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.
We not only had three hitters graduate from the hitter stash list this week, we also had three pitchers who have moved onto the big leagues: Casey Mize (1) Sixto Sanchez (6) and Dane Dunning (9). And, also like the hitters, a lot of the arms I would have plugged in to replace them have also graduated, including Tarik Skubal and Triston McKenzie.
I won’t go into as much detail about the new arms as I do with the hitters, mostly because Nick already did an outstanding job of breaking down the starts of Skubal, Mize, and Sanchez, while Ben Palmer handled Dunning’s debut and I wrote 2,800 words about McKenzie.
There are a few other news tidbits, mainly the report that Rays left-hander Brendan McKay has been shut down for the year, making him a clean drop in all redraft leagues (if he was still owned) and a much less appealing dynasty asset going forward, which is a real bummer.
Angels manager Joe Maddon also casually mentioned that Reid Detmers, who was drafted this June, could get the call this season if needed. Detmers is a polished college arm who could easily be up in 2021, but I’m not ready to add him to this list just yet, without having any minor league experience – and with Los Angeles seemingly out of contention – it seems unlikely they’d start his service time clock so soon.
With about five weeks left in the season, in 10 and 12-team leagues I believe fantasy players are far better off using empty roster spots on streamers than stashing most of the below mentioned players. Nate Pearson, Spencer Howard and Tarik Skubal helped prove how volatile even the best pitching prospects are in their first big league starts, and while there are a few names I’m definitely willing to add if/when they get the call, I think this is a tough year to stash pitchers with the amount of injuries and ineffectiveness plaguing other arms around the league.
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. 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.
He finally ascends to the top of this list thanks to graduations ahead of him, but he would have been here much sooner if I was more confident he would be up this month. However, 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 fellow prospect Adrian Morejon 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, as Patino, Luis Perdomo and even Cal Quantrill could conceivably fill any additional openings in the rotation if need be.
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. It’s a tougher sell to roster him in 12-teamers right now, but if you have a spot and are hoping to a boost come playoff time, Gore might be just the guy you need.
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.
2. Matt Manning, RHP, DET – ETA Late August
I’ve been on the record a handful of times as preferring Manning over Mize, but a rough summer camp left Manning at the team’s alternate site to begin the campaign, allowing both Mize and Skubal to get the first look in Detroit’s rotation.
I still have Manning up at No. 2 because, even without a clear opening in the Motor City, it seems likely the Tigers will give Manning a shot to pitch alongside Mize and Skubal at some point in 2020, and his potential is as high (or higher) than either of them when it comes to fantasy.
In fact, 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 is the more practical candidate for fantasy relevance in 2020, but I’m taking Manning long term without a doubt, over both Mize and Skubal.
It’s a situation for fantasy players to watch closely as the season chugs along, and right now I think Manning would make for a respectable stash in deeper (14+) redraft leagues.
3. 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 with Seattle already well out of contention – 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.
4. 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.
5. Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL – ETA Late August
Anderson falls right behind Davidson on this list, as the entire first few sentences apply here. Additionally, he got an endorsement from manager Brian Snitker, who said they anticipate Anderson pitching for them at some point this season.
“He’s throwing real well,” Snitker said. “He had another good outing yesterday. I came into this whole year thinking we’d see Ian Anderson at some point this year. I thought that in February and March before we broke this thing down. I think there’s still a good chance we’re going to see him.”
Anderson, 22, has looked spectacular at the team’s alternate site according to multiple reports, and he has the pedigree and previous success in the minor leagues to succeed if and when he gets the call.
Armed with a 50-grade fastball and a pair of plus secondaries in his changeup and curveball, Anderson is a name I’d happily keep on my watchlist, and might be worth stashing in deeper (14+) team redraft leagues and certainly NL-only formats.
6. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, NYY – ETA Late August
The Yankees have continued to deal with an ungodly amount of injuries, and now with James Paxton on the injured list the team has an opening in their rotation. Yankees manager Aaron Boone made it clear right-hander Clarke Schmidt will not be the immediate replacement – they could opt to go for a bullpen game or even give a shot to Jonathan Loaisiga – but he is now among the most notable stash candidates in all of baseball thanks to his pedigree and New York’s rapidly declining health.
