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 had one graduation from the list last week, Braves right-hander Ian Anderson, who nearly no-hit the New York Yankees in his stellar big league debut. You can read more about that start in my GIF Breakdown of his outing, but safe to say he is a solid play in 12-teamers going forward.
Anderson is now off the list, obviously, along with Matt Manning (Tigers) and Jhoan Duran (Twins). Manning has been shut down for the season with a forearm strain, with reports indicating it is a precautionary measure so he should be good to go in 2021. Duran gets removed from the list now that Michael Pineda is returning from his suspension, creating even less room in a crowded Minnesota rotation.
With almost exactly a month 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
Ugh. The Padres are sitting on the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, and it seemed all but certain he would be pitching in the major leagues at some point in 2020, but here we are and Gore – despite recently working out at Petco Park – has yet to get the call.
He remains at the top of this list thanks to graduations ahead of him, but San Diego has a solid rotation, even after sending left-hander Joey Lucchesi down to their alternate site, and they seem more likely by the day to hold Gore down all season – 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 now Michael Baez will fill any additional openings in the rotation.
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. Deivi Garcia, RHP, NYY – ETA Today
By the time you are reading this, it’s entirely possible that Yankees right-hander Deivi Garcia is already making his major league debut, as he is set to pitch in the second game of New York’s double-header on Sunday. As the 29th man, however, Garcia is required to be sent right back down to the team’s alternate site – although he could be back with the team in short order which is why he takes the No. 2 spot on this list.
More analysis about Garcia will be available after his first start, as Ben Palmer will have a no doubt excellent GIF Breakdown on him this evening, so I hesitate to write too much here.
Garcia is a 21-year-old right-hander who struck out 165 in 111.1 innings in 2019, split between High-A and AAA. He has explosive stuff, including a 70-grade slider and an above average fastball. If his changeup and slider are improved, he could be a true ace.
Garcia is a guy I’m willing to gamble on in 12-teamers if he sticks in the rotation, but until we know that is the case he’s nothing more than a speculative add in those formats, or a desperation stream on Sunday if you need a win.
3. Dane Dunning, RHP, CWS – ETA Today
After making his major league debut back on August 19 against the Tigers, where he threw 4.1 innings of three-run ball while striking out seven, Dane Dunning is back with the club on Sunday to face the Kansas City Royals, a game that is just starting as this goes live.
I’ll let Palmer’s other outstanding GIF Breakdown do some of the talking here, but Dunning should occupy a rotation spot going forward, with veteran left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the injured list, and he’s absolutely worth a look in 12+ team leagues thanks to his solid three-pitch mix and above average command. Particularly with starts against Kansas City and potentially Detroit looming, Dunning will be worth streaming or owning for the rest of the season and is worth an add right away in those deeper redraft leagues.
4. Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA – ETA September
The Mariners made one of the first big moves at the trade deadline, shipping veteran Taijuan Walker to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later. Walker’s departure opened the door initially for fellow prospect Ljay Newsome to make his first career start, but with Kendall Graveman still on the shelf and the struggles of Nick Margevicius, it wouldn’t be at all crazy to see the M’s audition Logan Gilbert over the last few weeks of the season – much like they did with both 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.
5. Clarke Schmidt, RHP, NYY – ETA September
The Yankees were expected to give one of Clarke Schmidt or Deivi Garcia the call this weekend, and while the initial nod went to Garcia – it wouldn’t be crazy to see Schmidt following him up to the show in short order.
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.
6. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA Mid September
Cabrera likely would have joined the Marlins around the time Sixto Sanchez made his debut, but a right forearm injury slowed his progress at the team’s alternate site and delayed his debut timeline.
A recent report from Joe Frisaro of MLB.com indicates that Cabrera could be an option to join the team in the last few weeks of the season, however, making him a decent stash candidate in deeper (16+) team leagues.
Cabrera is electric, with a triple-digit fastball and a plus slider to boot. He doesn’t have a curveball and his changeup needs some work, as does his command, but the overall package has the potential to be very elite at the next level.
While I’m not confident a 22-year-old with only two plus pitches at the moment and who didn’t throw a lot this summer will immediately dominate big league hitters, I do think he’s worth keeping an eye on if and when he gets the call this season.
7. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KC – ETA September
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 got 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 – especially since Harvey gave up seven runs and walked four in 5.2 innings in his first start.
Lynch is arguably the most appealing of KC’s young pitchers, 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.
8. Shane McClanahan, LHP, TB – ETA Mid September
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, especially with Morton nearing a return.
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. Thomas Szapucki, LHP, NYM – ETA September
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 Noah Syndergaard and Michael Wacha on the injured list, and with Steven Matz getting demoted to the bullpen, the Mets have a current six-man rotation of Jacob deGrom, David Peterson, 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.
In very deep leagues, I think Szapucki is 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.
10. Tucker Davidson, LHP, ATL – ETA Mid September
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.
They have tried a variety of remedies, including finally giving Ian Anderson a look, and their most recent addition was veteran Tommy Milone, who they acquired in a trade with the Orioles.
I’ve definitely soured on Tucker Davidson as a candidate to pitch meaningful innings for Atlanta this season, as the team seems committed to looking elsewhere (Robbie Erlin, really?) instead of going with the young lefty.
The 24-year-old left-hander did post 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.
I believe there is real potential for Davidson to step in and immediately contribute, making him a player worth keeping a close eye on if he does gets the call, but Atlanta is seemingly planning to go another direction which knocks him down a ways on this list.
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.
Removed: Jhoan Duran, Matt Manning
Graduated: Ian Anderson
Others given consideration: Josiah Gray, Jhoan Duran, Jackson Kowar, Daulton Jefferies, Nick Lodolo, George Kirby, Reid Detmers, Jackson Rutledge, DL Hall, Mitch White
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)