More Fantasy Baseball: FBT Podcast
It seems like a cheap move, counting Jon Gray among the top minor-leaguers to stash.
Technically, he is a minor-leaguer, and for the purposes of the Prospects Report, I've been willing to stretch the meaning of prospect to anyone who fits that description. But he's already so established in the majors and was sent down more to make an adjustment than for traditional development. It doesn't feel right. I can't bring myself to do it.
Still, in the interest of due diligence, I would like to point out that Gray, despite his 5.77 ERA and unceremonious demotion, is still more stashable than any of the actual prospects you'll find here.
Part of the reason is because the most stashable prospects keep getting hurt, with Eloy Jimenez recently joining Vladimir Guerrero on the sidelines. But most of all, it's because I believe Gray is already good — again, despite his 5.77 ERA and unceremonious demotion.
I recently went into great detail why, which you can, but the gist of it is he has dominated in the areas most within his control, his FIP ranking 13th among qualifying pitchers and his swinging-strike rate ranking 10th. His problems have mostly come with men on base, which is his point of emphasis in the minors. I imagine his stay will be brief.
His first start for Triple-A Albuquerque didn't help his case, but not for the reasons you might think. Over six innings, he only once had to pitch with a man on base.
Yeeeeah, let's make sure he stays the most stashed player with an M next to his name in CBS Sports leagues.
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros
2017 minors: .274 BA (464 AB), 25 HR, 21 SB, .874 OPS, 46 BB, 109 K
2018 minors: .304 BA (322 AB), 13 HR, 14 SB, .883 OPS, 36 BB, 70 K
Still not a lot of chatter on the Kyle Tucker front, so you can expect the Astros to blindside us with this move whenever it comes. This week is Tucker's first at the top of these rankings, which certainly owes something to the injuries to Guerrero and Jimenez, but also speaks to the fact the Astros have a great deal to gain from promoting the 21-year-old. And he deserves it, of course — that's not even in question after a four-week surge that has elevated his batting average from .266 to .304.
Vladimir Guerrero, 3B, Blue Jays
2017 minors: .323 BA (437 AB), 13 HR, 28 2B, .910 OPS, 76 BB, 62 K
2018 minors: .407 BA (204 AB), 11 HR, 18 2B, 1.124 OPS, 20 BB, 21 K
Well, we've reached the one month point and Guerrero still hasn't made it back from a strained patellar tendon. In fact, a recent update from play-by-play man Mike Wilner suggests Guerrero is still a week from even running, much less playing, much less playing in the majors. So at this point, the chances of making good on this stash before August appear slim. And while it's worth noting that Rhys Hoskins didn't make his major-league debut until Aug. 10 last year, it's possible the Blue Jays use this injury and Guerrero's 19 years of age as an excuse not to promote him at all. I'm still willing to call him the second-most stashable minor-leaguer, though, because the impact would be so significant if they do..
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox
2017 minors: .312 BA (333 AB), 19 HR, 22 2B, .947 OPS, 35 BB, 72 K
2018 minors: .313 BA (246 AB), 12 HR, 16 2B, .912 OPS, 23 BB, 44 K
Yup, Jimenez is hurt, too, out since Sunday with an adductor strain. The timetable is thought to be only two weeks, but this is the sort of injury that has the potential to linger. And of course, the White Sox will take every precaution with a prospect who has face-of-the-franchise potential. It's not that there was a great deal of buzz surrounding him either — the kind that might lead me to believe a promotion was imminent, I mean — so it's not like you can expect him to make a quick jump to the majors whenever he's healthy again. I like his chances more than Guerrero's, but as with Guerrero, you're stashing Jimenez more for his potential impact than some sure-fire path to the majors.
Clint Frazier, OF, Yankees
2017 minors: .256 BA (273 AB), 12 HR, 9 SB, .816 OPS, 37 BB, 69 K
2018 minors: .299 BA (197 AB), 9 HR, 6 SB, .928 OPS, 25 BB, 53 K
OK, but surely Frazier's chances of breaking into the majors have improved over the past week. There has to be something in the way of good news for the most stashable prospects as the All-Star break approaches. But no, Frazier's path to a full-time major-league role (and not just another cameo) took a hit with Aaron Hicks' three-homer game Sunday. That was the one Yankees outfielder who we might have envisioned Frazier replacing outright, but now it's not going to happen. Still, it'll take only one of Hicks, Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge getting hurt — all of whom have a history of injury — and Frazier, to his credit, hasn't sulked since his latest return to the minors, going 8 for 28 with a homer and three doubles.
