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.
Previous Week’s Stash List: The Stash List, Pitcher Edition: Week 1
- 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
- Stats shown are through April 15
GRADUATES AND NOTABLE CALL UPS
Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT
Contreras was featured in Week 1’s Pitcher Edition of The Stash List as the #1 overall stash and was called up last week to join the Pirates. For now, he is expected to serve as a multi-inning reliever as he continues to get stretched out. The Pirates are expected to continue to build up his innings slowly in the early part of the season, which is not ideal from a fantasy perspective.
Despite his current role, Contreras’ upside is worth holding even if he occupies an active spot on your roster. In a flash, he could become a key member of the Pirates rotation and be a meaningful contributor for the majority of the season.
The Ro Show pic.twitter.com/fNs6dlvWIf
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 15, 2022
Tommy Romero, RHP, TBR
Ouch. Welcome to the big leagues, kid. Romero was called up on Tuesday to fill one of the growing holes in the Rays’ starting rotation following a slew of injuries. A popular streaming option due to his tasty matchup with the A’s, the 24-year-old didn’t make it out of the second inning after surrendering a first-inning long ball to go along with five walks. Domo arigato, Mr. Romero.
Romero clearly didn’t have his control, and his normally effective fastball was rendered useless, averaging a measly 90.2 mph and generating zero whiffs. When his fastball is off, his secondary offerings are still only average and may limit his upside at the big league level.
Romero might get a chance to stick with the Rays for another turn through the rotation but currently lines up to face the White Sox, so he’s best left on the bench or waiver wire this coming week. He’s a better dynasty play than redraft for now, but we’ll probably see him in the big leagues again due to the injury-plagued state of the Rays’ starting rotation.
Bryce Elder, RHP, ATL
Elder was called up by the Braves this past Tuesday and made his MLB debut in a spot start against the Nationals. Max Fried was granted an extra day of rest this week ahead of his start on Wednesday, so there was an opening for Elder. The 22-year-old spent time at three levels during 2021, managing a 2.75 ERA over 137.2 innings with 155 strikeouts and 57 walks. He’s not the cream of the Braves prospect crop, but he has shown enough to get his first taste of the majors.
Elder posted a decent line in his MLB debut and walked away with the win, but his stuff wasn’t overpowering. His four-pitch mix grades as average; he sat low-90s with his fastball and managed a mediocre 25% CSW over 85 pitches. Expect him to be sent back to Triple-A, but he could be in line for another call-up later this season when the need arises. He’s not worth a stash outside of the deepest of leagues.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SDP
Gore was featured in Week 1 of The Stash List as the #2 overall stash. Following a stellar Spring Training in which he reasserted his fantasy relevance and nearly broke camp with the Padres, he carried this momentum into his first regular season start with Triple-A El Paso and was flat-out unhittable. Fast forward to this week, and an injury to Blake Snell left an opportunity on a silver platter for Gore, and he finally made his long-awaited major league debut on Friday.
Gore worked into the sixth inning against one of the top offensive lineups in baseball en route to a no-decision. He relied heavily on his fastball (73% usage), which was impressive, sitting in the upper-90s for most of the night, and he commanded it well. Though, the Braves were aggressive early in the count and generated a ton of hard contact. He largely struggled to command his secondaries and finished with a poor 18% CSW.
It’s unclear what comes next for Gore, though it’d be wise to hold him in all fantasy leagues. He flashed the upside, which previously made him baseball’s top pitching prospect, and with a step forward in secondary command, he could easily harness his frontline potential.
MacKenzie Gore's MLB debut is in the books:
3 K pic.twitter.com/Ex3Yvs8ykU
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 16, 2022
TOP 10 SP PROSPECTS TO STASH
1. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA June
Rodriguez slides into the number one spot following promotions of Roansy Contreras and MacKenzie Gore and a dazzling start to the 2022 season. If you’re unfamiliar with Rodriguez, stop what you’re doing and check your league’s waiver wire. 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 scouts agree Rodriguez has the stuff to get out big league hitters now.
