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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Stash Week 8: Top 10 Pitcher Prospects to Stash in 2022

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 7

 

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 27 (generally, the most recent three appearances and season total)

 

GRADUATES AND NOTABLE CALL UPS

 

Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT

After getting stretched out for five starts in Triple-A, Contreras was recalled by the Pirates this past Tuesday, his second stint in the big leagues this season but the first as a starting pitcher.

His debut start was a gem, firing five innings, allowing zero runs, and striking out five over 84 pitches (61% strike rate). Contreras relied on his fastball (57%), which worked in the upper-90s (t-98 mph), and his slider (29%), which combined for all ten of his whiffs, and overall he generated a stellar 30% CSW.

Contreras should have ample opportunity to hold a rotation spot moving forward and may already be the Pirates’ best starter. The young righty hasn’t completed six innings in a start yet, so managers should exercise patience as he settles into his big-league role. He lines up to face the Padres on Sunday (5/29).

Graham Ashcraft, RHP, CIN

Ashcraft received a promotion last weekend and made his major league debut against Toronto on Sunday, and earned his first win during his second start on Friday against San Francisco. The righty received an opportunity after posting a 2.48 ERA over seven starts at Triple-A and not allowing a single home run all season.

Ashcraft has big stuff, touching 101.2 mph with his cutter/sinker, but he just doesn’t generate enough whiffs to have the upside coveted in fantasy. He finished with only three whiffs on Sunday (with a 16% CSW) and five whiffs on Friday (with a 24% CSW).

Ashcraft’s long-term home feels like it’s in the bullpen, but the Reds are content letting him start right now. It’s likely he gets shuffled between Cincinnati and Louisville the rest of the season and can be ignored in standard redraft leagues right now.

TOP-10 SP PROSPECTS TO STASH

 

1. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA June

Call. Him. Up. What a start by Rodriguez on Friday; he completed a season-high seven innings with ten strikeouts over 88 pitches with a ridiculous 77% strike rate. His hot streak is becoming other-worldly. Over his last five starts, Rodriguez is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA over 28.1 innings, with 43 strikeouts and only nine walks. My goodness.

On the year, Rodriguez has a 2.32 ERA, with a 39.2% strikeout rate and a 7.2% walk rate. There’s not much left for Rodriguez to prove in Triple-A. His next start needs to be in Camden Yards. The Orioles will be at home this week against the Mariners and Guardians, and it’s highly probable he gets the ball one of these games. Still rostered in less than 30% of Yahoo leagues. Add him now!

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 last 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 will return 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. Caleb Kilian, RHP, CHC – ETA July

Coming off his best game of the year, Kilian fired an unspectacular five innings, spanning only 72 pitches (63% strike rate), and inducing only one strikeout. For the year, Kilian has a 2.06 ERA with a 24.8% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate. He’s also produced groundballs at an impressive 62.9% rate.

Kilian has been receiving a lot of attention recently due to his potential upside and expected call-up this summer. There was some speculation last week that Kilian could be a candidate to debut this weekend during the Cubs’ set of doubleheaders, but Cubs Manager David Ross squashed that rumor on Wednesday.

Although we have to wait a little while longer, Kilian is on the cusp of a call-up and looks like someone who can make a significant impact if he sticks in the rotation. If you haven’t stashed him yet, it’s a good time to get in before the rush.

4. Ethan Small, LHP, MIL – ETA July

Small was back on the mound this week after missing his previous start with an illness. He picked up right where he left off, spinning six strong innings, allowing only one run and striking out three. Notably, a goose egg in the walk column is a welcome sight. On the year, Small has a 1.88 ERA, 30.4% strikeout rate, and 13.0% walk rate.

Small slides up the ranks this week following the lat injury sustained by Freddy Peralta, who is expected to miss a significant amount of time. The opening allows Aaron Ashby to jump into the rotation and presumably leaves Small as the next in line for starting opportunities. Though, there is still a high degree of uncertainty regarding Small’s projected role at the next level due to his inconsistent command, which remains the biggest hurdle to becoming a Major League starter.

If you want to get crazy, the Brewers will need another pitcher for their Memorial Day games against the Cubs, and Small will be on five days’ rest. Stash Small today and avoid the rush to the waiver wire when the news breaks.

5. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA June

Coming off of his best start of the season, Cabrera posted an inefficient start on Thursday. He completed only four innings and saw his pitch count climb quickly to 83 pitches for the night with a poor 56% strike rate. Command is the biggest hurdle to Cabrera’s MLB readiness, and although he has shown flashes of brilliance, his 11.9% walk rate needs to come down to be an effective big league starter.

There was some speculation Cabrera was going to be called up this week, but that did not come to fruition. His starts are currently aligning with Cody Poteet, who posted a dud for the Marlins (3.0 IP, 5 ER, 1 K, 3BB) on Thursday as well. Both line up to take the ball again on Tuesday, so it’s very possible they will change places in the near future.

