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July 23, 2013

The Stash List

Drawing a Line in the Sand

by Bret Sayre

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We may have moved past the big Super Two names, but the call-ups from the minor league have not stopped. Instead we have a slew of non-Top 100 prospects up with bigleague clubs—some even looking at legitimate playing time. For the purposes of the Stash List (which is geared towards mixed leaguers), these players aren’t of requisite value to be on your radar—especially when compared with players who are likely to be free agents in those leagues. At some point, there needs to be a line drawn in the sand between prospects who can come up and produce enough to be ownable in medium-sized mixed leagues and ones that are very unlikely to be able to do so. The truth is that for a lot of these minor leaguers, the only leagues they’re getting picked up in are the ones where almost everyone needs to be owned, and you don’t need me to tell you to own a player who’s going to get playing time in an AL or NL-only format.

But with that said, a lot of people who read this site and this column do play in those deeper formats, so I’m going to dig into some of those players right now, and what I expect from them this season. And let’s start with the most recent, and likely most valuable, call-up of the last week or so:

Jonathan Villar

In the short-term, Villar is important for one thing and one thing only: speed. He’s stolen at least 30 bases in each of the last three seasons, including the 31 that he already has in 2013. Now, you’re probably wondering why a guy with this much speed, shortstop eligibility, and an apparent starting job in front of him hasn’t gotten much love in this space. The answer is pretty simple—he can’t really hit. Sure, he’s hitting .278 this season, but he’s a career .260 hitter in the minor leagues, including a .244 average in 169 games at Double-A. If he plays the rest of the year, he might be able to get you 10 steals and score 20-25 runs, but beyond, that it’s negative returns.

Henry Urrutia

The latest Cuban import to hit the majors, Urrutia is now platooning at DH at the bottom of the Orioles’ lineup. And while he is likely to get more of the at-bats because he’s left-handed, the better question is what he’s going to be able to do with them. At best, this seems like a guy who could hit in the .280 range with just about nothing else. He doesn’t have a swing suited for power production and he’s not a base stealer—plus the counting stats won’t be anything special based on his lineup position. Essentially, he’s the anti-Puig. He’ll make lots of contact, but is unlikely to do anything exciting.

Junior Lake

It’s hard to mention Lake in this space without thinking of Kevin Goldstein, who used to fend off questions about the Cubs prospect until he was blue in the face. In his this case, Lake’s time in the majors may also be short-lived, as David DeJesus is expected back relatively soon. Even if that weren’t the case though, he’d be a slight source of steals and not much else. I wouldn’t even get too excited about him in NL-only formats, and that’s saying a lot with his eligibility and short-term playing time.

Without any further ado, here is The Stash List, version 14.0:

The Graduates: Erasmo Ramirez (1), Rex Brothers (6), Yonder Alonso (18)

1) Mark Melancon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Last week: 23)

Melancon had lingered toward the bottom of this list for the past couple of weeks because of how much the Pirates have used Grilli, and Grilli left Monday’s game with an elbow injury. With a 0.97 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, and more than a strikeout per inning, Melancon should step in and immediately be a top-10 closer in baseball. If he’s still a free agent in your league (as I’m writing this, he’s 21 percent owned), remedy that immediately.

2) Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins (Last week: 5)

There’s really not much left to be said about Yelich at this point. He’s ready, there’s a spot for him, and there have been leaks from the front office that he’s coming up in the very near future. On top of that, he’s hitting well—which never hurts. Since returning to Double-A after his injury, Yelich is hitting .370/.485/.519 with more walks than strikeouts in 33 plate appearances. Chris Mellen also wrote about him in yesterday’s Monday Morning Ten Pack.

3) Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: NR)

This may be a cheap addition, but Cingrani is in the minors as I write this. He’ll be back up Tuesday to pitch game one of a doubleheader against the Giants, and should continue to be a strong play down the stretch—or at least until Johnny Cueto returns.

4) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: 3)

A well-timed Paul Maholm wrist injury could just be what the Braves needed to avoid having a “situation” when Beachy is ready in another week or so. Kris Medlen was never going to be a real option to go to the bullpen given the way he’s been pitching since the start of June, and it’s tough to move any of the other guys for various reasons (effectiveness, veteran-ness, etc.)

5) Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers (Last week: 2)

The Andy Dirks Watch is hitting a little bit of a snag, as he’s hit .400/.400/.700 with a homer and a steal since the All-Star break. Just a huge, 10 at-bat sample there. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is that Castellanos is hitting just .213 with four extra-base hits in 75 at-bats in July. His plate discipline is also falling off, as he’s totaled three walks versus 15 punchouts over that time frame. This means nothing for Castellanos’ long-term value, but it may make the Tigers more gun-shy about calling up him up in a playoff race.

