Every Sunday for the abbreviated 2020 season, I will be posting a list of 10 pitching prospects to stash in redraft leagues. This is important, as I am solely evaluating players for their ability to impact fantasy teams in 2020 – and not beyond.
During the season, the list will exclusively feature players who are not currently on major league rosters, and will include my prediction for when they will be called up, what kind of impact I expect to make, and how you should value them in various redraft formats.
You can read more of my thoughts on Jefferies’ first start in this GIF Breakdown, but it’s safe to say things did not go well in start No. 1, and he’s not likely to be an option worth chasing in redraft leagues, if he even gets another opportunity.
Kremer looked very good against the Yankees in a pair of starts, but his command is spotty and he’ll need to improve in that area if he wants to stay fantasy relevant, especially with rather pedestrian stuff. Still, he could be worth a look as a streaming option for the final few weeks of the season.
Otherwise, we saw AJ Puk go down with an injury before he had a chance to pitch out of Oakland’s bullpen, ending his season before it got started, and we saw the Padres send down highly-touted right-hander Luis Patiño, who struggled out of the bullpen this year.
This will be my last stash article of the year, and with only a few weeks left in the season, in 10 and 12-team leagues I believe fantasy players are far better off using empty roster spots on streamers than stashing most of the below mentioned players. Nate Pearson, Spencer Howard and Tarik Skubal helped prove how volatile even the best pitching prospects are in their first big league starts, and while there are a few names I’m definitely willing to add if/when they get the call, I think this is a tough year to stash pitchers – especially at this stage of the season.
I’ll still write up my top-10 stash candidates, and I’ll give my reasoning why they are on the list, but unless you are in a redraft league deeper than 12 teams I’m not sure many (any?) of these guys are worth rostering right now – although nearly all of them will be ownable if/when they get the call.
So, without further ado, here is a look at 10 pitchers who are not (yet) in the major leagues, and why you should consider stashing them in (deeper) redraft leagues.
Note: Jonathan Stiever and Tanner Houck were both announced as call-ups for this week after this article was finished. I’d happily take a chance on Stiever for the rest of the season, although I’m less confident in Houck at least for this year.
1. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA Mid September
Cabrera likely would have joined the Marlins around the time Sixto Sanchez made his debut, but a right forearm injury slowed his progress at the team’s alternate site and delayed his debut timeline.
A recent report from Joe Frisaro of MLB.com indicates that Cabrera could be an option to join the team in the last few weeks of the season, however, making him a decent stash candidate in deeper (16+) team leagues. Plus, Miami sent away left-hander Caleb Smith at the trade deadline, and Elieser Hernández is out for the rest of the season with a lat strain, potentially opening up some spots in the rotation for the final few weeks – especially with how many double-headers the Marlins have left.
Cabrera is electric, with a triple-digit fastball and a plus slider to boot. He doesn’t have a curveball and his changeup needs some work, as does his command, but the overall package has the potential to be very elite at the next level.
While I’m not confident a 22-year-old with only two plus pitches at the moment, and who didn’t throw a lot this summer, will immediately dominate big league hitters, I do think he’s worth keeping an eye on if and when he gets the call this season.
2. Logan Gilbert, RHP, SEA – ETA September
The Mariners made one of the first big moves at the trade deadline, shipping veteran Taijuan Walker to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later. Walker’s departure opened the door initially for fellow prospect Ljay Newsome to make his first career start, but Newsome is now battling a wrist injury. It sounds like he might make his next start, but this setback has the prospect world abuzz about a potential call-up of Logan Gilbert.
Gilbert threw 50 innings at AA last season, posting a 2.88 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and a 28.7% strikeout rate with a 7.7% walk rate.
While none of Gilbert’s pitches stand out, he has four very solid offerings that all show 50-grade potential. Tack on his 60-grade command and you have a guy who should settle in as a No. 2/3 starter, and who could get there as soon as 2020.
However, the temptation to leave Gilbert down for an extra year of service time does have me a little concerned we won’t see much of him this year – especially now that Kendall Graveman is back from the IL and Sheffield and Dunn – and even Nick Margevicius – are pitching quite well. Of course, Seattle’s surprise contention this year could make them more aggressive at getting better for the last few weeks of the year – and Gilbert would provide that boost.