2017 minors: .297 BA (347 AB), 14 HR, 21 2B, .835 OPS, 24 BB, 53 K
2018 minors: .283 BA (279 AB), 7 HR, 21 2B, .772 OPS, 17 BB, 56 K
The Indians have routinely been playing Tyler Naquin and Rajai Davis in the outfield and are so desperate for help there that they just brought Melky Cabrera back on a minor-league deal after the 33-year-old hit only .207 for them during a 17-game stint earlier this year. So it stands to reason that Mejia, who has split his time between the outfield and catcher this year, might be their best hope for substantive improvement there, especially with him batting .417 with four homers, 15 doubles and a 1.094 OPS in 28 games since the start of June. Terry Francona has said Mejia isn't ready to play outfield in the majors, but the manager isn't the ultimate decision-maker and teams change their stances on readiness all the time, particularly playoff contenders with a need to fill.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note.)
Willie Calhoun, OF, Rangers
2017 minors: .300 BA (486 AB), 31 HR, 27 2B, .927 OPS, 42 BB, 61 K
2018 minors: .291 BA (330 AB), 7 HR, 25 2B, .764 OPS, 18 BB, 38 K
The first player in Five on the Periphery isn't normally the sixth choice for Five on the Verge, but in this case, it is. Calhoun, like Mejia, had a blistering June to get his season numbers back close to where they belong, batting .361 (39 for 108) with three homers, 12 doubles and a .945 OPS in his past 25 games, and is probably just awaiting the next opening. Right now, though, the Rangers are already having to get creative to find Jurickson Profar at-bats. Shin-Soo Choo is a candidate to be traded, and thanks to Profar's versatility, an injury to just about anyone would also open the door. Calhoun's absurdly high contact rate for a power hitter offers plenty of reason for optimism.
Touki Toussaint, SP, Braves
2017 minors: 6-13, 4.53 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 145 IP, 64 BB, 167 K
2018 minors: 4-6, 2.93 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 86 IP, 36 BB, 107 K
Often overshadowed in a system loaded with pitching prospects, Toussaint nonetheless has as much upside as any of them. He also has considerable downside, though, given how much of a project he has turned out to be. He hasn't been as erratic of late, though, issuing just 3.0 walks per nine innings with a 2.16 ERA over his past seven starts, and showed the full extent of his upside by striking out 11 over seven two-hit innings in his last start. His curveball is of the jaw-dropping variety when it's on.
Ian Anderson, SP, Braves
2017 minors: 4-5, 3.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 83 IP, 43 BB, 101 K
2018 minors: 2-5, 3.17 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 71 IP, 32 BB, 87 K
Toussaint, still finding his footing at Double-A, probably won't get the call for the Braves this year, but Anderson, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, almost certainly won't. He too, though, has overcome some early control issues to dominate over his past three starts, striking out 11 over six innings last time, and his name has started to pop up in trade rumors now that the major-league rotation is filling up with young arms. Clearly, the 20-year-old's upside is the kind teams covet even though he might still be a year or two away.
Brock Deatherage, OF, Tigers
2018 minors: .417 BA (48 AB), 5 HR, 5 SB, 1.387 OPS, 6 BB, 10 K
Brock Deatherage, who may have the most metal name in baseball, was only a 10th-round pick a month ago, but it's fair to say nobody else from this year's draft has made the impression he has. HIs professional career began with a three-homer game in Rookie ball June 18, which he followed up with another homer the next day. So up to low Class A he went, answering the challenge with a five-hit game Wednesday. It's early and against low-level competition, but you may want to file this name away in dynasty leagues.
Joel Payamps, RP, Diamondbacks
2017 minors: 11-7, 4.30 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 150 2/3 IP, 37 BB, 96 K
2018 minors: 7-2, 2.38 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 64 1/3 IP, 13 BB, 75 K
Formerly with the Rockies, Payamps showed little in the way of upside until this year, when the Diamondbacks tried him in the bullpen from the start. Something about that role unlocked something for the 24-year-old, because since moving back to the rotation June 9, he has a 1.52 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings in five starts, most recently striking out 14 in 5 2/3 innings Tuesday. In an organization with little major league-ready pitching depth, Payamps has the potential to surprise, possibly making an even bigger impact that Matt Koch should the need arise.