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Unrecognizable, this list.
Which I guess is kind of the point. I tell you the prospects worth stashing because they're "on the verge." They file out and make me look smart. New ones file in it. Lather, rinse, repeat until my ego swells beyond the limits of human understanding.
But so many all at once presents me with a clean slate just a week later, inviting more speculation on my part. Even one of those who stayed behind is no longer "on the verge." Eugenio Suarez returned from a fractured thumb Thursday, so Nick Senzel's opening has closed (not that he came particularly close to stepping through it with a .231 batting average and .654 OPS at Triple-A Louisville).
But there's at least one obvious candidate still.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals
2017 minors: 14-4, 2.18 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 148 2/3 IP, 35 BB, 147 K
2018 minors: 3-0, 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 20 IP, 3 BB, 22 K
We know exactly when Flaherty is returning to the big leagues. It's Saturday, when he'll fill in for an injured Adam Wainwright just like that one time the first week of the season when he struck out nine over five one-run innings. That outing alone is cause for excitement, as is his brilliant start to the minor-league season and the recurring big-strikeout efforts this spring. It may again be just one start, but if he dominates, the Cardinals could opt to "proceed cautiously" with Wainwright until another opening develops. Something as nondescript as "elbow inflammation" doesn't have the most concrete of timetables, after all. Or maybe Luke Weaver will get pounded for a third straight start, forcing him to the minors instead. Who knows? All I'm saying is that when there's more talent than spots, life finds a way, and it's easier if you already have that talent stashed.
Walker Buehler, RP, Dodgers
2017 minors: 3-3, 3.35 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 88 2/3 IP, 31 BB, 125 K
2018 minors: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 13 IP, 4 BB, 16 K
Buehler is actually in between starts, having been sent down after throwing five shutout innings Monday but expected back as the 26th man for a doubleheader Saturday. After that, though, Rich Hill should be back from a cracked fingernail, so Buehler's short-term (but not necessarily immediate-term) outlook still has him in the minors. Even if you don't have immediate use for him, the Dodgers' handling of him clearly shows he's next in line, and every member of the Dodgers starting five, Clayton Kershaw included, has durability issues. Buehler's chances should be frequent, and with a high-90s fastball and two plus breaking balls, so should his strikeouts.
Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers
2017 minors: .300 BA (486 AB), 31 HR, .927 OPS, 42 BB, 61 K
2018 minors: .243 BA (74 AB), 3 HR, .722 OPS, 7 BB, 16 K
Turns out there may be a reason, apart from distrusting his defense, why the Rangers haven't called up Calhoun even as some of their biggest bats have gone on the DL. Because he spent three weeks in the majors last year, they need to hold off until May 4 to retain an extra year of team control, and his modest start is making it easier to do. With Adrian Beltre being the most recent to go down, though, we're talking middle-of-the-order thump -- the kind a guy like Calhoun could ably replace. So the pressure's on for the Rangers now. Calhoun is batting .275 (11 for 40) with two homers, two doubles and an .858 OPS over his past 11 games, so it's not like he's ice cold.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays
2017 minors: .277 BA (506 AB), 10 HR, 11 SB, .776 OPS, 65 BB, 132 K
2018 minors: .355 BA (62 AB), 2 HR, 2 SB, 1.035 OPS, 12 BB, 14 K
Willy Adames hasn't gotten much call-up buzz yet, but he's repeating Triple-A this season and acing it so far. It's shaping up to be a what-are-you-waiting-for situation, especially since Adames is the Rays' top prospect and their lineup's weakest link just so happens to be the position he plays. For a prospect of his stature -- and most every publication had him in its top 25 the past two years -- he hasn't put up huge numbers in the minors but is already looking more patient and powerful with this opportunity to repeat a level. And seeing as he hit .302 with eight homers and an .845 OPS over his final 82 games last year, I was a little surprised he didn't get the call then.
Mike Soroka, SP, Braves
2017 minors: 11-8, 2.75 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 153 2/3 IP, 34 BB, 125 K
2018 minors: 2-0, 1.99 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 22 2/3 IP, 5 BB, 24 K
Soroka, meanwhile, has been getting plenty of buzz, in part because of his performance and in part because of a recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wherein general manager Alex Anthopoulos opined about the 20-year-old right-hander's upside.
