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Minor League Hitter Stashes for Fantasy Baseball - Hard Hit Leaders

Elehuris Montero - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

It seems like more and more of the impact prospects are impossible to land in fantasy baseball unless you are willing to spend massive amounts of money in waivers or can get ahead of stashing a player long before he makes his mark. This is where I think the value lies.

Too often, we stash players based on their Top 100 prospect rankings and not just by their production in the minor leagues. That's why people were able to add Pete Alonso, Matt Olson, and Jeremy Pena in recent years despite them not being high on many prospect lists when they got called up. Identifying stashes isn't always about the top prospects. It's about noticing where production and opportunity meet.

Below is a leaderboard of minor league hard-hit leaders at Double-A and Triple-A with over 80 plate appearances this year. I thought this would give us a good starting point of players who are playing a lot, so they are important to their organization, and hitting the ball hard, even if the results aren't immediately there. This could, theoretically, help us identify players who could be getting an opportunity this year and might be primed to make the most of it.

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Hard Hit Rate Leaders for Minor Leagues

In this article, we're going to look at the 15 hitters who have the best hard-hit percentage among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances in Double-A or Triple-A. I'll paste the whole leaderboard below, and then dive into a few names underneath that I think might be sneaky waiver wire pickups or guys to put on your watch list in re-draft leagues.

All of these stats are as of Tuesday, May 30th

Sadly, we will not be covering Bobby Dalbec since we all know who he is at this point. He hits the ball hard, strikes out too much, and doesn't have a true defensive home. We also won't be covering Jake Marisnick, who was recently called up by Detroit. It's great that he's crushing Triple-A, but he's 32 years old and is a .228 MLB hitter over his career.

I'm slightly more interested in Mike Ford since he has shown real power at the major league level. Taylor Trammell is currently slotted in at DH for the Mariners but is not producing, so maybe they send him down for "additional seasoning" and give Ford a shot to carve out some DH at-bats.

Matt Wallner also has a 37% strikeout rate to go along with his hard-hit numbers, which makes it hard to see him sticking; however, he had a really strong showing in his recent call-up. He was also sent down to accommodate Max Kepler and Royce Lewis, and that's the problem with Minnesota. They may always be banged up, but they are filled with big-league depth guys which makes it hard for any of their non-regular starters to stick.

Lastly, we've seen Lenyn Sosa get his shot in the majors and not stick the landing. He's crushing the ball in Triple-A, so he may get a chance again, but this feels a bit like a Quad-A situation for this year at least.


Aaron Schunk, Elehuris Montero, Nolan Jones, Colorado Rockies

Let's just get all of these Rockies on here because it's wild to me that this team had three hitters crushing Triple-A but continued to roll out Harold Castro and Mike Moustakas for the major league squad for as long as they did. Nolan Jones finally got the call-up over the weekend and Montero was called up earlier this week, but that doesn't mean much with the Rockies.

Montero has yet to get into a game since he's been called up, with Ryan McMahon playing 3B as Harold Castro continues to start at 2B. Similarly concerning is that Nolan Jones has played exclusively 1B since being called up, which poses some questions about what Colorado will do with Jones once C.J. Cron comes back from back spasms in the near future.

Montero is hitting .383 with 13 HRs and just a 16.8% strikeout rate in 28 Triple-A games this season, so he really doesn't have much more to prove at that level; yet, the Rockies seem hesitant to give him a chance to stick in Coors. He had a 32.4% strikeout rate last year in 185 MLB plate appearances, but strikeouts have never been part of his game. After hitting .310 in Triple-A last year with a .541 slugging percentage, it's time for him to get enough of a shot to see if he can stick.

Yet, Jones is the player fantasy managers truly hope will stay in the lineup. The Rockies traded for him over the offseason, so it's clear they liked something about his game, and all he's done is hit .356/.481/.711 in 39 Triple-A games with 12 HRs and five steals. The speed is a bit of a surprise after swiping just four bases all of last season, but Jones hits the ball hard and has cut down on his groundball rate in recent years, so he should definitely be a 20-HR bat at the major league level.

