An all-star team comprised of prospects, based on their performance in the minors during the month of May.
C Kevin Plawecki • Mets
Double-A Binghamton (Eastern)
After an adjustment period at Double-A in April, when he put up a .604 OPS, Plawecki picked up the pace in May by hitting .359 with 15 extra-base hits and just 13 strikeouts in 26 games. On the season, he has one of the best batting averages (.321) and whiff rates (12.3 percent) among qualified Double-A catchers, and he has thrown out 31 percent of basestealers to rank fourth in the Eastern League.
1B Christian Walker • Orioles
Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
No minor league first baseman hit more homers (nine) than Walker in May, and with 15 on the season he’s already eclipsed his previous career high of 11. This is exactly the type of power output the 23-year-old righty hitter needed—he leads the Eastern League in homers and RBIs (47) and ranks third in slugging (.574)—to establish his prospect credentials as a potential big league corner bat.
2B Mookie Betts • Red Sox
Double-A Portland (Eastern)
His 66-game on-base streak over, Betts began playing center field almost exclusively at Double-A on May 18 as the Red Sox assessed his viability at the position for a possible callup. Given how well he played for the first six weeks of the season, he had nowhere to go but down, but it’s all relative. Betts went 17-for-56 (.304) with 13 walks and eight extra-base hits in 16 games after his position switch.
3B Kris Bryant • Cubs
Double-A Tennessee (Southern)
The No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft mashed 12 homers, drew 17 walks and drove in 34 runs in 29 games in May. Bryant’s 1.298 OPS led all minor leaguers, and his propulsive month pushed him to the top of the Southern League in batting (.348), homers (18), RBIs (49), runs (48), on-base percentage (.452) and slugging (.692). He needed every ounce of that performance to fend off Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo, who slugged 12 homers and put up a 1.266 OPS in May at high Class A Myrtle Beach.
SS Corey Seager • Dodgers
High Class A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
No minor leauger had more extra-base hits (21) in May than Seager, who led the Cal League with 21 doubles and ranked second in the batting race at .342 as June dawned. The 2012 first-rounder continues to show a strong feel to hit and the type of power output that will play at third base if he must switch positions.
OF Randal Grichuk • Cardinals
Triple-A Memphis (Pacific Coast)
Grichuk started and finished May in the big leagues, but mashed 13 extra-base hits in 20 games while at Memphis, one of the best pitcher’s parks in the Pacific Coast League. His power will play in the majors, but being able to handle center field on a daily basis will speak loudest when the Cardinals evaluate applicants to play between corners Matt Holliday and Oscar Taveras.
OF Hunter Renfroe • Padres
High Class A Lake Elsinore (California)
The 13th pick in last year’s draft, Renfroe trimmed his strikeout rate from 34 percent of plate appearances in April to 21 percent in May as the right fielder accepted the notion, put forth by the Padres, that he doesn’t need to over-swing to hit home runs. He let his power flow naturally in May, and his production blossomed with 18 extra-base hits in 30 games. In fact, Renfroe leads the Cal League in that category (34) as well as with 15 homers.
OF Michael Taylor • Nationals
Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)
Taylor nearly hit as many home runs in May (nine) as he hit all of last season (10) at high Class A Potomac. The center fielder also stole nine bases in nine tries, making him the top power/speed prospect for the month. Taylor leads the Eastern League with a .629 slugging percentage—thanks to 15 homers—but it’s come at the cost of a league-leading 73 strikeouts.
RHP Hunter Harvey • Orioles
Low Class A Delmarva (South Atlantic)
The fourth high school pitcher drafted last year, at No. 22 overall, Harvey has enjoyed the loudest full-season debut. His power fastball/curveball mix has been too hot for South Atlantic League batters to handle. Harvey led the league with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a .170 opponent average in early June, while going 3-3, 1.68 through 10 starts.
LHP Andrew Heaney • Marlins
Double-A Jacksonville (Southern) & Triple-A New Orleans (Pacific Coast)
The top lefty prospect in the game coming into the season, Heaney did not disappoint in May, posting a 5.4 SO/BB ratio and earning a promotion to Triple-A for two starts. In those two starts, it should be mentioned, he allowed only one run while striking out 14 and walking none. A three-pitch lefty with an out-pitch slider and above-average control, Heaney will grace the Marlins’ rotation before the year’s out.
RHP Francellis Montas • White Sox
High Class A Winston-Salem (Carolina)
Montas’ emergence in May took some of the sting out of the season-truncating shoulder injury to White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia. Chicago received both prospects in last July’s three-team Jake Peavy trade. So stingy with hits and walks was Montas in May that he racked up 10 more strikeouts (34) than he allowed baserunners (24). Some context? Just four minor league starters exceeded that differential in May.
LHP Daniel Norris • Blue Jays
High Class A Dunedin (Florida State)
A year ago at this time Norris, a 2011 second-rounder out of high school, looked like a $2 million bust. He ran up a 5.80 ERA and 1.76 WHIP through 45 innings at low Class A Lansing in the first half of 2013 before righting the ship in the second by improving his direction to the plate and working ahead of hitters. This season? Norris led the minors with a 1.12 ERA through his June 2 start, and did so with strong peripherals, including 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.05 WHIP.
RHP Jimmy Nelson • Brewers
Triple-A Nashville (Pacific Coast)
Brewers starters have the seventh-best ERA (3.39) in baseball to this point, which explains how their top prospect has spent virtually all season in the Pacific Coast League, which he leads in ERA (1.64) and opponent average (.174), by the way. Nelson doesn’t get all-prospect team credit for his May 25 start for Milwaukee in which he threw 5 2/3 shutout innings, but his command of the zone at Nashville (3.6 SO/BB ratio, 0.90 WHIP) suggests he merely needed an adjustment period after reaching the Triple-A level last June.