We might as well get the obvious out of the way first: I am not Bret. Undoubtedly, that is a major letdown for you, the reader. I understand and won’t take it personally. No matter how much Pepsi Max I drink, I will never be able to fill Bret’s shoes, but I’m certainly going to do my best to do so while he’s running the show here at BP over the summer.
Peter Griffin once summed up my thoughts about taking over The Stash List perfectly by saying, “With great Stash List, comes great responsibility.” Now on to the list:
There are plenty of jokes that I can make about Smith’s “man muscles” maturing very quickly over the last few days, but I’d like to be able to write a few more of these Stash lists. Thankfully, somebody in Seattle was able to talk some sense into manager Lloyd McClendon. Smith was given the closer job and has recorded two saves over the course of a week. McClendon’s comments are another illustration of the hesitation some (most) managers have in making the move from a Proven Closer ™ so if Smith stumbles, Tom Wilhelmsen might be the next up in Seattle.
We all knew that it was only a matter of time before Correa forced his way off of this list, and leading the minors in extra-base hits is a good way to go about it. Most likely we’ve seen his final appearance on The Stash, with a homer and three RBI in his first two games against the White Sox. There will be growing pains over the remainder of the year for the 20-year-old, and it’s advisable to temper your 2015 expectations a bit for Correa. But there aren’t many brighter stars to invest in if you’re in a keeper or dynasty league.
Lamb’s return from the DL moves him off of the list, and with the Mark Trumbo trade paving the way for Yasmany Tomas to spend most of his time in the outfield, the majority of the starts at third should go to Lamb going forward. Deciphering the Diamondbacks infield plans has proven to be difficult over the last year, so as long as Aaron Hill is on the roster, he’s a threat to take time away in the short term. Prospect Brandon Drury, a viable long-term option to challenge Lamb, is struggling (.280/.301/.360 with only 1 HR in 239 PA) this season in Double-A.
With less than 200 career minor-league plate appearances above High-A ball to start the 2015 season, many viewed Pompey’s inclusion on the Opening Day roster in Toronto as curious. He struggled mightily with the bat in his 23 games at the big league level before being sent to Triple-A at the beginning of May, and his .209/.294/.253 performance at Triple-A earned him yet another demotion, to Double-A New Hampshire, where he will try to regain some much needed confidence.
Pompey’s troubles illustrate why organizations are so reluctant to promote prospects up the ladder as quickly as most fans would like, especially when their “mastery” of a level includes less than a half season’s worth of plate appearances. Still only 22 years old, the future is still bright for Pompey long term, but at this point expecting production in 2015 at the major-league level probably isn’t the most prudent idea.
Nicolino drops off the list because it looks as though Jose Urena’s solid effort at Coors Field, where he pitched six innings and only gave up one earned run on three hits while striking out four, will keep him in the rotation going forward. Urena has looked better in each of his three starts, so it looks like Nicolino will remain stuck in Triple-A for now.
Olivera posted a .976 OPS (with one home run and four RBI) in his first 13 Double-A plate appearances, a good start for someone seeing his first game action since late 2013 in Cuba. He’s started two games at second base and two games at third base in his first four games, and hasn’t seen any action in the outfield as of yet. His deployment in the field is something to monitor while he is in Tulsa, as it will likely give a strong indication of how the Dodgers intend to use him when he does get the call to Los Angeles. When Olivera’s bat is deemed ready, the Scott Scheblers of the world will not stand in his way
Corbin’s first rehab start in the California League didn’t go exactly as planned, as he gave up four earned runs, walked two, and did not get out of the first inning. Twitter reports had Corbin touching 95 on the gun, and more importantly, manager Chip Hale said Corbin experienced no pain before or after his start. Josh Collmenter’s sparkling 5.00-plus ERA won’t prohibit Corbin from jumping into the rotation when he is ready, but he will likely be treated carefully the rest of the year, particularly if/when the D’backs fall out of contention.
Odor remains hot at Triple-A Round Rock, where his season line now stands at .372/.454/.681. The more important number to keep an eye on with Odor is his strikeout rate. After striking out an uncharacteristic 25 times in 103 plate appearances at the major0league level before getting demoted in early May, he has only fanned in eight of 110 plate appearances in the minors. The Rangers made the surprising decision to promote Joey Gallo ahead of Odor when Adrian Beltre found himself on the disabled list, and they have given Hanser Alberto the majority of the starts over the last two weeks at second base. Alberto profiles as a future utility guy, and with the Rangers in contention, they should turn back to Odor at some point soon.
