Every weekend, 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.
1. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – Well there’s the PCL we know and love! Hader’s most recent start was one he is probably eager to get out of his mind: 3 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Take a look at the box score and you’ll notice that a good amount of the damage done against Hader came against Cardinals who had been struggling in the majors. Randal Grichuk hit a two-run homer off him in the first and singled off him in the second. Jeremy Hazelbaker also went 2-2 against him. Despite giving up two in the first and four in the second, Hader retired the side in order in the third, striking out two of three batters, before being pulled. I’m a little bewildered as to why they didn’t let Hader see the 4th considering his success in the 3rd and his low-ish pitch count (72 pitches) but it was likely they just wanted him to end the game on a high note. Guys who’ve struggled in the majors can frequently return to the minors and feast so I’m not too worried about Hader from this one start but it’s certainly a path we don’t want him heading too far down. Interesting note that’s not for nothing: the AAA stadium that Hader is in is the highest professional park in the nation in terms of altitude. As a result Hader was struggling with his breathing, feeling “gassed after his first two innings.”
2. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – Alex Reyes is like the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers album: I want to love it so very much, but it let me down a little bit (“Don’t you worry baby, I’m like Detroit, I’m crazy”?! COME ON KEIDIS! Kind of lyrics are that!? Flea is givin’ ya GOLD and that’s what you come back with?!) Here’s Reyes’ latest outing: 5 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 3 Ks. This is hands down Reyes’ worst start of the year so far. Don’t let the line fool you however, all of the damage came in one inning but the damage was substantial. Reyes walked consecutive batters after giving up a single to start the inning, then walked in a run with the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam. Lets stick with the metaphor here: “Detroit” is, I don’t think, a strong song but “Dark Necessities”, “We Turn Red”, and “Goodbye Angels” are solid cuts much like the 3rd inning wasn’t strong but the first, second, fourth and fifth (sort of) were. Also, much like the Chili Peppers, there’s enough foundation to know that Reyes is good enough to bounce back from that bad start. In terms of call-up, don’t forget, all signs read that when it does happen (won’t be till after the break, I don’t think) it will be to the bullpen and not the rotation.
3. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – Berrios is officially trending in the right direction. I was a little concerned that his 11 K game was an aberration after he gave up 5 ER in his next start, but his most recent start confirms things are getting better: 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. Over the past two games, Berrios has had a 0.64 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, and a 3.2 K/BB, which is what we all want to see. One of the best indications of preparedness for a call-up – in my opinion – is command. If a player doesn’t have command, he’s not going to be called up, regardless of how many strikeouts he’s getting or his ERA (here’s looking at you Tyler Glasnow). With that said, Berrios hasn’t walked more than three batters since May 21st, and has only walked three once: his last start on the 17th. The Twins season is over which means that Berrios will definitely see time again but “when” is the question. If he keeps pitching like this it could definitely be sooner rather than later.
4. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Glasnow is now getting consistency but in the worst way. His starts are like a Francis Bacon painting: disgustingly beautiful. (10 points for the cultural reference, thanks NYU!). What do I mean by that? Glasnow keeps putting together these games where he doesn’t give up runs and doesn’t give up any hits but is still giving away far too many free passes. This was his last start: 7 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 5 BBs, 8 Ks. Wanna read something crazy? (If not, close your eyes I guess) Glasnow has now gone 13 IP without so much as giving up a hit, he hasn’t given up an ER in 22 IP but his K/BB over those 22 IP is a pretty awful 1.5. Much like we discussed last week, if he comes up to the majors, there’s no way that he isn’t going to be severely punished for giving up that many free passes. It’s definitely frustrating to see if you’re a Glasnow owner because the stuff is there, he just can’t command it and until he does, I doubt the Pirates want another Francisco Liriano (with far more upside, grant you) on their hands.
5. Jose De Leon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – The Dodgers are really taking it easy with De Leon. Despite being six games back in the division (even after winning six in a row; those pesky, even-year-winning Giants!), they are operating without urgency regarding the young arm, which is good, there’s no need to rush him. Despite only throwing four innings last Saturday the 18th, the Dodgers opted to push his start back a day or two, giving him seven days of rest. De Leon won’t take the mound until after this is posted – he goes against the Iowa Cubs on Saturday night at 7:05 – but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go more than 4 IP. In his three outings since returning from the DL, here are his pitch counts and IP starting with his first game back and going up to his most recent: 37 – 3 IP, 47 – 3 IP, 65 – 4 IP. So as you can see, they’re letting him stretch out a bit. Rumors are that Julio Urias is going to be shut down fairly soon. I believe that the Dodgers want to keep De Leon fresh but stretch him out just enough to have him for a few starts at the end of the year. P.S., let it me known that his ranking is more reflective of his lack of starts than his ability
6. Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – The string of Giolito’s games in which he is yet to give up more than 2 ER has finally come to an end as Yoan Moncada and the rest of the Red Sox AA affiliate knocked the RHP around a bit this past Wednesday: 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 Ks. Not only is the most ER’s Giolito has given up since May 4th, it’s also the most walks he’s given up since the 4th of June thereby breaking his three game record in which he was able to limit his free passes to only one a game. It never looks good to give up runs to other teams but Giolitio stashers can take some solace in the fact that they came off the bat of Moncada who is another future stud. As of now, considering Giolito’s recent continued success, I think this start can be chalked up to an aberration. It seems the mechanical issues he had at the beginning of the year really were corrected so this is hopefully just a minor setback that he can right moving forward. We’ll find out if that’s true or not after his next start Monday.
