July 23, 2015
The Stash List
14th Edition, 2015
After a much needed rest, The Stash List returns from its All-Star hiatus to a bevy of promotions, so let’s jump right in…
The Graduates: (2) Kyle Schwarber, (4) Kevin Gausman, (7) Aaron Nola, (8) Brandon Beachy, (9) Martin Perez, (14) Joe Ross, (19) Stephen Piscotty
A sprained thumb injury that required a trip to the disabled for Miguel Montero opened the door for the Futures Game MVP to rejoin the big-league roster. Montero’s injury will likely keep him sidelined past the 15-day minimum and the fourth-overall pick in last June’s draft looks poised to take advantage of the part-time playing time that he’ll reportedly receive in his absence. If Schwarber keeps mashing, it’s not hard to envision the Cubs giving him additional work in left field a few times a week when Montero works his way back. After Tuesday’s monster performance against the Reds, Schwarber’s first 11 games at the major-league level look like this: .410/.439/.744 with three home runs.
Gausman made two starts at Triple-A Norfolk over his most recent demotion, striking out 11 over 11 innings and allowing only two earned runs, earning a recall on Wednesday to make a start against the Yankees in the Bronx. The Orioles most recent iteration of a Gausman plan appears to actually include slotting him into the rotation and keeping Bud Norris in the bullpen, but as always with The Human Yo-Yo, stay tuned.
The Phillies (finally) summoned Nola to make his first major-league start on Tuesday at home against the Rays, and he showed why many thought he was big-league ready much earlier, going six innings, allowing one run (on a home run by Slugging Nate Karns) on five hits and striking out six while issuing only one free pass. Mike Gianella covered the fantasy side of Nola’s call-up, and as he pointed out, the righty should benefit from facing some awful offenses during divisional play down the stretch.
Beachy was understandably not sharp in making his first major-league start in 23 months on July 11th, laboring through four innings, giving up three earned runs on five hits while issuing three walks and striking out two. Beachy’s velocity in his first start was similar to his pre-surgery form, but after his second start against his former team on Monday was more of the same (4 IP, 5H, 4ER, 3BB, 3K), he was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room for Carl Crawford’s return. With Brett Anderson leaving his start on Tuesday early due to injury (a shocking development, to be sure), Beachy may get another shot in the rotation at some point, but with Carlos Frias nearing a return from his own rehab stint and the Dodgers reportedly in trade discussions for virtually every available starting pitcher, it’s hard to envision Beachy making much of a fantasy impact the rest of the season.
Perez allowed 11 baserunners (9 H, 2 BB) to reach base over five innings and was charged with three earned runs against the Astros on Friday in his return to the majors, working his way back after a 14-month Tommy John surgery rehab. The Rangers lefty pitched much better in his six minor-league rehab starts than his 4.56 ERA indicates, striking out 25 hitters in 25 2/3 innings and showing better control than expected. Perez walked three hitters over the course of his six rehab starts, good for a 1.1 BB/9 rate, which was far below the three walks-per-game mark that he had in his previous 34 career major-league starts. Perez’s 93 mph fastball velocity registered in his first start back was a tick below his 2013 averages, but certainly enough for him to find success at the major-league level and give him a much better chance to stick in the Rangers rotation over the rest of the season than Matt Harrison.
The younger Ross brother was recalled to pitch against the Mets on Tuesday, and although he was tagged with the loss, he put forth a quality effort, allowing two earned runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. Ross struck out four and walked none, giving him a total of 27 strikeouts against only two walks in his first four major-league starts encompassing 26 1/3 innings. Ross’ 2.70 ERA is impressive enough, but his 2.33 DRA and 88 cFIP paint an even “rosay-ier” picture.
With the Nationals likely to be conservative with Stephen Strasburg as he rehabs his oblique injury, Ross should get as least three or four more turns in the rotation.
Piscotty played left field (with Matt Holliday serving as the DH) against the White Sox in his first two major-league starts, facing left-handed starters in both games. The former Stanford Cardinal first-rounder played first base in his last six games (marking the only experience at the position in his career) at Triple-A Memphis and should see extended time there in the majors. He’ll look to improve upon the .235/.295/.377 line that St. Louis first baseman have compiled this season.
