Cowabunga, dude! I really dropped the Butterfinger on Joey Bart. Sorry about that. I’ve think I’ve done okay predicting the call-ups in this space, but I just didn’t think San Francisco would start Bart’s service clock during a lost season in exchange for five weeks of games. Turns out, it’s not a lost season. Despite occupying last place in the NL West, they’re just a few games out of a playoff spot at 13-and-16. Johnny Cueto looks pretty good, Kevin Gausman is pounding the strike zone, and young(ish) Yaz is still getting on base half the time. What up, Istanbul!? They might be Giants after all!
So who’s next?
NOTE: This ranking is focused on redraft impact of players who’ve yet to debut in 2020. It’s a snapshot of all the information I can synthesize as of publication day.
Here’s Grey singing the Buy-Lux-y Blues with a pyrotechnic assist from Coolwhip.
3. Cut to fully disclosed Padres LHP MacKenzie Gore hanging like a Florida ballot chad during his uncle Al’s presidential bid in 2000. No word yet on whether MacK has simply conceded his spot like Al did. No recounts in baseball, as they say, but I’m curious about the behind-the-scenes on this one and suspect we might know more later.
4. Athletics RHP Daulton Jefferies feels like a Cleveland pitching prospect, what with his plus command of a plus changeup that compliments a solid fastball and slider. He won’t rip anyone’s throat out and hold it up screaming “Wesley!!” but I don’t think we should hold that against him.
5. I’m dropping Yankees RHP Miguel Yajure in here as a wild card for a few reasons. One: he’s already been promoted–just hasn’t pitched yet, so kind of a gray area, timing wise. Two: he could just be an emergency bullpen arm. I mean who knows. They don’t even play baseball in New York these days. Three: he’s got mechanics I love, built from the ground up featuring a stable, balanced, athletic base that allows for plus command and means he’s rarely overthrowing. He surrendered just five home runs in 138.2 innings last year across two levels, mostly in High-A with an 11-inning graduation party, meaning he’s pretty close to Clarke Schmidt’s 19 at that level. If Yajure gets the first opportunity to fill James Paxton’s spot, he’s got the skills to keep the job.
“You serious, Clarke?”
6. Yeah, Eddie. Yankees RHP Clarke Schmidt is a lifetime member of the Jelly of the Month Club, so he’s got that evergreen gift going for him. With James Paxton on a little IL vacation, let’s hope it’s time to see about Schmidt. Something tells me we’ll be waiting a while longer.
7. Rays RHP Joe Ryan should be the next Ray recalled on the pitching side, at least among starting pitchers. He’d be a must own for me in all but the shallowest formats if promoted. Yonny Chirinos is set to have Tommy John surgery, and the law firm of Honeywell and McKay is out of business for the short term.
8. Rays OF Randy Arozarena gets a little further away every time the Rays win a game. His late-season 2019 run with the Cardinals might delay him in a Lux-ian way. If anyone’s here for service time manipulation, it’s Tampa Bay. Still, he’s a good hitter who should claim a significant role and help fantasy squads when he finally gets enough sun to bloom.
9. Dodgers RHP Josiah Gray throws the kind of fastball that sneaks up on hitters and embarrasses them like a public stair-trip-but-catch-yourself. He’s thrown 39.1 innings at AA and turns 23 this December, so his time is nigh if he’s throwing well when the need arises.
10. Athletics LHP AJ Puk threw 45 pitches the other day at alternative jam camp, and the club has made clear it intends to deploy him in a super-reliever role in 2020. This would cap his upside in a normal year, but it might be a perfect way to snag some wins while keeping Puk’s ratios masked like the true trickster he can become at peak. One reason is that relievers never really have to wear it the way a starter does, by which I mean sometimes a starter will walk off the mound having surrendered nine runs in 1.2 innings–something that rarely/never happens to the new normal of early game relievers.
13. Tigers RHP Matt Manning has athletic blood—not to be confused for tiger blood, which seems to be our government’s plan for surviving the pandemic.
14. Atlanta RHP Ian Anderson figures to hop aboard the prospect carousel before long. In the words of Manager Brian Snitker, “I think there’s still a good chance we’re going to see him.” This non-statement comes to us courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Gabriel Burns’ reporting.
15. Orioles RHP Michael Baumann could follow Mountcastle to the big leagues if Baltimore keeps bashing the baseball. I like his chances of early success–I mean relative to expectations for any rookie pitcher let alone an Oriole.
16. Tigers 3B Spencer Torkelson seems just shy of click bait at this point with the Tigers slipping in the standings, but they’ve already pulled the ripcord on Mize and Skubal, so who knows. (As I was typing this, Willi Castro hit a ball about 20 miles off Triston McKenzie, who looks pretty awesome tonight against Detroit. We might’ve seen this coming if we had minor league baseball, but without it, McKenzie is a prime example of developmental strides happening behind closed doors. If you can add McKenzie and then Castro in a deep-ish league, I suggest you do so.)
17. Hobbs might never speak to me again if I don’t get Marlins RHP Max Meyer on here one of these weeks, but that’s not why I’m including him. The Marlins just flat out don’t care this year, by which I mean they seem to care very much about the relative value of every win in 2020, and I see no reason to hold Meyer back if he’s going mad at training camp.
18. If Nationals 1B Yadiel Hernandez is available in your 20-team NL-only league, pick him up! Seriously though, he’s here not for stashing so much as reacting quickly if he does get an opportunity. He’s no August chicken, but he can hit.
19-22. Cubs RHP Cory Abbott, Cleveland LHP Scott Moss, Dodgers RHP Mitch White and Mets LHP Kevin Smith could all be promoted when next we meet, or they could spend all year off-site. Super helpful, I know, but any could have short-term streaming success if given the chance.
Thanks for reading!
I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.