April 20, 2017
The Stash List
It’s week three of the Stash List and things are moving. We’ve got some graduates, some dropouts, some new blood. Let’s get on with it.
After two starts for triple-A Syracuse, Ross was recalled to start Wednesday for the Nationals. He began the season in the minors mostly because of timing; the Nationals have needed a fifth starter only once to date, and thought it was a good idea to give that one to Jeremy Guthrie. Ross should be up for good.
Prado was activated from the disabled list Monday and slotted in the second spot in the Marlins batting order. If he stays there, with Dee Gordon on one side and Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton on the other, there should be ample opportunity for contextual stats to go alongside his excellent batting average.
Gallo is manning the hot corner every day while the Rangers slow roll Adrian Beltre’s return from a calf strain, so he doesn’t really fit the parameters of the list for the time being. Gallo’s 36.5 percent strikeout rate represents progress, but I’m not sure he’s done enough to earn a full complement of at-bats whenever Beltre returns.
Giolito struggled again in his second start at triple-A Charlotte, allowing three earned runs, three hits and four walks over four frames. I wasn’t there, but talked with folks who were and who came away unimpressed. Giolito’s fastball velocity remains down, topping out at 94 early, and flagging later. That there are scouts who see him as a back-end starter, or medium-leverage bullpen arm tells me he doesn’t need to be stashed in standard mixers at the moment.
De Leon remains on the disabled list. As discussed in previous iterations, Tampa Bay has plenty of starting options at its disposal and have no need to move De Leon quickly. I’d like to see him on a mount before slotting him on this list.
With Rich Hill requiring a DL stint between each start, it shouldn’t be much longer before we see Urias. The Dodgers are going back to Alex Wood for this round, leaving Urias in Triple A for another turn or two. His pitch count has yet to break 80, so there’s still some stretching out to do.
Moncada has 10 singles and eight walks, yet only three stolen base attempts on the young season. I’d like to see him run more, though I admit that’s just plain greedy. Moncada is hitting .318/.412/.545, and could well take the top spot next week if he’s still raking.
The Royals are even more desperate for Soler’s return that his fantasy owners are. With Paulo Orlando sitting on a .289 OPS, Whit Merrifield got the start in right field Tuesday. Soler has yet to begin a rehab assignment and his recovery is dragging—a predictable outcome for a player with an oblique injury who hasn’t figured out how to stay on the field early in his career. Bonus cut: Jorge Bonifacio is lurking at triple-A Omaha and is off to fast start, slashing .286/.375/.595 through his first 48 plate appearances. He doesn’t have much left to prove in the minors and should be in line for regular work whenever the Royals sell, or Soler forfeits the job—assuming Hunter Dozier doesn’t beat him to it.
Gregorius’ ownership level slipped under 25 percent recently, making him eligible for this list. His time here may be short-lived, as he’s due to begin a rehab assignment at high-A Tampa on Friday. The plan is for Gregorius to play 7-8 games over ten days before displacing Ronald Torreyes as the Yankees everyday shortstop. I don’t think Gregorius repeats the power surge that made him a top-15 option at the position a season ago, but he should provide steady output as a regular in a surprisingly stout offense.
Trey Mancini’s bat accounted for four home runs in an Orioles game last weekend. Half of the production came from the best hitter in history and another quarter from Manny Machado, so nothing out of the ordinary. Craig Gentry though? The one with five homers in 469 major-league games, the last of which came in August of 2013? That’s straight magical. With Seth Smith a disabled-list candidate after re-aggravating his hamstring, Mancini’s bat could be in line for an expanded role.
It’ll be two or three weeks before Finnegan throws again after straining his shoulder, so count on him being out of major-league action for at least a month. The walks are a problem even when Finnegan is going good, like he was in August and September. He also can balance that WHIP liability with strikeout upside, as he showed in his first outing of 2017.
Berrios gave up his first runs of 2017 on Wednesday in five laborious innings. It doesn’t much matter what the results are at this point. Berrios is ready to give the big leagues another go as soon as there’s a rotation spot for him. The Twins are playing some decent ball, and Adalberto Mejia might not have much of a leash.
