The Graduates: Trevor Bauer (5), Kole Calhoun (6), Nick Franklin (12), Josh Willingham (25)
We finally got more of Trevor Bauer, major leaguer, and while it’s exciting that he’s back up, six runs and 19 base runners in just 10 1/3 innings isn’t something to start throwing televisions out of hotel room windows for. Yes, the velocity and strikeouts are promising, but the same things were said about Danny Salazar, right? Calhoun and Willingham returned from their injuries this week without much fanfare, but fantasy owners should have taken notice. Willingham’s injury poses more long-term concern, but he should still be valuable enough to play regularly in medium-sized and deep mixed formats. Nick Franklin is back up in Seattle, but without consistent playing time or a consistent position, the Mariners aren’t exactly putting him in the best position to succeed at the moment. Then again, he really doesn’t have to do much offensively to be an upgrade over Brad Miller.
The Departed: None
And the ones who are still left waiting:
1) Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (Previous Rank: 1)
What is there to say about Polanco that hasn’t already been said? He’s good and he’s coming. There’s your hard-hitting analysis. I can’t wait for the day that he graduates from this list both because I will get to watch him regularly and because there’s only so many ways to say “I love you”. Yes, he’s cooling down over the last two weeks, but his version of cooling down is a .302/.362/.472 line.
2) Oscar Taveras, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: 3)
In case he still needed to prove that he belonged at the major-league level, Taveras is picking the right time to get hot. Over the last two weeks, he’s hitting .400 with eight extra-base hits in 50 at bats. There’s literally nothing that Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos can do to avoid it. This train is coming.
3) Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins (Previous Rank: 7)
Shortly after the last list came out, Heaney was promoted to Triple-A and the level hasn’t given him any more of a challenge yet, as he’s allowed one run in 11 innings with 14 strikeouts and no walks. Between Randy Wolf being Randy Wolf and Henderson Alvarez’s elbow issues (a high-velocity guy with elbow issues, I guess you really can’t predict ball), Heaney is very likely to be up at some point in June, and potentially within the next week or so. With a strong offense at his back and a generous home park/division, Heaney has a very good chance to be of use in all leagues this year.
4) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 4)
Things have improved recently in Houston with the intense offensive explosion of George Springer, but even he can’t do anything to help the Astros’ terrible first base situation. Between Jesus Guzman, Mark Krauss and Chris Carter, Houston first basemen are hitting a whopping .186/.270/.306—that .576 OPS is the worst at any position on the roster. Singleton and his .933 OPS at Triple-A will help this in short order, even though the adjustment period may take some of the wind out of his fantasy value (and if it does, take advantage).
5) Dillon Gee, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: NR)
This week’s installment of “an injured player whose ownership levels have now qualified him for the Stash List” brings us to Queens to find a recently set back Dillon Gee. Originally, it looked like he’d only miss three starts total, but now a late June return seems likely. Gee has been great, and makes for an even better option if you have the option of streaming him at home, where he has a career 3.20 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
6) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 10)
Since Jason Parks sent Cubs Twitter into a hysterical frenzy on May 19, all Baez has done is hit .441 with 11 extra-base hits in 34 at-bats. Yes, that’s correct. If batting average were calculated ONLY using extra-base hits, Baez would still be hitting .324. He’s going to need more stretches like this if he wants to get back on course to be in the majors by July, but his arrow is at least pointing in the right direction again.
7) Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 11)
Walker finally made his long-awaited first rehab start on Wednesday night at Triple-A Tacoma, and while the overall stat line doesn’t look like something to get thrilled about, there’s really only one number that matters: three innings. He’s building back up after an extended absence, so rust can be forgiven. If things start to come together the way they should for him, he will be back in Seattle during the second half of June.
8) Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies (Previous Rank: 15)
Just as Cody Asche was really heating up, he ends up on the disabled list, putting the Phillies in a “will they or won’t they” situation with Franco. On one hand, despite a recent hot streak, Franco is still hitting just .232/.308/.354 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A. On the other hand, the Phillies started Cesar Hernandez at third base last night—he of the 33 OPS+ in 2014. It could only be a matter of days at this point, depending on Asche’s recovery.
9) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 9)
With the Samardzija rumors swirling around Baltimore, Gausman will either find himself in a tougher situation to crack (if he stays) or a vast expanse of potential fantasy value (if he goes). I still find it unlikely the Orioles would deal him in this scenario, but you never know.
10) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 8)
I’m not freaking out over Syndergaard yet, though I can’t promise the same for Future Bret. His MRI came back clean this week, after being diagnosed with a mild strain of the flexor-pronator in his right elbow, but the Mets have been quiet about any potential return date for the stud prospect. Expect them to take it slowly with Thor, although if it’s not the lingering type, it wouldn’t result in diminished fantasy value, as he likely would not have pitched through the end of September without this period of rest and rehabilitation. Silver linings, I see you.
11) Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 13)
Holland continues to rehab his surgically repaired left knee, and remains a couple of weeks away from starting a rehab assignment. Since that will be his Spring Training, a return just after the All-Star break still seems reasonable—and Holland has the potential to be a very strong piece of a fantasy pitching staff down the stretch.
12) James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 14)
Paxton continues to be dogged by setbacks as he attempts to return from a strained lat—this time being shut down due to shoulder inflammation. Reports say that he’ll throw again in around a week, but shoulders are scary and it would be a slightly different proposition if Paxton was expected to pitch up to his career line upon his return.
13) Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous Rank: HM)
With Carl Crawford on the disabled list and Matt Kemp still searching for the bottom of a bottomless pit, it’s becoming more and more possible that we could see Pederson this season even without a trade. It may be Albuquerque, but he is hitting .340 with 15 homers and 13 steals in just 50 games so far this season. If he were in an organization that needed outfield help, he’d be third on this list behind Polanco and Taveras, so if he gets the call, act accordingly.
14) Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Previous Rank: 19)
This past week, Meyer finally broke his streak of six straight starts with three or more walks. Then he started a new one last night. He has upside and he’s close, but those control issues are going to limit his usefulness in fantasy leagues for the short-term.
15) Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Previous Rank: 16)
16) Arismendy Alcantara, 2B, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 21)
On Wednesday night, Alcantara played the outfield for the first time as a professional. It’s not meaningful yet, but it could be soon. What is more meaningful is Alcantara’s 25 extra-base hits and 10 stolen bases in 46 games at Triple-A. Regardless of the position next to his name on the lineup card in the future, Alcantara has the potential to fill up the box score—and the more Emilio Bonifacio looks like a pumpkin, the better his chances at getting real fantasy value in 2014 are.
17) Jimmy Nelson, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers (Previous Rank: 23)
Nelson impressed in his spot start on Sunday, throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out six batters. However, with Yovani Gallardo returning to health, Nelson returned to Triple-A to await his next opportunity. Said opportunity may come sooner rather than later, given Milwaukee has workhorses like Matt Garza and Marco Estrada helping to lead their charge towards an NL Central title.
18) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 20)
Bradley is throwing pain-free and is getting closer to returning to the mound. And while we’re far closer to possibly getting 10 starts out of him rather than the 20 we may have expected coming into the season, he can do enough damage (hopefully to opposing batters, not his own elbow) to warrant a roster spot even just for a short burst.
19) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 22)
Bryant is tearing up the minor leagues, hitting .335 with 14 homers and even six steals for good measure. However, it’s unlikely that he’ll jump over Baez and Alcantara and make it to the big leagues before August. The strikeouts are still an issue and he also has work to do on defense before he’s close to a finished product. Get excited, but don’t go overboard.
20) Jesse Crain, RHP, Houston Astros (Previous Rank: 17)
21) Casey Kelly, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: 18)
22) Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: NR)
Coming off his best start in Triple-A on Monday, Wisler continues to battle Casey Kelly for the vaunted “next guy to come up to San Diego” title. Of course, it didn’t have to be overly impressive to be Wisler’s best showing at the level—he had given up 20 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings coming into this week.
23) Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers Previous Rank: 2)
I don’t want to talk about it.
24) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians (Previous Rank: 24)
25) Jason Motte, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: HM)
Trevor Rosenthal deserves a long leash, but would it really be all that surprising if Motte ends up with his old job back later this summer?