6) Carlos Martinez, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 4)

That open date on July 27 against the Braves and the doubleheader on July 30 against the Pirates looming, the odds of Martinez making a start for the Cardinals looms larger. And even though it’s far from a guarantee that this will happen, this ranking should be indicative of what Martinez’ potential is for fantasy value if it does. He’s electric.

7) Alex Wood, LHP, Atlanta Braves (Last week: NR)

And here is the other player for whom the Paul Maholm injury news is good. Wood will start on Thursday against the Mets and it will be a good matchup for the lefty. Like Martinez, it’s the potential upside of a longer stint in the rotation that pushes him up the list, and not the likelihood of it. Wood and Beachy will fight it out for his next turn in the rotation, but given Beachy’s prior setback (and the setbacks of others returning from Tommy John), anything is possible.

8) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 10)

In July, Jose Iglesias is hitting .237/.292/.254. Just sayin’.

9) Pedro Strop, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: NR)

It does bear watching that Blake Parker has given up three hits in each of his last two outings, though one of them was at Coors Field. In the other corner is Strop, who has struck out 13 and walked only two in his last 10 innings between Baltimore and Chicago. The Tilt-a-Whirl is pitching well, and I’m reversing course—Strop is the guy I want to own in advance of a Kevin Gregg trade.

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

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

Taveras just can’t seem to shake this ankle injury, as he’s now shut down for another week. I do believe the production would be there if he were forced into action, but he needs stop being forced out of action at the minor-league level first.

12) Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Boston Red Sox (Last week: 12)

A 708 OPS is not going to get Middlebrooks back to the show any quicker. Neither is getting outplayed by the 20-year-old playing to his left.

13) Jarred Cosart, RHP, Houston Astros (Last week: 15)

14) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Last week: 21)

With the Diamondbacks apparently in the market for a starting pitcher, one might wonder if they’d just give the top pitching prospect in baseball a try instead. Results may vary, results may be awesome.

15) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Last week: 11)

16) Danny Duffy, LHP, Kansas City Royals (Last week: 19)

As the Royals inch closer and closer to being potential sellers at the deadline, Duffy’s odds of joining the rotation in August grow. He may be a risky proposition for most categories, but if you need strikeouts, Duffy is still a guy to target—he did just strike out 13 in his last start, which came at the Double-A level.

17) George Springer, OF, Houston Astros (Last week: 14)

I really do love Springer’s fantasy potential, and Jason Cole wrote him up in this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (including some great video), but the incentive for the Astros to add him to the 40-man and call him up is just not there.

18) Brandon Morrow, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Last week: 16)

19) Brett Anderson, LHP, Oakland Athletics (Last week: NR)

It’s been a while since we heard good news on Anderson, but he did throw a successful bullpen session for the first time in over two months. It’s unlikely that we’d see him before mid-August, but then again, last year we didn’t see him at all until August 21 and he still finished as a top-130 starting pitcher (even with only getting six starts).

20) Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 24)

Closer in waiting, still waiting.

21) Sonny Gray, RHP, Oakland Athletics (Last week: 17)

Gray was optioned on Saturday, but given the Ryan Braun news from Monday, there is a more realistic chance than ever that Bartolo Colon may not get to finish this season. And if it happens before Brett Anderson comes back, Gray should step into that role barring a trade.

22) Manny Ramirez, OF, Texas Rangers (Last week: NR)

Speaking of Biogenesis, here is your Nelson Cruz insurance policy. I’m not particularly optimistic about Ramirez personally, but unless the Rangers feel comfortable playing Jurickson Profar every day in the outfield, a Cruz suspension could mean the return of the dreadlocked one.

23) Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: NR)

Hurt on the first day of the season, Ludwick will finally play in his first rehab game on Wednesday. He’s going to need a while to get back into game shape, and even then, he will have Chris Heisey to contend with. The same Heisey who is hitting .324/.413/.703 since being recalled on June 25.

24) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Last week: 20)

25) Chris Carpenter, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: NR)

He finally does make it onto the list, but it’s much more of a whisper than a roar. There are so many red flags with Carpenter that he could host the Olympics—still, there’s at least a chance that we could see him in the majors during August.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Singleton, Alex Colome, Rafael Montero, Michael Wacha, Kevin Pillar

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

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