Welcome to The Stash List, Pitcher Edition!
The 2022 season is here, and we finally get to see our fantasy teams in action! As managers, we are looking forward to reaping the rewards of our offseason research and draft strategies, but for most of us, the fun is only just beginning.
Effective in-season management will propel your team into contention, and understanding the outlook and ETA for some of baseball’s tops prospects will give you an advantage over your league mates.
The Stash List will highlight the top-10 starting pitcher prospects who are most likely to make an impact this season and, depending on your roster make-up and league rules, may deserve a spot on your squad sooner than later.
- The Stash List is for your redraft leagues and does not consider impact beyond 2022
- 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
THE STASH LIST
Each week this section is reserved for any pitchers who received a call-up to the majors and thus have graduated from The Stash List. While technically, there are no graduates for the first week of the season, let’s acknowledge how tremendous it is for baseball to see so many prospects break camp with the major league team.
This includes (in no particular order) Tanner Houck, Aaron Ashby, Clarke Schmidt, Reid Detmers, Matt Brash, Joan Adon, Hunter Greene, Jhoan Duran, Joe Ryan, and Josh Winder, among others. Had they started in the minors, the Stash List would be substantially different.
Top 10 Starting Pitcher Prospects to Stash
1. Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT – ETA April
It’s a shame that Contreras is on this list instead of up above with his colleagues who are starting off this year in The Show. He only pitched 3.0 innings during Spring Training, so it’s possible due to some past elbow soreness that the Pirates are just exercising caution with the future of their rotation.
Contreras features a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and a wipeout slider and, unlike many prospects, has extremely polished command. The right-hander was dominant at Double-A, posting a 2.65 ERA over 54.1 innings with 76 strikeouts which led to a cup of coffee with the Pirates in September.
Pittsburgh’s rotation could use the help, but Contreras is set to get some additional seasoning in Triple-A. If all goes well, we could see an early-season call-up, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Contreras establish himself as the Pirates’ ace in short order. He’s an arm to stash now across all redraft leagues.
(Editor Note: After this article was written, Roansy Contreras was recalled by the Pirates after Duane Underwood Jr. was added to the injured list. At this time, it is unclear if Contreras will jump into the rotation or be utilized out of the bullpen. That being said, Contreras has lights-out offerings and deserves to be stashed on your bench.)
2. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SDP – ETA May
Gore is a familiar name even in redraft leagues, but the former top prospect’s ascension through the minors came to a screeching halt during 2021 due to mechanical issues leading to inconsistency. His ranking tumbled, and by year-end, there were whispers that Gore may no longer be a starting pitcher. So what’s he doing ranked aggressively on The Stash List? In short, he’s back! Maybe.
Gore flashed his upside during Spring Training, logging 16 strikeouts over 12.0 innings while showcasing improved velocity and command. Though it’s a small size, he’s firmly back on fantasy radars. Considering the plethora of pitching options in San Diego, it’s tough to tell whether Gore was seriously considered for a rotation spot or not, but after some widespread speculation that he may break camp with the MLB team, he was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday.
The Padres rotation (Davish, Musgrove, Snell, Manaea, Martinez, Clevinger) is one of the best in baseball when healthy. Though, they’ve dealt with their fair share of recent injuries (Clevinger). Gore forcing his way into this crowded rotation seems unlikely, but if he can sustain his newfound success when an opportunity does arise, he’ll be the first to get the call. Stash Gore now if your roster allows.
3. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA June
If you’re unfamiliar with Rodriguez, it’s time to get acquainted. He’s a 6’5″ flame-thrower and arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball. The 22-year old features a five-pitch arsenal, including two plus-pitches, an upper-90s fastball, and a slider, and while his command is a work-in-process, scouts agree Rodriguez has the stuff to get out big league hitters now.
Rodriguez made stops at two levels in 2021, and most notably dominated Double-A competition over 79.2 innings pitched with 121 strikeouts and a 2.60 ERA. Rodriguez had a rough go about Spring Training this year and is likely headed to Triple-A Norfolk to start the season.
The Orioles are in desperate need of help in the major league rotation but are not going to hurry their future ace. He’s not on the 40-man roster yet either, so consider him an upside stash only. As we get further into the season, Rodriguez is likely going to move to a player to stash now and can be someone who bolsters your fantasy rotation down the stretch. As with any young starting pitcher, there is always some inherent risk, but don’t be afraid to speculate and stash him if he strings together a handful of good outings.
4. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA June
Cabrera was roughed up in his major league debut in 2021 but lands back on The Stash List due to his promising upside and proximity. The young Marlins rotation is full of talent and depth, so Cabrera finds himself on the outside looking in, having been sent to Triple-A Jacksonville to start the 2022 season.
Cabrera has an upper 90’s fastball to go along with an excellent slider that generated a 39.6% whiff rate in 2021. But, he needs to refine his command a bit further after posting a sky-high walk rate near 15.8% during his time with the Marlins.
