For a refresher on the four types of players that are eligible for inclusion on this list, please see the first edition of the year to find out why players like Carlos Carrasco, A.J. Pollock, Devon Travis, Jung-ho Kang, Andrew Heaney, and Ender Inciarte are not listed below. Last week’s Stash List can be found here.
After a sparkling seven-inning performance against Pawtucket last Thursday, in which Berrios struck out seven in seven innings of work, giving up just two hits and walking only one—which lowered his ERA to 1.06 on the year in three starts—the prized Minnesota righty was summoned to the majors after Ervin Santana (lower back strain) and Kyle Gibson (shoulder strain) were placed on the disabled list. In 16 career starts at Triple-A Rochester, Berrios owns a 2.83 ERA along with a tidy 1.04 WHIP, and he bumped his strikeout rate up from 27.7 percent in 12 starts at the level in 2015 to just over 30 percent in 2016. Berrios and Tyler Duffey have replaced Santana and Gibson in the Minnesota rotation for the time being, and assuming that the Twins choose to bump Tommy Milone from the rotation when the veterans return from the disabled list, that still leaves only one spot to be filled between Duffey—who was seemingly assured of a rotation spot this spring by Paul Molitor—and Berrios. Duffey was dinged up by a comebacker in the fifth inning of his first start of the year (4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) on Sunday, but is scheduled to make his next start on Saturday at home against the Tigers. That Duffey was ahead of Berrios (who wasn’t on the 40-man roster at the time) on the depth chart prior to the season and received the call before Berrios when the Twins needed a starter tells me that Berrios will have to perform well in the short term to keep his rotation spot when Santana and Gibson return, and may have to outperform both Duffey and Tommy Milone to do so. Otherwise, he could join Byron Buxton and Max Kepler back at Rochester. Berrios’ debut Wednesday night was a mixed bag, as he struck out five Indians in his four innings, but was tagged for five runs on six hits while walking two.
I was in attendance for Sean Manaea’s most recent—and maybe final—start for Triple-A Nashville on April 22nd at Colorado Springs. Pitching on a cool evening in one of the friendliest hitting environments in all of the minors, Manaea allowed one run (courtesy of an Orlando Arcia RBI single) on six hits in six innings, striking out four and walking two. Current Nashville Sounds pitcher Jesse Hahn was sitting in the row in front of me with a radar gun charting pitches, and he told me after the game that Manaea was working 91-92 MPH with his fastball for most of the evening (which matched the stadium gun) and touched 95 MPH on a few occasions. Hahn indicated to me that usually Manaea is in the 93-94 MPH range with his fastball, but the difference in velocity could likely be attributed to the temperature, which dropped like a rock as the evening went on. Manaea allowed only one run in each of his first three starts (his only starts at the Triple-A level in his career), each of which lasted six innings, and a 1.50 ERA at any point in the year in the PCL is certainly notable. Manaea, much like Blake Snell, would have ranked much higher than no. 19 on talent alone, as I thought that the A’s would hold off on calling upon their top pitching prospect until after the Super Two cutoff in June, particularly with his inexperience above the Double-A level. Unlike Snell, Manaea appears to be in the A’s rotation “for the long haul,” according to manager Bob Melvin. However, Manaea, along with Chris Bassitt, could have to hold off the aforementioned Hahn and the rehabbing Henderson Alvarez to stick in the Oakland rotation.
Blair received the call to the majors on Sunday and made his major-league debut at home against the Mets. The former 36th overall pick in the 2013 draft worked 5 1/3 innings and gave up three earned runs, walked two, and struck out one. Blair, who turns 24 next month, will make his second start tomorrow against the Cubs at Wrigley. I like Blair in dynasty leagues as a solid back-end rotation option, and while I do feel he will remain in the Atlanta rotation for the remainder of the season, I don’t see him making much of a fantasy impact outside of NL-only leagues and 20-plus teamers this year. He won’t be helped by Atlanta’s putrid offense (or porous defense for that matter) in providing help in the win category, and he doesn’t feature the overwhelming stuff to help in strikeouts, despite his 31.9 strikeout rate in three starts this season at Triple-A Gwinnett. Blair’s strikeout rate was under 20 percent last year at Double-A and Triple-A in the Diamondbacks organization, and my expectations are for an ERA north of 3.50 and a similar strikeout rate to his work in the upper levels with Arizona in his rookie campaign. Blair’s call-up piece, brought to you by Chris Crawford and Wilson Karaman, can be found here.
