Top MLB Prospects to Stash for Fantasy Baseball (Pitchers)
Every time I turn around it seems like another prospect of note is being called up. On the pitching side of things, we started the season with Chris Paddack cracking the Padres opening day rotation. And all he’s done since then is dominate to the tune of a 1.55 ERA, 0.69 WHIP (Leads League), 4.0 H/9 (Leads League), and 46 strikeouts through 40.2 innings spanning seven starts. To be clear, none of the below guys have that type of upside for 2019. Long-term, sure, with Forrest Whitley, but we’re here for 2019 stashes and 2019 stashes only. There are still plenty of top MLB prospects projected to make their Major League debuts this season and here are the top-10 I’d be monitoring and/or stashing in re-draft leagues.
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MLB Prospects to Stash – Pitchers
1. Dylan Cease, Chicago White Sox
Earlier in the calendar year, I made a statement that I thought there were about 8-10 pitching prospects that I believed to have the upside of a top of the rotation ace. Dylan Cease was and still in firmly in that group. So naturally, when a pitcher of this caliber is in Triple-A and performing fairly well, he’s going to rank high on a list like this. Now, Cease isn’t dominating like some of the others below him here, but he’s still posting a solid 3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 10.6 K/9 in six starts this season for Triple-A Charlotte.
This is a 99 mph Dylan Cease fastball. He’s perfect through two pic.twitter.com/Dv3PcEAA21
— James Fegan (@JRFegan) May 24, 2018
His path to a rotation spot just got much easier as well with Carlos Rodon needing Tommy John surgery. That leaves 40% of the current White Sox rotation consisting of Manny Banuelos and Dylan Covey. Once Cease is up, he’ll be pitching in arguably the weakest offensive division in baseball, with both Cleveland and Detroit currently being bottom five offenses. With his plus fastball-curveball combination and a developing change-up, Cease could be a big source of strikeouts this season while providing decent ratios as well. ETA: June
2. Zac Gallen, Miami Marlins
With Forrest Whitley still struggling and Jesus Luzardo yet to return to action, I’m bumping Zac Gallen up into the #2 spot here. Gallen has been masterful for Triple-A New Orleans this season. In seven starts (47.1 IP), Gallen has a 1.14 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and 10.5 K/9. Let me remind you that this is in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. The Marlins will need to clear a roster space as Gallen isn’t currently on the 40-man, but that’s just a formality. There’s not much going right for the Marlins this season, but Gallen could be a bright spot in the second half of the season. ETA: June
3. Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates
With both Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer on the shelf, this Pirates offense could use a boost. Luckily for them, their top pitching prospect and one of the top-20 arms in the minor leagues is knocking on the door for a call-up to Pittsburgh. When you look at the surface numbers, Keller’s Triple-A numbers this season will likely underwhelm you. Through his first seven starts, Keller has a 3.97 ERA, 1.62 ERA, 4.5 BB/9, and 11.1 K/9. The strikeouts are nice, but Keller’s inconsistent control this season has gotten him into some jams. Still, this is a very talented arm we’re talking about here with four above-average or better pitches that should be up before the all-star break. ETA: June/July
4. Forrest Whitley, Houston Astros
If Forrest Whitley had been pitching like Forrest Whitley so far this season, it likely would be him up in Houston right now instead of Corbin Martin. But unfortunately, he’s been pitching more like Forrest Gump than Forrest Whitley. After another rough start this weekend, Whitley now has a 10.80 ERA and 1.80 WHIP in 18.1 IP. He’s still striking out batters at a high clip (11.8 K/9), but the command has really been wavering in the early going. We’re still likely to see Whitley at some point this summer, but I’m sure the Astros want to see him put together several Whitley-esque starts before giving him the call. ETA: July
5. Jesus Luzardo, Oakland Athletics
Still all quiet on the Jesus Luzardo front. He resumed throwing at the end of April and remains on track to make his Triple-A season debut sometime in the next few weeks. While the emergences of Chris Bassitt and Frankie Montas have been pleasant surprises for Oakland, when Luzardo is deemed ready, a rotation spot will be made for him. While the fact that he hasn’t made his 2019 debut yet might scare some away, remember that this is a guy who finished 2018 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9 and 10.6 K/9 in 109.1 innings across three levels. ETA: July
