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 2
- 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 22
TOP 10 SP PROSPECTS TO STASH
1. Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT – (New) ETA May
Much to the dismay of all of us, Contreras is back on The Stash List after being demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday following a highly successful stint with the Pirates. Over his three appearances, Contreras logged a 3.52 ERA over 7.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and a 67% strike rate. Fortunately, it appears that the intentions are to further stretch him out before being recalled to join the starting rotation.
Contreras is the real deal; he averaged 97 mph on his fastball, a 60% whiff rate on his slider, and posted a 34.9% CSW on all pitches. Current fantasy managers, please hold Contreras during this time. If another manager in your league has Contreras, now is a good time to inquire via a trade. Once Contreras does resurface and join the Pirates rotation, he’ll immediately be their best starter and will be a significant contributor for your fantasy team down the stretch.
2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA June
There’s not much left to say about Rodriguez, other than; that he’s ready. Through three starts the Orioles future ace is 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA and an absurd 42.9% K-BB%. In his latest masterpiece, Rodriguez worked into the sixth inning and logged a season-high 75 pitches. He allowed a bit of hard contact early in the game and his lone blemish was a first-inning double by Isaac Paredes. Otherwise, he piled up strikeouts, worked quickly, and commanded all of his pitches. He lost a bit of steam in his last inning of work and issued a walk prior to departing, but not before retiring the previous 15 to come to the plate.
His early-season dominance and the elbow injury to John Means raised questions as to whether we might see Rodriguez in the majors soon. While this is certainly a possibility, and the momentum is continuing to grow, the Orioles starting rotation is actually tops in MLB with 2.5 fWAR (at the time of this writing), so a call-up may not be imminent. No one is really blocking Rodriguez though, he is the kind of talent that you make room for once he’s ready.
As a reminder, Rodriguez is not on the 40-man roster and despite exceeding expectations, he is still gaining valuable experience in Triple-A (only three career starts). For fantasy, consider Rodriguez on the cusp of making a significant impact for your team and is a must-stash in all leagues.
3. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA June
Meyer is going stride-for-stride with Grayson Rodriguez in the early going and you probably saw his name in your news feed this week because he faced Ronald Acuña Jr. in the first start on his rehab assignment. Meyer belongs in the news, but more for his 1.23 ERA over 14.2 innings with 20 strikeouts and only two walks over his three April starts.
Meyer allowed his first baserunner in the last two weeks en route to his longest outing of the season, working into the sixth and reaching 85 pitches. Meyer’s command was a little erratic early on, but he worked in the upper-90s with his fastball and showcased his plus slider. The Jacksonville broadcast touched on the progress of his changeup development, indicating that he’s aiming for an 8%-10% usage in the early going, with a focus on refining its shape. A step forward with his changeup may be the last hurdle to Meyer’s MLB-readiness.
The crowd came for Acuña but they certainly stayed for Meyer. There’s currently no opportunity at the big league level for Meyer, so barring an injury he’ll continue to get more experience in Triple-A. After yet another dominant outing it’s time to add him across all redraft leagues. You’ll probably need to hold him for a few weeks but he’s shown enough to warrant the stash.
4. 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.
The 24-year-old has made three starts this season for Double-A Arkansas, and most recently logged another 5.0 inning gem while surrendering zero runs and reaching a season-high 83 pitches. Hitters were off-balance all night, often working from behind in the count, and rarely generating good contact. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth, surrendering a couple of singles and a walk, and was bailed out by a caught-stealing and an interference call when a ground ball hit one of the runners. He labored a bit during the fifth inning as well but added his seventh strikeout, the third looking of the night.
Kirby continues to get stretched out and is looking very sharp along the way. He slides into the number four spot due to his early-season success and extreme upside. Being in only Double-A, there’s still some lead time before he makes his MLB debut, however, Kirby has the makeup of a frontline starter and could make an immediate impact for your fantasy team when called up. He doesn’t quite have the proximity to be a must-stash in standard leagues yet, but it’s coming.
5. 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 has started his 2022 campaign with a trio of stellar outings against the stout lineups for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Durham, and is now 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA, 17 strikeouts, with only three walks. In his start on Friday, he worked up to a season-high 86 pitches with excellent command (66% strike rate) while hitting 96 mph with his fastball. He ran into some trouble in the third inning, allowing a few runs while working around an error and a walk, but regrouped and retired nine of the final 10 hitters he faced. He has the stuff to get big league hitters out now.
