The Hitter Edition of The Stash List is back and updated for Week 16.
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 Stash List 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
The Athletics made some waves this week by calling up not one, but two of their top prospects to the major leagues. First was Zack Gelof (brother of recently drafted Jake Gelof). Gelof has sneaky pop and plus speed that makes him an intriguing fantasy option. The issue for Gelof is keeping his strikeouts in check.
Most notably, the team also called up Tyler Soderstrom who was featured at number seven on last week’s edition of the Stash List. Soderstrom is a catching prospect who profiles more as a first baseman or DH long-term. He has light-tower power and has made impressive adjustments to his swing path to hit more line drives. Similar to Gelof, Soderstrom will need to keep his strikeout rate in check if he wants to maintain fantasy relevance.
The Phillies also called up prospect Johan Rojas with Cristian Pache landing on the IL. While at first glance it would appear Rojas is not going to get much playing time, Bryce Harper is very close to playing first base which would shift Kyle Schwarber to DH and open up an outfield spot. Rojas has blazing speed and is worth keeping your eye on.
Top 10 Hitting Prospects to Stash
At this point in the season, I think people are taking for granted just how good Ronny Mauricio has been in Triple-A. He is the only player in Triple-A with at least 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases, an ISO above .200, and a strikeout rate below 20%. Lowering the ISO to .175 adds a second player to the list, but his batting average is over 70 points higher than Braden Shewmake. Mauricio has been incredible this year and people in the fantasy community need to take notice. He has loads of raw power and plenty of speed which will allow him to have an instant impact from a fantasy perspective.
Based on payroll, we should assume the Mets will be buyers at the deadline. However, the first half was so disappointing that it is possible the team pivots and retools by selling off some of their veterans with expiring contracts. One likely trade candidate is Tommy Pham who has been excellent for the team. If Pham is traded, the Mets would likely shift Jeff McNeil to the outfield and open up a lineup spot for Mauricio. Mauricio has been too good this season for the Mets to keep him in Triple-A. Stash him now before the trade deadline gets any closer.
Another player that could benefit from the trade deadline is Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Thanks to their recent success, the Reds are going to be buyers heading into the deadline. The question is what resources will they use, and how big will they go. One potential avenue is consolidating some of their major league talent to acquire a star. Dylan Cease is a name that sticks out as a controllable starter with tons of talent. There is a possibility the Reds trade away Spencer Steer or Jonathan India opening up a lineup spot for CES. He is knocking on the door and the Reds cannot justify keeping him in Triple-A any longer.
Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand went deep twice tonight. First one was hit at 108.5 mph, second one was hit at 110.6 MPH.
The two homers traveled a combined 910 feet. Now up to 20 HR on the year.
— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) July 9, 2023
By knocking on the door, I mean pounding on the door. Encarnacion-Strand’s numbers in Triple-A have continued to be ridiculous. He is now up to 20 home runs on the year and would be on pace for 40 over 600 plate appearances. He is not going to steal bases and I predict the average comes down, but he is the definition of a slugging first baseman. His power will have an instant impact at the major league level and he needs to be stashed in all leagues.
At various levels of the minor leagues, Sal Frelick has posted BABIPs of: .538, .492, .333, .351, and .382. This season, his BABIP sits down at .259. His swing path is still as consistent as ever with a 23.6% Line Drive rate, so I am not really sure what the root cause of this BABIP decline is outside of some poor luck. Frelick is never going to be the type of player to hit 20 home runs, but he does combine excellent contact skills with plus speed and strong plate discipline. He is not the flashiest prospect in the minor leagues, but he is going to be a useful asset for fantasy managers in the same way that Steven Kwan is.
The Brewers’ outfield is struggling to produce offensively. The combination of Blake Perkins and Raimel Tapia should not be combining for everyday at-bats. Meanwhile, Jesse Winker looks like a shell of his former self and Joey Wiemer has fallen into a pretty serious slump at the plate. There is plenty of room in Milwaukee’s lineup for Frelick and fantasy managers should not be overly focused with his 2023 slash line. Stash him now and expect a promotion in the near future.
The youth movement in Pittsburgh appears to be in full swing. Nick Gonzales and Henry Davis are both up and playing every day leaving Endy Rodriguez as the last big name to earn a promotion. Catcher is a tricky position in both real-life and fantasy baseball. Managing a staff, framing pitches, sequencing, and blocking 98 mph pitches that sink into the dirt takes a lot of practice. The promotion of Davis to play the outfield makes it obvious that the team is impressed with Rodriguez’s work behind the dish and should give him a chance to show this soon.
He has gotten hot at Triple-A reminding fantasy managers why he was so highly regarded entering the 2023 season. Rodriguez is ready for his shot and offers a clear upgrade to Austin Hedges offensively. Hedges is the worst offensive catcher in baseball and there is no reason the team should be trotting him out there on a consistent basis. Rodriguez is coming and you should have him stashed if you are looking for an upgrade at catcher.
The later we get into the season, the more likely it is that teams will give their top prospects a chance in the major leagues. With Arizona competing, they need to win as many games as possible and Jordan Lawlar offers their best chance to do that. Lawlar is dominating in Triple-A and boasts an impressive blend of power and speed. The whole reason to stash a prospect is to be able to roster somebody who can provide instant improvements to your fantasy team. Lawlar has the tools to be one of the most impactful players in fantasy baseball and needs to be a priority stash.