6. Logan Allen, San Diego Padres
After a disastrous start to the season where he allowed 11 combined earned runs in his first two starts, Allen has settled in has quietly been putting together a decent season in Triple-A. His season ERA and WHIP currently sit at 4.99 and 1.63 respectively, but if you take out those first two starts, those numbers drop to 2.10 and 1.25. Much better, Logan. Allen isn’t the flashiest guy around, sitting mostly in the low-90’s with inconsistent breaking balls, but he knows how to get the most out of his arsenal and can tie up hitters with his plus changeup. There’s not a current dire need for a rotation arm in San Diego, but when the need does arise, Allen is in the running to get that call. ETA: July
7. Touki Toussaint, Atlanta Braves
The 2019 season has been a rough one for Touki Toussaint, both in the Majors and at Triple-A. There’s no other way to put it. But remember, this is the same guy that had a 2.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 24 minor league starts last season and possesses a dynamic arsenal with one of the best fastball/curveball combinations of any prospect arm. The Braves rotation is set at the moment with Max Fried and Mike Soroka thriving, but if there’s an injury or poor performance, Toussaint should be in the mix for a call-up to Atlanta. That is, if he’s righted the ship by then in Triple-A, which is something I expect he does here soon. ETA: July
8. A.J. Puk, Oakland Athletics
The last time we saw A.J. Puk in action, he was mowing down minor league hitters to the tune of a 13.2 K/9 back in 2019. Then Tommy John got a hold of him, causing the talented southpaw to miss the entire 2018 season and all of 2019 so far. He started throwing to hitters in the end of April and the current timetable for his return has him back sometime in mid to late-June or so. Once he’s back, Puk isn’t too far off from contributing for Oakland. Just keep in mind, that his innings will likely be limited upon his return, making him only a target in deeper mixed leagues for now. ETA: August
9. Casey Mize, Detroit Tigers
I’ve been adamant that there’s less than a 25% chance that Casey Mize makes it to the show this season. However, if he continues to mow down minor league lineups with ease, that very well could change. Mize has made seven starts this season, four for high Single-A and three for Double-A Erie. His ERA and WHIP in those seven starts are 0.60 and 0.42 respectively. That’s right, Mize has allowed just three earned runs all season and two of those were in his last outing. With Whitley struggling and Luzardo still on the shelf, Mize is threatening for the title of top pitching prospect in the minors and there’s a small chance the Tigers could promote him later this season. If you’re in a league with deep benches, it’s worth it to stash him just in case. ETA: Maybe August/September
He is dominating this Palm Beach lineup right now and he’s barely had to whip out the split. They can’t do much with his FB/CT.
One hit through seven. pic.twitter.com/qOyQ2AZtBS
— Eddy Almaguer (@EddyAlmaguer) April 17, 2019
10. Matt Manning, Detroit Tigers
A lot of what I just said with Mize can be applied here. After a breakout 2018, Manning has taken his game to new heights this season with Double-A Erie. In seven starts, he has posted a 2.40 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, and 12.0 K/9 across 41.1 innings. Across the board, those numbers are even better than his 2018 breakout campaign. And while the numbers are nice, it’s been Manning’s improved command that has been the difference maker this season. Even if the chance is below 25%, like it is with Mize, the potential to add a arm like this for the stretch run of your season could pay big dividends if you can stash him on your bench for a month or two later in the season. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t get he call and you drop him for a streamer or bench bat. ETA: Maybe August/September
Others to Monitor
Photo/Video Credit: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire, Prospects Live, James Fegan, Eddy Almaguer.
Eric Cross is the lead MLB/Fantasy Baseball writer and MiLB prospect analyst for FantraxHQ and has been with the site since March 2017. In the past, he wrote for FantasyPros and FanSided. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and a contributor in the best-selling Fantasy Baseball Black Book. For more from Eric, check out his author page and follow him on Twitter @EricCross04.
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