Every Sunday for the abbreviated 2020 season, I will be posting a list of 10 pitching prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important, as I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2020 – and not beyond.
During the season, the list will exclusively feature players who are not currently on major league rosters, and will include my prediction for when they will be called up, what kind of impact I expect to make, and how you should value them in various redraft formats.
Another week has come and gone and my top stash candidate, Nate Pearson (5 IP, 2H, 0ER, 0 BB, 5 K), made his big league debut. The flame-throwing right-hander will occupy a big league rotation spot from here on out, and if for some reason he is available in your league you should open a new tab and go pick him up immediately.
A few other pitching prospects made their first big league starts last week as well, including Mets left-hander David Peterson, Astros right-hander Cristian Javier, Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin and – somewhat surprisingly – Royals lefty Kris Bubic.
I’ll let the incomparable Nick Pollack tell you all about Javier in his GIF Breakdown, while our dynasty staffer Trevor Hooth handled Bubic in a GIF Breakdown as well. Peterson is not a guy I’d be rushing out to pick up anywhere, but maybe keep an eye on him in deeper formats or NL-only leagues as a potential streamer. Gonsolin may see his opportunity to stick in the rotation disappear with Clayton Kershaw on the way back, assuming the team keeps Dustin May in the rotation.
He doesn’t qualify as a stash candidate, but A’s left-hander Jesus Luzardo is going to start on Tuesday, and for those who have been patient with him starting the year in the bullpen, you should be rewarded handsomely for the rest of the season. If an impatient owner dropped him, I hope you were able to snap him up quickly.
Lastly, the Astros reported that right-hander Forrest Whitley is feeling arm discomfort, with no word on his future at the moment. That almost certainly spells trouble for the flame-thrower, who already dealt with a messy 2019 season. I have removed him completely from this list for now, but will add him back if it seems likely he will find the big league bump in 2020.
Without further ado, here is a look at 10 pitchers who are not (yet) in the major leagues, and why you should consider stashing them in redraft leagues.
1. Spencer Howard, RHP, PHI – ETA Early August
The Phillies all but confirmed Spencer Howard was coming up to start on Friday of last week, but positive COVID-19 tests caused them to postpone games over the weekend, and has muddied up their situation going forward. I see no reason why he won’t be an early call-up as soon as they resume playing, which I imagine will happen this week.
The only thing I could see preventing that from happening – and this is a factor for all prospects – is the potential for a full-season shut down. If teams feel that is imminent, they may be hesitant to call up any prospects, instead waiting until a few weeks into the 2021 season to manipulate the service time clock for an additional year.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that – for a lot of reasons – and hopefully that means Howard will be with the big club soon. His electric arsenal, advanced pitchability and rapid development make him a very intriguing arm for this season and beyond, and I’d happily be scooping him up in 12-teamers wherever he is available. Heck, even in 10-teamers, the production he has the potential to produce this season makes him worth an add right now, while we await updates on Philadelphia’s upcoming schedule.
2. Casey Mize, RHP, DET – ETA Early August
The Tigers are heavily, heavily hinting at an impending call up of former first overall pick Casey Mize. Initially it looked like he would come up as soon as Sunday, but now it looks like left-hander Daniel Norris and right-hander Rony Garcia will start the double-header instead. The Tigers are waiting on a few factors, namely weather and the potential schedule changes they’ll likely have to make next week when they are supposed to play the Cardinals, but assuming all goes well (no guarantee) it does look like Mize will toe the rubber sometime next week, likely against St. Louis if they are able to return to the field.
So, if you still have a chance to pick Mize up in 12+ team leagues, I suggest rushing to the waiver wire to do so.
While Mize does not have the strikeout stuff that many of his counterparts, including Pearson, MacKenzie Gore and even Tigers teammate Matt Manning have, which limits his fantasy value – he’s still good enough to merit ownership in basically all formats while he’s pitching in the major leagues. If you have an empty spot, you should be more than happy adding Mize to the end of your bench. It sounds like his call is coming soon.
3. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SD – ETA September
The Padres are sitting on the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, and it seems all but certain he will be pitching in the major leagues at some point in 2020.
I’d have him at the top of this list if I was more confident he would be up soon, but San Diego has a solid rotation and seem more likely to hold Gore down, partly for service time reasons and partly because he’s just 21 years old and has only thrown 21.2 innings above High-A.
Still, Gore is a must-add in all formats when he gets the call, and he is a player I would happily pick up in 12+ team leagues to stash on the bench while we wait for his (hopefully soon) arrival to the show.
I’m less confident he will be up this week, but I’m very confident he will be worth the wait when he does get the call – more so than any other pitching prospect in baseball.
4. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, MIA – ETA August
If you read my hitter stash article yesterday, you know I’m upgrading Marlins prospects because they seem likely to come up and replace the plethora of big leaguers who are stuck in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. We don’t know exactly how many Miami pitchers are out with COVID-19, but we know at least one, Jose Urena, is.
It’s a crappy reason, but I can’t pretend I wouldn’t be excited to see Sixto make his big league debut this year, if Miami decides to give him a call. With fellow prospect Edward Cabrera dealing with arm soreness (otherwise he’d be on this list) I think Sanchez might get a look as Miami’s next man up – over fringier candidates like Nick Neidert, Stephen Tarpley, Robert Duggar and Sterling Sharp.
Sanchez has more innings pitched at AA than almost anyone else on this list – having amassed 103 innings in 18 starts last year while posting a stellar 2.53 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP, backed by a 2.69 FIP.
While he suffers a similar fate to Dustin May and Casey Mize in that he’s not a huge strikeout guy, I think he will still be worth rostering in most formats if and when he gets the call, and he’s worth a stash in deeper redraft leagues at this point – and well worth a spot on the watch list in 10 and 12-team formats.
5. Matt Manning, RHP, DET – ETA Late August
I’ve been on the record a handful of times as preferring Manning over Mize (including above), but all signs indicate that Mize, if healthy, will get the first look among Detroit’s pitching prospects this summer.
That doesn’t mean Manning will be passed over entirely, in fact Manning could get a look shortly after Mize, particularly if injuries or ineffectiveness continue to plague Detroit’s rotation.
Manning has more strikeout potential, less injury risk, and in general has pitched better than Mize thus far in their careers, which have overlapped at the same levels for the last few seasons.
Manning posted an outstanding 2.56 ERA with a 2.53 FIP, 0.98 WHIP and a 28.1% strikeout rate in AA last year across 24 starts. He is very close to ready for the major leagues, and some might argue he’s ready now, even at just 22 years old.
Mize may be a slightly more practical candidate for fantasy relevance in 2020, but I’m taking Manning long term without a doubt, and would argue for him in redraft if I felt they were going to have an equal amount of innings. It’s a situation for fantasy players to watch closely as the season chugs along, and either would be a respectable stash in deeper redraft leagues.
6. Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA – ETA September
Gilbert continues to rise up this list, in part because of players graduating ahead of him, and in part because of Seattle’s struggling pitching – which may push them to make a move sooner than expected.
While Kendall Graveman and Taijuan Walker have shown flashes at the back end of Seattle’s rotation (particularly Walker) the team is still lacking in overall depth – and the performances so far from Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield and Yusei Kikuchi have been ugly, to say the absolute least.
Gilbert threw 50 innings at AA last season, posting a 2.88 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 28.7% strikeout rate with a 7.7% walk rate.
While none of Gilbert’s pitches stand out, he has four very solid offerings that all show 50-grade potential. Tack on his 60-grade command and you have a guy who should settle in as a No. 2/3 starter, and who could get there as soon as 2020.
Despite the lack of talent ahead of him, and the performance at AA last year, the temptation to leave Gilbert down for an extra year of service time, especially when Seattle is not expected to be competitive, has me concerned that we won’t see much of the big right-hander this year.
If he gets the call, he is a must-add in nearly all formats. If you want to roster him before that time and can afford to wait, by all means give him a shot – the talent is unmistakable and Seattle’s use of a six-man rotation could make it more likely he will get a look.
7. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KC – ETA Mid-August
The Royals have not been shy about calling up their bevy of young pitching prospects this season, with Brady Singer and Kris Bubic already making their debuts despite very little minor league experience. That came because of injuries and COVID-19 issues with Brad Keller, Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery, however, so there’s no guarantee more prospect additions are imminent.
However – should they need another arm, or they decide they want to take a look at their whole group of young pitchers in the big league at around the same time, I could see reality where left-hander Daniel Lynch is up before too long.
Lynch has the biggest potential of Kansas City’s young group, which also includes Jackson Kowar, and long-term he’s the arm I would prefer. I think if he gets a look in the show he’ll turn some heads thanks to his velocity and a pair of breaking balls – along with solid command. Lynch balled out in the Arizona Fall League last year, and I think he was poised for a breakout this season anyway, had a minor league campaign actually occurred.
Now, that breakout could happen over the last few weeks of the MLB season, and I would definitely be targeting him in deeper leagues at this point, with a close watch on him in 10 and 12-team leagues for right now.
8. Josiah Gray, RHP, LAD – ETA Late August
Gray is another player I struggled to place on this list. He was named by manager Dave Roberts as a candidate to replace Alex Wood for Friday’s turn in the rotation, but the start eventually went to fellow prospect Tony Gonsolin, who looked respectable in a four-inning outing. Now with Clayton Kershaw on his way back, the Dodgers appear to have a full five-man rotation, with Gonsolin likely headed back to the pen.
That makes it hard to envision an obvious need for Gray right away, especially if Wood and/or Jimmy Nelson return this year. So while he’s perhaps the riskiest arm on this list, he also has a very high reward. Pitching for the Dodgers often leads to a lot of wins, and Gray has plus command over his four-pitch arsenal. He likely won’t wow you, but he will do enough to get the job done, and I can imagine him stringing together a handful of very favorable starts if given the opportunity.
I don’t see a need to stash him in most formats, outside of deeper leagues, but definitely keep an eye on LA’s rotation. If he gets his shot, he will be mixed league relevant right away.
9. Dane Dunning, RHP, CWS – ETA Late August
This is such a strange season, and while I can’t recommend using too many roster spots on stash candidates, I do think deeper leagues should take a look at White Sox right-hander Dane Dunning.
Dunning underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2019, and he’s back and was able to ramp things up during summer camp, to the point where he is stretched out enough to come in and start, should the White Sox need him.
Acquired as the third piece of the Adam Eaton trade, alongside Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, Dunning had a 2.76 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP and a 26.3% strikeout rate in AA in 2018, across 11 starts. He possesses a well above-average slider and a good changeup, although his fastball is a tad underwhelming – likely limiting him to a No. 4/5 starter.
However, he should get a chance to pitch in Chicago this season, and considering how many of the White Sox games are against Kansas City and Detroit, the 25-year-old could be worth stashing in deeper redraft formats.
10. Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL – ETA Mid-August
The Atlanta Braves shocked the baseball world when they designated Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after his disastrous first start. Folty ended up back with the club, but the team is committed to going elsewhere for that fifth spot in their rotation. The initial plan is to move Touki Toussaint from the bullpen into the rotation, but it seems likely they will need to find another starter to fill that void, at least as long as veteran Cole Hamels is still on the injured list.
They have a bevy of young pitching they could turn to, including Bryse Wilson, Tucker Davidson and Kyle Muller, although I believe Ian Anderson is the best of the group, and frankly the only one worth stasthing at this point.
Anderson is a bit boring, with a meh fastball and an excellent curveball, along with rather alarming walk rates. If he can find that command, he has the makings of a No. 2 or 3 starter type – worth owning in most fantasy formats. Whether he gets there this year remains to be seen, but if Anderson gets the call and is facing a team like the Marlins or the Orioles, he’ll be a must-start in all formats. That along makes him worth a look in deeper leagues, and a watch list candidate in 10 and 12 teamers.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)