If he gets the call, he is a must-add in nearly all formats. If you want to roster him before that time and can afford to wait, by all means give him a shot – the talent is unmistakable and Seattle’s use of a six-man rotation could make it more likely he will get a look.
3. Josiah Gray, RHP, LAD – ETA September
The Los Angeles Dodgers are hardly a team I want to pin any hopes and dreams of seeing prospects on, especially after the Gavin Lux/Tony Gonsolin fiascos, but after shipping Ross Stripling to the Blue Jays and losing Walker Buehler once again to the injured list, the team does have a little more of an opportunity to find a spot for 22-year-old right-hander Josiah Gray to make his big league debut.
Gonsolin and Dustin May are both finally fixtures in LA’s rotation, alongside Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw, and the team also has Alex Wood in the bullpen and Mitch White and Josh Sborz alongside Gray at the team’s alternate site – so it will probably take either an injury or a bevy of double-headers for Gray to get a look. However, if/when he does he will be an extremely rosterable fantasy asset.
Gray threw 130 innings across three levels last season, striking out 147 and walking just 31 while keeping his ERA just above 2.00. He posted a 2.75 ERA and a 25.5% strikeout rate in eight starts at Double-A, and his impeccable command of his four-pitch mix – which includes a plus fastball, two plus breaking balls and an average changeup, should make him a solid fantasy asset in 12 to 14 team leagues if/when he gets the call this season.
4. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, SD – ETA Late-September
Ugh. The Padres are sitting on the best pitching prospect in all of baseball, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, and it seemed all but certain he would be pitching in the major leagues at some point in 2020, but here we are and Gore – despite recently working out at Petco Park – has yet to get the call.
The team’s recent addition of Mike Clevinger certainly won’t help matters for Gore either, and at this point I think it would take an injury (or two) for him to find his way to San Diego before the 2021 campaign.
The team did demote Patiño, who struggled in a relief role, but regardless it does seem like it could be a while until we see the electric Gore in a Padres uniform, as Luis Perdomo and now Michael Baez will fill any additional openings in the rotation – even with Adrian Morejon’s injury and the trade of Cal Quantrill.
Gore is a must-add in all formats when he gets the call, and he is a player I can see rostering in 16+ team leagues to stash on the bench while we wait for his arrival to the show. It’s a tougher sell to roster him in 12-teamers right now, but if you have a spot and are hoping for a boost come playoff time, Gore is a high-risk, high-reward gamble.
I’m very confident he will be worth the wait when he does get the call – more so than any other pitching prospect in baseball.
5. Connor Seabold, RHP, BOS – ETA September
The Boston Red Sox have perhaps the saddest pitching rotation in major league baseball this season, and while recently acquired right-hander Nick Pivetta is likely going to be stretched out into a starter as soon as possible, it is the other piece acquired in that trade, Connor Seabold, who interests me as a fantasy asset this year.
There’s no concrete evidence Seabold will get a look this year, but the 24-year-old has thrown over 100 innings in AA, including 40 innings of 2.25 ERA ball last season with a 36:10 K:BB ratio. There are also reports he has immediately impressed his new team at the alternate training site, a promising development for him getting some real innings this year.
Seabold doesn’t have overpowering velocity, but his slider is a plus pitch and the development of his changeup has been critical to his recent success in the minor leagues. He strikes me as a very solid back end of the rotation junk arm, and while the strikeouts likely won’t show up in a big way, he still has the stuff to be a decent fantasy asset – at the very least as a streamer against weaker offenses.
I wouldn’t rush to pick Seabold up in any redraft leagues just yet, but if he does get the call he will be worth a look in deeper leagues.
6. Mitch White, RHP, LAD – ETA Mid September
White may have a better chance of stealing a spot start or two on the Dodgers than Josiah Gray, but Gray has higher upside, so I ranked him higher. Fantasy players who are deciding between the two will have to weigh the upside of Gray against White’s higher probability of playing this season.