With Javy Baez’s injury forcing him down on this list, Alcantara gets bumped up the list due to opportunity—and continued production at the Triple-A level, where the switch-hitter’s overall line of .280/.350/.505 with eight home runs and 11 steals in 206 plate appearances includes a .799 OPS mark against left-handed pitching. Mendy could work his way back to Wrigley as an option against southpaws, should Junior Lake continue to exist and Chris Denorfia struggle in his return from the DL. Before making a move for an option like Ben Zobrist on the trade market, the Cubs could be best served giving Alcantara another chance before the deadline and seeing if Joe Maddon’s creativity can put him in situations to succeed.
In his return to the rotation on Tuesday against the Rays, Matt Shoemaker went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits and striking out five. The performance looks to have secured his rotation spot for the time being, but with the Angels fighting for every win in a heated AL West race, it remains to be seen how much longer the Angels will stick with a pitcher who has an ERA just under 5.00 (and a DRA of 4.58). You’d have to think the Angels didn’t trade Howie Kendrick in the offseason with the intention of keeping Heaney in Triple-A forever, and he’s doing a much better job of keeping the ball in the yard in the bandboxes of the Pacific Coast League, compared to his first go-‘round at the Triple-A level in the International League last year, shaving nearly a run off of his FIP from 2014.
6) Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros (Last week: 7)
Singleton is basically having the exact same year at Triple-A this season that he did in 2014, save for a few less walks and strikeouts. With Chris Carter’s slugging percentage (.383) creeping closer and closer to Singleton’s OBP at Triple-A (.373), one would think the Astros would give Singleton another trial at the big-league level at some point in 2015. With the Astros in contention, your guess is as good as mine when that will actually take place. Singleton may need to show significant improvement in his Triple-A numbers from last season to force the Astros to disrupt their “clubhouse chemistry,” which is almost assuredly the reason for their success this season.
Gausman tossed three scoreless innings in his first minor-league rehab start last Friday, throwing 40 pitches, 32 for strikes. He will likely receive two more rehab starts to stretch out his arm before rejoining Baltimore in some capacity. The reasons for stretching Gausman out are unclear to me, as they seem intent on yo-yoing him around between the rotation and the bullpen again this season. I’ve given up on determining what constitutes the Orioles developmental plan for the most promising arm in their organization. If I were certain he would be rejoining the Baltimore rotation, he would be rank as the top starter on this list. Perhaps this is all just a ruse to keep his innings totals down? As I said, I have no idea at this point.
With Sandy Alderson’s recent comments about Matz’s 2015 campaign not being looked at “as a minor-league season,” it stands to reason that he should see Queens sometime after the projected Super Two cutoff of June 20th. His role in the majors is undefined at this point, and is reflected in his ranking—despite Matz’s dominance of the Pacific Coast League. His ERA of 1.94 is almost three runs per game lower than his future rotation-mate Noah Syndegaard’s was in his first go-around in Las Vegas last season. Their FIP numbers are very similar though, with Matz’s 2015 number checking in at 3.40, and Thor finishing at 3.70 in 2014.
The Mets appear serious about clearing room for Matz, but as of right now Jon Niese and possibly Dillon Gee (along with Harvey, deGrom, Syndegaard and Colon obviously) are still ahead of him on the depth chart. A trade or injury would obviously bump Matz up the list, but finding a trade partner willing to take the remaining portion of Niese’s $7 million owed in 2015 and the $9 million owed to him in 2016, or the remainder of Gee’s $5.3 million owed for the rest of the season, hasn’t been doable at this point for the Mets.
Areas of caution when projecting Matz’s success at the big league level in 2015 include his current walk rate of 3.24 per nine innings, which will certainly need to be trimmed, and that he has benefitted tremendously from a .270 BABIP against him in Las Vegas, the eighth-lowest number for a PCL starting pitcher. Mets fans would never have wild expectations, so I’m sure they’ll be cognizant of the fact that the next Bumgarner or Kershaw only has 23 lifetime starts above the High-A level when Matz does get the call.
12) Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 16)
Seager has gone through an adjustment period in Oklahoma City, and it’s good for his overall development for him to be seeing the types of pitchers who make up the majority of Triple-A rotations. After going through a rough 3-for-25 stretch, Seager belted his first two PCL home runs of the season on May 25th, and hasn’t looked back since. Prior to his two-homer outburst, Seager’s Triple-A line stood at .238/.281/.286. It now stands at .292/.352/.451 in 159 plate appearances at the level. Jimmy Rollins’ paltry .622 OPS isn’t going to hold off Seager for much longer.
13) Javier Baez, INF, Chicago Cubs (Last week: 2)
Just as Baez was (finally) seeing action at third base in Iowa, playing four consecutive games at the hot corner, he broke his finger sliding into second base. The injury will reportedly keep him sidelined for the next 4-8 weeks, making it difficult to envision him appearing in Wrigley before September and furthering the notion that the Cubs won’t count on him as a significant contributor this season. A best-case scenario for Baez is that he returns in early-to-mid July and hits enough before the trade deadline to convince the Cubs not to look outside the organization for help, but that scenario seems a lot less likely now than it did just a couple of weeks ago.