Cabrera’s call-up this summer is inevitable, and the immense upside along with potential opportunities make him worthy of a stash now.

6. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA July

Meyer is still on the minor league injured list but has resumed throwing already. Although it was just flat ground, it’s welcomed positive news considering how last week went. There’s currently no timeline for his return; we’ll just need to have patience.

If Meyer can indeed return to form, you’ll look wise for stashing him during this time. Any setbacks and Meyer will be worth dropping in all redraft formats. His upside is worth the risk right now, but even if everything goes right for Meyer, a debut is most likely in the second half.

7. Hunter Brown, RHP, HOU – ETA July

Brown had a lights-out start on Thursday, easily his best outing of the year. He fired an uber-efficient seven innings, needing only 88 pitches (67% strike rate) while allowing no runs and adding a season-high ten strikeouts. Most importantly, he issued zero walks. His upper-90s fastball came as advertised (t-99.1 mph) and he featured a pretty even splits of his breaking balls (slider 34% usage, curveball 24% usage) en route to a 31% CSW and his third win on the campaign.

Brown might be knocking on the big league door, but when he arrives, his role is highly uncertain. His command is still a work-in-progress (10.4% walk rate), and the starting rotation in Houston is awfully crowded, even considering their injuries (McCullers and Odorizzi).

For these reasons, Brown might be destined for a multi-inning reliever role with the occasional spot start when he does receive a promotion. He’s a name to know right now, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, and there is no clear path to an opportunity with the Astros, so a call-up is not imminent.

8. Zack Thompson, LHP, STL – ETA June

Thompson has taken a big step forward this season and is creeping into the discussion for future opportunities at the Major League level. Mixed reviews came in after a roller coaster 2021 season in which Thompson posted a 7.06 ERA, with an 18.5% strikeout rate and a 12.8% walk rate over 22 appearances at Triple-A. Fast forward to this season, and Thompson is looking the part of a starting pitcher, posting improved numbers across the board; 4.12 ERA with a 31.3% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate through nine starts.

Recent injuries to Steven Matz and Jordan Hicks have created immediate openings in the big league rotation. The Cardinals have already promoted Matthew Liberatore, who is now likely to get an extended look. But, that only leaves four healthy starters (others are Wainwright, Hudson, and Mikolas) and an opening this coming Monday.

Thompson last pitched on 5/25, so he will be on regular rest for the Cardinals game on Monday, 5/30, so it could be an option to start. Stashing Thompson is highly speculative, but he looks primed for an opportunity this summer, considering the strides he’s taken and the Cardinals’ need for healthy starting pitchers.


9. Hayden Wesneski, RHP, NYY – ETA July

Wesneski has been impressive over nine Triple-A starts this season, posting a superb 2.23 ERA, with a 25.6% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate. He has great stuff and is looking the part of a long-term starting pitcher.

Last week it was noted how Wesneski hadn’t walked more than two batters in a game dating back to last season, so naturally, he walked five in his start this past Wednesday. Blame this piece for the jinx.

The main issue being a prospect pitcher in New York is opportunity. Wesneski appears to be behind JP Sears at the moment for spot-starts in the big league rotation (Sears has already made his MLB debut and had a nice start for the Yankees on Wednesday), so the timing for Wesneski is highly-speculative. He’s only worth a stash in the deepest of leagues right now due to his proximity.

10. DL Hall, LHP, BAL – ETA July

Hall is a classic high-risk, high-reward arm who’s now progressed to Triple-A and getting some attention as a potential call-up sometime this summer. Hall has a long injury history and persistent command issues, but when it all comes together, he is lights out.

The Orioles are starting to make room for their top prospects, and one of those names will likely be Hall. Though he continues to hold a spot in the Triple-A rotation, he’s yet to work more than four innings in a game and has a sky-high walk rate of 14.8%. His stuff is as good as anyone, and he’s already proven he can strike out advanced hitters (32.8% strikeout rate), but this profile is begging to be a reliever.

Hall’s upside is enticing, but outside of the deepest of redraft formats, he can be left on the waiver wire. If everything goes right for Hall, a second-half call-up is in the cards, most likely in a multi-inning relief role.

11. Josh Winckowski, RHP, BOS – ETA May

This one is cheating a little bit, but in case he’s not on your radar for Saturday, Winckowski is expected to make his MLB debut and start game two of the Red Sox doubleheader. Over seven starts in Triple-A, Winckowski has a 3.13 ERA, 27.9% strikeout rate, a 4.9% walk rate, and has induced groundballs at a 57% rate.

He doesn’t have the pedigree of some of the other names here, but he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues or if you’re desperate for some innings. He’s expected to be sent back down to Triple-A after this start, but a good showing could earn him another opportunity later in the year.

 

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

 

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

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