White, 25, threw one inning earlier this season for the Dodgers out of the bullpen. It’s entirely possible he’s not stretched out as a starter, which could make him a candidate to be an opener if/when LA plays double headers over the next few weeks.
However, outside of his 6.50 ERA last year in the notoriously hitter friendly PCL, White has a lengthy track record of success as a starter in the minor leagues, and the Dodgers excel at developing young pitching, so this is a guy I’m still willing to buy into if he gets a look.
7. Thomas Szapucki, LHP, NYM – ETA September
I don’t like insulting major league players, as it takes a hell of a lot of talent and work to reach the big leagues, but my god the rotation the Mets are putting out there right now is…..let’s go with sad.
If New York wants to inject some life into that rotation, they could turn toward their other left-handed pitching prospect, Thomas Szapucki, to fill-in for the time being. Szapucki’s career has been marred by lengthy injuries, only throwing 29 innings in 2017 and missing all of 2018.
When healthy, his deceptive fastball and 60-grade curveball help him miss a lot of bats (72 strikeouts in 61.2 minor league innings in 2019) and could make him a fantasy relevant starter sooner rather than later.
In very deep leagues, I think Szapucki is worth tossing onto your bench if you have room. In standard 12-team redraft leagues, he seems like a plausible streaming candidate if and when he gets the call.
8. Jhoan Duran, RHP, MIN – ETA September
The Twins have a full rotation at the moment, and they have Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen as options on the 40-man roster, but I am keeping a close eye on electric right-hander Jhoan Duran as a potential call up for this team over the last few weeks of the season.
Duran posted a 26.8% strikeout rate in seven starts at AA in 2019, and he’s consistently posted excellent strikeout and walk numbers in the minor leagues these last few years.
Duran has the stuff to be a mid-rotation starter long-term, and while he’s young and somewhat inexperienced, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him get a look at some point this year. However – the Twins have frequently given pitching prospects a look as relievers first, which would be a downer for Duran’s fantasy value in redraft leagues.
Regardless, he is still someone worth keeping an eye on in deeper leagues, and should he get the call to make any starts this year, I’d be willing to roster him in most formats.
9. Daniel Lynch, LHP, KC – ETA September
Kansas City already turned to their bevy of young pitching prospects earlier this season when they promoted Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, and now that Matt Harvey has already been demoted to the bullpen it seems plausible Lynch will get a look or two down the stretch.
Lynch is arguably the most appealing of KC’s young pitchers, armed with an elite fastball/slider pairing and a pair of solid secondaries behind that in his curveball and changeup. Toss in a developing cutter and potential 55-grade command and you have all the makings of a mid-rotation starter with plus strikeout potential, and the polish to potentially contribute right away as a 23-year-old, despite only making 15 appearances at High-A last season.
Lynch also hasn’t shown that strikeout potential in game action just yet, and while I fully believe he can develop into an average or even above average strikeout guy, it may not happen this season if and when he gets the call.
He’s more of an arm to monitor than one to stash at this point, although I’d happily store him in deeper formats or AL-only leagues, even if KC currently has a full rotation and Harvey as an option (I guess) to take over a spot if need be.
10. Jackson Rutledge, RHP, WAS – ETA Late-September
I made the prediction back before the season began that Nationals right-hander Jackson Rutledge will throw meaningful innings this season, and while the Nationals are beyond the point of playing meaningful baseball, I do think there’s a chance they will give the huge right-hander a shot this year.
For starters, Washington has never been afraid to aggressively promote young prospects, including Luis Garcia and Seth Romero this season, and Carter Kieboom last year. And with a ton of injuries to their pitching staff, including Stephen Strasburg, Roenis Elias, Javy Guerra and Romero, it could be a good opportunity for a last-place Washington team to take a look at Rutledge on a big league bump.
Rutledge, 21, was a first round pick in 2019. He’s only thrown 37.1 professional innings, none above Single-A, which is why this prediction was a bold one. I do think his only real possibility to big league pitching would be as a reliever this season, but his six-foot-eight frame and explosive triple-digit fastball are fun enough that I’d consider him as a dart throw in very, very deep redraft leagues on the off-chance Washington decides to take a look at him this year.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)