The Stash Week 6: Top 10 Pitcher Prospects to Stash in 2022


Welcome to The Stash List, Pitcher Edition!

The Stash List will highlight the top-10 starting pitcher prospects who are most likely to make an impact this season.

Effective in-season management will propel your team into contention, and understanding the outlook and ETA for some of baseball’s top prospects will give you an advantage over your league mates. As managers, we are looking forward to reaping the rewards of our offseason research and draft strategies, but for most of us, the fun is only just beginning.

Previous Week’s Stash List: The Stash List, Pitcher Edition: Week 5

GROUND RULES

  • The Stash List is for your redraft leagues and does not consider impact beyond 2022
  • Only current minor league players who are expected to make an impact this season are included
  • Upside, proximity, health, and opportunity are all weighed for each player
  • The focus is on 12 team leagues with standard categories
  • Rankings and ownership percentages will be updated weekly
  • Stats shown are through May 13 (generally, the most recent three appearances and season total)

 

GRADUATES AND NOTABLE CALL-UPS

George Kirby, RHP, SEA

Did you stash George Kirby in your redraft league? If not, it’s probably too late. Kirby made his MLB debut this week, taking the place of recently demoted Matt Brash, who was sent to Triple-A and relegated to a bullpen role. Kirby was downright unhittable over his six innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven, and generating 13 whiffs on his fastball (48%!) en route to a superb 36% CSW overall.

Kirby is a rare combination for a prospect, offering big stuff, including a mid-90s fastball (t-98 mph) and a plus-slider/cutter, along with polished command (just 5.4% walk rate in the minors). He has ace upside and needs to be rostered in all formats.

Ryan Pepiot, RHP, LAD

Pepiot made his MLB debut on Wednesday, working three solid innings against the Pirates. He struggled with his command (51.9% strike rate), issuing five walks and hitting a batter. He’s always struggled with command (11.0% walk rate in the minors), despite relying on just two primary offerings (fastball and changeup) while rarely mixing in his slider (just 5.2% utilization on Wednesday).

He might get another turn through the rotation, especially in light of Clayton Kershaw heading to the injured list, but could be sent back to Triple-A afterward. A step forward with his command and refining a third offering will help harness some of his upside, but he’s most likely a future swing-man, making starts at the back-end of the rotation or a multi-inning reliever. In standard redraft formats, you can leave him on the waiver wire unless you’re desperate for a handful of innings.

TOP-10 SP PROSPECTS TO STASH

 

1. Max Meyer, RHP, MIA – ETA May

Meyer recorded his first blemish on an otherwise near-spotless 2022 resume. He allowed six earned runs over five innings against Nashville on Thursday. Meyer mostly cruised during the first two innings, routinely running his fastball in the upper-90s and generating ugly whiffs on his slider before getting into trouble.

He allowed four hits in the third inning, with most of the damage being done on two home runs hit by Mark Mathais and Keston Hiura, who took him deep twice on the night. Despite battling some adversity, Meyer still had a sparkling 71% strike rate over 90 pitches and on the year sits at a 2.97 ERA with a 29.5% strikeout rate and 5.6% walk rate.

The Meyer hype train is still full steam ahead, but his MLB debut will have to wait just a little longer. Speculation has Meyer taking a rotation spot from Elieser Hernandez, who lines up to pitch next Saturday (5/21) against the Braves. If Meyer is still available in your league, you need to add him now.

2. Grayson Rodriguez, RHP, BAL – ETA Late May/Early June

Rodriguez is back on track. After a couple of rough outings against Gwinnett, he’s now logged back-to-back solid games, only allowing one run to cross the plate during the two starts.

Most recently, he had a great outing against Memphis, where he allowed just one run over five innings while striking out eight. He labored through the first, walking a couple of batters and running up his pitch count, but worked out of the jam with two strikeouts. He settled in from there, working a total of 80 pitches with a 64% strike rate. Through seven starts, he has a 3.09 ERA, 36.8% strikeout rate, and 8.0% walk rate.

Rodriguez’s time with the Orioles is coming. He is not on the 40-man roster, so a call-up is not imminent, but he is the kind of talent that you make room for once he’s ready. For fantasy, consider Rodriguez on the cusp of making a significant impact for your team, and is a must-stash in all leagues.

3. Roansy Contreras, RHP, PIT – (New) ETA May

Contreras logged his longest outing of the year on Friday, working into the fifth inning and registering 83 pitches (66% strike rate), both season highs. He allowed three runs, including a fifth-inning home run to Yermin Mercedez, just his second allowed in four Triple-A starts.

Charlotte hitters battled hard all night with Contreras, often running counts deep, which led to a few free passes and an earlier-than-expected exit. Contreras appeared visibly frustrated in the fourth inning after issuing one of his three walks and didn’t look too thrilled when it was his time to exit. During his time in Triple-A, Contreras has a 2.45 ERA with a 32.3% strikeout rate and a 9.7% walk rate.

Contreras drops a spot this week in the rankings, not due to performance, but because we are getting dangerously close to Grayson season in Baltimore. Additionally, Contreras has yet to complete a full five innings in Triple-A, so it appears likely he’ll get another turn or two before being considered for promotion, though this is just speculation. We’re trending in the right direction in terms of pitch count, and Contreras has the upside to be a significant contributor down the stretch for your fantasy team. Continue to hold him if he’s on your roster.

