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.
Well the Padres called up one of their elite pitching prospects, Luis Patino, to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being. They also sent left-handed starter Joey Lucchesi to the alternate site, clearing the path for a spot in the rotation. Patino is an option there, which would make him an add in 12+ team leagues, although it could easily go to long reliever Cal Quantrill (pass) or uber-prospect MacKenzie Gore (more on him later).
Jesus Luzardo made his first career start on Tuesday, throwing five scoreless innings while allowing just two walks and two hits and striking out five. If he’s somehow available in your league, go and get him right away.
Speaking of the A’s, they called up highly touted pitching prospect James Kaprielian to work out of the bullpen, but he was sent down before he even got a chance to debut. He might be worth a look down the line, if he ends up moving into the rotation at some point during this campaign.
A few lesser known prospects made their MLB debuts on the bump, Brandon Bielak of the Astros and Sterling Sharp of the Marlins, and while both looked good I don’t think they are ready for mixed league relevance just yet.
So, 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 Literally Today
The Phillies all but confirmed Spencer Howard was coming up to start a few weeks ago, but multiple positive COVID-19 tests forced them to postpone games and to delay his MLB debut. However, the team made it clear Howard is going to start on Sunday in the team’s double-header against the Braves, so we will finally get a look at the electric right-hander.
Howard’s electric arsenal, which includes a plus fastball, plus changeup and two breaking balls that have flashed plus, as well as his advanced pitchability and rapid development, make him an extremely enticing 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, I think he’s probably worth grabbing. Most teams have a pitcher or two who just have not gotten it done this year (looking at you Matthew Boyd) and I think he’s well worth gambling on, even in those shallower formats, now that we know he is coming up and that, barring another shutdown of the team, he will be up for the rest of the season and pitching every fifth day.
2. Casey Mize, RHP, DET – ETA August
The Tigers have been heavily hinting at an impending call up of former first overall pick Casey Mize. Initially it looked like he would come up last Sunday, but left-hander Daniel Norris and right-hander Rony Garcia started the double-header instead. Now, while it feels like a promotion for Mize is imminent, it’s not exactly clear when it will happen – clouding his value in redraft leagues at the moment.
So, if you still have a chance to pick Mize up in 12+ team leagues, I suggest getting 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, even after sending left-hander Joey Lucchesi down to their alternate site, and they 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. Plus, it is clear the team is going to take a look at Luis Patino, who is already in the big leagues in a relief capacity, before they bring up Gore. Patino could take Lucchesi’s spot in the rotation, or it could go to long reliever Cal Quantrill, but it seems like it will be a bit until we see the electric Gore in a Padres uniform.
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 not confident he will be up this week in place of Lucchesi, 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. 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 fellow prospects Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield 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.
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. Tucker Davidson, LHP, ATL – ETA 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 organization, but the team is committed to looking elsewhere for that fifth spot in their rotation. They moved Touki Toussaint from the bullpen into the rotation, but then the tragic loss of Mike Soroka to season-ending ankle injury necessitated another spot in the rotation.
The team announced Huascar Ynoa as the starter on Sunday morning, just before this went live, but I don’t believe he is a long-term option either.
Atlanta has a bevy of young pitching they could turn to, including Bryse Wilson, Tucker Davidson, Ian Anderson and Kyle Muller, and while I believe Anderson is the best of the group, he is not on the 40-man roster (neither is Muller) which seemingly gives a leg up to either Wilson or Davidson.
If I’m looking for a stash candidate, I’d much rather have Davidson. The 24-year-old left-hander posted a 2.03 ERA in 21 starts at AA last year, along with a 2.84 mark at AA in four starts. He also went to Driveline over the offseason and added ticks to his fastball, which now sits in the mid-90’s, and his slider which reaches the high-80’s.
There’s real potential for Davidson to step in and immediately contribute, making him a player worth keeping a close eye on if and when he gets the call (which may have already happened by the time you are reading this).
Command issues are something to keep an eye on as well, but in deeper leagues I like Davidson to make an impact this season.
7. Sixto Sanchez, RHP, MIA – ETA Late August
I predicted that Miami’s COVID-19 outbreak could accelerate the timeline for electric right-hander Sixto Sanchez, but that appears to have been overzealous. The team has instead opted to give innings to fringier prospects like Sterling Sharp, Nick Neidert and Dan Castano, leaving Sanchez waiting for his chance at the alternate site.
It’s pretty clear Sanchez will be up at some point this season, manager Don Mattingly darn near guaranteed it, but Miami also made it clear they don’t feel he’s ready just yet.
“Sixto has been good,” manager Don Mattingly told Miami reporters on a Zoom call Saturday. “That’s really what it’s been, making sure that he’s being built up properly. I feel pretty confident that there is going to be a time this year that we see Sixto. It just hasn’t been yet.”
Sanchez has more innings pitched at AA than almost anyone else on this list – and more than some of his peers who leapfrogged him into the MLB – 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 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. It’s frustrating to see others get the call first, but I still believe Sixto will be the Marlins prospect worth owning in 2020.
8. 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, but he is back now and after an excellent showing in summer camp, he is stretched out enough to come in and start whenever 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, potentially soon, 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.
9. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, NYY – ETA Late August
Currently, the New York Yankees have what looks like a full rotation, and they don’t have Schmidt on the 40-man roster, making him an intensely risky player to stash in redraft leagues. But you, dear reader, have scrolled down to the No. 9 pitcher on a list of pitching prospects to stash in a 60-game season, so you must be into at least a little risk.
Schmidt is among the better pitching prospects in all of baseball, posting an excellent 19:1 K:BB ratio in AA in 2019, albeit in three starts. That’s his only experience above High-A, which is cause for concern, but the Yankees are always looking to remain competitive, and a rotation that features J.A. Happ and a struggling James Paxton could use some oomph.
Don’t be surprised to see Schmidt in a Yankees uniform before the end of the season, and he’ll be worth adding in most formats if and when that day comes. If you can stash him ahead of time, and you feel like taking a risk, it could pay off handsomely down the stretch.
10. Jhoan Duran, RHP, MIN – ETA Late August
The Twins need a starter for Wednesday, and while it’s very likely going to be one of Lewis Thorpe or Devin Smeltzer (both potentially interesting deep league targets, I might add) the real prize would be Jhoan Duran, a 22-year-old flame-thrower with a 70-grade fastball who has routinely posted strikeout rates well over 27% in the minors.
Duran has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter, and while he’s young and somewhat inexperienced, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get a look at some point this year. However – the Twins have frequently given pitching prospects a look as relievers first, which would be a downer for Duran’s fantasy value.
Regardless, he’s someone worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues, and should he get the call to make any starts this year, I’d be willing to roster him in most formats.
Added: Clarke Schmidt, Tucker Davidson, Jhoan Duran
Removed: Daniel Lynch, Josiah Gray, Ian Anderson
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)