The Hitter Edition of The Stash List is back and updated for week two.
This stash list highlights the ten 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 owning 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 ownership percentages will be updated weekly.
- Stats will be updated weekly for all players through Friday’s games
The Stash List
After debuting on the Stash List at number seven last week, Matt Mervis was called up by the Cubs on Thursday. Mervis was crushing Triple-A pitching with six home runs and a 95th-percentile exit velocity of 109.2. He should get everyday playing time with Chicago in place of Eric Hosmer or Trey Mancini. There is 30-home run potential here and hopefully, you stashed him before his promotion. If not, there might still be time to get him; he is a must-add in 12+ team leagues.
Top 10 Hitting Prospects to Stash
No changes at the top of this list. Jordan Walker remains a prospect with one of the highest upsides in baseball. His rare combination of power and speed give him a ceiling, unlike many others. Not only is Walker incredibly talented, but he has already made his Major League debut. The Cardinals clearly wanted him to work on things in Triple-A, but will not be afraid to call him up if one of their starters gets injured.
The biggest thing to watch for with Walker is the launch angle. His groundball rate has been too high for him to find consistent success. If he can start demonstrating his ability to elevate the ball more, the Cardinals will be more than happy to call him back up. Continue stashing Walker as I do not anticipate it being very long before we see him in St. Louis again.
Jordan Westburg has really found his stride at the plate. After a bit of a rocky start, the Orioles’ future infielder has been nothing short of excellent. He is hitting for average, power, and is already up to four stolen bases this year. Westburg has an average exit velocity of over 92 mph with seven home runs already. He is showing all the signs of a future five-category contributor.
So far this season, Westburg is playing all over the diamond. He has started at least three games at second, third, and short displaying impressive versatility. Major League clubs love versatility and find it extremely conducive to roster construction. This should help Westburg breakthrough with the Major League team any day now.
Gunnar Henderson is bringing his strikeout rate down while walking an impressive amount but is still struggling to hit for any average or power. The Orioles would prefer to not send him back to Triple-A which might make Adam Frazier the most likely candidate to be replaced when Westburg is promoted. Frazier is a below-average offensive player and is best suited for a bench role.
Justyn-Henry Malloy has cooled off some at the plate, but it was impossible for him to continue putting up the numbers he was. Malloy is now up to four home runs and remains the perfect player to stash especially in points/OBP leagues. Plus speed is the only thing missing from his profile as he continues to perform in Triple-A. Do not expect him to bat .320 once he is called up but a .260 average, 12% walk rate, and 20 home runs is a realistic season-long projection.
With Kerry Carpenter on the IL, the team is now giving Andy Ibáñez a chance to play. On nights where he sits, some combination of Miguel Cabrera and Zack Short enter the lineup. Ibanez is yet to get a hit and third baseman Nick Maton’s average has dropped below .160. JHM has a strong chance of instantly becoming the best hitter in Detroit’s lineup. Stash him now before he gets his well-deserved promotion.
Last week, Endy Rodriguez’s health was up in the air. He was dealing with a strained forearm clouding his 2023 outlook. Fantasy managers stashing Rodriguez can breathe a sigh of relief as he returned to action this week. Prior to his injury, Rodriguez was starting to show flashes of what makes him such a valuable stash option. He has a plus hit tool while also being able to tap into plus game power. He has three home runs already and is especially valuable in OBP leagues thanks to a double-digit walk rate.
I think it is fair to start wondering; What if the Pirates do not slow down? They continue to win games, with Austin Hedges as the primary catcher. Hedges has been over 70% worse than league average offensively. Sure, he is a good defender but it is time for Pittsburgh to start looking toward the future. Expect Rodriguez to be given a shot in the coming weeks. The catcher position is always thin, especially in two-catcher leagues. Rodriguez is the perfect player to stash and should be a valuable fantasy contributor once in the Major Leagues.
Kyle Manzardo continues to hit in Triple-A. There is really nothing left for him to prove as he has brought his average up close to .300. The power is there, the hit tool is there, and the plate discipline is there. Manzardo is ready for his call to the Major Leagues.
This might just be a result of a small sample size, but Manzardo has increased his pull percentage from the mid-40s last season to 60% early on. Previously identified as a doubles machine, an increased pull percentage could lead to more home runs than previously projected. Manzardo has plenty of power to be a 30-home run threat, but his swing was geared to go gap-to-gap rather than drive the ball out of the park. Manzardo is showing an ability to tap into more pull-side power without taking away from his excellent hit tool. Manzardo’s ceiling could be getting even higher.
