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.
It was a busy week on the Pitching Stash with five of the list getting a start – while all will not stick, several showed why they’re worth a stash. This list will probably go through some drastic changes as clearer candidates – prospect pitching is a wild ride.
1. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early-June
Michael Kopech, more than most prospects, is a victim of Super-Two. For the next month, White Sox fans and Kopech stash-ers will hear lip service discussing wanting Kopech to work on his control or his changeup. While both were fair concerns last year, Kopech has more than demonstrated he’s ready to work out any kinks at the major league level. If you’ve got a free spot, he’s worth the stash.
2. Jack Flaherty (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA *Shrugs
Adam Wainwright is on the disabled list, but because of scheduling, should be back in time for Wainwright/Jack Flaherty’s next start. The Cardinals should move Wainwright to a relief role where he’d be more effective. Wainwright is in the final year of his contract and is prone to injury – the Cardinals would be better served to let Flaherty get a more extended look now. Until that happens, expect the occasional spot start.
3. Luiz Gohara (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Early June
Luiz Gohara did not do well in his return to AAA, one could easily argue downright awful. I strongly suspect the Braves will keep Gohara in the minors until he strings together a few good starts – pushing his call update back. With Mike Soroka strong debut, Atlanta is certainly less rushed to force Gohara up.
4. Jalen Beeks (Boston Red Sox) – ETA Early June
Y’all, Jalen Beeks is legit. Since my last post, Beeks threw nine strikeouts over 6.2 innings, letting up two runs in the process. He throws four effective pitches and has been absolutely oppressive on the mound. Eduardo Rodriguez has stumbled a bit as of late and remains Beeks’ best chance at a callup – his ETA is fuzzy, but could make a massive impact once called up.
5. Brett Kennedy (San Diego Padres) – ETA Early June
You know whose rotation could use some help? The San Diego Padres who currently hold 21st ranked team ERA. There is scarce a starting pitcher worth rostering. Brett Kennedy has managed to improve at every level of ball and has been throwing gems in AAA this year, currently sporting a 2.45 ERA and a 9.55 strikeouts per nine innings. He does not walk an excessive amount of batters and could ursurp any number of current starting pitchers on the Padres’ MLB rotation.
6. Josh Rogers (New York Yankees) – ETA Early June
The Yankees have optioned to move Domingo German from the bullpen back to a starting position in the wake of Jordan Montgomery missing the next 6-8 weeks. German currently sports a 3.77 ERA, but had a superb 2017 between AA/AAA/MLB. If German falters and Chance Adams continues to struggle in AAA – I would expect Josh Rogers, who is off to a solid start this year, to get called up. For now, roll with German (who is currently on an MLB roster and doesn’t qualify on this list).
7. Freddy Peralta (Milwaukee Brewers) – ETA Early June
Freddy Peralta struggled mightily two games back, accounting for a grossly inflated ERA. He has the talent to generate a large amount of strikeouts at an ERA that won’t kill a team’s ERA. He does not have a direct path to the majors at the moment, but would be a clear target as the year progresses.
8. Austin Voth (Washington Nationals) – ETA Early July
Austin Voth almost got a spot start toward the end of April, but was sent back down before he got his shot. All five members of the Nationals rotation have been rosterable this year (at least until Jeremy Hellickson or Tanner Roark fall off) leaving little room for a long-term call-up. Voth remains the Nationals best option – if anything happens to the Nationals rotation, have Voth somewhere on your radar.
9. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA July-August
Mitch Keller is currently overshadowed by the tsumani of attention that Nick Kingham every bit deserves. If Kingham sticks, it will alleviate the need for the Pirates to test Keller out – time will tell whether Keller will be only relegated to a September callup. He has the ceiling to stick on this list for now.
10. Zac Gallen (Miami Marlins) – ETA Early July
While Jarlin Garcia and Caleb Smith have been making headlines – the reality of the Marlins’ rotation is rather grim. Zac Gallen came over from the Cardinals in the offseason Marcell Ozuna trade. Gallen has never put up eye-popping numbers but is worth keeping an eye on as he progresses in AAA. With this Marlins rotation, call-up date is tough to predict – but he could get a look if/when it all goes downhill for Marlin pitching (well, more so).
Nick Kingham – Kingham rocked the Cardinals with the quantifiably best first start in the modern era of baseball, throwing a perfect game through six innings and striking out nine over seven innings. The Pirates had only brought Kingham up to spot start as they needed to temporarily shift to a six-man rotation, but Kingham’s success has allowed him a second start. If he does well again, I would expect the Pirates keep Steven Brault in the bullpen. Kingham’s stock is rising, grab him while you can.
Walker Buehler – Hyun-Jin Ryu is out until after the All-Star Break with an injury described as “a muscle in his groin torn completely from the bone.” May we have a moment of silence *breathes heavily. Buehler has been penciled in to take over for Ryu, but temper your expectations as he is on a strict limit this season and will rarely eclipse 5-6 innings per game at best. He will be worth a roster spot, but his value is capped in 2018.
Michael Soroka – Soroka had a strong debut. He does not have a locked in rotation spot, yet, but will do his best to force his way in. For now, he’s graduated – roster him while he’s up.
Fernando Romero – Yet another player with a strong debut, Romero should be in line for a second start as the Twins move Phil Hughes to the bullpen (see what they’re doing, St. Louis). Although the least impressive of this graduating group, Romero has a strong minor league track record and is playing in a terrible division (only Cleveland has a winning record).
Justus Sheffield have any fantasy potential in 2018?
I drafted this prior to Sheffield’s promotion. I think his value may be minimal in 2018 and is entirely dependent on how German performs / how quickly Montgomery comes back / Sonny Gray continuing to underperform. Was I an Eight-Ball, I’d say try again later.
Oh – or if he gets traded at the deadline, then he’d have value (secretly hoping the Tigers trade Fulmer for a package including Sheffield).
Thoughts on Luzardo? Do you think it’s possible he gets the call-up and makes an impact this year?
The Athletics are being oddly aggressive with Luzardo so far – I can’t seem them being that aggressive with him though. He’s only 20 and relatively new to AA ball.
I was expecting to see Alex Reyes on this list. Is his health what’s keeping him off, or do you not expect him to hit the majors til late in the season?
I don’t know if he’ll get a spot in the rotation and if he does, he’ll be inning limited. The Cardinals could do a split between starting and relief – but between his late start, inning limit, and unclear playing position (although with Holland doing so poorly and Norris as the current closer – closer is more on the table than I had thought), I’m keeping him off for now.
Was Sandy Alcantara another name you considered and just missed making your list this week?