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The Stash Week 7: Top 10 Pitcher Prospects to Stash in 2022

Top-10 Starting Pitcher Prospects to Stash in your Redraft League

Welcome to The Stash List, Pitcher Edition!

The Stash List will highlight the top-10 starting pitcher prospects who are most likely to make an impact this season.

Effective in-season management will propel your team into contention, and understanding the outlook and ETA for some of baseball’s top prospects will give you an advantage over your league mates. 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.

Previous Week’s Stash List: The Stash List, Pitcher Edition: Week 6

 

GROUND RULES

 

  • 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 May 20 (generally, the most recent three appearances and season total)

 

GRADUATES AND NOTABLE CALL UPS

 

Matthew Liberatore, LHP, STL

 

Liberatore earned a call-up this week and will make his MLB debut with the Cardinals on Saturday night against Pittsburgh. The lefty had a great start to the 2022 season, posting a 3.83 ERA, a 28.4% strikeout rate, and a 7.4% walk rate over 40.0 innings. He’s shown the ability to work deep into games, working six or more innings in three of his last four starts and eclipsing 100 pitches in his last two outings.

Liberatore is worth a speculative add and stream this week against the Pirates’ 28th ranked offense. This could be a short stay with the big club, as the rest of the Cardinals rotation (aside from Flaherty) is healthy, but he may earn another turn through the rotation if Saturday goes well. Liberatore offers mid-rotation upside and has a high likelihood to stick as a starter long-term.

 

TOP-10 SP PROSPECTS TO STASH

 

 

1. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA Late May/Early June

Not much left to say about Rodriguez, he looks ready after a lights-out performance this past Tuesday. He generated 20 whiffs over 87 pitches, racking up 11 strikeouts and an elite 40% CSW on the night. Easily his best start of the year. Through eight starts, Rodriguez has a 2.65 ERA, 38.5% strikeout rate, and 8.8% walk rate.

We are dangerously close to Rodriguez’s call-up. He’s not on the 40-man roster, so nothing is imminent. Just speculating, but he lines up to pitch again tomorrow (Sunday 5/22, currently slated to start in Triple-A), the Orioles are at home, and with fellow top-prospect Adley Rutschman getting the call on Saturday, the stars may align for his MLB debut. If not, the Orioles have a doubleheader scheduled next week and they’ll need another starting pitcher.

For fantasy, consider Rodriguez on the cusp of making a significant impact for your team, and is a must-stash in all leagues. He’s a free agent in nearly 80% of Yahoo leagues, that needs to change right away.

2. Shane Baz, RHP, TBR – ETA June

Baz is a name you should be familiar with. The Rays top prospect made stops at three levels in 2021, including making his MLB debut in September. Over 2021, Baz compiled a 2.07 ERA with a 37.7% strikeout rate and 6.5% walk rate. In the process, his 2022 draft stock and dynasty ranking skyrocketed. That was until he needed arthroscopic surgery on his elbow in late March, thus delaying his season debut.

Baz is still a prospect and began a rehab assignment this week at Triple-A Durham. He is eligible to return from the injured list on June 6 and if all goes well, it’s expected that he returns to the Rays rotation shortly thereafter. He will likely be on a very strict pitch count during his first few appearances but could be turned loose by July. If Baz is available in your league, his immense upside is worth stashing now.

3. Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT – (New) ETA May

Contreras logged his longest outing of the year on Thursday, working into the sixth inning and registering 83 pitches (64% strike rate), both season highs. During his time in Triple-A, Contreras has a 2.66 ERA with a 28.9% strikeout rate and a 13.3% walk rate. Though, both rates have been going in the wrong direction over the last few starts, perhaps due to efforts to extend his outings.

It’s possible Contreras has made his last start in Triple-A. He looks ready, and the Major League rotation continues to falter so it wouldn’t be surprising for Contreras to slide into Bryse Wilson’s spot, and make a start next Tuesday (home vs. Colorado) at the earliest or next weekend in San Diego. Contreras has the upside to be a significant contributor down the stretch for your fantasy team. Continue to hold him if he’s on your roster.

4. Caleb Kilian, RHP, CHC – ETA July

Finally, the breakout game we’ve been waiting for from Kilian. He pitched into the sixth on Thursday, racking up eight strikeouts, with only one walk over 80 pitches (64% strike rate). For the year, Kilian has a 1.31 ERA with a 28.9% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate. He’s also produced groundballs at an impressive 62.9% rate.

Reports came out this week that Kilian is expected to receive a call-up at some point this summer. It’s tempting to say he is ready after a stellar start like this week, but he only has eight career starts in Triple-A and there is currently no opportunity with the big club, though the Cubs have two doubleheaders on the slate the week of Memorial Day.

Kilian is on the cusp of a call-up and the way he’s been pitching he looks like someone who can make a significant impact if he sticks in the rotation.

5. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA July

Cabrera made a statement on Friday, firing a gem and his best start of the season against a tough Durham offense. Refreshing for Marlins fans in the wake of Max Meyer’s meltdown and a trip to the injured list. Cabrera logged a season-high 11 strikeouts over 101 pitches with an outstanding 72% strike rate.

An injury to Jesus Luzardo and struggles from Elieser Hernadez are two potential openings for Cabrera to slide into the big league rotation. After this start, it looks like he is in mid-season form and ready to contribute in Miami. It’s expected he receives a call this summer, and the immense upside along with potential opportunities make him worthy of a stash now.

