These prospects could help contenders down the stretch

August 10th, 2018

Though the Trade Deadline has come and gone, contenders still have other avenues in which to improve their clubs. They can still make deals, though they have to jump through waiver hurdles to do so. Even simpler and cheaper, they can promote players from their farm systems.
:: Complete prospect coverage ::
The best in-house move down the stretch last year came when the Cardinals recalled in mid-August. He proceeded to win his first six starts, though St. Louis eventually would finish four games behind the Rockies in the race for the National League's second Wild Card berth.
Which of this year's contenders have prospects who could help in the final two months of the regular season and the playoffs? We rank the 10 best options, considering both talent and opportunity:
1. , LHP, Yankees (No. 27 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, No. 1 on Yankees' Top 30)
Trading for J.A. Happ and at the Deadline didn't answer all of the Yankees' rotation questions, nor give them a potential frontline starter for the playoffs. With three quality pitches and no difficulties dealing with Triple-A at age 22, Sheffield might be able to fill both voids.

2. , OF, Nationals (No. 5, Nationals' No. 1)
If Robles hadn't hyperextended his left elbow in the fourth game of the Minor League season, he likely would have gotten the opportunity that went to Juan Soto. While he doesn't have the same clear path to playing time now, he might offer the best combination of offense and defense of any of the Nationals' center-field options.

3. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics (No. 12, Athletics' No. 1)
Despite not making his full-season debut before April, Luzardo has vaulted to Triple-A as well as into consideration as baseball's best pitching prospect. The A's hold the lead for the second American League Wild Card spot despite using 13 starting pitchers already, and he misses bats better than anyone in their rotation thanks to two plus pitches, flashes of a third and control to match.

4. Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (No. 8, Astros' No. 2)
The Astros gave Tucker a shot to win their left-field job for three weeks in July, then sent him back to Triple-A after he went 7-for-45 (.156). That doesn't change the fact that he's still one of the game's top all-around hitting prospects and a lock for at least a September callup, so he could mash his way back into the lineup.

5. Brendan Rodgers, INF, Rockies (No. 6, Rockies' No. 1)
In a dogfight with eight clubs vying for two NL Wild Card berths, the Rockies need all the help they can get. Rodgers has more offensive upside than most middle-infield prospects, could be an upgrade over the slumping DJ LeMahieu at second base and is definitely better than current Colorado utility man .

6. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves (No. 76, Braves' No. 7)
With three starting pitchers on the disabled list and Mike Foltynewicz and approaching career highs for innings, the Braves will need more reinforcements even after trading for . Toussaint is pitching better than anyone in Triple-A Gwinnett's prospect-laden rotation, delivering more strikes than ever, while continuing to showcase a mid-90s fastball and a hammer curveball.

7. Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros (No. 7, Astros' No. 1)
MLB Pipeline's top-rated pitching prospect hasn't seen 2018 go as hoped, as Whitley missed the first 50 games with a drug suspension and is currently sidelined with an oblique issue. But he has a fresh arm (just 21 innings this year) and four pitches that are allergic to bats, so it would make sense for the Astros to acclimate him to the big league bullpen and deploy him as a late-inning weapon in October.

8. , OF, Dodgers (No. 28, Dodgers' No. 1)
Verdugo is raking in Triple-A for the second straight year while hitting for more power than he has previously, but there's no obvious spot for him on an already-crowded Dodgers roster that got more crowded following midseason trades for Manny Machado and . He has batted .280/.345/.440 in two brief stints in Los Angeles this season, hinting at what he might do when he gets a chance.

9. Kolby Allard, LHP, Braves (No. 90, Braves' No. 8)
The Braves already have given Allard two starts in the past two weeks, but he got hit hard in both and Toussaint might get the next call. Allard has extremely advanced pitchability for a 20-year-old and wasn't afraid to challenge big league hitters, so he could get another look.

10. Josh James, RHP, Astros (Astros' No. 6)
James has come out of nowhere to lead the Minors in strikeouts (154) and strikeout rate (14.0 per nine innings), thanks to a mid-90s fastball, hard slider and diving changeup. He may lack the command to be a long-term starter, but he has the stuff to be a bullpen factor for the Astros in the postseason.