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Dodgers SS Austin Gauthier (25, AAA) is off to a hot start at a new level, slashing .360/.467/.600 with one homer and a steal alongside five walks and five strikeouts in seven games. A four-year starter at Hofstra, Gauthier (pronounced Goth-e-er as in vampires are gothier than puppies) has never been a named guy but has found little resistance among minor league pitchers, posting big on base percentages and solid plate skills every step of the way. In the box, he features a high leg kick a La Justin Turner and delivers functional all-fields power. He’s probably available in all your leagues as an unheralded dude from nowhere, but I watch him and feel like it’s going to work against major league arms.

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Graduated from Stash List Volume 1: Skenes The Mountain: Paul Skenes (1), Christian Scott (6), Joey Loperfido (7), Kyle Manzardo (8)  

Jackson Holliday is not on this list. One of the few rules I’ve implemented here is that once you’re a big leaguer in the current season, you’re off the list. Holliday cashed those major league game checks, so he won’t be represented here. Neither will Tyler Black even though I’m writing this part on a Friday and thinking about his namesake Rebecca. 

1. Nationals OF James Wood | 21 | AAA

This is fun, huh? In Washington’s defense, Wood does seem to be making little leaps in his approach, and he is still young in the baseball sense. But the growth he’s made in a short time makes me feel like he’s going to be good right away, especially because he’ll bring the impact whenever he connects, even if he’s struggling to connect from time to time. By the way, this man is slashing .344/.443/.552 with five homers and nine steals.

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As prospects in general have garnered increased hype over the past few fantasy-season cycles, the pool of post-hype prospects has also gotten deeper year over year. We turn the page in a hurry when a player struggles to capitalize on that first big chance, or that second big chance, or the third. Even the most patient players among us have to acknowledge reality after a while. We need these roster spots for the stats they can provide. Can’t just use our parents’ house as a free-rent incubator a la Erlich Bachman. 

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Having opened the season on a nine-game losing streak, the Marlins started swimming against the current early in 2024 and have apparently grown tired of the effort, swapping almost two full seasons of Luis Arraez for a package of four decent Padres’ prospects: OF Dillon Head, OF Jakob Marsee, 1B Nathan Martorella, and RHP Woo-Suk Go. The Marlins will reportedly also cover Arraez’s salary (down the minimum) for 2024. It’s the first big move by Miami’s new head of baseball operations, Peter Bendix, who comes to South Beach via Tampa and has experienced his fair share of high-wire trades. On the other side of the country, we find AJ Preller doing what he does best, flipping an assortment of imperfect prospects for someone he can play tomorrow. 

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Brewers 1B Tyler Black has always produced, posting on base percentages around .400 or better every step of the way since he was drafted 33rd overall out of Wright State in 2021. He also hit 18 home runs and stole 55 bases in 123 games across two levels in 2023. With Rhys Hoskins at first base, Black figures to get in where he fits in when he can, probably at designated hitter as often as not. In other words, defense is not Black’s most colorful attribute, but that won’t matter much for our purposes as long he’s in the lineup. He picked up two hits in four at bats in his debut, and new manager Pat Murphy has demonstrated skill in spreading opportunities among everyone on his roster and rewarding anyone who’s hitting. Gotta think Heston Kjerstad or Jose Fermin would not ride the pine for a week if promoted to Murphy’s care.

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So here’s the issue off the top: Jackson Holliday is not on this list. I mean I haven’t written yet, in full, but he’s not gonna be on this list. One of the few rules I’ve created to help me create this document throughout the season is that once you’re a big leaguer in the current season, you’re off the list. Holliday cashed those major league game checks, so he won’t be represented here. I suppose he’d be first here, but I’m not even gonna think about it because one of the key points here is to highlight players who might not be rostered yet. I’m not even sure we’re late enough into the season to reach that objective in most leagues, but that’s irrelevant to the ultimate Ultimate goal of creating interesting, readable fantasy baseball content. I don’t think I’m doing that in that last sentence. Might need a quick walk. 

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Orioles OF Heston Kjerstad was recalled after laying waste to Triple-A for a few weeks. He started in right field on Tuesday and should be in the lineup most nights from here forward. Baltimore continues to be perplexing in their efforts to fold these talent waves into the roster build, so there’s always a chance Kjerstad goes cold and winds up back in the minors, but I’m betting against that at this point, which is exactly what I would’ve said in spring training, so yeah . . . very helpful stuff from me. 

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Rockies OF Jordan Beck (22, AAA) is where it’s at right now, slashing .328/.419/.738 with five home runs, one stolen base, two turntables and a microphone. Colorado’s not getting much of anything from anyone in the outfield, and if past is prologue, Kris Bryant will be on the injured list for quite a while, and OF Sean Bouchard still won’t have much runway on his starting spot. I’m hoping he will because he’s earned an extended look, but I’m also hoping Beck finds a way into that lineup sooner than later. Chaining themselves to the final stretch of Charlie Blackmon’s career isn’t helping the organizational depth chart. 

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Big week for redemption-arc prospects, particularly Rangers RHP Jack Leiter and Astros RHP Forrest Whitley. Leiter is scheduled to make his major league debut Thursday, just a couple days before he’ll turn 24 on April 24. He has not fared well as a professional, logging ERAs of 5.54, and 5.07 in two extended stretches in Double-A heading into 2024. Leiter’s command has been much better this season, as seen in his 0.98 WHIP and 38.6 percent strikeout-minus-walk rate across 14.1 Triple-A innings. He’s pulled an interesting trick of becoming found money after being the 2nd overall pick in 2021. Could provide a nice boost if he gives the Rangers anything this year. 

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Astros 1B Joey Loperfido (24, AAA) already has nine home runs in 12 games this season while the major league club is getting minimal production from Jose Abreu and Jonathan Singleton. Abreu is making $19.5 million this year and 19.5 again in 2025. He has a wRC+ of negative 32 in his 12 games this season. Here’s what I wrote about Loperfido when I ranked him my number one in my Houston Astros Top 10 Prospects for 2024 Fantasy Baseball

“A seventh-round pick in 2021, Loperfido produced better than average lines at each step along the way until a difficult 32-game stint in Triple-A to close out the 2023 season. In the box, he’s a 6’3” 230 lb lefty with power. In the field, he’s a right-handed thrower with enough athleticism that he’s a real option in center field. In 84 games at Double-A, he slashed .296/.392/.548 with 19 home runs and 20 stolen bases. I’m pretty bullish on his chances to carve out a role for himself in center or a corner outfield spot or at first base.”

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Congratulations to the Orioles for finding a new way to manipulate the collective bargaining agreement! SS Jackson Holliday will be called up today and retain eligibility for the bonus prizes set aside for players who break camp with the big club. Why? Who the hell knows!? Turns out the contract language has nothing to do with opening day. A player just has to spend 172 days in the majors. If the Orioles held Holliday down another month for super two reasons, he could still come up and win rookie of the year, earning that year of service time regardless of the organization’s efforts to own him for as long as possible. This way, they can have their cake and eat it later, maybe. If Holliday struggles, they can send him back down and recoup the season of service. If he’s good, he’ll be a front runner for rookie of the year and win them a draft pick and some pool money. Real feel-good story stuff. Holliday is slashing .333/.482/.595 with a 14.3 percent strikeout rate. These 11 days in the minors have clearly been essential for his development. 

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