"I think if anything, his ceiling might be a little higher than people may've thought coming in," Anthopoulos said. "When we have a need for a starter, he's right there in the conversation for us. That's as big a compliment as I can pay him."
The scouting reports have long favored Soroka, but in an increasingly three-true-outcomes game, his modest strikeout rate kept expectations at bay. All of a sudden, that's changing.
"You look at first year in low-A, you hear labels thrown on people sometimes," Soroka said. "As an 18-year-old, I kind of fell into those labels a bit and started trying to pitch to one strength, which is my sinker. I didn't really go out there to dominate."
A meeting with coaches after the season convinced him he's capable of more, though, so now a guy whose maturity and approach were already off the charts is flashing the stuff to go with it. Why only fifth here? Well, with Luiz Gohara gearing up to return from a sprained ankle, Soroka is at best second in line. It'll happen at some point, but he'll need some help.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Stephen Gonsalves, SP, Twins
2017 minors: 9-5, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 111 IP, 31 BB, 118 K
2018 minors: 3-0, 1.77 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 20 1/3 IP, 10 BB, 25 K
Gonsalves has been like the reverse of Soroka, his modest scouting reports undermining incredible production. And so far, this year has been no exception. There were some control problems early -- and those have popped up from time to time for him -- but the deceptive lefty continues to miss bats aplenty despite his low-90s heat. With the Twins -- a team with legitimate playoff aspirations -- struggling to fill out a starting five, you have to figure the 23-year-old's opportunity will come sooner than later, but I was surprised to see him begin the year at Double-A and not Triple-A, where he finished last season.
Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers
2017 minors: .256 BA (485 AB), 28 HR, .836 OPS, 56 BB, 138 K
2018 minors: .250 BA (60 AB), 3 HR, .820 OPS, 10 BB, 12 K
The Tigers have no delusions of competing this year, but they do have a gaping hole in left field that's just aching for their most major league-ready bat, the 24-year-old Christin Stewart. Right now, they're Team JaCoby -- JaCoby Jones, that is, who not long ago was thought to have upside himself -- but Stewart has been making waves at Triple-A, most recently going 4 for 5 with a homer Tuesday. Most impressive, though, is the reduced strikeout rate, renewing hope his power and patience could make him a Carlos Santana-like contributor in the majors. Jones certainly won't be.
Jesus Luzardo, SP, Athletics
2017 minors: 2-1, 1.66 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 43 1/3 IP, 5 BB, 48 K
2018 minors: 2-1, 1.83 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 19 2/3 IP, 6 BB, 30 K
A first-round talent who slipped in the 2016 draft because of Tommy John surgery, Luzardo dominated once he recovered last year, enough to make him the principle piece in the Sean Doolittle trade. And he made such easy work of the heavy-hitting California League to begin this year, striking out 25 in 14 2/3 innings, that he's already up to Double-A as a 20-year-old. With a high-90s fastball and three plus pitches, he has the makings of an ace and will soon become a prized asset in dynasty leagues.
Tyler White, 1B, Astros
2017 minors: .300 BA (436 AB), 25 HR, .898 OPS, 47 BB, 101 K
2018 minors: .324 BA (68 AB), 5 HR, 1.042 OPS, 15 BB, 8 K
White came within an eyelash of making the Astros' opening day roster, so while he's most known for slumping away the starting first base job in 2016 and may be developing a reputation as a Quadruple-A player at age 27, it's not like he's a lost cause either. Which makes a start to the season like he's having now still cause for excitement. At his best, he takes walks and hits the ball out of the park, as he's currently doing, and splitting his time between first, second and third base will keep the avenues for a promotion open.
Jalen Beeks, RP, Red Sox
2017 minors: 11-8, 3.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 145 IP, 55 BB, 155 K
2018 minors: 1-1, 0.64 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 14 IP, 5 BB, 26 K
One potential downfall for the first-place Red Sox is a shortage of rotation depth. Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez are passable fill-ins, but nothing more, which makes a prospect like Beeks interesting. He hasn't gotten a lot of love from the scouts, but he developed a cutter last year that turned him into more of a bat-misser and already seems to be taking another step forward this year. Chances are he's more in the Johnson and Velazquez vein than not, but with the high strikeout and ground-ball rates, he at least shows the potential for something more.