For those wondering why Lucas Gioltio isn’t on this list: he’s going to get another couple starts before the All-Star Break and will likely not be featured until he is sent back down to the Minors. Also, one more note that I want to reinforce: in determining the order each week two factors are taken into account: ceiling and likelihood of being called up. In past weeks, I’ve paid more attention to ceiling than likelihood so this week I wanted to switch it up a bit. Alex Reyes has a lot better stuff than Jake Thompson and Jose De Leon may have the best stuff of them all but due to a variety of factors Thompson will likely see time first therefore, for this week, he’s higher up. As usual, thanks so much for reading!
1. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – If Berrios’ recent pitching performances are indicative of anything it’s that he thinks he deserves another shot at the big league level. Berrios followed up last week’s fantastic outing by throwing another gem: 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. While he struck out fewer batters than the previous two weeks, he gave up a lone hit which is a season low. The 0.43 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 15 inning scoreless streak he’s accumulated over his past three starts convey that Berrios thinks he’s ready for another shot. Hopefully that shot comes soon too. After all, the Twins rotation is second to last in the league in ERA (5.53), WHIP (1.46), and HR/9 (1.44) and while they’re actually not giving up a lot of free passes – they’re 2.76 BB/9 actually is in the top 10 in baseball – they’re .285 BAA leads the league by a not-so-slim margin. The Twins are at an impasse: with the season virtually over, should they let Berrios back up again or be patient with him in hopes of him not imploding in the Bigs again? If he keeps pitching like this, the Twins may have no choice.
2. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – Call him Captain because Musgrove has righted the ship: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. Alright, maybe one fantastic start isn’t enough to back that statement up but it is definitely encouraging considering Musgrove gave up 12 ER in his two starts prior to this one. It’s starts like this most recent one though that is the reason why Musgrove was tagged to represent the Astros – along with fellow phenom Alex Bregman – in the upcoming All-Star Futures Game. The three hits he gave up are the fewest he has given up in his seven AAA starts this year, this marks the third time he has registered seven Ks in AAA, too. As of now, it’s all about consistency. If Musgrove can string a few more starts together like this, I definitely see him getting a spot start after the All-Star Break.
3. Jake Thompson (Philadelphia Phillies) – This is Thompson’s second appearance on the list as I first talked about him two weeks ago. I made a mistake however: I said that a Fangraphs writer turned me on to him when it was in fact a Baseball Prospectus writer. After keeping track of Thompson for a start or two I was having difficulty seeing why the writer touted him so much, therefore he was left off the list for Adalberto Mejia but I’ve had a change of heart and Thompson’s recent performances are the reason why. Here are the lines from his past two games: 6.1 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 BBs, 4 Ks and 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Thompson has now registered six consecutive starts in which he has allowed 2 walks or less. While his 6 Ks are the most he’s registered since May 20th, he is also yet to allow more than 2 ER in six consecutive starts and has allowed no more than 7 hits in six consecutive starts (as I’m sure you’ve gathered that start right before all these six game streaks began wasn’t necessarily his best). All of these streaks are good enough to give Thompson a 0.76 ERA and .211 BAA in the month of June which should put him next in line for a call up in Philly.
4. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – Hader was able to bounce back from a dud by delivering a gem in his fourth start in AAA: 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BBs, 8 Ks. Really nice to see Hader bounce back from a 3 K performance with 8 but it came at a cost. Hader was pulled after the 5th because he had already reached 102 pitches, which proves that he was laboring a bit. That’s the difference between a good pitcher and a bad though, how effective they are when they labor and Hader certainly proved he could still shut a team down even if his stuff wasn’t all there. He’s proved himself so much in fact that he’s earned himself a place on the All-Stars Future Team. In 2015, Hader pitched 120 innings and so far this season he’s logged 77. If Hader continues his success in AAA, I’d expect to see him throw a few in the Bigs after the All-Star Break.
5. Brady Rodgers (Houston Astros) – When it comes to Rodgers most recent start, there’s good news and there’s bad news, both of which jump off the box score: 5 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. The bad news is obviously the strikeouts and the walks. The two strikeouts are the fewest Rodgers has recorded all season long and the four walks are the most Rodgers has recorded all season long. The good news – and this is becoming sort of a theme in this post – is that Rodgers was able to limit the damage to just one earned run. Rodgers is not a pitcher who is known to struggle with his command so I’m definitely willing to consider this just an aberration. Despite this start I think that Rodgers can and will have an impact on the Astros this year and for one reason in particular: his slider. This past spring training Rodgers actually worked with Luke Gregerson to strengthen his pitches, in particular his slider. It’s his command of that slider that’s the reason why his 8.71 K/9 is the highest its ever been at the AAA level. While it seemed to have eluded him in his most recent start, I expect he’ll find it again in his next one.
6. Austin Voth (Washington Nationals) – I have to admit, when the Nationals were considering who they were going to call up for a few starts with Strasburg on the DL, I was willing to put a lot of money that Voth was going to be the choice. Luckily for me, I just moved in with my girlfriend in Brooklyn and have exactly zero dollars to bet with in the first place. It isn’t necessarily because Voth has been killing it, I just thought he was a safer bet than Lucas Giolito. If Voth’s most recent start is any indication though, the Nationals were right: 5 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 3 BBs, 0 Ks. So why is he on the list? Well, Voth is a lot better than his most recent start would have you believe. His plus changeup and command has led him to a 7.82 K/9 and a 2.29 BB/9, he’s allowing 0.63 HR/9 and has a really respectable K% of 21%. The fact that the decision came down to Voth and Giolito proves that the Nationals are interested in Voth so if he’s available in your league, I think he’s worth a stash.
7. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – It’s far too early to be seriously concerned about Reyes but he’s definitely trending in the wrong direction. Reyes followed up a lackluster performance on the 23rd with another lackluster performance on the 28th: 3.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 BBs, 4 Ks. Yes, the fact that he was able to limit his walks to one after giving up four in the previous start is really encouraging to see but this is the second start in a row where he’s given up 4+ ER and continues to give up a lot of hits. Perhaps Reyes just didn’t have it for this start too, I mean his pitch count was in the high 70’s when he started the 4th. The difference though, and what concerns me, is that when Josh Hader isn’t being efficient, he’s still being effective but so far that isn’t the case for Reyes. As I mentioned in this past week’s podcast, when Reyes is called up it will be to the bullpen, but if he continues with his 4.94 BB/9 he isn’t a better option than anyone currently in the Cards pen.
8. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Another week, another wild performance from Glasnow: 6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. I knew Glasnow’s streak of scoreless innings was going to come to an end sooner or later so seeing the 2 ER off 4 hits doesn’t really bother me too much, it’s the fact that he continues to walk people that is so frustrating (as I’m sure it’s frustrating for him too). Now if we’re being nit picky, his walks did come down ever so slightly. In his three games prior to his start on the 27th he walked five, six and five respectively so, am I happy he finally got back under 5 walks? Sure. What’s yet to be addressed however is that despite his awful 5.10 BB/9, he still has a 1.70 ERA, which can be attributed to his .175 BAA. Essentially: it’s not the stuff, it’s the command. For those curious as to if he’ll be up soon – notably on Sunday when the Pirates will need someone for a spot start – look no further than Pirates manager Clint Hurdle: “When you’re averaging five walks a game, that’s a number you have to pay attention to. He has to shave that down, because there are plenty of pitchers with big arms who get up here and that’s part of the challenge. Tyler is aware of it.”
9. Jose De Leon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Last week, I talked about how the Dodgers appeared as if they were stretching out De Leon start by start and if his pitch-count from his last two starts is any indication I think I may have been on the right track. In his two starts this past week he’s thrown 77 pitches and 86 pitches, which is good to see; the Dodgers are finally starting to let the leash off a little bit. How has he done in those appearances though? Well, it’s sort of a tale of two starts. Let’s start with the first, which happened a week ago today: 3.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 BBs, 5 K. The 5 strikeouts in 3.1 is definitely encouraging, as are the limited walks, but De Leon wasn’t able to work himself out of trouble and reached what appeared to be a 75 pitch limit earlier than he had liked. His second start however was way more efficient: 5 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. This is the second time that De Leon has bounced back from a 3 ER performance only to give up one, which is great to see. Even better to see, especially for Dodgers fans, is that he’s only pitched 23.1 IP so far and has stayed healthy since his DL stint. I’m sticking to my guns here: once Urias gets shut down after the All-Star Break, assuming no set-backs, De Leon’s premiere will be a few weeks later.
10. Austin Pruitt (Tampa Bay Rays) – Pruitt is a really interesting case this year because when you look at virtually any list of the top prospects in the Rays organization you won’t find his name. Heck, you can even search Baseball America’s top 100 RHP prospects and you STILL won’t find his name. I guess he’s sort of the definition of a minor league sleeper then as Pruitt is having a great year down in AAA so far. The 3.38 ERA isn’t anything fantastic, nor is the .238 BAA. However, so far this year Pruitt has thrown 61.1 IP and walked only thirteen! His BB% is a league leading 3.6%, and he has a spotless 1.27 BB/9. All this wouldn’t be as impressive if he wasn’t registering a lot of K’s but he is, 84 of them as a matter of fact, which is 12th most in the International League. Though 12th best may not seem all too great, let’s not forget Pruitt was on nobody’s radar at the beginning of the year. So should he be on yours? Certainly. But let’s temper expectations: his projections are solely for him to be a back end starter, and he’s older than your average prospect – he’s going to be 27 in two months. End of the day, I don’t think you need to rush out to grab Pruitt but if he you have the space and everyone above is taken, he’s worthy of a stash.
Special Man Crush Bonus: Reynaldo Lopez (Washington Nationals) – Lopez, you coy dog you! I write about my man crush and what do you do? You lay an egg and play hard to get. Don’t worry, I see you testing my admiration, but I’m patient. Just ask Olivia Munn and the ordinance that requires me to stay 100 feet away from her at all times. Just kidding. I’m really not that much of a creeper. 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 4 BBs, 4 Ks. The good news is that Lopez was able to really stay out of trouble despite giving up more walks than he has in six starts (he gave up five walks on May 23rd) but the bad news is…well the walks. I’ll be very curious to see how Lopez bounces back from this but if his prior starts are any indication, he should be fine: he walked five on May 13th and followed that up by walking one, he walked five again on May 23rd and followed that up by allowing one walk over 14 innings. As of now, Lopez is closer to the bottom of the Nationals list when it comes to call-ups but for those dynasty leagues out there, I really think this guy could grow into an asset