This season I will be taking over for Nic Gardiner and his baby — the Stash. Every weekend, I will be posting about the minor leaguers that you should be stashing on your team. Unlike my other dynasty content that will focus on who to own for their production years down the road, these rankings will be done for a potential splash during the 2018 season (there will be discrepancies). Players that will be called up sooner will be ahead of players with more talent who might only be called up late in the year — we want to give you an edge. Prospects are a great way to stay ahead of everyone else rather you are in a dynasty league or a 10-team league.
Chances are I would rank the top 20 hitters to stash before I would stash a pitching prospect in redraft leagues. They are more consistent and since stashing is hedging talent on a finite roster, these bats will be better bets. Expect this list to turnover as the season progresses. FYI – as I’m writing this article it would appear as though Franklin Barreto has gotten the call – he’s worth a flier in 12-teamers, though he doesn’t have the massive upside like a few others on this list.
1. Ronald Acuna (Atlanta Braves) – ETA The Day After Super-Two
Ronald Acuna is owned in 83% of ESPN leagues – chances are he’s not available. If you’re in the minority, snap him and his Trout-esque ceiling now. That is all.
It was a Spring Training question whether Willie Calhoun would start the year in the majors – the Rangers decided to keep him down in AAA to work on his awful defense. The Rangers should have Calhoun split duties between left field and designated hitter — once super-two passes, expect him up.
Early into the last off-season, I would have pegged Gleyber Torres as a super-two call-up, now I’m a little more bearish on his call-up date. Neil Walker is but filler for the Yankees, but after missing most of 2017, the Yankees seem to be opting to give Torres more AAA innings before giving him the call. Torres is splitting time between second base and third base (after spending most of his time at shortstop in the minors). This combination points (along with management saying that super-two is not a factor) to Torres up in May – but when he does get the call is an instant must own.
The Cincinnati Reds have no real urgency to call up Nick Senzel prior to Super Two, but he may force their hand if he continues to hit like he did in 2017. Senzel is clearly next Red’s superstar and will soon lead the Reds in jersey sales – since business is the guiding force as to whether a prospect is held down for Super Two – his immediate draw could usurp an extra year. Sigh.
5. Francisco Mejia (Cleveland Indians) – ETA April – May
Francisco Mejia is on track to be the next Buster Posey with his ability to hit for a .300 average, 20 home runs, and steal just shy of 10 bases. Mejia’s position was shuffled around during spring training and was sent to the minors to get more reps at other positions. While he will still get starts at catcher – the Indians want his bat now – wherever they can play him. I think he’s ready to contribute now, keep a close eye on Mejia.
There is a clear spot for Austin Hays in the Orioles outfield, with many thinking he should have broken camp with the Orioles. Hays is a bit surprisingly starting the year in AA, with a more extended look in 2018 – a repeat year should have him up soon. The Orioles are not expected to compete this year, which could factor into the team taking its time with Hays and giving him a long look at AA and AAA.
Whether Victor Robles gets the call is directly tied to how well Michael Taylor performs this spring. Taylor broke out in 2017, but with a 30%+ strikeout rate and a .363 BABIP – I have significant doubts if he is able to replicate his .271 average. A sub-.250 average would push Robles’ timeline up significantly as the Nationals are, more than any other team, in win-now mode – they will do whatever it takes, even if that means burning a year of Robles to do so.
Willy Adames belongs in the category of “not much left to prove.” He has 15/15 potential and would probably hit toward the top of a lackluster Rays’ lineup. He would not be a “must add,” but given the shallowness of shortstop this year, could be worth a flier if you have a team in need.
Few at-bats will be as gratifying as Dustin Fowler’s first at-bat in the major league. Fowler ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee in the first inning of his debut game, ending his season. He is credited as having played a game, but with no at-bats. The Yankees thought Fowler was ready for the show in June – he is back and healthy, I would not expect the Athletics to keep him down long.
The Rays have been playing Brad Miller at first base and C.J. Cron at designated hitter (with an assortment of players at second base). There is a clear path for Jake Bauers to play if the Rays move Miller back to second and start Bauers at first. Bauers is a poor mans Wil Myers and worth an add as he brings a rare amount of steals at first base. He could be a part of a young Rays’ core and should be up around the start of summer.