Every weekend, Alex is here to write about which minor league pitchers you should be stashing on your team. This list will range from the top prospects to the more esoteric that should potentially be on your radar. Players who I believe are likely to receive the call to The Show soonest will be at the top and players who may be more of a long term stash will be featured closer to the bottom. Picking up these prospects can be a great way to stay ahead of the curve in your league regardless of whether it’s a deep dynasty league or a shallow 10 teamer.
Annnnd we’re back! As many of you know, I was away in Ireland for the past week enjoying the beautiful Irish countryside and indulging in FAR too many Guinnesses…Guinessi? Whatever. So what happened while I was away? Well, quite a bit actually. Half my list was called up including that fan favorite of mine Jameson Taillon. Urias started showing us who he really was, Snell showed us he still needs a bit of work, and Reed…well we’ll see about Reed. Anyhow, enough chitchat. Let’s find out who the new guys are and who is going to win you your league for the rest of the year.
1. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – Watching Hader get the call from AA to AAA was like watching my son score a goal in his little league soccer game. Except I have no son and the only soccer I’ve been watching is the Euro Cup. Either way, I was really excited for Hader to get the call, and while I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him bypass that awful AAA stadium, I was excited to see how he’d fair against the challenge. And let me tell you what, he certainly didn’t go foul (fair…foul…get it? My body clock is so off right now, please pity me). Here are the two lines from his first two starts in AAA: 6 IP, 2 ER, 1 H, 4 BBs, 9 Ks and 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. The four walks in that first start aren’t too great to see and while it’s encouraging to see him bounce back with three in his next start (is that bouncing back?), it has me the slightest bit concerned. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a command issue more so than a batters-aren’t-obliging-Hader-out-of-the-zone-as-much issue. If the Ks weren’t there, and they have been in both starts mind you, that’d be a different story. As of now, I’m sure the Brewers want to monitor Hader to see if he can keep his command in AAA. If he proves successful, he should get the call.
2. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – So there’s good news and bad news when it comes to Reyes. The bad news is that he followed up his dominant 11 K performance by going 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 BBs, 4 K which is not a very encouraging stat line. I’m a little shocked the Redbirds pulled him after only 5 outs but it definitely looks like Reyes just didn’t have his stuff that day. The good news however is he was able to bounce back with his next start a few days later: 5 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 BBs, 9 Ks. While it wasn’t great to see Reyes walk three batters (something he hadn’t done since his first start of 2016 at the end of May), it was great to see the K’s come back and really nice to see him limit those hits. His most recent start, last night, was also a pretty good one: 4.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 2 BBs, 6 Ks. Once again, the strikeouts are there, though not in such great force but still present, and the walks are minimalized. Here’s the thing about Reyes that I mentioned a long time ago: I think he will be a bullpen arm this year for the Cardinals. Look at their track record of handling prospects: CarMart went to the pen, Waino went to the pen, Lynn had a start but was primarily used out of the pen. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case with Reyes too once he shows he can be a bit more consistent.
3. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Before we begin Glasnow’s section, let’s have a moment of silence and recognition for his departed brother-in-baseball: Jameson Taillon…………Now that I’ve poured out a little of my Natty Bo on the floor (and cleaned it up, because my girlfriend got mad) we can move on to Glasnow. The week where it was speculated that one of these guys was going to get the call, Tristan A. Cockroft (along with many others mind you) thought Glasnow would go over Taillon. This was shocking to me. At the time, Glasnow didn’t have the command and as of now he STILL doesn’t have the command. Let’s just look at his BBs/Ks in this last three starts: 2/5, 5/9, 6/6! Not only has he continued to lose command over his three starts, but with his most recent start he threw the most walks he’s thrown all year! Considering the Pirates are already struggling enough as it is in terms of rotation, I don’t see why they would want to bring up another guy who fails to get the ball across the plate. This isn’t me saying Glasnow doesn’t have stuff, trust me, he does. All I’m saying is I think – and I certainly hope – Glasnow doesn’t see any time in the Bigs until he proves he can put together back-to-back outings with better control.
4. Jose De Leon (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Thank the Blessed Bronze Jesus, he’s back! Sort of… Since coming off of the DL, Jose De Leon has appeared in three games in which he has combined to throw ten innings. Here are the stat lines from his first two outings: 3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BBs, 6 Ks and 3 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 2 BBs, 6 K and here is the stat line from his outing last night: 4 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BBs, 3 Ks. Now obviously, I’m a little bit more excited about that first start back from the DL than I am the second but that sweet, SWEET 15:4 K/BB ratio should get you very excited about what is to come. Also, that 0.80 WHIP is really awesome to see but lets not get too excited as, right now, De Leon is the definition of small sample size. For the time being, it looks like the Dodgers still want to handle De Leon with kid gloves a bit and really try to wean him back in the system. After all, he started the year with a bad ankle and now had that recent shoulder injury so I think their mindset is to take it slow with him so they can hopefully have him healthy later on in the season. I assume as his starts progress they’ll let the reigns loose a little bit and let him go 6 IP. Until then, he’s not leaving the minors any time soon.
5. Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – When we last left Giolito two weeks and ooooh about 30 Guinness’ ago, he was really starting to turn things around thanks to a change in mechanics. It’s certainly been enough time – he’s made three starts since the last article – to see whether that change really paid off and let me tell you my friends, IT DID! Let’s take a look at the lines from each of his last three games in order: 1) 6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 1 BBs, 8 KS; 2) 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BBs, 12 Ks; 3) 5 IP, 2 ER, 6H, 1 BBs, 7 Ks. So that’s a 1.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over three starts, which is what he should be putting up. Let’s not forget, a lot of publications had Lucas Giolito as the number one prospect coming in to 2016 and it’s really refreshing to see him start pitching to that level. In terms of a call-up, I really don’t see him coming to the Majors any time soon. A lot of publications are saying he’s not going to be up until September and that very well may be the case considering there’s no real urgency on the Nats part as of now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to AAA if he continues to dominate AA though.
6. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – When we last left Jose Berrios he was in a bit of a rut. He’d given up more earned runs – seven – than he had in his entire minor league career and it looked as if he was really trending in the opposite direction. Here are the lines, in order, for Berrios’ most recent three starts: 8 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BBs, 11K followed by 6.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BBs, 5 Ks followed by 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 BBs, 7 Ks. Obviously, the most encouraging thing is that first start after getting shellacked the week before. Really nice to see Berrios bounce back from a career low performance with a truly dominant one. Another encouraging sign is the walks. Sure, they’ve gone up by one over his last three starts but if he can cap his walks at three each outing, that’s definitely a good sign. The Twins are in no rush to bring him back up. As of my writing this article, they’ve lost 5 straight and have yet to win more than 20 games. Will he be up again sometime this year? That’s a certainty. Though I’d be really surprised if it was before the All-Star break.
7. Brady Rodgers (Houston Astros) – A frequent comment I got when I was starting this article was “Wow, Alex, you are seriously so bright and so handsome and you have such skill at Dark Souls 3 but a lot of these guys I already know!” And they were right. I am good at Dark Souls 3. For those of you wanting to look a little bit deeper, past the usual suspects, Brady Rodgers may be your man. He’s in the Astros organization and he’s definitely a little bit of a sleeper. According to Fangraphs, Rodgers doesn’t even crack the top 15 in the Astros farm however, they do acknowledge that he may “outperform his tools” and that “there is some light upside here with a high floor.” Well it looks like Rodgers is raising that ceiling as these are his numbers so far this year: 68.1 IP, 2.90 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 8.69 K/9, 1.05 BB/9, and an 8.25 K/BB% Rodgers doesn’t necessarily have stuff that is going to blow you away but the fact that he’s racked up 58 K’s and has only walked 6 (!!!) this entire year, shows that he has the command to perhaps make an impact. If Joe Musgrove continues to struggle, I don’t see why the Astros wouldn’t give Rodgers a shot over him in the future.
8. Jake Thompson (Philadelphia Phillies) – Here’s another name I don’t think you were expecting to see on this list. Hell, if I’m being honest I’M surprised to see him on this list. If I’m being really honest, Jake Thompson wasn’t very high on my radar at all but at the FanGraphs meet and greet last night in NYC, one of their writers (I won’t say who) was telling me he just saw Thompson pitch last night and was absolutely blown away by his stuff. Naturally, I ran home and researched the heck out of him and I can’t believe I didn’t catch him sooner. The guy’s got some really solid stuff: a plus curveball and a plus slider paired with a sort of sinker and a decent changeup. So how is his stuff playing in the minors? Not bad: 3.18 ERA, 6.72 K/9, 2.83 BB/9. It seems that the stuff is there but Thompson is taking a little bit of time to put it together, though he’s definitely trending in the right direction. Considering Zach Eflin’s debut was well, lets just say less than stellar, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phillies don’t give Jake Thompson a look after the All-Star Break.
9. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – Let’s get one thing straight: if Snell, Taillon and Reed had not been called up these past two weeks, Joe Musgrove would not be on this list. Musgrove’s last two starts in the minors have been veritable dumpster fires: 6 IP, 6 ER, 9 H, 1 BBs, 5 Ks and 5 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 1 BBs, 3 Ks. As a result of these two starts, Musgrove’s ERA has doubled from 2 to 4.34 at AAA. “So if you don’t like him so much why is he on this list still?” Ok first of all, please don’t use that tone with me, and second of all, because as of now these bad starts can still be chalked up to a small sample size. If Musgrove strings two more of these together, he’s going to be off this list but as of now, I still think that you can stash Musgrove as long as you do it with caution. If there’s someone else you’re interested in, Musgrove may not be worth it, but if you have an extra space and no one who is above Musgrove is available, I would still give him a shot…for now.
10. Reynaldo Lopez (Washington Nationals) – You wanna get weird? Let’s get weird. Before we get weird, a preface: this is a deep cut. This guy is in AA and is likely not going to see time until the September call ups if at all this year but he could be really valuable for a dynasty league if he is available or could be someone to pick up in a keeper league if you need some pitching. Ok NOW let’s get weird. Reynaldo Lopez is the best pitching prospect in the Nationals organization not named Lucas Giolito. His fastball can reach the triple digits, his changeup has a high ceiling and he’s got great raw stuff. Don’t believe me? So far this year he has struck out 77 batters over the course of 61.1 IP for a whopping 11.30 K/9. He’s had two +10 K outings this year, and has only had one outing in which he has given up four earned runs (all of his other outings were three or less). The one issue he is still having is….you guessed it, his command. It really isn’t terrible however as he’s only walked 23 for an average 3.35 K/BB. As of right now Lopez is on a pretty important path: he can be a shutdown closer or he can be a very solid #3. If he works on improving his command, I don’t see why the Nats wouldn’t give him a shot at the latter before they go with the former. Check back next week for more on Lopez as I’m gonna be keeping an eye on him as the weeks go on.