Luis Gil was never in my Five on the Verge before being promoted by the Yankees. His numbers between Double- and Triple-A were merely so-so, his shaky control overshadowing whatever he was contributing in the strikeout column.
But then he came up and delivered two of the best starts we've seen from a rookie pitcher all year, blanking the Orioles over six innings and the Mariners over five with a combined 14 strikeouts compared to, refreshingly, three walks.
So now that he's back in the minors (and back in my purview), what does it mean for him stash-wise? Should those two major-league starts supersede what I was already inclined to think -- i.e., that he's not so worth stashing because of walks or some such?
Uh ... is it even a question?
Of course major-league production counts for more than minor-league production, even over a much smaller sample. That's not to say Gil won't still have his struggles or that his control issues won't become a hindrance at some point, but for a genuine prospect, it's helpful to have some foreknowledge that he won't be overmatched or shrink in the moment.
It doesn't necessarily mean Gil is the top minor-leaguer to stash, but with what we know now, he becomes a fixture in my ...
Five on the verge
(These are the prospects most worth stashing in redraft leagues.)
Bobby Witt, SS, Royals
2019 minors: .262 BA (164 AB), 1 HR, 9 SB, .670 OPS, 13 BB, 35 K
2021 minors: .294 BA (333 AB), 24 HR, 18 SB, .952 OPS, 34 BB, 87 K
No new developments here, though it's worth reiterating GM Dayton Moore's acknowledgment just last week that Witt could force the Royals' hand with a late-season promotion. The 21-year-old who nearly slugged his way onto the big-league roster this spring hasn't missed a beat since moving up to Triple-A. He has five homers in his past eight games, including this 434-foot, 109-mph blast Tuesday:
Missed this Bobby Witt Jr. highlight from last night... pic.twitter.com/pkKCR9owP3— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) August 11, 2021
Look how it just ... disappears. Witt is now batting .324 with 20 homers, 11 steals and a 1.055 OPS in his past 60 games, Double-A included. His timetable is mostly just a question of whether the Royals think he would benefit from some big-league experience this year before competing for a job next year. Perhaps it's meaningful that he's been splitting his time at third base recently. The Royals have been playing Emmanuel Rivera there since the Jorge Soler trade, shifting Hunter Dozier to right field.
Luis Gil, SP, Yankees
2019 minors: 5-5, 2.72 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 96 IP, 47 BB, 123 K
2021 minors: 4-1, 4.13 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 61 IP, 36 BB, 88 K
2021 majors: 11 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 14 K
Gil was the beneficiary of a COVID outbreak for the Yankees, coming up right around the time both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery went on the IL, so it stood to reason his stay would be a short one. Not only are Cole and Montgomery on the verge of returning but so are Domingo German (strained rotator cuff) and Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery), which means Gil is moving down the pecking order just when you'd expect him to be moving up. As good as he looked blowing his 98-mph heat by hitters, though, it's possible the Yankees would turn to him over Nestor Cortes or Andrew Heaney the next time a need arose, particularly once rosters have expanded in September.
Jose Miranda, 3B, Twins
2019 minors: .252 BA (445 AB), 8 HR, 26 2B, .671 OPS, 24 BB, 54 K
2021 minors: .339 BA (351 AB), 23 HR, 20 2B, .995 OPS, 31 BB, 54 K
Miranda has cooled a bit over the past couple weeks, batting .250 (11 for 44) in 10 games, but so what? He still has arguably the most impressive batting line of anyone in the upper minors. His defense is the one facet that's still in need of improvement, but I suspect the Twins will ultimately take their lumps there to get his bat in the lineup. They've played Miranda some at first and second base, giving them more options whenever the time comes, but his easiest path remains third base with Josh Donaldson continually in and out of the lineup.
Vidal Brujan, 2B, Rays
2019 minors: .277 BA (383 AB), 4 HR, 48 SB, .735 OPS, 37 BB, 61 K
2021 minors: .293 BA (246 AB), 9 HR, 26 SB, .865 OPS, 32 BB, 38 K
It didn't take long for Brujan to put his poor debut behind him. Since returning to Triple-A, he has multiple hits in eight of his 14 games, batting .404 (23 for 57) with nine doubles during that stretch. He's also a perfect 11 for 11 on stolen bases ... again, in just 14 games. What he doesn't have yet is a home run, and in fact, he's hit just two of those in his past 57 games, majors and minors included. It's fair to say, then, that his early-season power breakthrough was probably a fluke. Still, his contact skills and especially his speed are enough to set him apart, and as versatile as he is, his next chance is coming.
