June 18, 2015
The Stash List
10th Edition, 2015
At this rate, there might not be any prospects on this list by the start of July. Ten top prospects featured on Bret’s first Stash List of the season have already seen the majors, and most of them were up before the Super Two cutoff.
With so many teams hanging around the fringes of contention and a weak trade market developing, many organizations are finding that their best chance to upgrade the roster is looking within.
Now, onto the Ten Spot ……..
The Graduates: (3) Rougned Odor, (16) Francisco Lindor, (19) Byron Buxton, (*Not Previously Ranked, But Would Have Been This Week, I Swear), Kyle Schwarber
Delino DeShields Jr.’s trip to the disabled list with a hamstring injury paved the way back to the Rangers lineup for Odor, who clubbed his way to a 1.065 OPS during his 124-plate-appearance stay in the Pacific Coast League. Since his recall, he has found himself in the starting lineup two out of the first three games, including Wednesday night against a left-hander (Clayton Kershaw), certainly a positive sign that Odor could take over the everyday job the rest of the season.
I covered Lindor’s 2015 fantasy impact in his Call-Up treatment on Sunday, and while he remains a solid long-term target, his value this season will be felt primarily with his glove while he’s learning the league. He should be able to swipe a few bases, but his offensive impact in 2015 will most likely fall far behind that of the other fellow highly touted prospects to get the call, like Kris Bryant, Carlos Correa, and Joey Gallo.
As of last week, it looked as though Jose Berrios could be the first Twins prospect to be called upon to help the big-league squad in Minnesota, but a forearm strain and subsequent DL stint for Aaron Hicks was what the Twins needed to jumpstart the Byron Buxton Era in the Twin Cities. The 21-year-old has understandably struggled in his first taste of the majors, and it remains to be seen how Minnesota’s designs on contention this season will affect Buxton when Hicks returns from the disabled list and Oswaldo Arcia or Danny Santana possibly return from the minors. At the very least, Buxton’s major-league debut on Sunday brought to light the fact that his son (who is awesomely named Brixton) already has 70-grade hair.
Schwarber was set to be on this list (somewhere in the 20-25 range) before getting the call from Double-A Tennessee to serve as the Cubs primary DH during interleague play. Schwarber, by all accounts, will be sent to Triple-A after the Cubs finish interleague play next week, and will be on the list at that point. Theo Epstein said the former Hoosier will be “an injury away” from getting the call back to Chicago if needed down the stretch, which could occur just after the trade deadline if the Cubs are unable to secure a bat on the trade market and Schwarber’s is needed in left field.
The Dropouts: (21) A.J. Griffin, (24) Sean Nolin, (25) Brandon Morrow
Griffin was activated from the DL on Saturday and optioned to Triple-A. He and Nolin are behind Kendall Graveman (and possibly Drew Pomeranz) as rotation options at the moment, but a trade of Scott Kazmir could open up a spot for one of the two to take advantage of, so don’t forget about these two if/when Kazmir is dealt. Morrow has been shut down for two weeks after shoulder inflammation forced him to exit his most recent rehab outing.
1) Hector Olivera, 2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 1)
Olivera was promoted to Triple-A on June 12th after posting a .318/.400/.455 in 25 plate appearances over six games at Double-A Tulsa. He has played five of his first nine games in the minors at third base, and saw action at second base in the other four. It will be interesting to see how frequently Olivera plays the outfield while in Oklahoma City.
2) Steven Matz, LHP, New York Mets (Last week: 11)
Dillon Gee’s awful performance Sunday (3 2/3 IP, 11 H, 8 ER) earned him a ticket out of town—which cleared one obstacle previously standing in the way of a possible rotation spot for Matz. The Mets have discussed deploying Matz as a part of a six-man rotation, or shifting Jon Niese to the bullpen and giving Matz the fifth spot in the rotation; one iteration would have sent Noah Syndergaard to the bullpen, but that now seems unlikely. One thing that seems crystal clear is that Matz will be on an innings limit of some sort, so be prepared for the possibility of a few skipped starts down the stretch when Matz inevitably gets the call to Queens.
3) Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 2)
Corbin fared better in his second rehab start, this time in Double-A Mobile, going 4 2/3 innings and giving up two earned runs on six hits, striking out three and walking none. With no reports of pain after either start, Corbin appears on target for an early July return.