The Dropouts: (21) Steve Delabar
John Gibbons announced that when Aaron Sanchez returns to the Blue Jays, it will be in a back-end-of-the-bullpen role and not in the rotation, making it difficult to see a path to saves for Delabar.
1) Hector Olivera, 2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 1)
Olivera hasn’t played since a complex-level July 13th game as he works his way back from his strained hamstring. The Dodgers offense needs a spark and while Olivera could be the guy to provide it, he obviously needs to get on the field and show that he’s healthy to earn the opportunity. The Dodgers plans for Olivera over the rest of the season should materialize over the next 10 days, as they figure to be very active in the trade market between now and the end of the month.
2) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 5)
Your Jimmy Rollins OPS update: April (.613), May (.602), June (.552), July (.541)
At some point, the Dodgers have to pull the plug on Rollins—no matter how respected a veteran he is. If they don’t turn to an option outside of the organization at the trade deadline, Seager represents the best chance for an offensive upgrade. Kike Hernandez got the start at shortstop on Tuesday against Atlanta left-hander Alex Wood and could ease the burden (possibly along with Justin Turner) of the left-handed-hitting Seager’s transition to the majors if the Dodgers make the call.
3) Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 3)
Castillo hasn’t found his stroke at Triple-A since his demotion on June 23rd, hitting one home run in 19 games (with four SB) and adding two doubles as his only other extra-base hits. That’s not exactly what you would refer to as beating down the door for a return to Boston.
4) Joey Gallo, 3B/OF, Texas Rangers (Last week: 6)
5) Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 22)
Arcia is trying to club his way back into Paul Molitor’s heart—and a .317/.394/.762 month of July that includes eight home runs in 17 games is a good way to do it. Twins left fielders have compiled a .682 OPS this season, and while Arcia posted a .752 OPS (which would rank fourth on the team this year, min. 100 PA) in his age-23 season last year, it appears his defensive limitations will keep him in Triple-A for the time being.
6) Javier Baez, INF, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 11)
Dr. Baez took to Instagram to declare himself “almost 100 percent healthy” on Monday and presumably actual doctors agreed with him, as he will reportedly start a rehab assignment today and look to rejoin Triple-A Iowa over the next week as he comes back from his injured finger, which has kept him out of game action since June 7th. The important thing is that the injury didn’t prohibit Baez from enlightening the world with inspirational peace-sign-flashing selfies on his Instagram account, and as Baez always says about rehab, “#longprocess.”
Baez has seen his name floated in numerous trade rumors over the last couple of months and his best chance to make a fantasy impact over the rest of the season would be to see one of the many rumors come to fruition, particularly if it means him going to a team that would keep him at his natural shortstop position.
Enjoy that pigsweat workout balm, Javy!
7) Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: NR)
The combination of Jason Grilli’s season-ending Achilles injury and Jim Johnson’s contract status (expiring after the season) has opened the door for the 24-year-old Vizcaino to move into the closer role should the latter be moved at the non-waiver deadline. Vizcaino has looked fantastic after returning from his 80-game PED suspension to start the season, striking out six over seven innings, allowing only one earned run, and averaging a touch over 98 mph on his fastball.
Outside of Jason Frasor, the currently disabled Chris Withrow, and Mike Foltynewicz (who the Braves could continue to develop as a starter), there aren’t a lot of other options to close out games over the last few months of the season should the Braves deal Johnson, which is almost certain to happen.
8) Kris Medlen, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Last week: 13)
Medlen made his final rehab start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas on July 15th, working seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out four. The former Brave gave up eight home runs in 30 1/3 innings over six rehab outings, including six in 15 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, and was summoned to the Royals bullpen after the conclusion of his 30-day rehab assignment on Monday.
Medlen pitched 3 1/3 innings in his return to the majors after a 16-month absence on Monday against the Pirates, striking out four hitters, walking none, and giving up four earned runs with one coming via the long ball. Medlen’s velocity was up from his 2013 season in his first appearance, with his fastball sitting in the 91-93 mph range.