6. Ethan Small, LHP, MIL – ETA July

Small hasn’t made any starts since last week; he was scratched from his scheduled outing with an illness. On the year, Small has a 1.95 ERA, 33.3% strikeout rate, and 15.2% walk rate. He’s near the top of the minor league leaderboards in most starts, unfortunately, this also includes walks. Even without starting this week, his 21 walks are third-highest in the International League.

There is a high degree of uncertainty regarding Small’s projected role at the Major League level. The Brewers have a history of promoting starting pitcher prospects and using them in a bullpen role as they get their first taste of the majors, and due to Small’s command issues, he may become a multi-inning reliever with a chance at spot starts. A welcomed step forward with his command could accelerate his promotion, but barring injury, he may not be a lock to join the starting rotation once called up.

7. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA July

This week didn’t go to plan for Meyer or our fantasy teams. Many speculated we could have seen Meyer’s MLB debut but instead we saw Cody Poteet and another turn of Elieser Hernandez. In response, Meyer posted a major dud while still in the minors, allowing eight earned runs with only one strikeout while failing to complete four innings. To make matters worse, on Thursday Meyer was placed on the injured list with an elbow issue. Geesh.

Ok, so what do you do with Meyer? Well, early reports are that the elbow issue is minor and he could only miss one start. Even if that’s the best-case scenario, any elbow concerns are going to follow around Meyer for the rest of the season and it’s quite possible (likely) that the Marlins exercise extreme caution with their top pitching prospect going forward.

This might be a tipping point for some fantasy managers who were expecting to see him in The Show by now, and understandably so. In shallower formats, it’s worth moving on and using your roster space on another name from this list. If you have any patience remaining, holding for another week to get clarity on his injury could pay huge dividends in the second half, but it now comes with extreme risk.

8. Hunter Brown, RHP, HOU – ETA July

Brown is a former fifth-round pick who vaulted himself into fantasy relevance last year en route to winning the Astros minor league player of the year. Over two levels in 2021, he posted a 4.16 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 50 walks over 97.1 innings. He offers big stuff, including an upper 90’s fastball, curveball, and slider all of which have the potential to be plus pitches at the next level.

Brown is getting some attention this week in light of the injury to Jake Odorizzi. The Astros were deploying a six-man rotation before the injury, but their immediate intentions are unclear. They may elect to move forward with a traditional five-man rotation until Odorizzi and McCullers are fully healthy. If not, Brown is atop the list of potential fill-ins.

There is some uncertainty as to Brown’s role when his promotion comes. He hasn’t been the sharpest (13.2% walk rate) but has showcased the ability to strike out advanced hitters (31.8% strikeout rate) and induce a favorable amount of groundballs (47.8% groundball rate). Considering the quantity of starting options (when healthy) in Houston, Brown might slide in a multi-inning reliever with the occasional spot start. He’s a name to know right now and as the Astros intentions become clear could be worth stashing if he will get the opportunity to start.

9. Hayden Wesneski, RHP, NYY – ETA June

Wesneski continues to impress in Triple-A and may be on the verge of his MLB debut. The righty has a superb 2.31 ERA through eight starts, with a 27.0% strikeout rate and minuscule 5.3% walk rate. He hasn’t walked more than two batters in a game dating back to last year and has a 65% strike rate on the season.

New York’s options at the big league level took a hit this week when Luis Gil went down with what appears to be a significant arm injury. The next man up is unclear; Clarke Schmidt is currently working in the bullpen (i.e. not stretched out) and Deivi Garcia has struggled to find his groove yet this year. JP Sears could be an option as a spot-starter (and is already on the 40-man roster) but any extended opportunity would more likely go to Wesneski. He’s only worth a stash in the deepest of leagues right now due to his proximity.

10. Graham Ashcraft, RHP, CIN – ETA July

Ashcraft has impressed this season with a 1.65 ERA over seven starts and has yet to allow a home run. The righty has big stuff, reaching 100 mph with his fastball to go along with a wicked slider. Though he’s always struggled with his command (11.3% walk rate) and despite the big stuff hasn’t been racking up the strikeouts as quickly while facing the advanced hitters of the upper minors.

The Reds are a bit of a disaster this season, so it appears likely Ashcraft will get a call this summer. There are questions as to whether he can stick in the rotation long-term due to his heavy two-pitch mix, though it seems to be working for now. Due to the uncertainty with his role in the big leagues he’s not worth a speculative add outside of the deepest leagues.

Note: After this piece was written, Ashcraft was called up to join the Reds in Toronto in a bullpen role. It’s expected he returns to Triple-A after this series. 

 

Others considered (in no particular order): Ryan Pepiot, Cole Winn, Ryne Nelson, Drey Jameson, Cade Cavalli, Jack Leiter, Bobby Miller, Brayan Bello, D.L. Hall, Brandon Williamson, Cody Morris, Jordan Balazovic, Jay Groome, Deivi García, Matt Brash

 

Photos by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Drew Wheeler (@drewisokay on Twitter)

Greg Gibbons

Pitcher List Dynasty Team, Member FSWA, Vice President of the Cleveland Baseball Federation, Founder of Cleveland Rocks Dynasty (the greatest dynasty league in the Midwest)

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