4. Edward Cabrera, RHP, MIA – ETA July

Cabrera is starting to hit his groove in Triple-A after a crisp outing this week against Memphis. Over his abbreviated season thus far, Cabrera boasts a 2.00 ERA, with a 29.0% strikeout rate and 15.3% walk rate. It’s an early and small sample size, so hopefully, he refines his command as he gets more starts.

Cabrera is someone who is expected to receive a call-up at some point in 2022 and certainly has the upside to be a difference-maker on your fantasy team. He is likely behind Max Meyer in the Marlins’ pecking order, but once he has an opportunity, he needs to be rostered in all formats.

Next outing, Saturday, May 14 vs. Nashville (MIL)

 

5. Matthew Liberatore, LHP, STL – ETA June

Liberatore rebounded nicely on Thursday after his dud last week against Jacksonville. He worked six strong innings facing a stout Norfolk offense, including Adley Rutschman. The lefty allowed just one run while striking out five. Liberatore worked over 100 pitches again this outing, though had just a 59% strike rate. On the year, he lowered his ERA to 3.83 to go along with a 28.4% strikeout rate and 7.4% walk rate.

The Cardinals’ rotation is far from pillars of good health, so the next opportunity in the rotation could go to Liberatore. However, he’s only 22-years-old and not on the 40-man roster, so the Cardinals are probably not in any rush to promote him. Liberatore offers mid-rotation upside and is worth a stash right now due to his proximity and likelihood of having a Major League role as a starter.

 

 

6. Ethan Small, LHP, MIL – ETA July

Small fired a gem on Thursday while opposing Max Meyer, logging five innings with nine strikeouts and surrendering only one run. On the year, Small now has a 1.95 ERA, 33.3% strikeout rate, and 15.2% walk rate. Despite being near the top of the minor league leaderboards, the problem is his walks. With three more this week, he also is tops among qualified starters at issuing free passes.

There is a high degree of uncertainty regarding Small’s projected role at the Major League level. The Brewers have a history of promoting starting pitcher prospects and using them in a bullpen role as they get their first taste of the majors, and due to Small’s command issues, it’s possible he becomes a multi-inning reliever with a chance at spot starts. A welcomed step forward with his command could accelerate his promotion, but barring injury, he may not be a lock to join the starting rotation once called up.

7. Caleb Kilian, RHP, CHC – ETA July

Kilian worked another Kilian-esque outing on Friday, striking out six over four innings and walking two. His pitch count again climbed quickly in this one, though his polished command is starting to show through (64% strike rate). For the year, Kilian has a 1.57 ERA with a 26.9% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate. He’s also produced groundballs at an impressive 60.8% rate.

Kilian will continue to get experience in Triple-A and could get a shot in Chicago this summer. Before a promotion, the Cubs will probably want to see him work a bit more efficiently and consistently deeper into games. He’s known for his command but has yet to have a big breakout performance. With an ETA likely in the second half, he’s someone to keep an eye on.

8. Cade Cavalli, RHP, WAS – ETA July

Cavalli jumps back into the ranks following a nice outing this week against Worcester. He worked into the sixth, allowing just one run while striking out six with a 65% strike rate over 96 pitches.

His command is very much a work-in-progress (9.8% walk rate), but he has been unlucky this season, with a .313 BABIP against and a 51.7% LOB rate.

Cavalli’s upside is worth stashing only in deep redraft formats, but there’s some lead time here as it’s been noted he’s “not MLB ready” by the Rochester coaching staff. If he can string together a few more quality outings, he’ll be worth stashing in standard leagues, but we’re not there yet.

9. Cole Winn, RHP, TEX – ETA July 

Winn has had a rough couple of outings in May, allowing a total of 12 earned runs and a 3:12 K:BB ratio (yes, you read that right.). For the season, he has an unappealing 15.58% strikeout rate and 14.9% walk rate. Ouch. He will need to get back on track before the Rangers consider him for a promotion.

For the time being, the Ranger rotation appears full, though nothing is set in stone. Winn’s time is coming, likely whenever the next extended big league opportunity arises. Winn offers a mid-rotation upside and is only worth stashing due to his proximity.

Next outing, Saturday, May 14 vs. Oklahoma City (LAD)

10. Ryne Nelson, RHP, ARI – ETA July

Nelson is getting his first taste of Triple-A ball this year and is off to a bit of a slow start, though he is showing he has the ability to strike out advanced hitters. Through his seven starts, Nelson has been inconsistent and logged a 6.11 ERA while allowing six home runs already. Despite his struggles, his strikeout rate (25.0%) and walk rate (7.1%) are both promising.

Arizona is perhaps the path of least resistance when it comes to pitching promotions, and Nelson is expected to get a chance at some point this summer. He needs some additional seasoning, but a second-half call-up is very much in play. He’s a stash in deeper leagues due to his proximity but leave him on the waiver wire for now in standard leagues.

Others considered (in no particular order): Drey Jameson, Hunter Brown, Jack Leiter, Bobby Miller, Zack Thompson, D.L. Hall, Brandon Williamson, Cody Morris, Jordan Balazovic, Jay Groome, Deivi García, Alex Faedo, Matt Brash, Hayden Wesneski

 

Photos by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels, Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Drew Wheeler (@drewisokay on Twitter)





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