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.
This is the penultimate week – see you all next week on September 1!
As one Astros beat writer noted – Brian McCann caught a game for Josh James in Triple-A to get intel on James for a potential spot start. Houston still has yet to utilize a fifth starter since Lance McCullers went down with a forearm injury and although McCullers is inching closer to a return should need one sooner than McCullers can provide. James has 166 strikeouts in 109.1 innings this season with a 3.13 between Double-A and Triple-A ball. He remains a strong option for a spot start moving forward.
2. Touki Toussaint (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Early September
Touki Toussaint should be up again this season after not getting the call over the weekend. Toussaint has been a dominant force across Double-A and Triple-A this season with a 2.49 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130.1 innings. His one taste of the MLB was a rousing success and Toussaint is largely expected to be up once rosters expand. Atlanta’s rotation has been shaky and oft-injured this season – of the added pitchers, Toussaint is likely to stick as a starter.
Matt Hall has put up one heck of a season and is an overlooked piece of the Tigers’ farm system. The lefty has a 1.90 ERA and 125 strikeouts over 104.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. While Hall lacks the ceiling of the other Tigers’ pitching prospects and began the year as a converted reliever (before getting stretched back into a starter), but has been nothing but consistent all season. Where Hall fits in longterm in Detroit is still up in the air, but for now, should get a chance at starting in September and go from there.
4. Jesus Luzardo (Oakland Athletics) – ETA Early September
Jesus Luzardo features a four-seam, two-seam, curveball, and change-up utilizing all four pitches effectively. Luzardo started the season in Single-A, but has risen to Triple-A having spent most of his season in Double-A where he capped off a stretch of only three runs over 46 innings. Luzardo’s chances of getting a September call-up have dipped a bit given his mediocre performance in Triple-A (at best) and now off the heels of an eight-run game. Luzardo is one baseball’s top prospects and with Oakland in contention may opt for their usual conservative approach to prospect development.
5. Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early September
Colin Poche did not let up a run this week, keeping his season total at five. Five runs. 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 104 strikeouts to only 18 walks in 58.2 innings and a season ERA of 0.72. This is the second year in a row that Poche has been this dominant and is an enigma that should find success in the MLB.
I am going to contradict myself in a little bit, but despite the Yankees vying for a playoff spot – utilizing Justus Sheffield this season would still be a beneficial move. Sheffield has a 2.52 ERA this season with 118 strikeouts in 110.2 innings. The Yankees seem intent on calling him up, having recently (temporarily) shifting him to the bullpen. Walks may be an issue for Sheffield initially, but he has demonstrated at every level that he is a capable pitcher one of baseball’s top pitching prospects. Given he will not start, his fantasy value takes a significant dip, but he can still be of use as a high-leverage reliever with potential for a spot start if needed.
Removing his Triple-A debut, Mitch Keller has a 3.07 ERA in Triple-A with 42 strikeouts over 38 innings. On the season he has 3.51 ERA with 123 strikeouts over 130.2 innings. Keller’s season has been marked by inconsistency, but when he’s dealing there are few other pitchers in the minors with his upside. Although Keller is likely to spend most of 2019 in Triple-A, Ivan Nova’s contract is up after 2019 – just in time for Keller to start in earnest.
8. Taylor Widener (Arizona Diamondbacks) – ETA Early September
An aggressively bold prediction, but after a full season in Double-A, Taylor Widener is clearly ready for a new league. Widener has a whopping 161 strikeouts over 128.1 innings and sports a 2.66 ERA. Robbie Ray has a 4.91 ERA and Zack Godley a 4.59 ERA. Despite the Diamondbacks holding a tenuous lead in the NL West and Widener has never played above Double-A, there could be some merit to working him into the starting lineup or an occasional spot start if the team works him out of the bullpen (that versatility is why I still value him over Jimmie Sherfy). It should be all hands on deck in Arizona and Widener is the best pitching upgrade the team has ready in the minors.
9. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early September
John Means has done well for Baltimore’s farm system this year with a 3.35 ERA in 99 innings in Triple-A and a 3.65 ERA on the season between Double-A and Triple-A. Means will play in the AL East on the league’s worst team and in one of the more batter-friendly parks – limiting his effectiveness, but has flashed the potential to be a back-end starter or at least better than what Baltimore is currently running with.
10. Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA Early September
Enyel De Los Santos like many of the above pitchers will be called up in September and has a likely role in the bullpen, but could flex into a starting role as his team pursues a playoff run. De Los Santos had a few rough innings earlier in the year, but he has been a consistent presence in Triple-A ball, throwing a 2.43 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 122 innings.
Michael Kopech: He’s up, ya’ll! Check out Nick Pollack’s Gif Breakdown of Kopech’s abbreviated debut.