4) Arismendy Alcantara, OF/2B, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 4)
Two more home runs on Monday brought Alcantara’s Triple-A line to .277/.341/.530, with 10 home runs and 11 steals in 51 games. Mendy’s ISO output has increased from .230 in Iowa last year to .252 this year, which puts him sixth overall among Pacific Coast League hitters. With the Cubs calling up Kyle Schwarber to take DH at-bats during upcoming interleague play, it appears that Mike Baxter being punted off of a bridge is the only path for immediate playing time for Alcantara.
5) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Last week: 8)
Gausman pitched a rehab start in Double-A Bowie on Tuesday, which lasted only two innings. Apparently, that was the plan heading into the start. It certainly doesn’t sound like stretching him out to rejoin the rotation to me, but the Orioles announced that Gausman will start Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Your guess is as good as mine for what happens after that.
6) Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Last week: 9)
Duffy was scheduled to throw 65 pitches on Sunday at Triple-A Omaha, but was rained out. He finally got onto the mound Wednesday and went 3 2/3 innings, giving up one earned run, striking out six and walking none. He remains on target for a return the first week in July. With Jason Vargas hitting the DL officially on Saturday, the door is cracked for Duffy to return to the Royals rotation.
7) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Last week: 6)
8) Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Last week: 7)
After Norris walked 12 batters in 23 1/3 innings in five big-league starts, the Jays sent him down to regain his velocity and work on his command. Norris has an ERA of 3.45 at Triple-A, but his walk rate has actually risen, as he’s issued 24 free passes in 44 1/3 frames.
9) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Los Angeles Angels (Last week: 5)
Heaney walked 11 in his first three June starts at Triple-A Salt Lake City, which contributed to an ERA of over 6.00 for the month. The good news is he did strike out 21 over the course of 17 2/3 innings, so it appears to just be a typical three-start rough patch as the weather warms up in the Pacific Coast League.
10) Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: 10)
Moore made his third rehab start on Tuesday, throwing 78 pitches and going 4 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits and two runs, striking out three, but—more importantly for Moore—he walked none. His next start will reportedly come at Triple-A Durham on Sunday and Rays manager Kevin Cash recently said that he expects Moore back before the All-Star break.
11) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 12)
12) Javier Baez, INF, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 13)
13) Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 14)
Eddie Rosario has been seeing most of the playing time in left field in Minnesota without Arcia the lineup, despite struggling to maintain an OBP over .300. Shane Robinson has started two of the last five games with Eduardo Escobar getting one start over the last week. None of these are good options, but Arcia isn’t exactly forcing the Twins hand at Triple-A Rochester, where he has an ugly .164/.197/.273 line in 61 plate appearances coming back from a hip injury. Arcia has been playing right field (the position he played at the major-league level in 2014) in Rochester, playing only four of 16 games in left field. The Twins don’t have a left-field prospect that Arcia would be blocking by playing in left, so it’s somewhat curious that they would be playing him there, as the combination of Torii Hunter and his magical clubhouse chemistry elixir certainly seem to have the right-field job locked down.
There are currently seven big leaguers age 24 or under with a career OPS+ of over 100 (min 500 PA), and perhaps you’ve heard of some of these guys: Mike Trout (167), Bryce Harper (135), Manny Machado (108), Christian Yelich (105), Arcia (104), Avasail Garcia (103), and Nolan Arenado (101). With the Twins calling on Byron Buxton to spark their struggling offense, one would think they would turn to Arcia when he starts hitting at Triple-A, but there are more than a few red flags here to suggest that Arcia’s time in the minors may be lengthier than initially expected, or that he could end up part of a platoon when he does return.
14) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 15)
Beachy completed the first step of his rehab by throwing 35 pitches at Class-A on Tuesday, going 1 2/3 innings. He will ramp up his rehab by adding an inning to each start in an effort to join the Dodgers rotation towards the end of July.
15) Manny Banuelos, LHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: NR)
16) Matt Wisler, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: NR)
The Braves banished Mike Foltynewicz and his 5.19 ERA to Triple-A on Wednesday, leaving a spot in the Braves rotation up for grabs. Wisler and Banuelos appear to be the two leading candidates to take his place, and they’ve had very similar seasons at Triple-A Gwinnett.
In 12 starts, the 22-year old Wisler (Preseason Top 101 Prospect no. 53) has worked 65 innings, struck out 18 percent of the hitters he’s faced, and walked just under five percent, good for a 4.29 ERA (3.33 FIP) and a 1.25 WHIP.