Rodriguez dominated his first two starts for Triple-A Norfolk, firing nine innings while racking up 15 strikeouts and only allowing two runs. In his first start, he threw 61 pitches and followed it up with 67 in his second. It will be interesting to monitor his workload after a 2021 season where he didn’t frequently work deep into games. 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, but there is plenty of momentum building to see Rodriguez in the majors. He’ll likely get at least a few more starts in Triple-A before the Orioles consider calling him up. As with any young starting pitcher, there is always some inherent risk, but it’s time to stash him in all redraft leagues. The injury to John Means could possibly accelerate his promotion, but realistically there’s no one that will stand in Rodriguez’s way when he is ready.
Grayson Rodriguez with another dominant outing:
5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 8 K. Through his first two starts: 9 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 15 K.
He exits with Norfolk winning 12-2.
— The Verge- An Orioles MiLB Podcast (@BSLOnTheVerge) April 15, 2022
2. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA June
Meyer jumps into the number two spot after a lights-out start on Tuesday that sent Marlins fans into a frenzy. Unfortunately, he left the game with a calf cramp but not before logging a perfect five innings with eight strikeouts. Meyer possesses a plus mid-90s fastball and slider combination, but it was his changeup that was getting noticed during this outing which is shaping up to be a potential third plus-pitch. With a step forward in the development of his changeup, it won’t be long before we see him in Miami.
Following Meyer’s most recent start and the injury to Edward Cabrera, it’s very reasonable to expect that Meyer is in the mix for a call-up should there be an opportunity. Still, you may need to exercise patience as there are a lot of mouths to feed in Miami’s young MLB rotation, and Meyer has only four career starts at Triple-A to his name. It’s expected that Meyer gets a shot in 2022, but barring injury, a potential call-up might not happen until the second half.
👀 @Marlins No. 2 prospect Max Meyer is through 5 IP!
53 pitches/37 strikes
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 13, 2022
3. Cade Cavalli, RHP, WAS – ETA July
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 a relatively poor Spring Training and being reassigned to Triple-A Rochester.
Cavalli has made two regular-season starts, with his most recent start coming this past Thursday. His final line is ugly, but it’s a tale of two stories. Part 1) he worked the first four innings in classic Cavalli form, racking up seven strikeouts while only surrendering one run and one walk. Part 2) The wheels fell off when he went back out for the fifth inning as he allowed four straight hits to start the inning and was pulled without recording an out. Two runs scored on his watch, then he was responsible for two runners when he exited, which promptly scored on a Samad Taylor grand slam. Not the outcome we were hoping for. It’s worth noting his scheduled start this week was pushed back due to a rainout.
Improving overall command with emphasis on his off-speed pitches is key as Cavalli continues to develop in the minor leagues. The plan is to get Cavalli to the majors this season, but we’ll need to see meaningful and sustained improvements before that becomes a possibility. Cavalli’s extreme upside makes him a prime candidate to stash; however, uncertainty on the timing and overall readiness makes him best suited as a watch-lister for now. Consider stashing him only in deeper redraft leagues.
4. 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 assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and made his regular-season debut last weekend, logging 3.2 innings with five strikeouts and only one walk. Despite the lone walk, Gil’s pitch count climbed quickly (finished with 66 pitches) and resulted in an early hook.
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. 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.
5. George Kirby, RHP, SEA – ETA May
Kirby has some of the highest upside in all of the minor leagues due to his combination of elite strikeout ability and command. His fastball reaches the upper-90s, his slider is already big-league ready, and he’s continuing to develop his changeup while increasing the usage of his secondaries. The primary concern for Kirby is 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.
So far, the 23-year-old has made two starts this season with Double-A Arkansas, and most notably, this past Wednesday, he flashed his ace upside over 5.0 innings while limiting Springfield to only two hits and striking out eight. He finished off the night by retiring the final 12 hitters he faced. Outings like this one are easy support for an early-season promotion to Triple-A Tacoma and eventually a shot at the Mariners rotation.
Kirby has the makeup of a frontline starter and could make an immediate impact for your fantasy team when called up. He was probably ranked too low last week; his upside is extremely high, and he appears fully healthy. He doesn’t quite have the proximity to be a must stash in standard leagues yet, but it’s coming.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 14, 2022
6. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA July
Cabrera falls behind colleague Max Meyer on The Stash List after landing on the minor league injured list this week with bicep fatigue. His Spring Training was delayed following visa issues, and now his regular season will be delayed for the second straight year due to arm issues. Cabrera is already throwing, but the timing of his return at the minor league level is very uncertain.