Manzardo continues to only rank fifth on this list due to the congestion in front of him. Harold Ramírez is off to an incredible start this season and is not even receiving consistent playing time. An injury could open the door, but there is no clear path here. Manzardo will debut in 2023 although the timeline remains blurry.
Elly De La Cruz continues to slide down the stash list rankings. After dropping from one to three last week, he falls from three to six this week. The concern is an incredibly high strikeout rate that has hindered him throughout his Minor League career. De La Cruz is not only aggressive at the plate but struggles to make consistent contact. His incredible 2022 season overshadowed a strikeout rate that was north of 30%. As the competition increases, these rates tend to get worse before they get better. This is exactly what is happening so far in 2023.
Now, to be on this list you have to be a pretty important prospect. The concerns do not take away from De La Cruz’s upside. He has 30/30 potential and is still adjusting to Triple-A pitching. He remains a strong stash option thanks to his elite upside and lack of Major League depth ahead of him. He has been working more at third base helping to alleviate the concern of Matt McLain blocking his promotion.
If you want a reason to be excited, check out his first home run of 2023 below:
There’s few hitters at any level who can hit this pitch in this location out to dead center. Elly De La Cruz is a cheat code. pic.twitter.com/zQqoJntNME
— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) April 30, 2023
Back-to-back Reds’ players are trending in opposite directions. Christian Encarnacion-Strand has been unstoppable since returning from the IL. On Thursday night, he crushed three home runs bringing his total up to seven for the season. There are no doubts about his power as you can see from this monster blast:
Christian Encarnacion-Strand is HIM pic.twitter.com/cWZJkYJIag
— David Mendelson (@DMendy02) May 5, 2023
There are questions surrounding Encarnacion-Strand’s approach at the plate. He is a free-swinger at the plate with a current swing percentage above 60%. There is not a single qualified player in the Major Leagues swinging as much as he is in Triple-A.
Do not mistake this concern as me advocating to avoid picking him up. He ranks seventh on this list for a reason. Salvador Perez, Ryan Mountcastle, and Rafael Devers all have swing percentages close to 60% and that does not make them any less valuable. Pick up CES before it is too late.
Ronny Mauricio is not letting a mid-season position change slow him down. He continues to dominate Triple-A pitching and is striking out under 10% of the time since April 22nd. Although the home runs have slowed down, Mauricio is being more aggressive on the bases with four steals over that time.
At the Major League level, Mark Canha continues to disappoint offensively. At 34 years old, his best offensive days appear to be behind him. He is both below average at the plate and in the field and the Mets need every win possible to keep up with the Braves. Mauricio offers the team the best chance to win. I expect the Mets to call him up before the All-Star Break making now the best time to stash him.
Addison Barger‘s early season struggles at Triple-A have persisted. A three-hit effort on April 26th is Barger’s only multi-hit game since April 9th. Barger’s struggles remain strongly correlated to a high strikeout rate. After making significant strides in his plate disciple last season, Barger appears to have reverted to old habits. This is something to closely monitor as the 2023 season continues.
Despite the early season struggles, it would be premature to give up on Barger just yet. He is still demonstrating an extremely smooth swing path that helps him to elevate the ball and hit tons of line drives. His pull tendencies should help his raw power play up and he remains the best option in Toronto’s system. Although he has moved into the last spot on this list, Barger still remains a strong stash option for 2023.
After a one-week hiatus from the Stash List, Casey Schmitt returns. The biggest push to get Schmitt back on this list is his first home run of the season. Schmitt demonstrated breakout power potential last season and this spring before going quiet at Triple-A. Hopefully, his first home run of the season is a sign of things to come. He continues to show off a plus-hit tool by maintaining a batting average of over .300.
Schmitt’s path to the Major Leagues is seemingly even clearer at this point. Brandon Crawford is on the IL thrusting David Villar back into the lineup. Villar continues to struggle with his average down to .145. Not only would Schmitt be an upgrade offensively, but he would be a big upgrade defensively. The Giants are likely to turn to Schmitt soon making now the perfect time to stash him.
On The Bubble
In no particular order, the top five hitters that were in consideration for inclusion to this list were: Edouard Julien (#10 Week 4), Colton Cowser, Curtis Mead (#9 Week 1), Matt McLain, and Mark Vientos.