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.
It was pointed out on the Pitcher List Discord Channel that the Astros are the only team that has used five starting pitchers all season long (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers) – if not for McCullers injury that could have been a special end of the year statistic. McCullers is without a return date and soon the Astros will need a fifth starter and have several options in Brad Peacock or Colin McHugh. Peacock was serviceable last year as a starter although McHugh’s career as a starting pitcher never really took off. Their other option is Josh James who has been one of the best pitchers in Triple-A and deserves a look given his success (3.27 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 104.2 innings across Double-A/Triple-A).
2. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Michael Kopech has found his groove with eight quality starts in his last ten games, a 2.10 ERA, and 82 strikeouts over 56 innings. Oh, and he only has 14 strikeouts over the period (0 in his last three games). Kopech has had an extreme hot and cold season, but looks to finally be ready to make his debut. Kopech should debut in September and pitch enough innings to not lose his eligibility. If you are in need of starting pitching, keep Kopech stashed.
3. Jesus Luzardo (Oakland Athletics) – ETA Early September
Jesus Luzardo may well end up our top pitching prospect at seasons end, but in 2018 he should see a call-up as reinforcement for an Athletics team now only one game behind the Houston Astros in the AL West. There is a clear need for an additional starting pitcher and Luzardo has been fantastic in Double-A ball this year with a 2.12 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 93.1 innings. He has operated on a tight inning limit all season, which should let him open up if called up. He has had two starts in Triple-A, one good – one bad, and unless he bombs in his next two or three starts, should see the MLB in September.
4. Justus Sheffield (New York Yankees) – ETA Early September
For as apparent as Michael Kopech’s walk rate is, Justus Sheffield has a sneaky amount of walks given his success this season (50 in 108.2 innings). Sheffield threw a season-high five walks in what was his worst outing of the season on Wednesday. Sheffield should get a September call-up, but may end up a reliever in 2018 with the potential to spot start where needed. Sheffield has a 2.48 ERA on the season and should be serviceable when called up.
5. Touki Toussaint (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Late August
Touki Toussaint got his first MLB start and unlike the rash of other rookie starts – succeeded, letting up one run over six innings with four strikeouts. The Braves are throwing everything they’ve got at succeeding and with Toussaint’s sterling debut, he should be in line to receive another ahead of Kolby Allard, Max Fried, or Luiz Gohara. Toussaint should be up again before August is over.
6. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early September
John Means has two average games under his belt after imploding to the tune of eight runs in his first start in August. Means still sports 3.60 ERA this season with 116 strikeouts in 139.2 innings (including a 3.27 ERA and a nine quality start streak in Triple-A). Playing in the AL East on the league’s worst team and in one of the more batter-friendly parks – his value is constrained, but has flashed the potential to be a back-end starter.
7. Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early September
Colin Poche let up another run this week, bringing his season total to five. Poche is the league’s best reliever and stands to make an impact in the Ray’s bullpen and close as early as 2019. He has 99 strikeouts to only 18 walks in 58.2 innings and is utterly dominant when on the mound with three plus pitches.
8. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA Early September
Mitch Keller is back on track with his second quality start in a row and five decent starts in his last six. His 6.00 ERA in Triple-A ball is largely attributed to the 13 runs he let up in his first two starts and his 3.00 FIP indicate that he still has room for some significant positive regression. The Pirates are now one game below .500 and well out of the playoffs – giving Keller a go in September may be in the cards if the Pirates’ top prospect continues to perform in Triple-A.
For as many top pitching prospects as the Detroit Tigers are operating with, Matt Hall has found success in the higher levels of the minor leagues. Hall started the season as a reliever after spending his career as a starter – since getting called up to Triple-A in July, the Tigers have stretched him out as a starter once again. Hall has a 2.01 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A with 122 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. For a Tigers rotation featuring a 4.45 ERA and Mike Fiers traded, Hall could find a spot in the rotation this season.
10. Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA Late August
Enyel De Los Santos has not pitched much over the past three weeks – but had a quality start on Monday in Triple-A. The Phillies are likely to shift De Los Santos between the Majors and minors over the coming weeks and will be less concerned about keeping his rookie status than many of the above players/teams. Despite three rough outings in the Majors, De Los Santos has a 2.62 ERA in the minors this season and 100 strikeouts in 110 innings.
Sean Reid-Foley: Reid-Foley had a rocky start against Kansas City (coming one inning away from a quality start) – he looked good for most of the game, but the Royals were able to capitalize quickly. He has a rough start coming today against the Yankees, play him situationally.