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.
1. Jalen Beeks (Boston Red Sox) – ETA Late July
Jalen Beeks may have an opportunity to get MLB starts as even with Pomeranz, Boston is down to only four starting pitchers. Brian Johnson seems to be shoring up the rotation for now, but with a 4.20 ERA on the season, short of trading for a starting pitcher at the deadline – Jalen Beeks is Boston’s #5 starter. Beeks has a 3.05 ERA on the season and has 110 strikeouts in 82.2 innings.
2. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
I have been going back and forth on where to rank Michael Kopech and ultimately came to two conclusions regarding his rank: (1) he will strike batters out at rate second to none and (2) he will assuredly be up this season as the White Sox will want to test him out in the Majors before next season. The clear ding against him is his inability to not walk batters (although his past two games have been phenomenal). Kopech will be a gamble when you stream him, but with the right stream could be the difference maker in a championship run. That sort of impact cannot be undervalued.
3. Dakota Hudson (St. Louis Cardinals) – ETA Late July
Dakota Hudson seems as though he will be a lock to play in the Majors at some point this summer. Despite only striking out 87 batters in 110.2 innings, Hudson currently sports a 2.36 ERA due largely in part to a 79.6% groundball rate. Michael Wacha is still out indefinitely and John Gant is the only pitcher standing in Hudson’s way – a good spot start from Hudson could keep the door open to an extended stay in the Majors.
4. Kolby Allard (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Late July
Michael Soroka was placed on the 60 Day Disabled List and Luiz Gohara has not found any sustained success in either Triple-A or the Majors this season. For a team competing like Atlanta, I fully expect them to throw everything they’ve got to win and that will likely include Kolby Allard at some point this season. Allard is 20 years old in Triple-A and despite only 81 strikeouts in 104.1 innings has a 2.85 ERA thanks large in part to a 77.9% groundball rate.
5. Justus Sheffield (New York Yankees) – ETA Early September
This play has everything to do with the next week and a half worth of trading and how the Yankees approach the trade deadline. Justus Sheffield was allegedly off the table in Manny Machado negotiations and with no player worth more than Machado available – Sheffield looks to remain a Yankee. The question now is whether the Yankees will trade for an arm at the deadline to supplant Sonny Gray or whoever currently occupies the #5 starting position (currently Domingo German while Jonathan Loaisiga is out).
6. Sean Reid-Foley (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
Sean Reid-Foley is next up in the Toronto rotation and should be able to make an impact. Reid-Foley has 123 strikeouts in 104 innings across Double-A and Triple-A this season and a still palatable 41 walks. If not for an early season game where Reid-Foley let up 8 runs, Reid-Foley’s season ERA would be a 2.47. Toronto will have an opportunity for Reid-Foley soon with Marco Estrada and Aaron Sanchez still on the disabled list and would certainly provide an upgrade over Sam Gaviglio – but a September call-up still seems to be the most likely.
7. Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA Early August
Enyel De Los Santos had two rough starts to start his MLB career and with Zac Elfin due back from the disabled list, De Los Santos will have some time yet before getting another start barring a trade deadline trade. The Phillies rotation is young and although inconsistent at times, solid. De Los Santos’ best shot at playing time will be through a trade or another injury – but of the Triple-A pitchers on the cusp, few have as effective with a 1.89 ERA after 95.1 innings (albeit with a heap of luck).
8. Zack Littell (Minnesota Twins) – ETA Early August
I’m in the camp that the Twins will move a pitcher (probably Kyle Gibson) at the deadline as with his extra year of control, Gibson could be one of the more valuable pitchers available at the deadline. Zack Littell has put together a respectable Triple-A season this year with a 3.38 ERA (3.38 FIP) and 57 strikeouts in 61.1 innings. Littell has been called up once this year already to a disastrous debut – I think he gets the call ahead of Stephen Gonsalves who may be at best a September call-up and Adalberto Mejia who has more MLB innings than Littell, but hasn’t impressed in those 100 or so innings.
9. Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early August
Colin Poche is the first reliever that has made the list this year, but he has been doing astounding things between Double-A and Triple-A. Poche has a 0.56 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 48.1 innings. He won’t start closing for the Rays when called up, but could serve as a high leverage reliever in the same mold as Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller. His future more than most minor league relievers seems to be that of a closer, but for this year managers could count on Poche helping with their ERA in close matchups.
10. Josh James (Houston Astros) – ETA Early September
I am still all in on Josh James getting MLB appearances in 2018. Whether through a trade, injury, or Houston opting to rest some of their starters heading into the playoffs. James has been outstanding this year between Double-A and Triple-A with a 3.24 ERA (although it would be a 2.72 removing a 6 run blowup) and 128 strikeouts in 80.2 innings. There is a strong reason the Astros would want to rest their rotation as Justin Verlander is the only starter on the roster without durability concerns although age will remain a concern for the rest of his career. Adopting a 6-man rotation or allowing pitchers to skip a start or two with James filling in could be to the benefit of the team.