Every weekend, Alex Fast 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. Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – This past week Giolito had his first career start in AAA and he definitely was able to make the most of it: 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. This is a huge relief considering the last time he went out to pitch it was in Class-A and he gave up 4 ER. This performance may very well be the only thing the Nationals needed to see before giving him another shot in the Bigs. They’ll have a few spot starts where call-ups will be necessary until Joe Ross can return from the DL and you have to figure those will go to Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, or Austin Voth. As of now, Sunday’s starter is yet to be announced for the Nationals. Considering Giolito is slated to pitch this Sunday in Syracuse, I wouldn’t be surprised if they keep him on schedule and start him.
2. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – He’s ready. I mean what else more do you want me to say. He’s now proved that he can be consistent once again. His swing and miss stuff is back. His command is back. Sure, in his start prior to his most recent he gave up 3 ER and walked 3BB but look how he bounced back from that: 6 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 Ks and then look how he performed last night: 8 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BBs, 9 Ks. The Twins have seemed to make it apparent that they feel no need to rush Berrios into their rotation though. They are out of the playoff picture and are more willing to give a long, long leash to Tommy Milone and Ricky Nolasco because of their paycheck (though to their credit both of their last games were not bad at all). My thinking is that maybe with the new GM we see Berrios get called up a little bit sooner but as of now there is no indication of when he will be up. For now though, he is someone that is a must-stash for sure.
3. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – Talk about another guy who is ready for the call, Joe Musgrove’s first start after the All-Star Break was hands down his best of the year so far: 7 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K. The impressive thing about Musgrove this year has been his command; this extends his streak in which he’s walked one batter or less to eight (in that ninth game he only walked two batters). What’s really awesome to see then is all of these K’s! I mean they’re not unprecedented, he wrung up 7 back-to-back times in May, but they disappeared for a few weeks and I was worried they weren’t going to return in force and they definitely have. Ok, so we know he is ready, when can we expect to see him? Still no word as of now but the rumors are either he gets called up and placed in the bullpen for long relief or they use an option that Mike Fiers has to send him to AAA. Either way, he’s proved that he’s worthy of a stash.
4. Reynaldo Lopez (Washington Nationals) – I’m going to spare you the vitriol I have towards the Nationals organization because I already let it out in full force on our podcast. For those of you who have been following my articles, you know that I definitely have a bit of a crush on Reynaldo Lopez. I’m 100% the Link to his Zelda, the Mario to his Peach. In his season debut….he was in a different castle for sure. BUT there is one good takeaway from the 6 ER outing: the stuff. The stuff is there my friends, and once it gets a bit more polished it is going to be really, really good. So why wasn’t he here last week? Because his two outings before his call-up weren’t super impressive! They weren’t the man I fell in love with so many fastballs ago! Now that the Nationals have proved they’re willing to give him a shot, he’s going to be a bit higher on this list. Now that he’s high up they’ll likely – finally – give Voth a look but that’s because they’re unpredictable jerks who like to ruin the fragile mentality of their young arms.
5. Jose De Leon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – I don’t know who is happier about De Leon’s recent success, De Leon owners or the Dodgers GM. The young RHP continues to put up fantastic performances but his most recent is arguably his best of the season so far: 8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BBs, 10 Ks. Man, if that doesn’t get you excited you need to like…take a nap and reconsider some stuff in your life. Considering the state of shambles that is the Dodgers rotation it’s pretty certain that we see De Leon this year, it’s just a question of when. He’s only started nine games in AAA and five of those were 4 IP or less (not because of ineffectiveness, but because of pitch count/coming back from the DL). So let’s take the games in which he went 5 IP or more: 30 IP, 5 ER, 19 H, 9 BB, 44 Ks. So that’s a 1.50 ERA, a .93 WHIP, a 4.9 K/BB, and 13.2 K/9. Now sure, five real starts could definitely still be considered SSS but I think whenever De Leon gets the call he shouldn’t let us down like others have so far this year.
6. Jake Thompson (Philadelphia Phillies) – With this most recent outing, Thompson has extended his scoreless inning streak to a very impressive 22 innings – 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. The struggle with command doesn’t really bother me too much as this isn’t a consistent thing for Thompson. This is the first time he has walked more than three all season and while it’s definitely worth monitoring, his success with command thus far proves that it’s likely a blip on the radar. What’s encouraging to take away from that though is that despite a season high in walks he still was able to limit the damage entirely by not giving up any ER. The Phillies org is still mum on when Thompson will get his call-up though I think it directly correlates to when Dan Duquette has enough whiskey to think that acquiring Jeremy Hellickson is a good idea. Thompson should surely be the first pitcher on the Phillies list for a call-up though and is definitely worth the stash.
7. Austin Pruitt (Tampa Bay Rays) – While the strikeouts still aren’t coming in full force, Pruitt is still doing a fantastic job giving his team a chance to win by limiting the damage he allows: 6 IP, 1 ER, 9 H, 2 BBS, 4 Ks. The command issue seems like it’s a little bit of a blip as you’d have to go back eight starts for the last time Pruitt allowed two walks (since then he’s walked one three times and none four times). As I’ve said before, Pruitt isn’t a top of the rotation guy, his ceiling is definitely middle to back of the rotation but because of his success at the minor league level and because a fair majority of the high end talent has either been called up or is above him on this list, he’s making the cut. Is he someone that you should be dropping other starters for to stash? No. Is he a viable candidate for a spot start if/when he gets the call-up? I definitely think so.
8. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – Oof, things are really not looking to swell right now for the Cardinals top prospect. 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 4 BBs, 5 Ks. While this is slightly better than the last time he pitched in terms of earned runs, he keeps proving to his organization that his command has not made the strides that it needs to be making. His 2.77 K/BB ratio and 4.50 BB/9 certainly isn’t getting him any closer to being called up. As of now, the Cardinals obviously aren’t going to force the issue. Until Reyes can prove that he can get his command under control he’s coming nowhere near that Cardinals bullpen.
9. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – It’s officially gone from bad to worse for the young LHP. I knew that his transition from AA to AAA was going to be rough but this is just too much: 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. Hader hasn’t always been a prospect who shows impeccable command but he hasn’t put together an outing with under two walks in about a month (eight starts). It needs to be mentioned though that the stadium he pitches in is the equivalent of Coors Field. While that, I think, does excuse a little bit of his excessively high ERA – it currently sits at 7.16 – his FIP is still 4.90 and he’s still walking too much and not striking out enough. That’s the most alarming part, the disappearance of the swing and miss stuff. In his last two outings he’s combined for 8 Ks total. The outing before that – June 27th – he threw eight. Sure, it was just his first start back from the All-Star Break but if you’re a Hader owner, it’s time to be worried.
10. Austin Voth (Washington Nationals) – Poor, poor Austin Voth. Twice the Nationals have looked to the minor league system for spot starts and twice they have bypassed AAA all together and gone with the talent in AA. Well, if he pitches more like he did in his most recent start, maybe he’ll be demoted and he might actually have a chance: 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 3 BBs, 2 Ks. This is far and away the worst outing for Voth this year and is actually the most ER Voth has given up in a game since April of 2015! Nothing seemed to be working for the RHP and as a result he has probably dropped pretty low on the radar of people the Nats would consider for a start. If the trend continues, there’s another thing he’ll be dropped from, too: this list. OOOO VOTH FELT THAT BURN ALL THE WAY IN SYRACUSE!