The Hitter Edition of The StashList is back and updated for Week 10.
This stash list highlights the 10 best hitting prospects likely to make an impact during the 2023 season.
Prospects are often thought of as only holding value in dynasty formats. However, knowing which prospects hold value for the current season can help set you apart in redraft leagues. Several have a 2023 ETA and getting ahead of the curve on rostering these prospects is a key part of roster management. You can check out last week’s edition of the list here and keep reading to find out the latest updates.
- The StashList is for your redraft leagues and does not consider impact beyond 2023.
- Only current minor league players who are expected to make an impact this season are included.
- Upside, proximity, health, and opportunity are all weighed for each player.
- The focus is on 12-team leagues with standard categories.
- Rankings and rostership percentages will be updated weekly.
- Stats will be updated weekly for all players through Friday’s games.
The Stash List
Two big-time call-ups this past week. First, Royce Lewis completed his rehab assignment and is now with the Twins. He went yard in his first game and followed that up with this absolute moonshot a couple of days later:
Royce Lewis – Minnesota Twins (2) pic.twitter.com/RUCKdMVum6
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 2, 2023
If you did not get in on Lewis before his promotion it is likely too late. He is a top fantasy option who should gain 3B eligibility soon. A must roster in all league formats.
Jordan Walker is the other prospect to get promoted off the StashList. Walker was already with the Cardinals once this year and the injury to Lars Nootbaar reopened a spot on the Major League roster. I would expect Walker’s stay to be an extended one as the team is unlikely to shuttle their top prospect back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors. Walker has undeniable talent, but will need to keep his ground ball rate in check to see Major League success. He should be added in all 12+ team leagues based on upside.
Top 10 Hitting Prospects to Stash
We continue to patiently wait for the Orioles to realize that Jordan Westburg does not need any more time in the Minor Leagues. Westburg continues to crush Triple-A pitching while showing no signs of slowing down. He is up to 15 home runs on the year while raising his wRC+ to 143. Westburg has not attempted a stolen base since April 30th which is a bit concerning, but he is a perfect four for four on the year. You have to wonder if he does not want to risk injuring himself being that he is so close to a Major League promotion. The five-category upside to Westburg’s profile makes him the perfect player to stash.
The hot seat in Baltimore has shifted off of Gunnar Henderson and onto Jorge Mateo. After a strong start, Mateo has been abysmal in the month of May. He is batting .128/.165/.151 with a -17 wRC+. He is a total drain offensively and his defense is not strong enough to make up for this level of struggle. The Orioles are running out of ways to justify keeping Westburg in the Minor Leagues and he should not be expected to remain there for much longer. Stash him now before the team decides to promote him.
Do you think Elly De La Cruz plays fantasy baseball? If so, he must own himself already based on how he was teasing fantasy managers this week. Despite the Instagram posts that insinuated that a promotion was on the horizon, De La Cruz remains in Triple-A. This is to no fault of his own thought as he continues to mash. Prorating his current Triple-A slash of over 600 plate appearances, Elly would be on pace for a 40/40 season. All the while hitting close to .300 and continuing to show improvements in his strikeout rate. Hype may have reached an all-time high when he hit this walk-off home run earlier in the week:
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 31, 2023
De La Cruz is clearly ready for his chance in the Major Leagues. He is doing everything in his power to prove this to the Reds. The most encouraging part? The Reds are in playoff contention. They are only a few games back on the Brewers for the lead in the central and remain in the thick of things in the NL Wild Card Race. The longer the Reds hang around, the more likely they will focus on fielding their best lineup. That lineup includes De La Cruz who could shift Nick Senzel to the outfield or DH. He will be up soon and he needs to be rostered in all leagues.
Ronny Mauricio continues his ascent up the Stash List. This week he comes in at number three leading the “second tier” of players to stash. Everybody knows about EDLC and Westburg, but Mauricio is another key stash option. He continues to rake in Triple-A hitting for power, average, and adding speed. Known for running high strikeout rates, Mauricio has lowered his strikeout rate to just over 16% on the season and 11.4% since the start of May.
Although I watched Mark Canha single-handedly destroy my Phillies this week, he still represents Mauricio’s clearest path to the Majors. He has been swinging it well lately and Buck Showalter has publicly expressed how much the team values Canha. These two things combined likely push Mauricio’s debut into July (barring an injury of course). Regardless, Mauricio will be an impact player as soon as he is promoted and should be stashed now before he becomes even more popular.
Kyle Manzardo’s power has disappeared. After going yard in three straight games from May 11th-13th, Manzardo has not hit a home run since. The silver lining is that his average exit velocity remains above 92 mph. Manzardo is still hitting the ball hard, hitting it in the air, and pulling it over 50% of the time. All these things combined lead me to believe that Manzardo has simply gotten unlucky in the power department recently. Over the past week, he has seen his average tick back up and all metrics remain encouraging. Do not worry about Manzardo, he is going to be just fine.