The Dropouts: (HM) Ben Gamel
With a trio of high-profile arms graduating from The Stash this week, let’s take a look at who sits atop of the fourth edition:
DeSclafani made his first of two rehab starts at Double-A Pensacola on Saturday, reportedly touching 95 MPH and sitting 91-93 MPH for most of his four inning start that saw him strike out five and be charged with three earned runs. He is scheduled to make his final rehab start today at Low-A Dayton, before making his first start of the year at home against the Giants on Tuesday.
Skaggs made 67 pitches in 3 2/3 innings against Triple-A Fresno on April 20th, and was scratched from his next rehab start, which was scheduled for Monday, due to fatigue. The Angels are understandably being cautious with Skaggs, and he is “expected to take his next turn,” with an eye on ramping up to five innings in each of his next two rehab outings.
Turner has posted a .959 OPS in his first 70 at-bats of the year at Triple-A Syracuse, chipping in six steals and reaching base safely in 16 of the team’s first 18 games. Current Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa’s OBP sits at .324 on the year after a 1-for-2 performance (with a walk) Wednesday against Philadelphia. Espinosa, currently slugging .200, has just one extra-base hit in Washington’s first 20 games.
4) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins (Last week: Not eligible)
Buxton was demoted to Triple-A Rochester—a level at which he only had a grand total of 59 plate appearances at prior to the year—after striking out in 24 of his 49 plate appearances (and posting a .497 OPS) to begin the year. I don’t have any real idea what the Twins have in store for Buxton’s development at this point for this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he has a good month with the bat, regains some confidence, and is summoned back to Minnesota while playing the rest of the season in an everyday role. However, it also wouldn’t surprise me if they keep him in the minors for the bulk of the regular season, choosing to give him plenty of at-bats at a level that he has virtually no experience at. I don’t really know what to expect in 2016 for Buxton at this point, and I’m not really sure the Twins do either (at this moment), but his talent keeps him near the top of the players eligible for this list.
Shortly after last week’s Stash List was released, the Rays announced that Snell would be coming up from Triple-A Durham to start on Saturday against the Yankees. Celebration ensued throughout the baseball universe and then seemingly just minutes later, Kevin Cash doused the happiness by disclosing the team’s intention to give Snell a spot start and send him back to Durham after the game, regardless of his effectiveness.
Snell certainly looked ready for prime-time in his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium, facing 19 hitters in his five innings of work, giving up just two hits while striking out six and walking one. Snell’s wild pitch in the first inning led to the one run he allowed and he featured a very intriguing rising fastball, along with his signature tantalizing curve. His changeup and slider both were in the 83-84 MPH range—a nice 13-14 MPH difference between his offspeed offerings and his four seamer.
Snell would have much ranked higher on the list had I thought that there was any chance of him seeing the majors before the Super Two cutoff, as service-time implications usually weigh heavily for the Rays, and it appears that they will indeed try to manipulate his service time this season to avoid Super Two status if possible. Snell certainly looks like he’s big league ready and it will be hard for the Rays to avoid summoning him once again if an injury strikes a rotation member for any real length of time prior to Alex Cobb rejoining the rotation after the All-Star break.
Glasnow struck out 11 Durham Bulls in his most recent start with Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday. Glasnow’s impressive six-inning performance was his longest of the year and he held Durham to two hits on the night and only issued one walk, bringing his total to seven on the year in 21 innings of work, along with 30 strikeouts. As Wilson Karaman pointed out in his always-excellent Minor League Update from yesterday, Glasnow was working in 91 MPH changeups in his outing on Tuesday night. It’s not hard to see how he has limited opponents to a .203 average, and has allowed one long ball on the year in his first four starts. Jeff Locke (5.02 ERA, 5.18 FIP) got his first win of the year for the Pirates on Monday, and Ryan Vogelsong (3.60 ERA, 5.90 FIP) has worked in relief in his two appearances since making his first start of the year on April 13th. Juan Nicasio (4.50 ERA, 4.60 FIP) walked four on his way to allowing two earned runs on three hits in five innings in his most recent start at Arizona on Saturday. It shouldn’t be difficult (at all) for the Pirates to find room for both Glasnow and Jameson Taillon after the Super Two cutoff date passes.
Wheeler resumed throwing (on flat ground from 65 feet) on Tuesday, two weeks after his minor arm procedure. The Mets move of Wheeler to the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday was a procedural move that allowed the Mets to call upon Rene Rivera to fill-in for the injured Travis D’Arnaud, and will not affect his target return date of July 1.
Urias has been flat-out dominant in his three starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City to begin the year, striking out 20 in 15 innings and allowing just 11 hits along with two walks—stout numbers for any pitcher, let alone a pitcher that turned 19 just about six months ago. Urias has held hitters—who are on average eight years older, if a friendly reminder is in order—to a .196 average in the freaking Pacific Coast League. There’s little doubt that this kid is special; he just needs to continue to build up his innings total and wait until the Dodgers decide to unleash him on the world.
10) Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Last week: 21)
Taillon bounced back from his somewhat uneven performance in his second start of the year against Triple-A Toledo, pitching six innings of one-hit (which came against the pitcher) ball against Louisville on Saturday. Taillon struck out six while walking nobody, and he remarkably hasn’t issued a single free pass over his 16 1/3 innings to start the year—spectacular for a pitcher seeing his first action after missing two full seasons. Also impressive are Taillon’s 16 punchouts in those 16 1/3 innings, and he’s limited hitters to a .210 average to begin the year. When factoring in his long layoff, Taillon’s striking performance in the early going has been at or near the top of the most impactful fantasy developments in the minors.
Giolito has yet to complete more than four innings in any of his first three starts, and has issued almost as many walks (eight) as strikeouts (nine) to begin the year at Double-A Harrisburg. He’s also given up 13 hits in his 11 2/3 innings of action, resulting in an unsightly 1.80 WHIP.
12) Caleb Cotham, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 10)
After not allowing a run in his first eight appearances of the year, Cotham allowed two earned runs (while entering the game in the fifth inning) in 1 2/3 innings against the Cubs on April 23rd, appearing prior to Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood. His next two appearances were scoreless outings; he pitched the eighth inning of a two-run loss to the Mets on Monday and he again pitched the eighth inning on Tuesday after Brandon Finnegan and Tony Cingrani had already combined to blow a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning to the Mets. Cingrani’s ERA now sits at 4.15 and J.J. Hoover–who somewhat remarkably had a 1 2/3-inning scoreless outing his last time out on Sunday against the Cubs—still owns a WHIP (2.61) higher than that of Cotham’s ERA (1.54). The Reds bullpen remains a veritable calamity, but Cotham is still the guy that I’m grabbing if I’m desperate for saves, despite Hoover reportedly making an adjustment after a side session prior to Sunday’s scoreless outing.
15) Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 13)
Bailey made 78 pitches in his latest rehab start Tuesday night with Double-A Pensacola, and was charged with five runs (one earned) on six hits. Bailey walked two and struck out three in four innings of work. His four-seamer was reportedly in his usual 93-95 MPH range and Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary from when Bailey was diagnosed with his torn UCL. Bailey will make what could be his final rehab start at Triple-A Louisville on Monday and position himself for a return to the Cincinnati rotation five days later.
Norris had his best start of the year on Monday against Triple-A Charlotte, throwing 87 pitches (52 strikes) and limiting the White Sox affiliate to one earned run on four hits in his six innings of work. Norris struck out five while walking only one in his fourth start of the year, and on Tuesday he was reinstated from the disabled list and sent back to Triple-A Toledo. It appears that Shane Greene (whose injured finger could require a DL stint) and Mike Pelfrey (4.64 ERA, 5.77 FIP) will hold onto their rotation spots for now, with Matt Boyd or Michael Fulmer the likely candidates to make Greene’s start on Friday if he is unable to go.
17) Cody Reed, LHP, Cincinnati Reds (Last week: 18)
After inclement weather delayed Reed’s first start of the year until April 13th, a cut finger on his pitching hand then shelved the lefty for almost two weeks until he was able to make his second start of the year on Tuesday against Triple-A Norfolk. Reed was charged with one earned run on five hits in his five innings of work. He struck out six Tides while walking two, and made 99 pitches on the evening.
The Reds will usher Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey back into their rotation over the next couple of weeks, and Reed looks to be in the mix along with John Lamb, Robert “Louisville” Stephenson, and possibly Michael Lorenzen to take the place of whoever is left standing of Dan Straily, Jon Moscot, and Alfredo Simon once DeSclafani and Bailey rejoin the team.
Cobb is continuing to build up arm strength as he works his way towards facing live hitters in June. He is scheduled to return to the Rays in late-July or early August.
20) Hyun-jin Ryu, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last week: 16)
21) Max Kepler, OF, Minnesota Twins (Last week: Not eligible)
22) Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers (Last week: 22)
Williams hit his first home run of the year on Monday, and has stolen two bases in his first 16 games of the year.
Nick Williams 2016 Walk Watch: One walk since last week’s list, giving him a total of four on the season in 66 plate appearances, a 6.1 percent rate (with 14 strikeouts) and a .318 OBP as the 22-year-old adjusts to Triple-A pitching.
Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order): Honorable Mention spotlight
Mark Appel, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Orlando Arcia, SS, Milwaukee Brewers
J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
Jose De Leon, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Mike Minor, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies
Jose Peraza, UT, Cincinnati Reds
Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Roman Quinn, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Michael Reed, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
Richie Shaffer, 1B/3B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Jake Thompson, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds