7 Prospects to Stash in 2018 (Fantasy Baseball)

Jan 25, 2018
Brent Honeywell

2017 saw multiple prospects get called up and due to their play, were just too good to send back down. All you have to do is look at early draft rankings and you’ll find Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, and Rhys Hoskins all cracking the top 100 players overall in standard 5×5 leagues.

All you have to do for 2018 is find out who those players will be that can make a difference by the end of the upcoming season. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but we’ll do our best to help out. Below, you’ll find responses from our featured experts. We asked them to name which prospects owners should stash on draft day even if they don’t start the season with their big league clubs. See what they had to say.

* Editor’s Note: Brent Honeywell will miss the 2018 season with Tommy John surgery

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Q1. What pitching prospect should owners target as a draft-day stash even though he may not begin the season in the big leagues?

Brent Honeywell (SP – TB)
“Honeywell’s numbers at Class AAA last season (3.64 ERA, 131 WHIP) weren’t overwhelming, but what’s most impressive about him is his ability to rise to the level of his competition. At last year’s All-Star Futures Game, Honeywell was the starter for Team USA and became the first pitcher to earn MVP honors when he tossed a pair of scoreless innings with four strikeouts. What makes the 22-year-old right-hander so intriguing is his five-pitch repertoire, which includes a screwball,  something rarely seen in the game these days. His strikeout rate (11.1 K/9) shows how dominant he can be, and there’s even a chance he could make the Rays’ opening day rotation.”
Steve Gardner (USA Today)

Brent Honeywell is, for me, easily the best draft-day pitching prospect to stash. Although it’s possible that he can win a job out of Spring Training, chances are that the 22-year-old begins the year in Triple-A and get called up in June after the Super-2 deadline passes. Finally healthy, Honeywell’s mastery of five pitches, including a screwball, suggests that he’s got the stuff to succeed in the majors the minute he arrives. He ended his 2017 with a 1.79 ERA over his final 10 starts, and finished top-five in the minors in strikeouts on the season. He’s the best pitcher to stash in fantasy drafts, and he could be a difference-maker over the second half of the year.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

“I’m unlikely to stash any pitching prospect in a standard redraft league, but Brent Honeywell is the best bet to make an immediate impact. After posting a 3.64 ERA with 152 strikeouts and 31 walks in 123.1 innings, the Tampa Bay Rays righty has little left to prove in the minors. With Alex Cobb almost certain to sign elsewhere, Austin Pruitt, Matt Andriese, Nathan Eovaldi and Jose De Leon shouldn’t shield Honeywell from making his MLB debut by the summer. A deep, polished pitch arsenal would make him an instant strikeout contributor and a popular 2018 breakout pick who merits a look in deeper formats this spring.”
– Andrew Gould (Bleacher Report)

“While I believe Walker Buehler is the most prepared to dominate in the bigs, the Dodgers are unlikely to make room in the rotation for him until an injury happens. Beyond that, Michael Kopech may be the most talented of the Triple-A pitchers, but it is Brent Honeywell, without a doubt, who you will want to add. The reason, is that Kopech needs more seasoning before his 102 MPH heater can demolish hitters. Honeywell, meanwhile, has command over multiple pitches and possesses a filthy screwball that will have big leaguers in fits. He may not 172 hitters in 136 innings like he did in the minors last year, but that is a taste of the type of pitcher he is likely to become shortly.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Michael Kopech (SP – CWS)
“Kopech entered last year as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball thanks to his overpowering stuff — namely his fastball that sits in the upper-90s and routinely hits triple digits and his slider. He spent most of the season (22 starts) at the Double-A level and concluded the year with three starts in Triple-A. He offers major strikeout upside, but I’m most encouraged by his second-half control gains. In 12 starts after the Southern League All-Star Break (split nine in Double-A and three in Triple-A), Kopech totaled 68.1 innings in which he dominated hitters to the tune of a 2.37 ERA, 7.7% BB%, 31.5% K%, and 1.05 WHIP, according to FanGraphs.”
– Josh Shepardson (Fantasy Cruncher)

Q2. What hitting prospect should owners target as a draft-day stash even though he may not begin the season in the big leagues?

Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)
“The likely most popular answer to this question is — understandably — Ronald Acuna. In the interest of providing a different option who will almost certainly be available much later, I’ll opt for Nick Senzel. The second pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft has wasted little time shooting up the minor-league ladder and slashed .340/.413/.560 with 10 homers, five stolen bases, an 11.1% BB, and 18.3% K% in 235 plate appearances at the Double-A level last year. The tool grades for Senzel at the reputable outlets for ranking, grading, and scouting prospects match his scintillating upper-minor’s numbers from 2017. As an added bonus, the right-handed hitting third baseman’s power will get a lift from the homer-friendly park factors at Great American Ball Park.”
– Josh Shepardson (Fantasy Cruncher)

Victor Robles (OF – WAS)
“There are plenty of hitting prospects who would qualify as top stashes if they were to begin the year in the minors, but I expect players like Ronald Acuna and Gleyber Torres to break camp with their big clubs. So, for me, the player I’d look to stash on draft day is Victor Robles. He will, and should, begin the year in Triple-A, as he entirely skipped that level last year and instead saw a cup of coffee with the Nationals (just 27 plate appearances). Robles has elite speed and excellent bat control, two tools that usually portend strong success early in the big leagues. His elite defense should make him an immediate call-up if any of Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper, or Michael Taylor gets injured and, given Taylor’s up-and-down play in his career, Robles should see the majors sooner rather than later regardless.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Ryan McMahon (3B, 1B – COL)
“Picking Ronald Acuna defies the premise’s purpose of identifying a late-round dice roll, and I won’t say Willie Calhoun because he’s currently poised to open as the Texas Rangers’ designated hitter. Ryan McMahon will rake if he gets the chance to play at Coors Field. The infielder hit .355/.403/.583 with 20 homers and 11 steals between Double-A and Triple-A last season, and his versatility playing at first, second, and third widens his opportunities to arrive as an injury replacement. Some sites project him to open at first with Ian Desmond playing left field, but I wouldn’t anticipate an Opening Day appearance. Given his readiness and five-category upside, the 23-year-old is still worth stashing.”
– Andrew Gould (Bleacher Report)

Nick Senzel (3B – CIN)
“A polished college hitter, Senzel was the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. So it’s no great surprise he’s excelled at every level as he’s moved up through the minors. Promoted at midseason to Class AA Pensacola (Fla.), he posted a .340/.413/.560 line with 10 homers in 209 at-bats. Entering his age 23 season, his power is still developing and he’s already received an invitation to the Reds’ major league camp this spring. Senzel will start the season in the minors, but if he continues to have the kind of success he’s shown so far, it won’t be long before he’s manning the hot corner in Cincinnati.”
Steve Gardner (USA Today)

Austin Hays (OF – BAL)
“Hays is unlikely to win the starting job right out of Spring Training after struggling in 60 ABs with the big league club to the tune of .217/.238/.317. With that said, it appears the Orioles are leaving his spot wide open for the taking with the anticipation that he will be up soon. He was among the most proficient hitters in the minors last year, batting .329/.365/.593 with 32 homers and is polished enough and makes enough contact that he should be able to make a substantial impact in Camden Yards.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their prospects to stash. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for more advice all season long.

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