Every Saturday, Alex is here to write about which minor league pitchers you should be stashing on your team. This list will range from the top prospects to the more esoteric that should potentially be on your radar. Players who I believe are likely to receive the call to the Show soonest will be at the top and players who may be more of a long term stash will be featured closer to the bottom. Picking up these prospects can be a great way to stay ahead of the curve in your league regardless of whether it’s a deep dynasty league or a shallow 10 teamer.
The minor leagues features hundreds of pitchers that are rotating through farm systems and major league clubs daily. Injuries or even extra inning games can turn a fledgling AAA pitcher into a spot starter. If you feel there is someone who should be mentioned who wasn’t or if you have a general question about anyone on the list, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get to it ASAP.
1. Blake Snell (Tampa Bay Rays) – Remember last week when I was all snide about Snell’s command issues? How I was like, “Yeah, I’m not willing to forget the two game struggle Snell had” ? What a dingus I was. Let’s take a look at the two starts that Snell had this past week. 05/15: 5, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BBs, 9 K and 05/20 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. It’s really encouraging to see Snell have back to back 9 K performances and even more encouraging to see him limiting his walks again. While the 8 hits are the most he has given up since April 14th, this marks the third consecutive outing for Snell with two walks or less. Also, with this performance, Snell now leads the International League in strikeouts (he has two more than Glasnow and five more than Taillon) and has raised his K/9 to an astounding 12.29. If for some reason Snell is available in your league, you absolutely need to be stashing him.
2. Jameson Taillon (Pittsburgh Pirates) – I had to bring my laptop into the Apple store yesterday because apparently all the drooling that I’ve been doing over Taillon has ruined my computer. Here are the stat lines from Taillon’s two starts since last week’s article: 05/14: 6 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BBs, 11 Ks, 05/19: 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BBs, 8 Ks. Taillon’s quality start streak is now at six, his ERA is down to 1.82, his K/BB is now an insane 10.2, he’s walked less than 3% of the batters he’s faced and his WHIP is 0.81. You know a person’s statistics are absurd when they’re better than the RHP you’ve created in MLB The Show 16 (Alex Fast did just get drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and WILL take them to the promised land I’ll have you know). Once again, I really don’t think there is any way that Taillon sees time before the first or second week of June considering he’s a Super Two guy. For those worried about if he’ll be shut down, the Pirates seem to be more concerned with his pitch count than his innings limit at the moment so take that any way you’d like. As of now, I don’t see why Taillon wouldn’t get the call first over Tyler Glasnow considering Glasnow’s command issues.
3. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – As I wrote about last week, Glasnow was struggling a little bit with command as he came off of his worst outing of the year so far. This past week however, he bounced back as I think we all expected he would: 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K. While 5 Ks isn’t anything to get too excited about, especially from Glasnow, it’s really encouraging to see that he was able to bring his walks back down. Just looking at his game log though there is an interesting trend happening. Let’s take a look at his walks over each start, beginning at the earliest and ending at the latest: 3, 0, 3, 1, 5, 1, 5, 2. What began as a slight fluctuation between starts continues to grow. Maybe I’m digging too much into this but I’m just not seeing consistency with his command from start to start. As a result, I still think that if you put a gun to my head I would say, please take that gun away, you’re taking fantasy baseball analysis a bit too seriously. But then after you put the gun away, apologized and bought me a beer, I’d say that Taillon gets the call first above Glasnow. However, one if not both of them will be making their appearance in June so, if they’re available, I would say get a jump start and stash now.
4. Julio Urias (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Well, Urias’ scoreless inning streak has now gone from 16 IP to 27 IP. Here are the stat lines from Urias’ two starts since the last article. 05/14: 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks and 05/20: 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BBs, 5 Ks. Urias’ LOB% is over 93%, his ERA is a league leading (by far) 1.09, his WHIP is a league leading (by far) 0.78 and don’t forget, he’s still limited to 80 pitches per start. Every time I think about how amazing the numbers Urias is putting up, I remember that he’s doing this in the PCL and that he’s 19-years-old and I become even more impressed. As of now, there are still no plans to call up Urias as a starter however the rumblings that he could be called up to bolster the Dodgers weak bullpen are still around. To be honest, while it seems like a waste to not start him, utilizing Urias out of the bullpen is going to help the Dodgers keep his IP down. Long story short, I wouldn’t look for too many – if any – starts out of Urias this year in a Dodger uniform.
5. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – Hader just continues to absolutely dominate AA. His most recent stat line is even more impressive because it seems to have become commonplace for him: 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. With this most recent performance, Hader increased his K/BB to 4.15, and his K% to a whopping 34%. Oh yeah, he still has not given up a home run and is yet to give up more than one ER in a start. If this list were about stuff and stuff alone, Hader would be higher. His funky delivery doesn’t affect his velocity, his command issues seem to have disappeared, and his curveball is verging on the unhittable. However, when a pitcher will appear in the show has to be taken into account and I can’t say what the Brewers will do as they’re at a bit of a crossroads. Should they let Hader bypass a brutal AAA park and let him stretch out in the Bigs? Or is it better to not rush him because they’re rebuilding anyhow? Either way, if you have a spot available, stash away as the ceiling is getting higher for him. Know what the biggest indicator of his imminent success is though? He was traded away from my Orioles organization and if there’s one thing we know, it’s how to get rid of good pitching.
6. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – Ok, so Berrios didn’t have the 2016 debut that we were all hoping for. While the 12 K/9 was nice to see, the 10.20 ERA was pretty painful and the 7.2 BB/9 was just a gut shot (especially considering how few batters he walked in the minors). Not for nothing his BABIP was an astronomical .405 but, if we’re being honest, it wasn’t just Berrios getting unlucky that put him back down in the minor leagues. Unfortunately for this article, Berrios pitches tonight so I can’t talk about his first AAA performance since being demoted but I wouldn’t be surprised if he regained some of his form against the Durham Bulls. Let’s not forget, before he was called up to the Majors, he was absolutely dominating the minors, hopefully he gets right back to it. In terms of when Berrios will see the Majors again, I don’t think he sees any time until he proves he can command his pitches again. There’s no rush too, since the Twins aren’t necessarily going to be vying for a playoff spot.
7. Cody Reed (Cincinnati Reds) – Before I begin – and apologies to all Reds fans who may be reading this – let’s take a moment to let one thing sink in: Alfredo Simon is currently still in a major league pitching rotation. I understand that the Reds may be reticent to move forward with Robert Stephenson considering they still have some more they want to see out of him in AAA, and I understand there’s no rush to move forward with Reed but…man, that’s just crazy. When they are ready to move forward with Reed though, it seems he’ll be prepared. This past outing – 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BBs, 6 Ks – continued an impressive streak that he’s maintained all season: he’s yet to walk more than two and yet to give up more than two ER. His WHIP currently sits at a very impressive 0.98 though his BABIP – .275 – makes me think that maybe there is a little bit of regression coming his way. Even with that regression though, I’m still sticking to my guns that Reed has better stuff than Lamb, Finnegan and possibly Stephenson and he’s certainly worth a stash.
8. Jose De Leon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – So the bad news is that the arm soreness that De Leon was experiencing ended up landing him on the 7-Day DL. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal. It looks like the Dodgers just want to give the pitcher a little bit of time to fully heal since there doesn’t seem to be too much urgency for him at the moment. That’s why he’s a little bit lower down on this list too. De Leon has electrifying stuff, there’s no question, but it just doesn’t look like he’s going to get a call for quite some time, certainly after the All-Star Break.
9. Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – Two more starts from Giolito, two more performances in which he has yet to really impress. Here are the stat lines from Giolito’s starts this past week: 05/14: 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 5 BBs, 4 Ks and 05/20: 5 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BBs, 5 Ks. While it’s definitely encouraging that Giolito extends his streak of games where he has at least 4 Ks to five that’s…sort of it. I mean, yeah it’s great that he had his first outing since his 2016 premiere without giving up an earned run, but in that same appearance he walked more batters than he has all year. While it’s encouraging to see him bounce back from that lack-of-command outing by limiting his walks to two, he also gave up his first home run of the year. At the end of the day, we’re running out of time to blame Giolito’s poor performance on a small sample size: his K/BB ratio is 1.42, his BB/9 is a little under 6 and his WHIP is 1.70. Considering these stats I just don’t see how you can still call him the best prospect in baseball and I certainly don’t see how he’ll be up in the Majors any time soon.
10. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – Well, I wasn’t too far off last week when I said that Reyes was going to be making his debut soon. The Cardinals #1 prospect will be making his debut this Sunday against the Houston Astros AAA affiliate the Fresno Grizzlies. Reyes will face off against Jon Singleton and potentially A.J. Reed (he is due to come off the 7-Day DL soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they choose to let him continue to rest his sore hamstring). Regardless of whether Reed returns though, Reyes will see a Fresno team that is currently tied for last in the PCL in AVG – .233 as of my writing this – and second in strikeouts with 332. This is all to say that Reyes has a very good match up Sunday and, if there aren’t too many cobwebs to shake off, he should fair pretty well against a struggling Fresno squad.