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.
1. Michael Kopech (Chicago White Sox) – ETA Early September
Michael Kopech is on a tear and looking to be itching for a call-up. In the past four games, Kopech has walked as many batters in total (4) as he had in each of the two games prior. In those four games, he has thrown 32 strikeouts in 24 innings with an ERA of 2.25. This is the Michael Kopech that ranks as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He’s a brilliant Dr. Jeckyll to his other Mr. Hyde. Managers will have to take the good with the bad, but Kopech will be one of the absolutely streaming worth starters when he is called up.
2. Sean Reid-Foley (Toronto Blue Jays) – ETA Early September
Sean Reid-Foley could be up shortly now that Toronto has traded J.A. Happ to the Yankees. Reid-Foley has utterly excelled this season and looks poised for success in the Majors. If not for one 8 run game during his Triple-A debut, Reid-Foley would have a 2.62 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A. Reid-Foley has the seventh most combined strikeouts in the minor league with 132 in 115.1 innings and will look to supplement Ryan Borucki who Toronto called up earlier in the season.
3. Kolby Allard (Atlanta Braves) – ETA Late August
Kolby Allard made his MLB debut this past week and underwhelmed after spending the season suppressing batters in Triple-A to the tune of a 2.80 ERA over 18 starts. Allard has a three-pitch arsenal that induces an extreme amount of groundballs, perhaps making him a more valuable real-life pitcher than a fantasy pitcher. At 20 years old, Allard is one of the youngest players in the game and certainly one of the youngest pitchers (born 9 days after teammate Michael Soroka) – Allard has earned his way to the MLB and should be up again sometime this season.
4. John Means (Baltimore Orioles) – ETA Early September
John Means has increased his quality start streak to eight games (making it nine out of the last ten) despite an otherwise forgettable performance. Means now has a 3.46 ERA and a 113/25 K/BB ratio after 127.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Means has excelled in Triple-A numbers with a 2.99 ERA and a 72/12 K/BB ratio over 81.1 innings. 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.
5. Justus Sheffield (New York Yankees) – ETA Early September
The Yankees traded for J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn at the deadline, making a Justus Sheffield call-up (at least as a starter) much less likely. For now, Sonny Gray will remain in the lineup as well with Lynn taking on a hybrid starting/relief role. Sheffield still looks to be up this season, but he will not likely make the fantasy impact that many of us had hoped pre-deadline. Even an injury to the rotation looks to keep Sheffield insulated, but with his performance thus far in 2018 – his stepping in will remain a possibility as the season progresses.
6. Jesus Luzardo (Oakland Athletics) – ETA Early September
Jesus Luzardo was recently promoted to Triple-A, marking the final minor league spot as he has cruised through the minors in less than two years. We fully expect Luzardo to be starting in Oakland in 2019 and a September call-up looks all the more likely with a July 31 call-up. Luzardo has thrown a 2.12 ERA and 111 strikeouts between High-A and Double-A ball this season. The 20-year-old is a top pitching prospect and if he continues to dominate in Triple-A, the Athletics will promote him – having saved his arm this season with an imposed 5 inning limit (in all but one game this season).
7. Colin Poche (Tampa Bay Rays) – ETA Early August
Colin Poche may be delayed to the Majors as Tampa Bay may not want to burn a spot on their 40-man roster at this point in the season. Poche has been one of the most dominant relievers in the minor leagues this season, with 91 strikeouts in 53.1 innings and a 0.67 ERA. Although he would not close this season, if called up he would be a high-leverage reliever with the potential to close by even next season. The impact he would have on a roster could help make the difference for teams in a pinch in the same vein as a Dellin Betances.
8. Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh Pirates) – ETA Early September
Mitch Keller has yet to get on track since his call-up to Triple-A, but remains a possible option come September for Pittsburgh although looking less likely by the start. The Pirates approached the trade deadline with a win-now mentality and even a so-so record from Keller in August will likely keep his debut until 2019. Keller was stellar in Double-A with a 2.72 ERA and finished out his time there on an 8 game quality start streak. Keller is one of baseball’s top prospects and should get Triple-A figured out, but it may be too late to make a fantasy impact in 2018.
9. Enyel De Los Santos (Philadelphia Phillies) – ETA Mid August
Enyel De Los Santos had a rough return to Triple-A, but should get back on track after dominating Triple-A all season. The Phillies rotation is pretty well set, although Nick Pivetta’s ERA has now ballooned to 4.85 despite a stellar strikeout rate. Philadelphia did not add a pitcher at the deadline – helping De Los Santos’ chances of getting the call again this season. De Los Santos has a 2.51 ERA and 97 strikeouts after 104 innings in Triple-A, although a 4.01 FIP is sending up some signal flares.
10. Josh James (Houston Astros) – ETA Early September
In this week’s love affair with Josh James, he wasn’t traded at the deadline and looks to be a part of the long-term Astro plans with Justin Verlander’s contract finished after 2019. James has a 3.10 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A and 147 strikeouts in 93 innings. Few pitchers have been as dominant as James in any level of baseball. James could fill in as a sixth-starter down the stretch (or pitch in place of an injury) or could serve as an elite bullpen arm in 2018. In either instance, James’ performance in 2018 has earned him a spot in the MLB at some point this season.
Jalen Beeks: Beeks has had a string of rough outings in the MLB. It may be time to take the foot off the gas until he strings together a few quality starts as something just isn’t working (first of which is cutting down on the uncharacteristic walks).