7. Brady Rodgers (Houston Astros) – Though his scoreless inning streak came to an end in this most recent start, Rodgers continued to impress me: 7 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BBs, 8 Ks. To be honest, there’s really only one negative takeaway from this game and that is that Rodgers hasn’t given up this many hits since May 10th. Yes, Rodgers gave up runs for the first time in about 18 IP and he also ended his 16 IP streak without giving up a walk but he ended the day with one walk and a quality start AND he extended his streak of 8 K’s in an outing to three. Rodger’s K/BB ratio over his last three games is an absurd 24.00 and he has only allowed seven free passes all year. Oddly enough, his stuff isn’t any better than Joe Musgrove’s though he does have one advantage over him: his Curveball. Well, that’s a little unfair considering Musgrove doesn’t even have a Curve but that aside, Rodgers has a slightly above average Curveball that can be quite good when he executes it. As mentioned in Musgrove’s paragraph, the Astros have turned things around a bit so a call-up isn’t imminent but I think Rodgers is definitely worth keeping on your radar.
8. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – You hear that collective sigh? That was the sound of my dog farting. Just kidding. I don’t even have a dog. It was the sound of Musgrove owners letting out a sigh of relief after his last performance: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. This is Musgrove’s best outing in a month and portends good things for the RHP. As I’ve preached before: live by the command, die by the command, and Musgrove really has exceptional command. His K/BB is a whopping 7.29 and he hasn’t walked more than two batters since his AAA debut back on May 13th (and even in that game he only walked two batters). The impeccable K/BB can be a little deceptive though. Musgrove has a fastball that bores in a bit but his secondary stuff is actually average. It’s the fact that he can spot his pitches so well that makes him interesting. This is just me saying that expectations need to be tempered, I think his ceiling is middle of the rotation at best. The Astros meanwhile have turned their season around winning seven straight as of my writing this and getting above .500 for the first time since the second day of the season which is all to say the urgency to get Musgrove up there isn’t as present. His next start will be super important: if he can show consistency, he’ll be in a better place to get a call-up.
9. Adalaberto Mejia (San Francisco Giants) – The Giants prospect started the year in AA and promptly slayed his competition with a 1.94 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and .203 BAA. As a result, Mejia was recently promoted to AAA where he has had two starts. His first: 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 Ks and his second 6.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 1 BBs, 6 Ks. So there are a few things to take away here. First and foremost, I’m not going to completely dismiss the guy because his most recent start wasn’t so hot. It was his third start in AAA (he had one in 2013) and he gave up more runs than he has all year which I think could put this in the “aberration” category, though time will tell. Mejia is going to live and die by his fastball command. He gave up four tates in AA this year, which isn’t super encouraging and has already given up one in his two starts at AAA. The thing is though, even if he starts commanding it consistently, I don’t see any rush on the Giants part to get him up to the Bigs. As of now, if he shows success and consistency in AAA, I think a start or two end of the year isn’t out of the question.
10. Reynaldo Lopez (Washington Nationals) – Reynaldo Lopez – or Alex Reyes’ chubby doppelgänger – to me is that girl who I had a great time with on a first date and now I text her too much and look at her photos on Facebook (don’t lie, you’ve done it too). He’s filling that Jameson Taillon sized gap in my heart and it’s not hard to see why: 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BBs, 13 Ks. This is Reynaldo’s third 12+ K game in three weeks and raises his K/BB ratio to 4.53 and his K/9 to an awe-inspiring 11.85. He’s got a Fastball that can hit the triple digits (though it has peaked at 99 in game action) and averages at 96, a mid-80’s Curve and a Change that still needs a little bit of work. Like I said last week, Lopez isn’t close and may not even see any time in 2016 but he should make the jump to AAA soon and is definitely worth a stash in a dynasty league or a 15 teamer. There are also still rumors that he could be a bullpen guy but I think if he keeps pitching like this, that would be a waste. I personally think his stuff is better than a few of the lower guys on this list but because he’s so far away, he’s going to stay pretty low for a while.