Welcome to the 14th edition of The Stash List for pitchers! We’re still in just about the same spot as we were last week with the pitching talent currently available in the Minor Leagues. Now that Gavin Williams has made his debut, just about all of the flashiest top pitching prospects have had their chance at the majors this season. Some guys like Ricky Tiedemann and Andrew Painter have been derailed by injuries, but for the most part, we’ve seen a large class of rookie pitchers get a good runway to work with.
Now what we’re left with is a handful of players that are fully blocked by talent ahead of them, have a glaring weakness to continue improving on, or are faster-than-expected risers coming from Double-A. But no matter how you slice it, no one is particularly close to knocking on the big-league door. It’s hard to see any of these guys get called up before the All-Star break barring a big change in circumstances for their MLB team.
So while it’s likely not viable in most leagues to “stash” a lot of these players, I believe this group of guys will be the opportunists of the second half. Think of guys like Hayden Wesneski, Ryne Nelson, and Luis Ortiz last season. You could catch them as streamers in favorable matchups when they get promoted, but most importantly you’ll be the first to properly consider their value for 2024 heading into this offseason. Is it ever too early for future sleepers?
- The Stash List is for your redraft leagues and does not consider impact beyond 2023
- Only current minor league players who are expected to make an impact this season are included
- Players who have already made their MLB debuts can not have thrown more than 50 IP in MLB
- Upside, proximity, health, and opportunity are all weighed for each player
- The focus is on 12-team leagues with standard categories
- Rankings and rostership percentages will be updated weekly
This section of the column highlights the pitchers that were on the previous week’s list but have since made their MLB debuts and are no longer considered stashes because they’re still on their team’s active roster. And for the first time this season, we don’t have any to discuss. We’re definitely in a lull and it could be a few more weeks before there’s another graduate.
Top 10 Pitcher Prospects to Stash
1. Robert Gasser, MLW – ETA July (2)
Robert Gasser continues to solidify himself as a rotation option for the Brewers. He had one of his best starts on the season his last time out against an extremely talented Norfolk team that featured guys like Jordan Westburg, Colton Cowser, and Ryan Mountcastle. He continues to work deep into games, having pitched at least 6 full frames in each of his last 5 starts. I suspect he’s ready for whenever the Brewers need him.
Gasser doesn’t have great velocity on any of his pitches, but he’s always carried good strikeout rates in the minors because he has a deep arsenal and varies his pitches well. The biggest issue for him has been his struggles with command. After being promoted to Triple-A last season, his walk rates jumped to about 13% after being below 10% for his minor league career. But now he’s consistently seeing walk rates below 10% again for the first time in a while.
2. Will Warren, NYY – ETA July (4)
Will Warren returned to the mound after skipping his previous start and he was stellar. He threw all 5 of his pitches at least 15% of the time, and his most-used pitch (the slider) was only used 25% of the time. He also commanded each pitch very well and lived primarily on the edges of the zone without giving too much ground and walking guys. His CSW%, SwStr%, and oSwing% were all pristine. I think a bit of rest did him very well. He should be the next guy up for the Yankees if Rodon doesn’t come in and fix their rotation upon arrival.
Warren features a five-pitch mix. His four-seam fastball is his primary offering and it averages 94 mph. It’s the pitch he’s able to throw in the zone with the most consistency and it generates a fair amount of whiffs and chases, but nothing too crazy. It’s a good table setter.
He has two different sliders- a sweeper in the low 80s that’s his best whiff pitch (but it can have trouble staying in or near the zone), and a mid-to-high 80s power slider that he can throw for strikes much more often. He also has a sinker and changeup but throws them 10% less each and there isn’t a ton of data on them yet. It’s a very interesting profile that’s much more promising than the Triple-A results currently show.
3. Ben Brown, CHC – ETA August (1)
Ben Brown has been possibly the most volatile pitching prospect in the Minor Leagues this season, and his last start was the perfect example. After two straight starts where he improved his command and honed his arsenal, Brown pulled a complete 180 and posted his worst start of the season with 6 earned runs in .2 IP. The good news is that he still maintained a great SwStr% and CSW%, but having to grapple with the results on the field makes the peripherals lose their luster. 2023 impact may be a pipe dream, but he’s still a hold or buy in long-term leagues as the swing-and-miss skills continue to appear.
4. Connor Phillips, CIN – ETA August (7)
Connor Phillips made his AAA debut on Friday night and it was severely underwhelming. He walked 5 of the 11 batters that he faced and only threw the ball in the strike zone 36% of the time, which is almost 10 percentage points below league average. He also didn’t get very many whiffs or chases, but he does have a pretty solid excuse for right now. This was his first start in 2023 without using a pre-tacked ball like they’ve been using in the AA Southern League.
Andrew Abbott faced a similar transition earlier this season when he posted a 12.8% walk rate in his first two AAA starts after posting a 5.4% walk rate in his 3 AA starts. Abbott made the adjustment and in his final 5 AAA starts he posted a 7.8% walk rate. If Phillips can make a similar adjustment and get back toward the 9.5% mark he posted in AA, he still looks like a solid bet to make an impact in the MLB rotation by the end of August.