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. With a step forward in terms of command, limiting walks, and home runs, Cabrera can easily make a significant impact for your fantasy team.
With health, the probability of Cabrera getting called up again in 2022 is quite high, though his injury throws a wrench into the plans. Depending on the depth of your league, opting for one of the other names on this list due to the uncertainty around his injury and the rise of Max Meyer is a reasonable play.
7. 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.
Winn has had a nice start to his 2022 regular season, logging four innings in each of his first two starts and allowing only one run while striking out six. His fastball is sitting in the low 90s and has touched 95 mph but was the source of some hard contact, including a 111 mph double in his first start. His secondaries (slider, curveball, change-up) were mostly average, though his curveball stood out in his second start, with a 52% swinging-strike rate and 43% CSW.
Winn’s Major League debut in 2022 is highly likely, but he only has four Triple-A starts under his belt, so a mid-season debut is probably the best-case scenario. He’s only worth stashing due to his proximity and if you are desperate for a starter.
8. Jack Leiter, RHP, TEX – ETA August
Leiter might be baseball’s next top pitching prospect, and he made his long-awaited professional debut this week 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.
The Rangers’ future ace was routinely in the upper-90s with his fastball, a 73% CSW on 15 sliders, and posted an overall 58% strikeout rate. Simply amazing.
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.
Jack Leiter's pro debut is complete.
3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K pic.twitter.com/NRF7tGkbD4
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 10, 2022
9. Kyle Bradish, RHP, BAL – ETA June
Orioles fans may be acquainted with Bradish already, but for those unfamiliar, he’s one of the prospects received in return for Dylan Bundy when the team made a trade in 2019 with the Los Angeles Angels. Bradish is a 6’4” righthander featuring a mid-90s fastball, a slider as his primary strikeout pitch, curveball, and changeup. As with many young pitchers, he’s working on refining his command. He’s taken some big steps forward in the past two years and is now knocking on the big league door.
Bradish had a strong showing in Spring Training and has kicked off the regular season in style with a four-inning performance, allowing only two hits with zero runs while striking out six. He has the experience and the stuff to get big league hitters out now, but he’s coming off a 2021 season where he finished with a double-digit walk rate, which just won’t fly in the majors.
Bradish is certainly down the ranks from Grayson Rodriguez, but it’s possible he warrants a call-up first. He’s on the 40-man roster already and has logged 23 starts in Triple-A since 2021. The elbow injury to John Means may open the door sooner than later, and Bradish is on a shortlist of names the Orioles will consider. Bradish is a name to know more than one to add off the waiver wire for now, but as the next generation Orioles starting pitchers make their MLB debuts, don’t be surprised when you see his name on the lineup card.
10. Caleb Kilian, RHP, CHC – ETA July
You might remember Kilian’s name from last year, but mainly because he was one of the pieces the Cubs received from San Francisco in exchange for superstar Kris Bryant. Since joining his new organization, all Kilian has done is add a few ticks to his fastball, rocketed up prospect rankings, and is now on the verge of breaking into the big leagues.
Kilian features a mid-to-upper-90 fastball, hard breaking curve, slider, and developing changeup. Between two organizations and two levels in 2021, he managed a 2.42 ERA over 100.1 innings with 112 strikeouts and only 13 walks. Kilian’s polished command stands out amongst his peers and is usually the last hurdle for prospects to overcome before making their major league debut.
Prior to this season, Kilian had yet to pitch above Double-A, so expect him to get some meaningful innings in Triple-A before the Cubs consider a promotion. In his first start of 2022, the brisk Buffalo evening brought his regular-season debut to an early ending, but not after striking out six and surrendering zero runs. The Cubs starting pitcher core has faced a number of injuries already this season, but as we get towards mid-season Kilian will be one to keep an eye on that could fill a hole in the rotation.
Others considered (in no particular order): Ryne Nelson, Bobby Miller, Kyle Muller, Ethan Small, DL Hall, Zack Thompson, Brandon Williamson, Cody Morris, Jordan Balazovic, Matthew Liberatore, Joey Wentz, Jay Groome, Drey Jameson, Deivi Garcia, Cole Sands
Photos by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Drew Wheeler (@drewisokay on Twitter)