Edward Cabrera, SP, Marlins
2019 minors: 9-4, 2.23 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 96 2/3 IP, 31 BB, 116 K
2021 minors: 2-3, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 51 1/3 IP, 19 BB, 74 K
The 23-year-old got back to the six-inning threshold in his latest start Saturday, recording double-digit strikeouts with more than 20 swinging strikes for the second straight outing. And yet he still has just a 3.72 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in his four Triple-A starts. Walks remain his biggest issue -- he has issued at least three in each of those starts -- and with Elieser Hernandez's rehab assignment well underway and Pablo Lopez's close behind, I'm beginning to question whether the Marlins will need Cabrera's innings so badly after all. He's still a decent enough stash if you have a roster spot to play with, but the odds of him making a substantial contribution this year are shrinking.
Five on the periphery
(These are some other prospects doing something of note)
Seth Beer, 1B, Diamondbacks
2019 minors: .289 BA (450 AB), 26 HR, 24 2B, .904 OPS, 46 BB, 113 K
2021 minors: .292 BA (284 AB), 13 HR, 26 2B, .923 OPS, 32 BB, 58 K
Josh Rojas, J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin have all appeared for the Diamondbacks this year. It may be time to see what the fourth piece in the Zack Greinke deal can do. Beer is already 24, and he's been plugging away at Triple-A of late, batting .409 (18 for 44) with five homers in his past 13 games. Christian Walker has turned back into a pumpkin this year and, at 30, probably doesn't have a future with the rebuilding club. Beer is a divisive prospect, with some evaluators questioning if his bat will measure up in the long run, and I'm not sure he's good enough to stash ahead of the call. But at some point, the Diamondbacks need to find out what they have in him.
Shea Langeliers, C, Braves
2019 minors: .255 BA (216 AB), 2 HR, 13 2B, .652 OPS, 17 BB, 55 K
2021 minors: .271 BA (255 AB), 19 HR, 12 2B, .886 OPS, 26 BB, 73 K
Langeliers would be a top prospect on the strength of his defense alone, but he continues to impress with the bat, adding four hits and two homers Tuesday to give him a .404 (19 for 47) batting average, five home runs and four doubles over his past 12 games. The ninth overall pick two years ago, Langeliers is positioning himself to compete for the starting job next year, with Travis d'Arnaud coming off the books in the offseason. It would be an especially quick climb for a catcher, but again, he's already so advanced defensively.
Spencer Strider, SP, Braves
2021 minors: 2-5, 3.64 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 64 1/3 IP, 29 BB, 110 K
The ERA, which isn't so bad even, nonetheless doesn't do justice to Strider, who's been generating buzz for his top-of-the-scales bat-missing ability. The 22-year-old was only drafted last year (and in the fourth round, no less), but he's already forced his way to Double-A, which is where his ERA began to climb. He's settling in now, though, striking out 12 over 6 1/3 shutout innings last time out. His 26 swinging strikes in that contest weren't even a season high -- he had 29 in his final start for high Class A. Between three levels, he has a 21.8 percent swinging-strike rate. That's compared to 15.9 percent for Max Scherzer, the major-league leader.
Nick Yorke, 2B, Red Sox
2021 minors: .318 BA (258 AB), 7 HR, 11 SB, .884 OPS, 36 BB, 44 K
Considered the biggest reach of the first round two years ago, being drafted 17th overall, Yorke has delivered in every way the Red Sox thought he would, profiling as a reliable source of batting average with his line-drive stroke, all-fields approach and high contact rate. And lately, he's been tapping into some power, too, homering four times in his past five games. What may be most impressive, though, is that he's put up these numbers despite a terrible first month. Since June 1, he's batting .375 (66 for 176) with a 1.065 OPS.
Brandon Pfaadt, SP, Diamondbacks
2021 minors: 6-6, 2.96 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 91 1/3 IP, 21 BB, 118 K
Another unheralded pick from last year's draft (Round 5), Pfaadt has been remarkably steady in his first professional season, putting together an almost identical stat line at both low Class A and high Class A. His plus control allows him to work consistently deep into games, and he's been a better bat-misser than expected with an impressive fastball/slider combo. He has allowed just two hits over seven innings in each of his past two starts and has struck out 11 or more four times.