June 3, 2014
The Stash List
The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Marcus Stroman (15)
It only took a year longer than many thought, but Taveras has finally taken his rightful place in the Cardinals’ outfield and lineup. With the ankle injury finally in the rearview mirror, the stud prospect is ready to start hitting for average and power immediately at the major league level. If reading about Taveras is your thing (and frankly, that’s all of us), he got the full Call-Up treatment on Saturday by Jason Parks, with fantasy analysis from yours truly. Stroman, on the other hand, is getting his second shot this season, but this time in the role he was born to play: starting pitcher. In his starting debut, Stroman went six innings while striking out six and allowing five base runners. He should stick and although the performance may be up and down, he’ll be worth owning in leagues as shallow as 12-team mixed.
The Departed: None
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 1)
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
2) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 4)
To be fair, I had Singleton behind Heaney at the three spot before the news broke that he had signed his five-year, $10 million contract and would be on his way to Houston for Tuesday’s game. Thankfully the Astros had off on Monday so I didn’t have to write a blurb about Brett Anderson (I know, I know, he’s been through enough). Singleton is the odds on favorite to lead this entire list in home runs during the 2014 season, but it comes at a price. A likely low average (think .240-.250 initially) will offset some of that good, though he’ll be more gentrified in OBP leagues. Those potential 20 homers are nice though.
3) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: 3)
If it seems like Heaney had his first hiccup of the season this week, it’s because he kind of did. Coming into his start on Sunday, he hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a single game all season, and was knocked around for five runs in Colorado Springs. Then again, it was in Colorado Springs. Even with Randy Wolf turning back the clock on Monday night, Heaney will be here and he’ll be here soon.
4) Dillon Gee, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 5)
It looks like it will be the end of June before Gee returns, but his baseline of performance gives him the edge over some sexier names below. That, and the favorable home park.
5) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 7)
Speaking of favorable home parks, Walker appears to be on the verge of returning from his shoulder maladies possibly as soon as Sunday. He wasn’t great in his first appearance back, which makes the news all the more surprising that he could be up within a week’s time. That said, I would expect him to make two more rehab starts before resurfacing in Seattle—unless he just comes out and dominates on Tuesday.
6) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 9)
The Orioles continue to limit Gausman’s innings, likely because they want him to be available down the stretch for a potential playoff run. And with them right in the thick of things in a very tight cluster of American League teams, he may very well be an important cog in their chances. With a 2.40 ERA and a strikeout per inning at Triple-A, he’s ready to take his development to the major-league level, and not a single one of their current starters should be an impediment to his talent.
7) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 10)
While It’s clearly too early not to worry about it, Syndergaard’s flexor-pronator strain appears to be a minor blip on the radar for now as he is scheduled to take the mound again on Saturday at Triple-A. This setback should not delay his arrival in Queens much more than a week or two, as he’s still likely to be called up within the next 4-6 weeks.
8) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 6)
It’s a testament to how well Kris Bryant is playing that Baez actually finds himself slightly in the big man’s shadow. Of course, when you’ve struck out multiple times in 20 of your 45 games this season, it doesn’t lend itself to extreme optimism. I still believe Baez will see major league time this year, but that’s only a small part of the battle. He could go one of two ways upon promotion—either tearing things up until pitchers learn how to adjust or striking out 40 percent of the time and not allowing his insane power to play out.
9) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 11)
10) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: 13)
11) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 12)
12) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 8)
The Cody Asche injury has yet to signal a call up for the portly “third baseman,” but with Asche still on the mend, there’s still time for the Phillies to bite the bullet. Unfortunately for Franco, he’s slowed down at the wrong time, hitting .173/.232/.288 over his last 14 games.
13) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous Rank: 17)
If Nelson wasn’t mad about being sent back down to the minors after throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his 2014 debut, the Iowa Cubs certainly couldn’t tell on Saturday. The Niceville, FL native was anything but, on his way to 11 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings, allowing only five base runners and a single run. There will be opportunities with some injury-prone starters ahead of him, and Nelson is ready to take advantage despite not having frontline upside.
14) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 16)
After one game in center field, Alcantara has spent the last four games back on the infield dirt, though it doesn’t slow down his timeframe much, given that it’s not like the Cubs are rolling out an All-Star at the keystone these days either. Luis Valbuena is serviceable, but he’s not the kind of guy who will block Alcantara when the front office deems him ready.
15) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 14)
On the plus side, Meyer only walked one batter on Monday night. On the negative side, he allowed four runs for the fourth time this season and only lasted five innings.
16) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 18)
17) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 19)
In my heart of hearts, I still think there’s no reason for the Cubs to promote Bryant to the majors this season, but oh man he just won’t stop hitting dingers. If he would just slow down a little bit, it would make it easier on us all. He’s now up to .348/.452/.692 in Double-A.
18) Chris Taylor, SS, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: HM)
It may be a little odd to have an actively injured prospect make their debut on the Stash List prior to even returning, but that’s how dire the Mariners’ shortstop position has been this year. In fact, we may need a new word that has far more depth than just dire—the position as a whole has a .506 OPS in 2014 (yes, that’s a .161/.235/.271 line). Taylor, meanwhile, has a career .326/.412/.474 line as a professional and was hitting .372/.414/.593 at Triple-A before fracturing his finger. He’s expected back within a couple of weeks, and would very likely have been up in Seattle already if not for the injury. He could be up in short order if Brad Miller doesn’t turn things around, and soon.
19) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 22)
20) Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 21)
21) Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers Previous Rank: 23)
22) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: 24)
23) Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Previous Rank: NR)
There may not be a ton of optimism surrounding Hellickson after his disaster of a 2013 season, but if the injury was even partly to blame, he could be a nice source of value in the second half. After throwing a three-inning simulated game on Monday, his next test should come in the form of a rehab assignment later this week. In the best-case scenario, he needs three starts to build up and returns during the week of June 23.
24) Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: NR)
At this point, it’s more or less a coin flip as to who gets to Colorado first, Butler or Jonathan Gray. And while I’m not putting money on it, my guess is that Butler gets the first crack. He’s been working on pitching to contact and getting ground balls at Double-A per the organization’s philosophy—even though it doesn’t really fit the kind of pitcher Butler is—at the expense of his strikeouts. But don’t worry about the raw numbers, the high-end stuff is still there to miss bats with at the major-league level.
25) Jesse Crain, RHP, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 20)
While it’s great news that Crain is getting closer to returning—he has thrown three mound sessions thus far and is moving closer to a rehab assignment—there is an unexpected obstacle in his way, in the form of Chad Qualls. In an extremely quiet manner, Qualls hasn’t allowed a run since April 19 and has 15 strikeouts versus only one walk in 12 2/3 innings since. Attaining the closer role may be more difficult than anticipated for Crain.
Honorable Mention: Brett Anderson, Jonathan Gray, Jason Motte, Allen Webster, Corey Hart
Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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