Schunk is hitting .329/.373/.621 at Triple-A with nine HRs, but he's 26 years old and not on the 40-man roster, so he seems highly unlikely to get a shot.


Junior Caminero, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

Caminero has really emerged as a prospect to know this season and many great prospect writers like Eric Cross, Chris Clegg, and James Anderson have written great articles about him that I would encourage you to check out.

Considering Caminero is just 19 years old and just got promoted to Double-A, he is not in consideration for re-draft leagues and really, given that it's Tampa, may not see MLB at-bats until 2025, but he should be on everybody's radars in keeper leagues and as a stash for next season. I just wanted to highlight what he was doing.


Joey Ortiz, SS, Baltimore Orioles

Joey Ortiz has been called up a few times by Baltimore this year, and I didn't think anything of it because he was always seen as a defense-first player, but these hard-hit numbers are causing me to look again.

The 24-year-old is hitting .320/.371/524 in 26 Triple-A games with three home runs and one steal. His career-high HRs in a season is 19 and his career-high steals is eight, so his game is not super fantasy-friendly. However, his defense should keep him in the lineup, and he's proving that he could be a solid .270+ hitter at the big league level considering how often he makes contact and how solid that contact has been of late.

He has the makings of a 10-12 HR, 7-8 steal hitter with a solid average, which is usable in deep leagues considering the Orioles have a good offense for counting stats. However, the team needs to fully move on from Jorge Mateo or Adam Frazier before Ortiz will get his shot to claim a full-time gig.


Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Look, if you're reading any piece about prospects or minor league stashes then you know who Encarnacion-Strand is and what he can do for your fantasy team. He got a late start at Triple-A due to injury but is hitting .352/.400/.732 with 14 HRs in 33 games. He's not gonna run, but who cares when you have that kind of power in Great American Ballpark? He also posts an average 25% strikeout rate, which you can live with from a power hitter. The bigger question is: where does he fit this year in Cincinnati?

Jonathan India is the team captain and seems locked in at 2B for now. Matt McLain has acquitted himself well at SS and is a good prospect in his own right. When McLain played SS at Triple-A, the Reds elected to play stud prospect Elly De La Cruz at 3B, but considering how well Spencer Steer is playing, and that he himself was a well-thought-of prospect, the Reds will likely need to keep him in the lineup at 1B.

That means Encarnacion-Strand could be the full-time DH, but do the Reds want to call him up to do that? Are they going to want Joey Votto to play DH before he, more than likely, says his goodbye to the franchise? I still think Encarnacion-Strand is up this summer, but it's not as easy a puzzle piece to fit as we want to believe.


Trey Cabbage, OF, Los Angeles Angels

Last year, during an exercise like this, I learned about Jack Suwinski and Corey Julks. This year, I'm learning who Trey Cabbage is. Aside from his tremendous name, Cabbage is also a former 4th-round pick who's hitting .298/.380/.602 in 50 Triple-A games with 14 HRs and 13 SBs. That absolutely sounds like something we would all be interested in, especially since he had 10 HR and 10 SBs in just 30 games last year.

The issues are that he sports a 30% strikeout rate, and he really has nowhere to play in the Angels' outfield. As it happens, there are too many Angels in the Outfield. Yet, Cabbage has also appeared in 31 games at 1B this season, so if Jared Walsh doesn't get back to 2021 levels, could the Angels give Cabbage a look?


Heston Kjerstad, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

We end with a player who may have the most upside of anybody on this list but also is second-least likely to contribute this year. Kjerstad is crushing in Double-A to the tune of .301/.376/.572 with 11 HR and three SBs, but he's not on the 40-man roster and the Orioles have a few intriguing OF prospects ahead of him like Colten Cowser, Hudson Haskin, and Kyle Stowers.

With Ryan Mountcastle at 1B, the Orioles will likely need to make a few more moves before they have space for Kjerstad. I don't expect that before 2024.

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