The probability of Cabrera getting called up again in 2022 is quite high; the only question is timing. He’s clearly the next pitcher up when a need arises, and his upside alone makes stashing him a strong speculative play. With a step forward in terms of command, limiting walks, and home runs, Cabrera can easily make a significant impact for your fantasy team down the stretch.
5. Cade Cavalli, RHP, WAS – ETA June
Cavalli entered Spring Training with an outside chance at cracking the Opening Day rotation, but his big league debut is now on hold now after an unsightly 13 earned runs allowed over only eight innings pitched, though he did register 11 strikeouts to only one walk. Cavalli will head to Triple-A Rochester to start the season, where he’ll need to continue to refine his command.
The backend of the Nationals rotation is hardly set in stone, so it’s expected we see Cavalli at some point this summer. His extreme upside makes him a prime candidate to stash; however, uncertainty on the timing and overall readiness makes him better suited as a watch-lister for now. Consider stashing him now in deeper redraft leagues.
6. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA July
The next high-upside arm on the Marlins depth chart is Max Meyer, who possesses a plus mid-90s plus fastball and slider combination, though he most likely slides behind his colleague Edward Cabrera in the pecking order for a shot at the big league rotation.
Meyer had a good showing in Spring Training, logging four innings of no-hit ball with five strikeouts, but considering the Marlins’ depth, he was reassigned to Triple-A Jacksonville. He made his first start of the regular season this past Wednesday, again going four innings with five strikeouts while allowing just two runs.
Meyer’s upside is worth stashing if you have the room, but you may need to exercise patience as there are a lot of mouths to feed in Miami. It’s expected that Meyer gets a shot in 2022, but right now, a potential call-up might not happen until the second half.
7. Luis Gil, RHP, NYY – ETA May
Gil made his major league debut in 2021, and impressed fantasy managers and baseball fans alike with a 3.07 ERA over 29.1 innings pitched and 38 strikeouts. The lone blemish was the 19 walks issued during the same time. Gil has a plus fastball and above-average slider but has struggled with command during his time in the minors and may have been lucky the damage wasn’t worse during his first go-around with the Yankees.
The 23-year-old was reassigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this past Monday but is likely the first pitcher called up should a need arise in the major league rotation. Gil has the stuff to get outs at the highest level, but without improving his command he will be hard to trust in your fantasy lineup. With a step forward though, he may unlock some of his untapped potential. Stash him only if you’re desperate for a starting pitcher since he could be one of the first from this list to get the call.
8. Cole Winn, RHP, TEX – ETA July
The Rangers starting rotation, or rather, lack of starting rotation, may offer Winn the easiest path to playing time of anyone on this list. But, what Winn has in terms of opportunity and proximity, he may lack in upside. The right-hander has multiple plus offerings and can touch the upper-90s with his fastball, but still, most scouts peg him as having a mid-rotation upside.
Winn had a good showing in Double-A during 2021, striking out 97 over 78.0 innings with a 2.19 ERA which earned him a late-season promotion to Triple-A. Despite being drafted in 2018, Winn only has a little over 150 innings pitched in his professional career, with a maximum of 88.0 during 2021. The Rangers will want to extend him further in 2022, but he’ll likely be faced with innings and pitch count limitations, which means he’s probably best left as a streaming option outside the deepest of redraft leagues.
9. George Kirby, RHP, SEA – ETA May
Kirby has some of the highest upside in all of the minor leagues, primarily due to his combination of elite strikeout ability and command. His fastball reaches the upper-90s, and his slider is already big-league ready. The righty was in brief contention for a spot in the Mariners’ starting rotation which ultimately went to Matt Brash.
If there is a knock on Kirby, it’s his health. He’s missed multiple stretches of games in 2021 and, as a result, has a small number of professional innings relative to his peers. He’ll start the 2022 season with Double-A Arkansas, but with success, a quick promotion to Triple-A Tacoma is probably in the cards. Kirby has the makeup of a frontline starter and could make an immediate impact for your fantasy team if called up, but a lot of things need to go right for that to happen anytime soon.
10. Jack Leiter, RHP, TEX – ETA August
Leiter might be baseball’s next top pitching prospect, and he’ll make his long-awaited professional debut this season for Double-A Frisco. He has one of the most big-league-ready arsenals in the minor leagues and could very well make his MLB debut this season.
As noted, the Rangers starting rotation is far from a finished product, so there is no shortage of opportunity; you’ll just need to be patient. If you’re stashing Leiter, it’s purely speculative and based solely on his upside.
Others considered (in no particular order): Caleb Kilian, Bobby Miller, Kyle Muller, Ethan Small, DL Hall, Brandon Williamson, Cody Morris, Kyle Bradish, Jordan Balazovic, Matthew Liberatore, Joey Wentz, Zack Thompson, Jay Groome, Ryne Nelson