Every weekend, Alex Fast is here to write about which minor league pitchers you should be stashing on your team. Max Eddy is taking over this week as Alex is dealing with an 104 fever (poor fella). 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.
1. Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins) – Honey Nut Berrios turned in another solid outing on Wednesday this week going 6IP, 5H, 3ER, 2BBs, and 8Ks. Over his last 20IP Berrios has dispatched 26 batters on strikes. Only 5 free passes in that span as well. Berrios still has work to do limiting walks, but he’s done a respectable job of keeping the ball in the yard. Only 6 homers in his last 13 starts. Bottom line, he’s earned another look in the show and will get his shot Monday as the Twins plan to promote him. I’d wager he’s up for the rest of the year, or at least until he expires an innings limit of some kind. I’m still expecting some bumps in the road for Berrios as he continues to refine at the highest level, but there’s some decent strikeout upside here.
2. Joe Musgrove (Houston Astros) – If Musgrove were in Berrios’ situation I’d have him number one for sure. His 21.2% K%-BB% reflects, at least to me, a better chance at consistently making outs upon arrival. Musgrove turned in another sweet piece of work on Monday this week going 7IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 7Ks. Most importantly though, he was scratched from his Saturday start in case the ‘Stros need him to take Doug Fister’s spot on Monday. Fister awaits the arrival of the heir to his horrific last name, which is to say his wife is in labor. Should Musgrove get the call he’ll have a tough matchup against the Blue Jays (.331 wOBA), though I suppose the fact that it’s at home takes some (SOME) of the pressure off. It’s conceivable that a nice start could lead to another later in the week. Fister’s 3.73 ERA belies his 4.83 xFIP, and I’m rooting for the Wally Pipp here.
3. Reynaldo Lopez (Washington Nationals) – Ok sooooo I suppose this may be cheating as Lopez is currently on the 25 man, but he might not be there for long given his struggles. He pitched poorly again Saturday against SF going 4IP, 4H, 3ER, 5BBs, and 4Ks. His lack of true command continues to reveal itself. He threw just over half of his fastballs for strikes. The changeup continues to be a work in progress as well. It currently lacks even average movements for a RHP and Lopez hasn’t featured it enough to suggest confidence in the pitch. The lack of both command and a legit third offering made for a terrible matchup with The Giants who make a ton of contact (4th in the league by PitchF/X Contact % with 80.7%). Joe Ross will make another rehab start this week, but it remains unclear when that will be. With Giolito the subject of trade discussions, I’ll bet Lopez makes his next scheduled start at home next week against…the Giants. Proceed with caution and look to see if he can mix in a third offering with consistency.
4. Drew Hutchison (Toronto Blue Jays) – Hutch has pitched well this season posting the 4th best K%-BB% rate in the AAA International league. He was recently called upon to pitch in Detroit and did well going 6IP, 3H, 3ER, 1BBs, 7Ks. Two of hits hits left the yard, which was a major issue for Hutch last season, but with an IP limit looming for Aaron Sanchez an opportunity in the rotation could arise soon. He’s posted a 9.74 K/9 so the K upside remains, but careful streaming will need to be done to maximize his value should he be called up.
5. Tyler Glasnow (Pittsburgh Pirates) – Yeah, I know he’s on the DL. I know he’s been about as frustrating as Giolito too. Nonetheless, we’ve seen elite K numbers from this guy in the minors, PNC is a great park, the Pirates have a good defense and, most importantly, a spot for him to pitch. Word is Glasnow will be back after the minimum 15 days. Hopefully his results will be better down the stretch. The Pirates need him and that’s the basis for this ranking.
6. Alex Reyes (St. Louis Cardinals) – Reyes was pulled from his Tuesday start early this week causing many to speculate on a potential call up. Alas, nothing appears imminent. However the good news is that the start was pretty good, kinda…3IP, 2H, 2ER, 1BBs, 7Ks. Nice to see the one walk there, and the absurd number of strikeouts is a regular occurrence for the fire baller. At this point it’s no secret that Reyes possess elite swing and miss stuff. It’s a question of whether he can corral that stuff to generate strikes more consistently. Holy hell he’d be dynamite to watch out of the bullpen right now, and it’s conceivable he gets a shot there soon. The Cards just pulled off a deal to add Zach Duke to their pen so we’ll have to wait and see how this shakes out. Reyes has some upside for Saves should the Cardinals decide to Earl Weaver him into the Bigs through the Pen.
7. Jharel Cotton (Los Angeles Dodgers) – Cotton has been impressive in the control department this season with a 21.6% K%-BB% good enough to lead the AAA Pacific Coast lead. He’s struggled with the long ball but no doubt the league he plays in has an effect on that to some degree. His unlucky 60.1% strand rate also throws some shade on that 4.90 ERA he’s running. It’s unclear if Kershaw will be able to make it back this year and the Dodgers desperately need a boost in the rotation. Julio Urias is likely approaching a shut down given his age and workload, and while Ross Stripling/Brock Stewart remain options Cotton has more fantasy upside given his strikeout potential.
8. Jeff Hoffman (Colorado Rockies) – Hoffman’s answered the biggest question facing him going into the year, “Will the swing and miss stuff come back?” It has in a big way after last year’s comeback from TJS. Hoffman has wrung up batters to the tune of 9.25 per/9. He’ll have to pitch in Coors when he gets the call, but he’s already pitching with relative success in a brutal environment in the PCL. Jon Gray has done enough this season to suggest that it’s at the very least possible for a high pedigree pitching prospect to experience success in a Rockies uniform. Hoffman has equal upside, and could be closer to a tryout with the big league club after his recent success.
9. Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers) – Hader’s had much better results since the last ranking was posted. In two starts he’s gone 11IP, 6H, 4ER, 5BBs, 15Ks. The whiffs are back and the limiting of baserunners has been great to see. Alex has reported how horrific his home ballpark is and that’s no joke. Security Service Field has a park factor for runs of 130/134 (split for RHB/LHB) according to StatCorner. That’s good for the 4th and 8th worst marks in all of organized baseball. Considering that, and Hader’s unfortunate 60.2% strand rate, it’s clear he hasn’t earned his current 6.02 ERA. Whether or not he’s earned a call up is another question as his walk rate and FIP suggest room for improvement.
10. Lucas Giolito (Washington Nationals) – Following a super impressive start at AAA Giolito was summoned to face the Padres last Sunday and the results were miserable. 3.1IP, 4R, 2ER, 3BBs, 0Ks. OY! Why you gotta be like dat Lucas?!?!?! Giolito was promptly demoted and hasn’t pitched since as the Nats have been including him in trade discussions. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs makes an interesting case for why the Nats should actually part with the top prospect. However, after acquiring Mark Melancon With Myself (Alex’s GF gave him the idea for that team name last season. It’s by far one of the best team names Alex has ever had) the Nats are likely out of the reliever market and I’d bet Giolito stays put…in the minor leagues. Joe Ross is in the latter stages of his rehab, and Giolito hasn’t shown enough extended dominance to risk exposure during a pennant race. I think the next time we see him is in September, barring an injury to a rotation stalwart.
Max Eddy contributes for Pitcher List and spent his childhood watching and re-watching Ken Burns’s Baseball. When he magically happened to attend Game 4 of the ‘99 NLDS, witnessing Todd Pratt’s walk off homer to clinch the series, his fate as a Mets fan was sealed. Coping mechanisms include Pacifco, BBQ, and playing as much fantasy baseball as possible. You can harass him on Twitter @maxwelleddy.