9. Devin Mesoraco (C)—Cincinnati Reds (Previous rank: 9)
I have to be honest: I’m not entirely comfortable with these rankings and I’m ready for these catchers to graduate from the list. Mesoraco’s at the top of this group because his return is imminent after catching nine innings in consecutive games this week, a hurdle the Reds wanted him to clear to in order to establish his physical readiness. Whether the bat is ready is another question; he’s hitless over his past four games. Even the perceived safe options at catcher have been hurt or a mess so far this season, so I’ll continue to advocate for burning stash spots on backstop gambles over higher upside prospects even though the latter are more fun objects of speculation.
14. Cody Bellinger (1B)—Los Angeles Dodgers (Previous rank: 18)
15. Reynaldo Lopez (RHP)—Chicago White Sox (Previous rank: 7)
Was I saying something about high-upside spec plays? Abraham Almonte currently holds the heavy side of Cleveland’s right-field platoon. He’s been adequate, but I can’t imagine he’ll stand in Zimmer’s way as soon as the Indians think their future center fielder is ready to snatch those at-bats and push Lonnie Chisenhall over to right field.
It’s only natural to assume that Meadows’ arrival will come sooner with Starling Marte suspended for 80 games. I’m not buying it. Don’t forget that Meadows hadn’t played above High-A until last year, when he only got in 82 games because of injury. He needs more upper levels seasoning, especially since he’s off to a 6-for-41 start. In the case of Gregory Polanco, the Pirates showed that they’re willing to be somewhat aggressive with promotion, but Meadows is going to have to earn it on the field. Pittsburgh has plenty of versatility on the 25-man that can fill the outfield while they wait.
Bellinger has worked almost exclusively at first base in 2017, which would seem to indicate that his shot will only come if Adrian Gonzalez goes on the shelf. The same Adrian Gonzalez that’s played at least 156 games in each of the past eleven seasons. I’m still willing to rank him aggressively because I think he’ll produce right out of gate.
It’s been a mixed bag for Lopez. On the one hand, 10 of the 16 outs he recorded in his second start were by way of strikeout. On the other, he’s yielded at least one homer in all three outings and is walking 5.7 batters per nine innings. Expect that roller coaster when he arrives on the South Side.
Swihart missed a couple games after sustaining a finger injury on a foul tip, but returned to action Tuesday. His bat has been impressive in a short sample so far and I still don’t see how the best version of the Red Sox doesn’t include Swihart behind the plate by mid-summer. I said the same last year around this time, so make of it what you will.
Still no earned runs allowed for Bradley, still plenty of paths to fantasy value. His firmly in the multi-inning middle relief role now, having pitched two-or-more frames in three of four appearances. He’ll need to find the strikeout stuff he had working earlier to return much fantasy value in this role. Alternately, he could take Fernando Rodney's closing gig. Rodney is sitting on a mostly deserved 8.57 ERA and the Diamondbacks are in first place, surely wanting more end-game security. One last attempt at the rotation isn’t out of the question either. Patrick Corbin’s surface stats look fine but he’s on the brink of an implosion, especially if the 2-mph dip in his velocity from his last start holds.
21. Kennys Vargas (1B)—Minnesota Twins (Previous rank: Unranked)
Vogelbach best keep his ringer on. Danny Valencia is slashing .154/.211/.231 and the Mariners’ backup first baseman is a 29-year-old journeyman named Mike Freemank, who has more than a thousand triple-A plate appearances to his name and no power to speak of. I can’t quit Vargas, even though it’s entirely possible he’s a quad-A player and Robbie Grossman is a major-league DH. Okay, maybe not that last part.
23. J.P. Crawford (SS)—Philadelphia Phillies (Previous rank: 24)
As I suspected might happen, Chad Pinder got the call before Barreto. I assumed it would be the eventuality of a Jed Lowrie injury that made it so; instead Pinder’s call corresponded to Marcus Semien’s wrist injury. Semien likely will miss a couple of months, so while it seems like there will be opportunity if Barreto keeps raking in Triple A, there’s no reason to push the 21-year-old until he’s ready and assured everyday playing time the rest of the way.
My general rule with April minor-league statistics is to give credit for positive performance and disregard subpar performance. It’s getting hard to ignore Crawford’s particularly ugly line, which currently sits at .105/.227/.158.
24. Raimel Tapia (OF)—Colorado Rockies (Previous rank: Unranked)
25. Jesse Winker (OF)—Cincinnati Reds (Previous rank: Honorable Mention)
I’m not a big fan of either of these guys, but the fact that they were called up already—even if they were each sent back down almost immediately—suggests they’re in their respective club's consciousness. Tapia will move a little further out of mind if and when David Dahl gets healthy, but he belongs here for now.