The Stash 8/11: The Top 10 Pitching Prospects to Stash
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.
I would like to start this week’s Stash with a moment of silence for Lance McCullers who finally made his seasonal long-term trip to the disabled list this week in both reality and in each of my fantasy teams. Sigh. But now its hype time for Josh James, one of the top performing pitchers in all of baseball this season. James has a 3.38 ERA (3.19 FIP) and 116 strikeouts in 77.1 innings in Triple-A this season (combined with Double-A, he is leading all of the minor leagues with 154 strikeouts). Although Houston has a bevy of pitchers to fill McCuller’s spot with – James offers the most upside (albeit with a bit of risk) and would serve the Astros well to try him out while they wait for McCuller’s return (rather, when a timetable is set).
Michael Kopech is right on Josh James‘ heels with 152 strikeouts, but his 60 walks leave much to be desired. Kopech has now strung together five starts ranging from passable to excellent and is only one start away from dipping his ERA back into the 3s. More importantly, he has only let up 4 walks in the last 31 innings. Control will be a consistent question mark for Kopech and as he does get the call in the Majors. A Kopech start come this fall could make or break a pitching week and playing in the weak AL Central, he may have good “make it” opportunities.
Sean Reid-Foley has little left to prove in the Majors, he has a 2.98 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A ball and a combined 146 strikeouts (removing his May Triple-A debut would lower his ERA to a 2.55 ERA). After sending Michael Hauschild back to Triple-A, Reid-Foley could be in line for a start sooner than later, but expect early September. Despite pitching in the rough AL East, I expect Reid-Foley to find success with his mid 90’s fastball, and an above average curveball and slider.
Justus Sheffield is doing all he can do, pitch. Sheffield has a 2.19 ERA on the season with 114 strikeouts. Sonny Gray has been moved to the bullpen for now, Lance Lynn is providing a surprising amount of value, and so has J.A. Happ. I do not expect Lynn to stay on the same pace and Sheffield would represent an eventual upgrade. At the very least Sheffield would serve as a strong arm in the bullpen, but we’re shooting for the moon here.
Jesus Luzardo is in a similar situation to Justus Sheffield in that they are both on competitive teams that have clear weak points in their rotation (Oakland’s being Brett Anderson). Luzardo is much younger and has only been in Triple-A a few weeks, but has the makings of a star and the expectation that regardless of 2018 he would be starting in 2019. If the Athletics are serious about winning, they will start Luzardo when they call him up in September and take a chance on the top talent in their farm system and his 2.01 season ERA.
6. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early September
John Means ended his quality start streak at eight games in a blaze of destruction, getting lit up to the tune of 8 runs in 1.2 innings on 8 hits. He was able to rebound in his follow-up start, but his combined season ERA now sits at a 3.61 on the season and a 114/28 K/BB ratio. despite an otherwise forgettable performance. Means would play in the AL East and for Baltimore, capping his value, but is at the moment one of the most successful Triple-A pitchers so far this season warranting a serious look when he gets the call.
7. Kolby Allard (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Late August
Kolby Allard was called up this past week for a spot start where he was promptly shellacked, letting up 4 runs over two innings on six hits after coming into the third inning to relieve Max Fried. Allard was optioned to Triple-A where he will continue to work until called up again later in the season. Allard has a 2.80 ERA on the season and if he could stick, be one of the youngest players in baseball. This being Allard’s second bad outing could delay him further, but expectations are that he will be apart of the team consistently come September.
8. Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early September
9. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA Early September
Mitch Keller finally strung together an acceptable start, giving up one run on four hits and one walk over six innings. After dominating Double-A for most of 2018, Keller has struggled since his call-up to Triple-A. Despite being a little unlucky (6.67 ERA – 3.39 FIP) in Double-A, Keller is considered on of the top pitching prospects in baseball and if he keeps things figured out, could still make a fantasy impact in 2018.
10. Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA Late August
Enyel De Los Santos finally pitched for the first time in two weeks – one inning for Philadelphia, but letting up three hits and no runs. De Los Santos has been marginally effective in his three outings with his big league club although neither has second-year Nick Pivetta (well, inconsistent – but he has gotten more looks). De Los Santos is clearly in an awkward place in that he is too good for Triple-A (2.51 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 104 innings) – but there isn’t a clear enough need for him in Philadelphia. Look for him to pitch more as the season winds down.