks in the minors.
Who on this list, besides Soto & Senzel, do you think will carry the most value going into next season?
IMO Donaldson shoulder is going to put him at DH sooner than later, if not shut down completely. Jays need him healthy to be able to move him. Slot opens!!
I think a move to the DH would hurt Donaldson’s value rather than assist – if he can’t play 3B, the Jays would be eliminating half of the league for a potential trade partner. Also, Morales still has another year on his contract (about 20 million still owed) and exceedingly unlikely to play 1B. Morales will turn it around.
I think there are other prospects that will carry more value that are not on my list: Gurrero Jr., Robles, Jimenez, and Brendan Rodgers. On my list? Calhoun or Nick Gordon.