Banuelos, a former top-100 prospect himself, came from the Yankees over the winter and has made 13 starts in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. Banuelos (who’s still somehow only 24 years old) has a shiny 2.29 ERA, but he’s walking over four batters per nine innings and his FIP of 3.43 is actually higher than Wisler’s. Banuelos has struck out just over 21 percent of the batters he’s faced this season, but the walks have pushed his WHIP to 1.29.
Cody Martin has been working to stretch himself out as a starter at Gwinnett, so he could figure as an option in the short-term as well. The Braves will likely go with whichever starter they feel will work the deepest into games, keeping their horrific bullpen from doing as little damage as possible.
17) Martin Perez, LHP, Texas Rangers (Last week: NR)
Perez tweaked his groin during his last rehab start, but reported that he had a ‘perfect’ bullpen session on Tuesday and is on schedule to make his next rehab start on Monday, coming back from Tommy John surgery last May. Perez still needs another month or so of rehab starts, and the Rangers will likely slot him into their rotation as soon as he’s ready, but with a combination of the Rangers in contention, Chi Chi Gonzalez not giving up any runs at all, and Wandy Rodriguez pitching better than he has in years, the path isn’t as clear as it once looked.
18) Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Last week: HM)
Nola was promoted to Triple-A on Monday after cruising through the Eastern League, posting a 1.88 ERA (2.91 FIP) in 76 2/3 innings over 12 starts this season. The 22-year-old Nola was not being challenged by Double-A hitters, as evidenced by the .188 batting average that he held lefties to, and while the Phillies don’t seem intent on giving Nola a major-league trial at this point (or this season for that matter), it’s nice to see them give him a new assignment against older competition as he prepares to join the Phillies rotation at some point. Nola has done a phenomenal job of not walking people (only nine allowed on the season) and keeping the ball in the ballpark (0.47 HR/9), things that will certainly be very helpful once he reaches Philadelphia.
19) Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals (Last week: 17)
20) Jose Berrios, P, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 18)
21) Miguel Sano, 1B/DH Minnesota Twins (Last week: NR)
With Byron Buxton getting the call on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins will be with their other top prospects over the summer. Both in Double-A, Berrios and Sano could conceivably help the big league team if the Twins stick around in the race. Sano is slugging .505, adding 12 home runs in 240 plate appearances and could add some much needed right-handed power to the Twins lineup.
22) Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: NR)
The road to Triple-A Durham has been bumpy at times for the Shaffer, the Rays former first round pick in 2012 from Clemson. Shaffer’s power potential has always been apparent, and minor adjustments to his swing in the second half of last season has helped him tap into his power much more frequently—and make better contact overall in games.
At the end of July last season in Double-A Montgomery, Shaffer was batting .206 with 12 home runs when he implemented the swing changes, and positive results have followed since. Shaffer hit .283 with seven home runs over the remainder of the 2014 season and was sent to Montgomery to start the 2015 campaign. The 24-year old Shaffer clubbed seven home runs in 39 games, posting a .832 OPS, and earned a promotion to Triple-A. He has hit eight home runs in his first 20 games, giving him a line of .274/.371/.543 with 15 home runs on the season across the two levels.
Shaffer has played third base exclusively this year in the minors but could emerge as an option to play some first base while James Loney is on the DL, and if he continues to mash, he could emerge as an option to add some needed right-handed power to complement Evan Longoria and Steven Souza, Jr. at a corner infield or outfield spot.
23) Ivan Nova, RHP, New York Yankees (Last week: 22)
24) Jose Peraza, 2B/OF, Atlanta Braves (Last week: 23)
25) Rafael Soriano, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 20)
Despite news of Soriano keeping his arm in shape pitching bullpen sessions prior to signing, Joe Maddon said that it will likely be another month before Soriano joins the Cubs bullpen. As of now, Soriano still figures to be involved in high-leverage situations, but by the time he is ready, the back-end of the Cubs bullpen could look completely different if the Cubs decide to make a move.
Honorable Mention: Kris Medlen, Roberto Osuna, Jon Gray, Jose De Leon, A.J. Griffin, Sean Nolin, Brandon Morrow, Joe Wieland, Nick Tropeano, Luis Severino
J.J. Jansons is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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