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June 25, 2013

The Stash List

Checking Back in on the Debut Debate

by Bret Sayre

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Around two-and-a-half months ago, I wrote an article about whether we should be plugging pitchers making their major-league debuts directly into our starting lineups. After reviewing 10 years of data, I came to the conclusion that if the pitcher is a "current" Top 100 prospect, he should be started, and he should probably be on your bench if he's not. As of this past week, when Zack Wheeler threw six shutout innings in his major-league debut, we had now seen 20 different pitchers make their major-league debuts in a starting role this season—and it seemed like a good time to take a look back and see if the hypothesis continued to hold true.

IP

ERA

WHIP

H

ER

BB

SO

HR

GSc

All Debuts

104 1/3

4.31

1.25

101

50

29

87

15

51.15

Top 100 Debuts

35 1/3

2.55

1.05

28

10

9

33

3

59.00

Non-Top 100 Debuts

69

5.22

1.35

73

40

20

54

12

47.79

And boy has it. Of those 20 starts, six have come from players who were on the Baseball America Top 100 prospect list (which I used for consistency's sake, as the BP lists don't go back that far). Those six players have been excellent in aggregate, and here are their debuts individually:

Player

Age

Date

Opp

IP

H

ER

BB

SO

HR

GSc

Jose Fernandez

20.25

4/7/13

NYM

5

3

1

1

8

0

64

Zack Wheeler

23.019

2013-06-18 (2)

ATL

6

4

0

5

7

0

66

Michael Wacha

21.333

5/30/13

KCR

7

2

1

0

6

0

75

Kevin Gausman

22.137

5/23/13

TOR

5

7

4

2

5

1

40

Allen Webster

23.07

2013-04-21 (2)

KCR

6

5

2

1

5

2

56

Gerrit Cole

22.276

6/11/13

SFG

6 1/3

7

2

0

2

0

53

When you look as a whole, the disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots" are alarming, though you can certainly find high-quality debuts among the pitchers who were not considered to be Top 100 prospects. In fact, after Michael Wacha's debut game score of 75, the top three 2013 debut starts belonged to Nick Tepesch, Tyler Lyons ,and Jose Alvarez—all of whom accumulated a 68 game score. The numbers do get skewed a bit by the disaster starts of Sean Nolin and Burch Smith, who allowed a combined 12 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.

So when you're debating whether or not to start Kyle Gibson on Saturday in his major-league debut, take a look at the numbers and feel good about plugging him in there. I know I'll be starting him where I own him.

Without any further ado, here is The Stash List, version 10.0:

The Graduates: Zack Wheeler (1), Allen Webster (14), Martin Perez (16)

1) Erasmo Ramirez, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 2)

The Eraser continues to bide his time in Tacoma, just waiting to pounce on an opening in the Seattle rotation. After striking out double digits in his most recent start, Ramirez now has a 2.23 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings for the Rainiers. He will be worth owning in all leagues once he finally gets the call.

2) Billy Hamilton, SS/OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 3)

It’s now been two-and-a-half weeks since Billy Hamilton drew his last walk. That’s not good. He’s also brought his OBP back down below .300 for the first time since mid May. On the positive side, he does have 48 stolen bases—and that can make up for a lot of other negatives in fantasy leagues. There’s still enough fluidity in the Reds’ outfield situation that he deserves to be ranked up near the top of this list. For now.

3) Dustin Ackley, 2B, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 6)

Like Ramirez, Ackley waits for his turn to rejoin the big club. He’s played eight of his last 12 games in center field, and could provide a nice boost for the Mariners’ offense if he carries forward his strong hitting from Triple-A.

4) Adam Eaton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 12)

Eaton would be number-one on this list if there wasn’t a real possibility that he could be shut down again once he starts playing in the field on his rehab assignment and miss the entire season. The upside from the pre-season is still there, and if he comes back around the All-Star break, he could still steal 15 bases and score 40-45 runs from the top of the Diamondbacks’ lineup.

5) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: NR)

I’m sure Beachy did not want to resurface on this list again, but here we are. After a setback, he’s back to playing catch again, and at this point it looks unlikely that we’ll see him in Atlanta before the break. Also, what the setback does is makes it more likely that we see him in the bullpen when he does return—though the upside of him as a starter makes him a very worthy stash.

6) Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets (Last week: NR)

Yeah, I went there. There’s no question that Davis was an absolute mess when he was in New York, but he also has a history of this. He was demoted on June 9, after hitting .161/.242/.258 with five homers in 186 at-bats—and if that sounds familiar, it’s because he was hitting .162/.244/.276 with five homers in 185 at-bats through June 9, 2012. The ability is there for Davis to turn it around, and he could get that chance as soon as later this week. There’s no one else on this list who can potentially hit 20 homers the rest of the way like Davis, if he returns to form. And, not that it means anything, but he does have four homers in 12 games at Triple-A since his demotion.

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

Gausman got called up on Monday to serve time in the Orioles bullpen, though there should be an opportunity for him to jump back into the rotation before too long.

8) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 7)

The last of the true Super Two players, Gibson will make his major-league debut on Saturday. The strange thing is that he’s been getting pegged recently as a guy who won’t even register in the strikeout category for fantasy purposes, but maybe it’s the combination of his pre-Tommy John performance and the organization he pitches for. Gibson has the stuff to strike out seven batters per nine—maybe not this year, but in time.

9) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 5)

Taveras re-aggravated his ankle injury this weekend, and looks like he’ll be sidelined for a while, as Jason Cole noted in this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack that even when healthy, Taveras was clearly not really healthy. At this point, I’d be surprised to see him in the majors before August—which speaks volumes about his potential for fantasy impact once he finally arrives.

10) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (Last week: 15)

Springer was promoted to Triple-A on Sunday, which bodes well for his chances of seeing Houston before September. He’ll leave a crazy fantasy stat line behind in Corpus Christi: a .299 average with 19 homers and 23 stolen bases in just 73 games.

11) Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 8)

12) Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (Last week: 13)

Coming into the season, there was a consensus among prospect gurus that Castellanos would be able to hit for average and some power at the major league level, but where he’s really taken a step forward this year is in his approach at the plate. Castellanos has not only already walked more in 2013 than he did in all of 2012, but he’s also reduced his strikeout rate in the process from 22.3 percent at Double-A to 16.5 percent at Triple-A. Andy Dirks is going to need to step up his game to hold him off, as long as the Tigers don’t deal him away.

13) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 21)

It looks like the sixth man in the Cardinals rotation has quickly become the diminutive righty, who continues to carve up Triple-A hitters. He has a 1.82 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings at the level, and is coming off his best start of the season on Sunday, when he went 7 2/3 shutout inning with eight strikeouts and only three hits allowed. New fifth starter Joe Kelly is going to need to step up his game to hold off Martinez.

14) Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees (Last week: 24)

If you had told me in March that A-Rod would beat Corey Hart, Ryan Madson, and Cory Luebke back to the majors in 2013, I would have looked at you like you had seven heads. Now it looks like it’s a legitimate possibility. With the dearth of talent at the position and A-Rod’s talent, I do believe that he’ll be fantasy relevant in nearly all leagues come August. Don’t sleep on him.

15) Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers (Last week: 10)

16) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins (Last week: 11)

17) Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees (Last week: 17)

18) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Last week: 20)

19) Tyler Skaggs, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: NR)

Skaggs has been pitching well since his demotion in early June, allowing only two runs in his last two starts, while striking out 15 batters. Randall Delgado isn’t the answer for the Snakes and Brandon McCarthy is still a question mark, so don’t be surprised if Skaggs ends up starting another 8-10 games for the big club the rest of the year.

20) Michael Wacha, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 4)

The Cardinals are doing what they can right now to keep Wacha in line with the workload they had planned out for him coming into the season, and that means they’re skipping him the next couple of times through the Triple-A rotation. The next step of that could be to use him in a relief role, where he can contribute in St Louis down the stretch, which would be unfortunate for his shallower league fantasy value—though he could put up Rosenthal-lite numbers in short bursts.

21) Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Last week: 18)

22) Yonder Alonso, 1B, San Diego Padres (Last week: NR)

23) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (Last week: NR)

Yes, the X-Man makes his first appearance on the list soon after surfacing at Triple-A. As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be a spot for him on the Red Sox, but given the right injury situation, he could find himself getting some playing time in a playoff push a la 2012 Manny Machado. The reason he’s here is that if he were to get that call, I believe that he’d hit enough to be playable in almost all formats from the get go, given his shortstop eligibility.

24) Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Last week: 19)

25) Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets (Last week: 23)

Honorable Mention: Gary Brown, Jarred Cosart, Brett Anderson, Dylan Bundy, Drew Smyly

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

Related Content:  MLB,  Fantasy,  Billy Hamilton,  Kyle Gibson,  Erasmo Ramirez

6 comments have been left for this article.

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