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.
It wasn’t the most exciting week of debuts on the bump, outside of Spencer Howard earlier in the week, as teams continue to show far more willingness to promote young hitters than young pitchers.
We did see a few somewhat promising pithers come up in relief capacities, including Seth Romero of the Nationals, Drew Rasmussen of the Brewers and Ljay Newsome of the Mariners. Rasmussen is my favorite of the trio, but unless these guys are starting they are not worth paying attention to in redraft leagues.
I’ll be honest, at this point in the season I don’t think I can realistically advocate for any starting pitchers to be stashed in redraft leagues who aren’t already in the major leagues. There are only six weeks left in the season, and I think in 10 and 12-team leagues you are far better off using any empty roster spots on streamers than you are stashing any of the below mentioned players. Nate Pearson and Spencer Howard are already up, and teams seem to be far, far more cautious with their pitching prospects this season, particularly without the minor leagues to give them additional innings.
I’ll still write up my top-10 stash candidates, and I’ll give my reasoning why they are on the list, but unless you are in a redraft league deeper than 12 teams I’m not sure many (any?) of these guys are worth rostering right now – although nearly all of them will be ownable if/when they get the call.
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 (deeper) redraft leagues.
1. Casey Mize, RHP, DET – ETA August
Mize may be the only truly stashable pitching prospect in 12-team leagues. While the Tigers have been hesitant to call up any of their big three pitching prospects, Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, the recent placement of veteran right-hander Ivan Nova on the injured list could open up a spot for one of them – likely Mize – to start.
The Tigers initially called up Anthony Castro to fill the spot vacated by Nova, but he’s likely just an extra bullpen arm until they need a starter. Daniel Norris and Rony Garcia have both started games this season, but I’d be surprised if either of them are stretched out enough to pitch more than a few innings. A bullpen game on Monday and/or Wednesday is obviously an option, with Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser around to work in long relief, or the Tigers could call up a lesser prospect such as Alex Faedo or Shao Ching-Chiang to make a start – with less concern about their service time.
So, what I’m trying to say is, while Mize is still No. 1 on this list, I’m still not optimistic he’ll get the call this week – although it can’t be ruled out completely, especially with two potential openings.
While Mize does not have the strikeout stuff that many of his counterparts, including Nate 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 in deeper (12+ team) formats, adding Mize to the end of your bench isn’t a bad idea, as his call could be coming soon even if it doesn’t happen this week.
2. 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 has struggled in a relief role so far, which allowed long reliever Cal Quantrill to take Lucchesi’s place in the rotation, but regardless it does seem like it could be a while 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 14+ team leagues to stash on the bench while we wait for his (hopefully soon) arrival to the show.
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.
3. 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 will get the first look among Detroit’s pitching prospects this summer.
However, now that Detroit has a handful of openings in the rotation, and a seriously injury-prone group of pitchers precariously holding onto spots, I’m bumping Manning up a bit because I think his chance could be coming very shortly after Mize, and possibly as soon as this week.
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 (14+) redraft leagues.
4. Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA – ETA September
The Mariners have continued to have problems in their pitching rotation, and an injury to Yusei Kikuchi and a follow-up injury to his replacement, Nestor Cortes, could open the door for a Logan Gilbert call-up sooner rather than later. Ljay Newsome will get the first look, likely out of the bullpen, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gilbert get a look in the last month of the season, much like Seattle did with Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn last year.
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.
However, 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, does have me a little concerned 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. Tucker Davidson, LHP, ATL – ETA August
Now, with Soroka out for the year, Hamels still on the IL and Newcomb and Folty both sent to the alternate site, the team is left with just Fried.
Despite that, we have not seen the Braves go to their top two pitching prospects, Tucker Davidson and Ian Anderson, instead promoting Bryse Wilson and moving Touki Toussaint into the rotation, while going with a bullpen starter in Huascar Ynoa and also signing veteran Robbie Erlin.
All this has me worried the team is not ready to go to either Davidson, Anderson or Kyle Muller, although I believe Davidson will be first out of that group – thanks to his current placement on the 40-man roster.
So, if I’m looking for a stash candidate, I’d prefer Davidson out of this group. 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 AAA 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.
Command issues are something to keep an eye on as well, and Atlanta’s unwillingness to give him a spot so far does give me pause about stashing him outside of deep, deep leagues, but the talent is there.
6. 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 opted instead 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 last 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.
7. 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. 7 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 Jordan Montgomery 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 in deeper leagues, and you feel like taking a risk, it could pay off handsomely down the stretch.
8. Jhoan Duran, RHP, MIN – ETA Late August
The Twins went with a bullpen game last week to replace veteran Rich Hill in the rotation, but with Hill and Homer Bailey both still expected to be out for Monday, the team could look elsewhere to fill that rotation spot. While Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe are perhaps the most likely options already on the roster, a more fun – and perhaps more rewarding – approach would be to fast-track right-hander Jhoan Duran this season.
Duran has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter long-term, 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.
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, 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.
With Michael Kopech opting out and both Reynaldo Lopez and Carlos Rodon injured, that time could be coming sooner rather than later.
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.
10. Shane McClanahan, LHP, TB – ETA Late August
McKay likely would have been the top option to replace Morton in the rotation, but as of this writing it remains to be seen who will get that opportunity.
While I don’t expect it to be flame-throwing left-hander Shane McClanahan, I do think another injury in Tampa creates an opportunity for McClanahan to pitch meaningful big league innings this season, enough so to give him a spot on this list.
McClanahan, 23, ascended three levels of the minors last year, striking out 154 in 120.2 innings. While he struggled in a small cameo in AA, there’s little doubt McClanahan’s ridiculous fastball/curveball combination won’t play up at the next level.
Of course, Tampa likes bringing their pitching along slowly, and often their top prospects start out coming out of the bullpen – which is an entirely reasonable prediction for McClanahan this year, allowing someone like Jalen Beeks or Anthony Banda a chance to start instead.
In deeper leagues, (16+) I could see taking a dart throw on McClanahan to potentially provide some value down the stretch – although I think it will be as a multi-inning reliever if anything.
Added: Shane McClanahan
Graduated: Spencer Howard
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)