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May 15, 2013

The Stash List

The Bad Teams With a Plan

by Bret Sayre

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It’s getting to be that time of year where you can start weeding out the non-contenders from the eventual non-contenders. And for those franchises, it means decisions about when to call up their prospects. Through Monday, there were five teams with a winning percentage at .400 or below—but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to throw out the Blue Jays and the Angels. Both of those teams were expected to be division contenders, and they both have too much talent to be this bad the whole year and nothing coming on the farm (at least in the near future).

But those three remaining teams (the Astros, Marlins, and Mets) are not going to be contending at any point this season, and have strong prospects in the upper minors. However, each organization has treated their top guys differently. The Marlins are apparently just throwing caution to the wind, as they have both Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna on their active roster—both of whom ended the 2012 season in High-A. The Astros, on the other hand, appear to be letting their prospects marinate until they are closer to a contention window. They have Jarred Cosart throwing well in Triple-A and George Springer absolutely killing it at Double-A, but I don’t expect to see either any time soon. Finally, the Mets have been burdened recently by financial constraints, so it was no shock to see the reports break that Zack Wheeler would be kept down in the minors until the Super Two deadline passes. The same would have been true for Travis d’Arnaud if he had stayed healthy enough for it to matter.

When stashing a minor leaguer, the tendencies of their parent organization can be just as important as their own talent, at least in the short term. And specific moves a team makes can give you hints into the future. The Marlins call-up of Jose Fernandez is what made the Marcell Ozuna move less shocking, and makes a potential Christian Yelich call-up easier to see. When the Twins kept Aaron Hicks on their roster out of spring training, it was easier to predict an earlier call-up for Oswaldo Arcia. And when the Red Sox decided to do the same with Jackie Bradley, the Allen Webster move (and any future Allen Webster move) makes more sense.

Without any further ado, here is The Stash List, version 4.0:

The Graduates: Francisco Liriano (3), Matt Garza (4), Trevor Bauer (16), Chris Capuano (23)

1) Jurickson Profar, SS/2B, Texas Rangers (Last week: 1)

With Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler occupying the Rangers’ middle infield spots, the biggest question regarding Profar’s 2013 fantasy value is when––or how––he can get big-league time this season. An injury could provide a clear opportunity for Profar. Otherwise, the 20-year-old top prospect may spend the bulk of the year at Triple-A, possibly contributing to the Rangers’ bench down the stretch. He’s off to a somewhat slow start on the field––hitting .242 in 33 games––but the at-bats have been quality. It’s often easy to forget just how young he is, and from a player development perspective, a season in Triple-A isn’t such a bad thing. –Jason Cole

2) Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: 2)

Same story, different week for Myers. He’s still struggling to put up numbers in Triple-A, and I still remain unconcerned about his performance. At this point, it seems inevitable that he’ll be up as soon as the Rays have deemed it safe, as far as Super Two status is concerned. And don’t let the Triple-A stat line fool you, I still expect him to be reasonably productive for fantasy once he gets to Tampa—think .260 average with 12-15 homers, if he can squeeze in 350 at-bats.

3) Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 6)

At the end of the year, Adam Eaton may end up being more productive than anyone else on this week’s injured list. Position players tend to respond well to conservative treatment for a sprained elbow and can return to previous levels. Didi Gregorius returned in about two months and is producing at a high level for Arizona right now. Eaton is on a rehab assignment right now and is expected to return in about a week or so. This isn’t something that is going to keep him out a day here and a few days there for the rest of the year. If he does hurt the ligament again, it will likely be a single episode and an unexpected event. –Corey Dawkins

4) Zack Wheeler, RHP, New York Mets (Last week: 5)

I talked about him a bit in the intro, but on top of the Super Two news floating around, he’s also being sent back to New York to have his sore clavicle checked out. It’s not expected to be anything serious, but may just be enough to assist the Mets in avoiding the start of his arbitration clock. He’s also now allowed a total of three earned runs in his last three starts. I think we’ll see him in June, and I like his chances to be pay strong initial returns for fantasy owners.

5) Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 7)

Hamilton is the fastest player in the game, but the bat is still the carrying tool that will ultimately define his future standing at the highest level. Because of the aforementioned catalytic speed, Hamilton can find success through consistent contact, which will allow him to hit for average and put his best attribute into game action. It’s not that Hamilton’s bat is empty, as he can put a charge into one despite being very slender and possessing an arm-heavy swing that is more conducive for linear contact than over-the-fence power, but he’s not going to scare away pitchers from attacking him with stuff. If he can keep the bat on the ball and use his wheels to put pressure on the defense, Hamilton has a chance to be an impact player for a very long time. But the approach might be better suited for down-the-lineup performance and more scouts have been questioning the bat this season, which clouds his ultimate projection. –Jason Parks

6) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 8)

After a tepid start to the 2013 season, Taveras has found his Triple-A stroke, and the numbers are starting to add up. His swing is a controlled chaos, with vicious bat speed and a preternatural feel for barreling the ball. Of all the prospects in the minors, Taveras’s hit tool is the one that receives the most elite grades, as several sources think he is an eventual batting champion at the highest level. With contact that will come both in and out of the zone and easy plus-plus raw power to all fields, Taveras is a future middle-of-the-order monster at the major-league level and a perennial all-star. He’s kind of a good hitter. –Jason Parks

7) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Last week: 9)

Last week it was Steve Johnson and this week it’s Jair Jurrjens. The Orioles keep finding reasons not to go to Gausman yet, but eventually they are going to run out of those reasons. Ken Rosenthal reported on Tuesday that Gausman isn’t being considered right now for a call-up, but the most interesting part of Duquette’s quote was that he essentially confirmed that Gausman won’t need a Triple-A assignment before coming up to the majors.

8) Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Last week: 10)

9) Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 14)

The jump for Zunino isn’t because he’s hitting better, it’s because Jesus Montero is just not cutting it at the major-league level behind the plate. The Mariners would be able to deal with Montero behind the plate if he were hitting up to his ability, but a combination of a .250 on-base percentage and below-average defense could cause a move to either DH or Triple-A soon.

10) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins (Last week: 15)

As nice of a story as he was last year, Juan Pierre now has a 58 OPS+ for Miami this season—and the Marlins are not shy about promoting prospects.

11) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: 11)

And so it begins. Beachy threw for the first time in extended spring training on Tuesday, tossing 29 pitches in total. It looks like things are still on schedule for Beachy to return just around the All-Star Break. Once he sets foot in the Atlanta rotation, I expect his numbers to be better than anyone else’s on this list.

12) David Hernandez, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: NR)

It hasn’t been the greatest season for Hernandez so far, but with Heath Bell Explosion No. 1 right in the rearview mirror, he could be the eventual beneficiary of the injury to J.J. Putz. I still expect Bell to keep getting opportunities until he blows a couple more, but I also expect him to blow a couple more at some point in the near future.

13) Allen Webster, RHP, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 13)

Well, I guess the yo-yo approach didn’t quite work with Webster, who got hammered last week by the Twins in Fenway. Now back in Triple-A, he’ll just have to wait out either John Lackey or Felix Doubront to get a permanent spot. He doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors at this point.

14) Drew Smyly, LHP, Detroit Tigers (Last week: 17)

With a 1.93 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, Smyly isn’t doing himself any favors by being awesome out of the bullpen. And while Rick Porcello hasn’t been as bad as his 6.68 ERA would indicate, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he’s the second-best option for the fifth starter’s job in Detroit.

15) Colby Lewis, RHP, Texas Rangers (Last week: 12)

Unlike Tommy John surgery, pitchers do not tend to recover as well from surgery on the flexor tendon at the elbow. The poor track record includes several pitchers within the last five years, such as J.C. Romero, Jose Contreras, Tim Stauffer, Brad Lidge, and Tom Glavine, to name a handful. Several factors play into this but a major one is age: This is a more common surgery among older pitchers than younger ones. Add in Lewis’ injury history prior to this recent surgery and the chances for him to recover diminish. He also has been dealing with triceps inflammation, which could delay his return for another couple of weeks. This could definitely be a case of buyer beware. –Corey Dawkins

16) Kyuji Fujikawa, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: NR)

In one of the strangest twists to the 2013 season, at least from a fantasy perspective, Fujikawa has returned to the majors only to be looking up at a firmly implanted Kevin Gregg on the depth chart. Fortunately for Fujikawa, a firmly implanted Kevin Gregg doesn’t really exist anymore, and there’s still a very good chance that he’ll have this job before June ends—whether it’s by Gregg imploding or getting traded.

17) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals (Last week: 18)

18) Ted Lilly, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: NR)

19) Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 25)

The additional playing time at shortstop last week appears to be a fluke, as Franklin has now played four of five games at second base. And, amazingly enough, Mariners’ shortstops have gotten even worse since last week, now hitting a combined .112/.194/.112. No, that’s not a typo—they still do not have a single extra-base hit all season.

20) Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: 20)

Armed with a wipeout fastball-slider combination, Archer and his powerful stuff are big-league ready. He’s off to a decent start at Triple-A, posting a 3.97 ERA with 39 strikeouts and 15 walks in 34 innings. While Archer’s arsenal should miss bats at any level, his command will be a deciding factor in his ultimate role and level of success. He’s at least a late-inning relief arm; he could probably fulfill that role right now. Archer has the pure stuff of a number-two starter, but the command could make him a mid-rotation guy. Regardless of role, the 24-year-old righty should get his chance to make an impact at some point this season. –Jason Cole

21) Peter Bourjos, OF, Los Angeles Angels (Last week: NR)

22) Cory Luebke, LHP, San Diego Padres (Last week: 21)

23) Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres (Last week: 22)

The jury is still out on how well Cameron Maybin will return from his right wrist impingement. It’s no secret that proper wrist function is important for hitters’ success, and despite the immobilization and cortisone injection, Maybin’s wrist still may require surgery. There can be several causes for impingement but most often, there is scar tissue built up in one of several areas of the wrist. Eventually, the scar tissue can thicken, impeding normal function because of inflammation, and doctors try conservative measure to remedy the issue.  These measures are not always successful, and very often, players will need surgery at some point. Maybin is not expected to start trying to hit for about four to seven days at this point, so it looks like he is several weeks away from returning at the earliest. This bears more watching because we have no idea how his wrist will respond to hitting yet. –Corey Dawkins

24) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Last week: NR)

Because how long can you really send Mike Pelfrey out there every fifth day for before people start rioting in the streets? Even in an overly friendly town like Minneapolis.

25) Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 19)

Still no news on Ramirez, and if that’s the case again next week, he’s going to fall off the list entirely.

Honorable Mention: Tyler Skaggs, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Wacha, Yasiel Puig, Jair Jurrjens, Matt Reynolds

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

21 comments have been left for this article.

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