Medlen joins a Royals staff that’s in flux. In calling upon the 29-year-old right-hander on Monday, the Royals chose to keep their five-man rotation of Danny Duffy (6.01 DRA), Edinson Volquez (3.91 DRA), Yordano Ventura (4.66 DRA), Chris Young (3.25 DRA), and Jeremy Guthrie (5.63 DRA) intact. Jason Vargas (5.21 DRA) returned from a strained left flexor muscle injury on Tuesday, and the Royals surprisingly demoted their Opening Day starter, Ventura, to Triple-A Omaha to make room for him in the rotation. Vargas then was forced to leave Tuesday’s return engagement with an elbow injury that will require Tommy John surgery. Instead of inserting Medlen (or even Slim Joe Blanton) into the rotation, the club recalled Ventura to fill Vargas’ rotation spot. The Royals toyed with the idea of going with a six-man rotation before Vargas came back, and it will certainly be interesting to see what they do before non-waiver trade deadline at the end of the month.
9) Rafael Soriano, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 17)
Soriano received the call to Chicago after seven scoreless appearances in the minors since signing with the Cubs on June 9th. With Jason Motte fashioning a 1.11 ERA over his last 18 appearances, earning five wins and five saves over the period, Soriano will not be handed the closer job. Still, Soriano will likely factor prominently into the back end of the Cubs bullpen, and if Motte or Hector Rondon struggle, Joe Maddon could turn to a familiar face to pitch in high-leverage situations.
10) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 12)
Alcantara certainly doesn’t look like he factors in into the Cubs’ pre-September plans at this point, and much like Baez, his best chance to make a fantasy impact this season also appears to be with a new organization. Of the 81 games that Alcantara has played this season at Triple-A Iowa, 53 have come at second base and 15 have been in center field. If Alcantara were going to get the call to fill the super-utility role (a la Ben Zobrist) that many envisioned for him before the season, he would be playing more around the diamond in Iowa—which would likely have led to a promotion by now.
11) Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets (Last week: NR)
Conforto, the 10th-overall pick in last June’s draft, checks off two highly important boxes for the Mets: He works cheap, and he’s available. Conforto only has 43 games of experience above High-A ball, but with a 166 wRC+ this season at the Double-A level, the Mets may turn to their top hitting prospect to fill in for the creaky Michael Cuddyer in an attempt to add some much-needed life to their anemic offense.
12) Jose Berrios, P, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 10)
13) Trevor Story, INF, Colorado Rockies (Last week: 15)
14) Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B Tampa Bay Rays (Last week: 16)
Shaffer, a Futures Game participant, just keeps crushing the baseball at Triple-A Durham, where he is sporting a cool .351 ISO. The 2012 first-rounder is up to 16 home runs in his first 45 games at the level, giving him a total of 23 across the top two levels of the minors this season.
15) Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Last week: 18)
16) Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Last week: HM)
The Rockies will go with a four-man rotation until July 28th, at which point Gray could get the call from Triple-A Albuquerque. Gray has a 3.15 ERA and 30 strikeouts over his last four starts, spanning 20 innings.
17) Zach Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: HM)
18) Joe Wieland, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: HM)
Lee appears likely to make his major-league debut on Saturday against the Mets in New York. The 28th-overall pick in the 2010 draft has made 12 starts with Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League and owns a 2.36 ERA (3.62 FIP). If the Dodgers do indeed choose to go with a Lee-Harvey matchup on Saturday, the former LSU quarterback recruit could have a chance to run with the fifth starter job given the struggles of Brandon Beachy and the (eternal) fragility of Brett Anderson.
Wieland could get the call to follow Lee against the Mets on Sunday, and he has actually posted a better FIP (3.50) and struck out a higher percentage of batters (19.2 percent) than Lee this season at Oklahoma City.
19) Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers (Last week: 20)
20) Kennys Vargas, DH, Minnesota Twins (Last week: 23)
21) Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees (Last week: HM)
22) Brandon Morrow, RHP, San Diego Padres (Last week: HM)
Morrow, who has been on the disabled list since May 3rd, threw a bullpen session Wednesday morning and is set to make the first of three rehab starts over the weekend with Triple-A El Paso, provided his arm doesn’t fall off between now and then.
23) Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Last week: NR)
24) Evan Scribner, RHP, Oakland A’s (Last week: 24)
25) J.J. Hoover, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 25)
Such a sad way to end this week’s edition of The Stash List, but saves are saves—and they count just the same in August and September as they do in April and May.
Honorable Mention: Robert Stephenson, Jose De Leon, Sean Nolin, Aaron Blair, Mark Appel, Colin Rea, Rafael Montero
J.J. Jansons is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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