Geraldo Perdomo is not a player that is going to stand in the way of promoting a player with Lawlar’s skillset. Perdomo is a fine player, but Lawlar has the potential to be a difference-maker. The longer that Lawlar performs in Double-A, the more likely it is that Arizona will promote him straight to the major leagues. Lawlar needs to be stashed now before it is too late.
Now that we have reached the second half, I expect the Yankees to start showing some urgency with their prospects and improving their major league lineup. Austin Wells is only still in Double-A because he began the year on the injured list. Now that he is healthy, he is hitting the ball as well as ever and is clearly ready for a promotion at least to Triple-A. With how porous the offensive production has been from Yankees’ catchers, I think it is realistic to see him go straight from Somerset to The Bronx.
Wells has an innate ability to tap into his pull-side power and launch the ball out of the park. The Short Porch at Yankee Stadium is designed specifically for batters like him. The fantasy upside is massive for the player who is my number-one-ranked catching prospect in all of baseball. Stash him now before it is too late.
Slight drop in the Stash List priority for Kyle Manzardo after he landed on the Triple-A IL. Manzardo’s season has been a disappointment from a statistical perspective, but it is important to remember everything that he is going through. Manzardo’s mom is dealing with significant health issues and now with his injury, it makes you wonder how much of his first half should just be completely thrown out the window. He is still hitting tons of line drives, showing excellent plate discipline, and hitting the ball extremely hard. The skillset has not declined at all and Manzardo remains one of the game’s brightest future stars.
However, with everything going on, his stash priority has taken a bit of a hit. The success of current Rays’ players combined with the disappointing results makes it difficult to envision the Rays promoting him before the middle of August. Once up, I have no doubts that Manzardo will be an instant fantasy contributor, but the timeline has just been pushed back a little bit further. The upside is still plentiful and he remains a quality stash option.
While Thomas Saggese is getting all the attention (more on that to come in a performance report later this week), Justin Foscue continues to be the most important stash option in the Rangers’ system. As previously discussed, this has very little to do with playing for the Rangers, but rather the likelihood that Foscue is a part of a trade at the deadline. Foscue is ready for the major leagues. He walks more than he strikes out, is on pace for 20 home runs in 600 plate appearances, and has one of the smoothest swing paths in the minor leagues. On top of that, he is making in-zone contact 94% of the time with a swinging strike rate below seven percent. He would be much higher on this list if he was not blocked on the major league depth chart.
So, who are some of the teams we should want Foscue to get dealt to. The most obvious is the White Sox who have a clear opening at second base. Detroit and Seattle are two other options if they are willing to trade one of their many pitchers for a starting second baseman. Foscue would also almost immediately slot into the starting lineup for any of Colorado, Boston, or the Cubs (at third base) should they work out a trade with Texas. There are plenty of trade partners that could land Foscue in the major leagues. You want to have him stashed now before a trade happens and everybody rushes to pick him up.
Curtis Mead first showed up at number nine in the very first week of the Stash List. After a lengthy absence, Mead is back and slots right back in where he left off. The hype around Mead was substantial entering the 2023 season. Unfortunately, things did not get off to the best start for Mead. Prior to getting injured on April 29th, Mead was batting .221 with just two home runs and one stolen base. Since returning, Mead has looked much more like the player we saw in 2022. He is batting .379 since his return to Triple-A including this home run which had to be a welcome sight for dynasty managers:
Curtis Mead is back with the @DurhamBulls!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 3, 2023
Before the season started, Mead was viewed as a player with a plus-hit tool and raw power that was continuing to develop into game power. Many hoped he could take the next step and early reports were that the Rays attempted to work out an extension prior to the season which would have allowed Mead to skip Triple-A altogether. Now that he is healthy and hitting, it is reasonable to assume Mead is on the fast track to the major leagues. Brandon Lowe has a history of injuries and is batting just .209 on the season. If Mead continues to dominate, the Rays will not hesitate to give him a chance. His proximity and strong recent play make him a top stash option.
This marks the third time that Michael Busch has worked his way onto the Stash List. Busch has been in the major leagues twice this season but has yet to hit a home run and has just nine hits across 54 plate appearances. His lack of success at the major league level is discouraging, but Busch continues to perform at a high level in Triple-A. He is up to 11 home runs with a batting average above .300. Busch hit .267 in 2021, improved to .274 in 2022, and is now over .300 showing steady growth and maturity in his approach at the plate. There is easy 25 home run power in his profile which can be extremely valuable from the second base position in fantasy baseball.
Busch cracks back into this list again due to the recent demotion of Miguel Vargas. Vargas was a top prospect entering the season and had a stronghold on the second base job. Well, Vargas was struggling so much in the major leagues that the team opted to send him back to the minors to work on some things. Right now, they are using Mookie Betts at second base, but they surely would like to shift him back to the outfield if possible. Although it is possible for Los Angeles to trade for an infielder, the team surely will want to see what they have in Busch through an extended look. You should stash Busch now and expect him back in LA sooner rather than later.
On The Bubble