The issue for Manzardo continues to be the crowded Tampa lineup. First Base is occupied. The combination of Harold Ramírez and Luke Raley both have a wRC+ of at least 133. Isaac Paredes at third has a wRC+ of 129. Everybody in the Rays’ current lineup is deserving of a Major League roster spot. As long as they are healthy, Manzardo will be forced to stay in Triple-A. His upside creates a valuable stash option, but the lack of certainty on a call-up keeps him from moving up higher on this list.
All Christian Encarnacion-Strand does is hit. He is hitting for average and plenty of power with 14 home runs in just 34 games. Every night it seems like one of the Reds’ prospects on this list is going yard in a big way. CES is doing everything in his power to force his way onto Cincinnati’s roster. Perhaps the most important factor here has nothing to do with the home runs or average. Over the past week, Encarnacion-Strand is striking out less while walking more. The biggest red flag with him has always been a high chase rate. If he is fixing this issue, his value skyrockets even higher.
The Reds have a wide-open hole at DH. Right now, they are rotating that spot in the lineup around in order to get at-bats for their outfielders and bench bats. Players like Jose Barrero, Will Benson, and Stuart Fairchild are continuing to get playing time while CES awaits his turn in Triple-A. In the same way that winning makes the Reds more likely to call up EDLC, they are just as likely to call up CES. There is nothing left for him to prove in Triple-A and he will get the benefit of playing his home games in Great American Ball Park. Stash him now before it is too late.
6. Colton Cowser, OF Baltimore Orioles
Talk about bad timing for an injury. Cowser landing on the Minor League IL almost certainly prevented him from already being in the Major Leagues. In fact, his health and uncertain timeline is the only thing keeping Cowser down at seventh on this list. Cedric Mullins landed on the IL this past week and with Baltimore desperate for an outfielder they were forced to turn to Aaron Hicks. If Cowser can return before Mullins is back, the Orioles could fast-track him to the Majors.
Outside of filling in for Mullins, there are other options for Cowser to play in the Major Leagues. The left-field job is currently up for grabs with players like Terrin Vavra and Ryan McKenna getting semi-regular playing time in Baltimore’s lineup. Cowser was dominating Triple-A, and assuming he comes back healthy, the Orioles will likely want to get him in Baltimore as soon as possible. His current injury is helping to suppress his value making now the perfect time to stash him.
Endy Rodriguez moves up to seventh this week thanks to the two promotions previously mentioned. Rodriguez was one of the most popular stash options entering 2023, but the season has not gone how he or fantasy managers had hoped. From May 24 to May 28, Rodriguez went hitless across 20 straight plate appearances. On the bright side, Rodriguez snapped out of his funk by going four for five in the following game. These games are the types of performances we have grown to expect out of Rodriguez and, hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. He has hit safely in both games since then.
Although Rodriguez is not filling up the stat sheet in Triple-A, he would offer an instant offensive upgrade at catcher in Pittsburgh. Every week, Austin Hedges’ wRC+ drops lower as it is now down to 18. For context, this is 82% worse than the league average. Although the team likes Hedges’ defensive work he is almost a guaranteed out with the bat in his hand. The Pirates will turn to Rodriguez soon and he should be on your stash radar.
Our first new name on the list this week is Bo Naylor. Naylor has been frequently found in the “on the bubble” section noted below, but he finally cracks into the list this week. Naylor got his first taste of Major League action last year going hitless in eight plate appearances. He was up for a doubleheader once this year and went hitless in his only two plate appearances. So, despite two stints in the Major Leagues Naylor is still looking for his first Major League hit. He is seeing plenty of success in Triple-A though with nine home runs already. Naylor holds even more value in OBP leagues thanks to a walk rate of over 17.9%. You can argue he has even been unlucky in the average department with just a .290 BABIP despite a line drive rate that is nearly 30%.
Many Guardians fans are already clamoring for the team to promote Naylor to the Major Leagues. Cleveland is currently relying on Mike Zunino to handle the majority of catching duties despite his .194 average. Since the start of 2022, Zunino has a 61 wRC+ and Naylor would offer an instant upgrade offensively. I expect the team to make the move to Naylor soon, making now a good time to stash him. Despite having zero stolen bases this year, Naylor also offers speed upside at the catcher position after he stole 20 bases last year.
As many of you likely remember, Michael Busch first appeared on the Stash List right before his Major League promotion. After being sent back to Triple-A, the StashList was too crowded to find room for Busch. He sat in the “on the bubble” section for a few weeks but is back in at number ten this week. Busch has really struggled to get going since being sent back to Triple-A. Since the demotion, he is batting just .186 with just one home run. The hit tool has always been inconsistent, but the power is supposed to be a sure thing with Busch. Demotions always take a toll on a player’s mental toughness and this could be the result of Busch’s recent struggles.
Despite the underwhelming performance, we already know that Busch is next in line for Los Angeles. They have already promoted him to the Major Leagues once and will not be shy about doing it again. He is just one injury away from being called back up and should be held onto if you are looking for help at middle infield. He will be back with the Dodgers this season and is a stash consideration.
On The Bubble