Bradish is certainly down the ranks from Grayson Rodriguez, but it’s possible he warrants a call-up first. He’s 25-years-old, already on the 40-man roster, and has substantial experience and success at the Triple-A level (24 starts since 2021). Bradish is inching closer to his MLB debut, though, the Orioles starting rotation is healthy (with the exception of John Means) and performing well so expect an early-summer ETA.
6. Cole Winn, RHP, TEX – ETA July
Winn is knocking on the Rangers front door with a 1.38 ERA over 13.0 innings pitched to start the 2022 season. On Wednesday he earned his first win of the season after working an efficient 5.0 innings and reaching 75 pitches (47 strikes). He did a nice job limiting hard contact and would have fared even better if it weren’t for a few bloop singles.
The Rangers starting rotation has endured a couple of injuries recently, notably to Jon Gray and Spencer Howard, who both returned to action this week. Winn should firmly be in the mix with AJ Alexy and Glen Otto the next time there is an extended big league opportunity. His arsenal is not overpowering, despite touching 95 mph with his fastball he just doesn’t generate enough whiffs to offer much more than a mid-rotation upside. He’s only worth stashing due to his proximity.
7. Cade Cavalli, RHP, WAS – ETA July
Cavalli has struggled to meet expectations through his first two starts of 2022, mainly a result of poor command. He’s flashed his upside in various stretches but has lost effectiveness as he’s worked deeper into his outings. 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. It’s worth noting that Cavalli’s third turn through the rotation is being skipped, and there’s no indication of injury currently.
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.
8. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA July
Cabrera falls behind colleague Max Meyer on The Stash List after landing on the minor league injured list with bicep fatigue. His Spring Training was delayed following visa issues, and now his regular season has been delayed for the second straight year due to arm issues. Cabrera was scheduled to make his return at Low-A Jupiter on Thursday but was a last-minute scratch. Never a good sign. (Editors Note: Edward Cabrera threw in an extended Spring Training game on Thursday. He went three innings, threw 40 pitches, and “looked good”. It is still questionable why he could not make the start in Low-A but some encouraging news.)
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.
9. Jack Leiter, RHP, TEX – ETA August
Leiter might be baseball’s next top pitching prospect, and he made his second professional start 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 struggled with his command early (52% strike rate), walking the first batter he faced among three on the day allowing some hard contact. He did manage four strikeouts, with three coming via his breaking pitches, and left after 75 pitches while surrendering only one run.
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.
10. Caleb Kilian, RHP, CHC – ETA July
The Cubs received Kilian last year in the trade that sent Kris Bryant to San Francisco. He features a mid-to-upper-90 fastball, hard breaking curve, slider, and developing changeup with an overall polished command. 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.
Over three starts this season, Kilian has posted a 1.54 ERA with 13 strikeouts over 11.2 innings. His command wasn’t as sharp as his first two outings, perhaps due to the average game-time temperature of only 43 degrees. In his start Thursday (69 degrees), Kilian looked much sharper (nearly 70% strike rate), while hitting 97 mph with his fastball and only issuing one free pass. He worked a season-high 68 pitches.
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. Scouts peg Kilian with a mid-rotation upside right now but he does have the potential for more if he can take a step forward with his secondaries.
Dropped out of the top 10: Luis Gil, RHP, NYY (#4, Week 2) – Gil is struggling mightily with command and is giving up a ton of hard contact. He has an unsightly 14.63 ERA with nine walks allowed over eight innings thus far. He has a long way to go before making a meaningful impact at the major league level in 2022. He’s a safe drop to the waiver wire in all redraft leagues.
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, Hunter Brown, Luis Frías
Photos by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Drew Wheeler (@drewisokay on Twitter)
Great read Greg!
Prospect question. Is there a site or app that you use that posts up to the minute prospect call up news? Hoping to get a jump on my league mates when arms are being called up.
Hey Barry! Thanks for reading and your comment. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I’m not aware of any app or site that has up to the minute prospects call-ups. The MLB transaction tracker posts all of the moves, but its usually delayed a day or so. Otherwise, I generally follow minor league teams beat writers or other accounts that cover their prospects. They tend to get information relatively quickly. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of knowing who’s on a cusp of a call-up so you’re ready to add players who can make an impact when they are called up. Sorry to not have a better answer!
Nice work, but Bobby Miller should be in the top 3 of ANY list of prospect pitchers to stash.
Hey Dave! Thanks for reading and your comment. I love Bobby Miller, especially in dynasty. Right now though, it’s tough to seem him making a meaningful impact as a starting pitcher in 2022. The organization is focused on building up his innings and he’s only in Double-A right now. He very well could debut this year, but my guess is it would be in a limited capacity/pitch count and later in the season. At this point, I’d prefer to stash other arms in redraft.