Which minor-leaguers are worth stashing?
Hoping to beat the competition to this year's Yasiel Puig or Mike Trout? Scott White discusses when stashing a minor-leaguer is warranted and which ones fit the bill this year.
It was one of those open-ended questions that really shouldn't be answered off the cuff ...
@CBSScottWhite Who is this year's Yasiel Puig?— not your average joe (@crazyjamoke29) March 25, 2014
... but Twitter being the spontaneous medium it is, I decided to answer off the cuff anyway.
Then, of course, everyone else decided to chime in, which isn't at all a problem. Part of what makes Twitter great is the opportunity for back-and-forth. And besides, some of their answers were better.
The truth is I can't pick any one player to be this year's Yasiel Puig because cases like his are too exceptional to predict. Every year, the minors offer plenty of impact bats on the verge of breaking through to the majors. Pinpointing which ones will click right away is little more than a guessing game. All I can do is assess opportunity and ability. Of the list my Twitter followers and I put together, Franco has the best opportunity with only Cody Asche standing in his way, but he may not have quite the ability of Polanco, Taveras or Javier Baez (which isn't to say he's far off, despite his struggles this spring).
So let's get to the gist of the question: Which minor-leaguers should you be stashing ahead of time? Let's stick to standard mixed leagues since you could make an argument for just about anybody in AL- and NL-only formats.
My list ends at two: Springer and Archie Bradley. They're the only ones I trust to arrive early enough (before the end of May) and contribute sufficiently enough for me to commit a roster spot to them at the time of year when roster spots are most valuable. After all, you'll want to cast a wide net on waivers early on to improve your chances of landing one of this year's unexpected breakouts. Stashing a minor-leaguer severely limits your maneuverability.
Springer, again, is almost too obvious to mention. We've been drafting him in the middle rounds all spring even knowing he probably wouldn't make the major-league roster. As with Wil Myers last year, you draft him hoping his production is great enough when he finally arrives to justify the wait. And for Myers, I'd argue it was even though he didn't quite measure up to Puig.
Bradley, apart from Taijuan Walker, is the best pitching prospect in baseball right now -- a surefire ace who competed for a rotation spot right up until the end of spring training. And with Bronson Arroyo and Brandon McCarthy both looking brittle and Trevor Cahill and Randall Delgado both looking shaky, I like his chances of overtaking one sooner than later.
For the other prospects, rather than stashing them, I'd monitor what they're doing in the minors and what kind of buzz they're generating. Most likely, you'll have another shot at them before they arrive, but right now, they're all just stabs in the dark. Guess wrong, and you'll miss out on too many of the more present opportunities.
If you play in a deeper league where you know you should be stashing more than just Springer or Bradley, be sure to check out my prospect rankings from earlier this spring.
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