Phillips has a really good fastball and curveball and a developing slider and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, Phillips’ fastball sits between 96 and 97 mph and touches 99. His walk rates have always been above 10%, but he’s definitely improved on them recently.
5. Gordon Graceffo, STL – ETA August (5)
Gordon Graceffo didn’t allow a hit in his start this week, but it only lasted 2.2 innings and he allowed 3 free passes. His stuff still looks good and his peripherals are solid, but he’s just going through the process of building up a workload and working deeper into games. It will likely take 2 or 3 more starts of less than 5 IP, but once he gets going he could rise extremely quickly.
Graceffo was the Cardinals’ best pitching prospect by many accounts coming into the season, and he might have been in the mix for a start or two already if not for the bout with shoulder inflammation. The injury should absolutely be considered when weighing his impact for 2023 as shoulder injuries are notoriously a pain to manage.
The good news is that he’s maintained the velocity gains that he made coming into this season, and his individual pitch locations have looked fantastic. He’s gotten really great numbers of whiffs and chases as well. He’s primarily a four-seamer/slider pitcher with slightly above-average velocity and he mixes a curve, changeup, and sinker in as well. He’s spread his whiffs evenly across pitches so far, and his best chase pitch is his slider.
6. Clayton Beeter, NYY – ETA August (6)
Clayton Beeter lost his slider command in his second AAA start Friday night. His fastballs were up and out of the heart of the zone for the most part but the slider was erratic and unpredictable. Funny enough, the slider was by far his best whiff pitch on the night. But if he’s going to use it as his primary pitch like he did last night (49% usage), it will need to be located more precisely. He still isn’t using his secondary pitches very often, and he will need to work on those more to effectively attack MLB hitters.
7. Mike Vasil, NYM – ETA August (3)
Mike Vasil looked completely in command of his outings in AA, but in 3 short AAA starts he’s looked like a different pitcher. His walk rate has skyrocketed and it’s backed up by his sub-40 percent zone rates and sub-30 percent chase rates. He’s a guy who relies on command more than stuff to collect outs on the mound, so this is a big red flag so far and definitely pushes back the timeline for 2023.
He could have been a fresh backup option for the Mets behind David Peterson and Tylor Megill pretty soon after the All-Star break, but now it looks like he has some kinks to iron out before that’s a possibility.
8. Spencer Arrighetti, HOU – ETA August (NR)
Spencer Arrighetti made his AAA debut and posted a respectable line of 5 IP, 3 ER, and 5 Ks. This came after he improved his command in AA this season while striking out north of 30% of the batters he faced. In his AAA debut he got 12 whiffs in 86 pitches (14% SwStr%) and posted a 35% CSW. The stuff doesn’t stand out as fantastic, but he as three solid pitches that he has above-average command of. We’ll see how the whiff rates continue to translate into strikeouts against AAA competition. He does pitch in the PCL now so the results will definitely be a mixed bag from start to start.
Arrighetti features a four-seam fastball that averages 93 mph, a compact slider that averages 80 mph, and a serviceable changeup that averages 87 mph and has good arm side run.
9. Wilmer Flores, DET – ETA August (10)
Wilmer Flores threw another fantastic game last night, and he’s now allowed 2 earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 12 starts in AA.
The Tigers organization doesn’t have a glutton of pitching prospects, and they’re currently dealing with a ton of injuries to their arms across all levels. Flores is likely going to see action in Triple-A pretty soon after the second half begins, if not sooner.
According to MLB Pipeline, Flores primarily features a fastball in the mid-90s (which he’s recently learned to command much better) and his go-to secondaries are a cutter in the mid-80s and a curveball in the high-70s.
10. Andrew Painter, PHI – ETA September (NR)
Andrew Painter still has a significant amount of hurdles to clear in the rehab process of his sprained UCL, but according to Destiny Lugardo of Phillies Nation, “Painter threw his second up-and-down bullpen session on June 30. He’ll throw another one and then progress to throwing to hitters in live batting practice.”
My guess is that he’s able to start a rehab assignment as soon as early August, and he could get to the Big Leagues by early September. That’s still not ideal for stashing at this point in the season. However, when considering stashing the guys who just missed this list and who are listed on the Watchlist below, I think I would rather stay updated with Painter’s situation and be ready to stash him later this month.
Painter was on the fast track to making the MLB rotation out of camp and the Phillies starting pitching situation has only gotten worse since then. They’re going to take their time in getting Painter back, but the opportunity will be there waiting for him.
This section of The Stash List is aimed towards those of you who play in deep leagues (15+ teams or 375+ players rostered) where some of the guys on the list above might already be taken because of their higher pedigree. These players’ debuts will likely be a bit further out than the players listed above, but the purpose is to be ready to pounce on them as soon as it becomes clear that an opportunity might open up.
The players are listed in alphabetical order, and I don’t have the time to do write-ups for these guys, so I’d highly suggest checking out their FanGraphs pages and/or watching one of their starts. Also, shout out to @SpokaneWaUpdate on Twitter for inspiring this section of the article!
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)