While Boone acknowledged that Schmidt has been throwing really well at the team’s alternate site, he did mention that him not being on the 40-man roster will make it more difficult to get him in a Yankees uniform this season – which is a major buzzkill.
“Continue to get good reports,” Boone told reporters on Saturday. “It’s been a very good work year for him. Certainly putting himself now — as we’ve had some attrition, obviously — he’s certainly very much one of the guys that we talk about a lot and in the conversation. Obviously, him not being on the roster, it makes it not so simple. He certainly is doing well down there and the reports that we continue to get are strong.”
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 even when fully healthy 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.
7. 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 even with Hill back in the mix the team now has to replace Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey, who are both still expected to be out for a while. While Devin Smeltzer and Sean Poppen 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.
8. Shane McClanahan, LHP, TB – ETA Late August
The Tampa Bay Rays lost veteran starter Charlie Morton to the injured list, where he joined Yonny Chirinos (Tommy John surgery) and left-handed prospect Brendan McKay, who was shut down for the season with shoulder irritation.
McKay likely would have been the top option to replace Morton in the rotation, but instead Tampa went with a bullpen game, and is now using non-prospect Josh Fleming in the rotation for the time being.
However, despite giving starts to guys like Fleming and Aaron Sledgers, I do think the injuries in Tampa create an opportunity for uber-prospect Shane 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.
9. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KC – ETA Late August
Jakob Junis is back on the injured list, joining left-hander Mike Montgomery as Royals pitchers on the mend. Kansas City already turned to their bevy of young pitching prospects earlier this season when they promoted Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, and while Matt Harvey is getting the first crack at a rotation spot in Junis’ absence, it’s not at all crazy to imagine that Lynch may not be far behind.
Lynch is arguably the most appealing of the bunch, armed with an elite fastball/slider pairing and a pair of solid secondaries behind that in his curveball and changeup. Toss in a developing cutter and potential 55-grade command and you have all the makings of a mid-rotation starter with plus strikeout potential, and the polish to potentially contribute right away as a 23-year-old, despite only making 15 appearances at High-A last season.
Lynch also hasn’t shown that strikeout potential in game action just yet, and while I fully believe he can develop into an average or even above average strikeout guy, it may not happen this season if and when he gets the call.
He’s more of an arm to monitor than one to stash at this point, although I’d happily store him in deeper formats or AL-only leagues with Junis’ recent injury and the likelihood of Harvey’s stay in the rotation being a short one.
10. Thomas Szapucki, LHP, NYM – ETA Late August
I don’t like insulting major league players, as it takes a hell of a lot of talent and work to reach the big leagues, but my god the rotation the Mets are putting out there right now is…..let’s go with sad.
With rookie left-hander David Peterson joining Noah Syndergaard and Michael Wacha on the injured list, and with Steven Matz getting demoted to the bullpen, the Mets have a current five-man rotation of Jacob deGrom, Rick Porcello, Robert Gsellman, Corey Oswalt and a not-at-all stretched out Seth Lugo. Yikes.
If New York wants to inject some life into that rotation, they could turn toward their other left-handed pitching prospect, Thomas Szapucki, to fill-in for the time being. Szapucki’s career has been marred by lengthy injuries, only throwing 29 innings in 2017 and missing all of 2018. When healthy, his deceptive fastball and 60-grade curveball help him miss a lot of bats (72 strikeouts in 61.2 minor league innings in 2019) and could make him a fantasy relevant starter sooner rather than later.
Currently the Mets are dealing with a COVID-19 situation that cancelled their weekend series against the Yankees, making Szapucki an even riskier stash candidate, but in very deep leagues I think he’s worth tossing onto your bench if you have room. In standard 12-team redraft leagues, he seems like a plausible streaming candidate if and when he gets the call.
Added: Ian Anderson, Daniel Lynch, Thomas Szapucki
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)