It feels good to be back.
No more draft preparation. No more overanalyzing splits from the previous season. No more ADP. No more spring training stats (sort of). It’s all eschewed for the sights and sounds of real, live baseball.
At Baseball Prospectus, there are plenty of articles and series dedicated to those who made it and those who we watch night in and night out. The Stash List, however, is the last refuge of the players on the cusp. The 25 men who are not currently doing the things their talent projects under the brightest of lights, but should be in the near future. We’re searching for cumulative fantasy value in mixed leagues over the rest of the season here, and as a reminder, here are the types of players eligible for inclusion in this column:
Minor Leaguers: anyone currently in the minors. There is no ownership restriction for this category.
Major Leaguers on the DL: anyone current on the disabled list that is owned in fewer than 25 percent of leagues. The restriction is there to exclude obvious players like Anthony Rendon or Hunter Pence, as I find it hard to believe they’d be on the wire in any leagues.
Closers-in-waiting: any reliever who is not actively getting saves and is owned in fewer than 25 percent of leagues. This excludes pitchers who are in “committees” and setup men who are widely owned for their own values, like Wade Davis or Ken Giles.
Others-in-waiting: any other player who is not currently active in the role that would net him the most fantasy value. This includes pitchers who are in line for a rotation spot but are not currently there, and position players who are not receiving regular playing time. These are players who would see a huge uptick in value from a change in role, like Kris Medlen in 2012.
So, without further ado, here is the first Stash List of 2015:
It’s admittedly completely useless to have Bryant on this list, as he’s 100 percent owned across all formats, but he qualifies and his means I get to write about him. Taking a quick step back though, I’ve never seen a minor leaguer even at 50 percent ESPN ownership, and Bryant is already maxed out. That’s incredible, and a function of his ADP of around 100 towards the end of spring training. He’ll be up before the end of April and he’ll likely be quite excellent—just don’t be surprised if his power comes at the expense of his batting average, despite what his .425 spring average might lead you to believe.
It's still hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that Castillo isn't in the majors right now, but any time you can give Shane Victorino playing time, you just have to do it. A casualty of the glut of offensive players on the Red Sox, Castillo finds himself in the minors through no fault of his own (unless you blame him for his early spring injury). It's highly unlikely that he'll still be in the minors on Memorial Day, and he should be a reasonable OF3 in most leagues once that happens.
The talent is clear when you watch Rodon pitch, but the opportunity hasn’t quite caught up with the big-bodied southpaw yet. Of course, with John Danks and Hector Noesi occupying the back two-fifths of that White Sox rotation, it’s not difficult to see his time coming soon. The strikeouts should show up immediately with Rodon, almost purely on the strength of his slider, but there’s certainly ratio risk in play given both his home park and his still-developing control.
No, I’m not listing him as a third baseman. I don’t care what the organization says publicly. Also, I’m not freaking out based on a spring that was disappointing to far too many. Based on how he’s currently being perceived, you’d think he failed to make contact the entire spring, yet he still managed a .257/.307/.414 line. Not the greatest showing, but certainly not terrible for a hitter with a long layoff and limited experience against high-quality arms. Patience is required, but I still think he his 20-plus homers for Arizona this year.
With a rehab assignment set to start at the same time as the minor league season (today), Saunders has a good chance of being back shortly after next week’s list comes out. The move from Seattle to Toronto is quite the attractive one, especially for a player who has a 111 OPS+ over the last three seasons and is a power/speed threat to boot.
Once Garrett Richards returns from the disabled list, Heaney will be in direct competition with Hector Santiago (and possibly Matt Shoemaker, if he carries his issues into the regular season) for the last spot in the Angels’ rotation. Even without the guarantee of near-term playing time, Heaney still carries a strong ranking because he’ll have a strong park and defense at his back (and also because he can be a good mid-rotation starter).
The combination of last year’s power disappearance and this season’s (albeit minor) shoulder injury should dampen some of the excitement around Hardy’s fantasy prospects, but the state of the shortstop position means that he certainly should not be forgotten about. After all, field generals who can hit 20 homers are rare commodities these days, regardless of his other deficiencies.
This is the second year that Syndergaard will feature prominently on this list, and I feel pretty comfortable saying that it will be the last. Even with Zack Wheeler out for the year, the Mets have strong rotation depth, but it will be tough for Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, and Dillon Gee to stay healthy. And even if they do, the strong right-hander can force the issue by picking up where he left off last year in Las Vegas.
With a more rational spring from Kris Bryant, one could make the argument that Olivera has the most fantasy upside of any player on this list in 2015. He can hit and hit with pop, and is a veteran hitter from Cuba—which helps his transition to the majors. However, he also is having visa troubles and may have a torn UCL. If you’re into the risk proposition, he’s a great investment.
After losing out on a rotation spot to Zach McAllister and T.J. House, Salazar was unceremoniously returned to Columbus to work on turning that strikeout-to-walk ratio into positive fantasy value. He’s obviously flashed the talent in the past, but with a fastball that lacks plane or wiggle and features inconsistent command, there are still developmental hurdles to clear.
11) Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
I don’t even know what to say about this anymore, so I’m just going to refrain from saying anything rather than go on some sort of diatribe. Sure, Gausman is likely to be very good out of the bullpen, but don’t be so quick to assume that he gets into the rotation in short order. I trust the arm far more than I trust the franchise’s ability to get the most out of it.
12) Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Chicago Cubs
The upside with Baez is unquestioned, but he’s likely going to get a couple of months at Triple-A to clear his head and try to regroup. The contact issues are less alarming than the recognition issues, as the latter is far more damning long-term. There’s no reason to give up on Baez in keeper/dynasty formats while his value is down, but if you’re counting on him to be anything more than an ancillary part of your 2015 team, you’re the one who’s likely whiffing.
It’s generally a 30-day recovery from an oblique strain, so we’re about two weeks away from Franklin returning to action and saving us from watching the smattering of uninteresting options the Rays are trotting out there in the meantime. Even with a park working against him (not that it’s a new concept for him, coming from Seattle), he could surprise as a cheap all-around contributor in your middle infield spot this year.
14) Bobby Parnell, RHP, New York Mets
A healthy Parnell is possibly the best reliever in the Mets’ bullpen, but despite the wide-open opportunity in front of him, there’s no guarantee that he can take advantage. First of all, Jeurys Familia will get first crack at it, and he’s similarly talented, so inertia could work against Parnell. Secondly, yesterday was the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John, so expecting smooth sailing and an April return falls into the category of wishful thinking at this point.
Like Syndergaard, Franco is another player who was held back to get a few extra credits in Triple-A. And also like Syndergaard, it’s hard to imagine a situation (short of him just stinking up the entire Lehigh Valley) where Franco is still in the minors at the All-Star Break. It could come much sooner if the Phillies can unload Ryan Howard, but a strong start could give the Phillies incentive to see if Cody Asche can hack it in left field.
16) Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
This ranking is far more about opportunity than about talent. Russell is very close to being major league ready, but a glut of offensive options for the Cubs stand in his way. If Starlin Castro were hurt (or traded), Russell could slide in, but so could Baez. There also could be opportunities at second or third, but he’d have to force that issue offensively—though with a very quiet .317/.349/.488 line in spring training this year, he’s already started to.
17) Pat Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
There is a long list of semi-interesting players coming back from Tommy John later on this season, but Corbin is the one to make the list for two reasons: he’s only had one surgery and he’s projected to return the earliest. Right now, he’s in the bullpen throwing stage, but should face live hitters in the next week or two and is targeting an early June return.
18) Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
The Jose Ramirez-as-placeholder talk isn’t entire fair to Ramirez, who is a decent enough player in his own right, but it’s because of the presence behind him. Lindor’s defense should get him up by mid-season and his extreme baseball IQ will go a long way towards providing some value quickly after he shows up. And while it’s mostly average and steals, don’t forget he has a little pop as well.
19) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Last year was a brutal one on the field for Singleton and, at times, off the field as well. With the demotion at the end of spring training, he finds himself seeking to displace an outfielder (either Colby Rasmus or Jake Marisnick) should everyone stay healthy. On the flip side, if there’s an injury anywhere but middle infield, he should be the first bat up.
This ranking is both a vote of confidence in Taylor and a vote of no confidence in Brad Miller. It was starting to look like Taylor was winning the battle for the Mariners’ shortstop job when he went down with a fractured wrist, but fortunately for fantasy owners, Taylor was never going to be a source of power anyway. It may take time, but I think he wins this job back and ends up worth owning in non-shallow mixed leagues by mid-season.
21) Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
The brutal blow to Christian Vazquez is the opening that Swihart needs to accelerate his timetable. Historically, it’s been tough for catching prospects to break into the majors and succeed at the plate, given the depths of their responsibilities day-to-day, but if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s Swihart. Don’t be surprised if we see him as early as June now.
When we were asked to make our fantasy predictions last week, I chose Joe Nathan to be the first closer to lose their job, and Soria to be the reliever with the most saves who did not have a closer job on Opening Day. And unless Nathan can work some sort of voodoo doll to make all of his save opportunities of the one-out variety against Torii Hunter, things are likely to go downhill. [Editor’s note: And they have! Nathan just hit the DL with an elbow injury, which means if for some crazy reason Soria is still available in your league, go get him now.]
23) Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets
Montero may not have the ceiling or name recognition as Syndergaard, but he is a fine option for the Mets should injury or underperformance strike. In a slightly surprising move, Montero is on the active roster now, but not in a starting role. With his strong spring fresh on his resume, he’s likely to get the call if a starter is needed in April or May.
There’s nothing wrong with the Braves wanting to wait in order to get Peraza to Atlanta, mostly because no matter how bleak their current situation is, he’s still just a 20-year old with only 185 at bats above High-A. How well Jace Peterson plays in the near-term will affect when Peraza shows up, but he could be a strong speed play at middle infield in the second half.
No one needs to hear me wax poetic about Chi Chi even more, so do me a favor. Go look up his minor league numbers (here). Then go look up the current Rangers rotation. Then watch the GIF overlay in our Spring Training notes piece (here). He’s going to be up with the Rangers this summer, and he’s got a pretty good chance to be usable in deeper mixed leagues immediately.
It’s a hodgepodge down here, with the ever ready next outfielder up for the Cardinals, a couple of pitchers who haven’t been able to stay on the mound the past couple of years, another arm who has the unenviable future of calling Coors Field home, a catcher who is the third wheel on the never-ending date that the Twins and Kurt Suzuki are on, and the Korean import who couldn’t beat out Jordy Mercer for a starting job.
Thank you for reading
This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.Subscribe now