Arcia went hitless during his rehab stint in Rochester, and the Twins decided he needed more at-bats in the minors to get his timing back. Eddie Rosario has been getting most of the at-bats with Arcia out of the lineup and has a .725 OPS in his absence. As soon as Arcia starts hitting again, he should be back in Minnesota, but the Twins may choose to ease him back into the lineup, rather than hand him the starting job right away.
15) Brandon Beachy, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: NR)
Beachy will reportedly throw a simulated game on Friday and could start a rehab assignment next week, coming back from his second Tommy John surgery. After undergoing three elbow surgeries over the last two years, a brief reminder of how good Beachy was when healthy may be in order, considering he’s thrown 30 innings in the big leagues since June 2012. In 2011, Beachy’s 3.19 FIP was good for 19th overall among starters and his 10.7 K/9 mark led the majors (min. 140 innings). His 2.00 ERA mark in 2012 was leading the National League at the time of his injury, so clearly there’s some upside should Beachy be able to recapture a portion of his old form.
The Dodgers hold a 2016 option on Beachy and they have been understandably conservative in handling him, fully intending for him to come back as a starter when he is healthy enough to do so. Even with the unexpectedly good performances of Mike Bolsinger (2.08 season ERA, 4.50 ERA in two June starts) and Carlos Frias (3.86 ERA in 49 innings) this season, it’s doubtful that either would stand in the way if Beachy looks good in his rehab stint. The Dodgers rotation is always just one Brett Anderson injury away from having an opening as it is.
With the demotion of Indians SS Jose Ramirez on Sunday, many assumed Lindor would get the call, but he did not. Surely the Indians don’t feel that Mike Aviles can be an everyday shortstop for the rest of the year, and even though Terry Francona says Lindor is not ready, there’s not much question that Lindor would help bridge the gap between the Indians ERA (3.97) and their DRA, which currently sits at 3.55. There’s not much question that with Ramirez out of the way, Lindor is closer to the big leagues, but when he does make it to Cleveland, the excitement should be muted from a fantasy standpoint, as he likely is just not going to hit enough to make an impact in mixed leagues in 2015. Yes, Lindor is closer to the big leagues, but this ranking is reflective of the probability of him providing fantasy impact when he does.
17) Stephen Piscotty, OF, St Louis Cardinals (Last week: 24)
Lance Lynn left his start on Sunday with right forearm tightness, which will require him to undergo an MRI and if the Cards decide to make a move via the trade market to provide them with pitching depth in their rotation, Piscotty could find himself ticketed for a new organization. A trade would likely clear a path for playing time that isn’t looking likely in St. Louis this year, unless Matt Holliday’s partially torn right quad requires an extended DL stint.
The 24-year-old Piscotty’s second go-around in the Pacific Coast League has been an improvement overall, as he’s sacrificed a bit of batting average—dropping from the .288 mark he posted in 2014 to .256 this season—but improved his ISO from .118 in 2014 to a .197 mark this season, a number more in line with the expectations for a corner outfielder.
When one American League team that nobody expected to be in first place promotes it’s all-world 20-year-old prospect to help the big club, other organizations in a similar situation take notice. Well, certainly their fan bases do anyway. I don’t think it would be a particularly good idea for either player’s development to appear in the majors this year, but it’s not out of the question that if a need arises this summer in Minnesota and the Twins are still in contention, either could get the call.
Berrios has looked downright dominant at times in Double-A, posting a 3.29 FIP and currently striking out just under 27 percent of the hitters that he’s facing. It’s not hard to see him contributing at the big-league level at some point in 2015, provided the Twins decide to have a member of their rotation that actually strikes guys out one of these days.
20) Rafael Soriano, RHP, Chicago Cubs (Last week: NR)
Soriano signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs on Tuesday and is reunited with Joe Maddon, who watched him save 45 games with Tampa Bay in 2010. With Maddon appearing to lose confidence in Hector Rondon and turning to Jason Motte in high-leverage situations, it’s not hard to see how Soriano could work his way into similar situations.
24) Sean Nolin, LHP, Oakland A’s (Last week: HM)
Bret had this to say about Morrow from last week’s list: “The oft-injured right-hander fired four scoreless innings in his first rehab start at Double-A San Antonio on Tuesday. If he can make it through one more with his arm attached, he’ll likely jump back into the rotation for the Padres at that point.”
Morrow left his Double-A start Sunday with shoulder soreness and was unable to get through three innings. Shocking developments for everybody, I’m sure.