Prospect Hot Sheet: April 21

A.J. Puk Keeps Dealing

This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from April 14-20. Remember, this feature simply recognizes what the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects. Number in parentheses indicates player age.

The number in parentheses indicates each player’s age.


1. A.J. Puk, lhp, Athletics (21)
High Class A Stockton (California)

Why He’s Here: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 14 K

Puk fell from his perch as prospective No. 1 overall pick last year after a rocky season at Florida, but has been lights-out in pro ball. The 6-foot-7 lefthander struck out seven in a four-inning relief stint at San Jose and followed up with seven more punchouts in four innings at Modesto last week. The quality of his control has been a surprise, with just three walks all season. With premium stuff (98 mph fastball, plus slider with vicious tilt) and his command in prime form, opponents are hitting a mere .098 against Puk this year.


2. Michael Chavis, 3b, Red Sox (21)
High Class A Salem (Carolina)

Why He’s Here: .545, 4 HR

Chavis is turning on the power. After hitting eight home runs in 81 games last year, the 2014 first-round pick has four longballs in four games this year. Chavis’ highlight was a three-homer night against Wilmington this week, capped by a walk-off two-run blast.


3. Nick Pivetta, rhp, Phillies (24)
Triple-A Lehigh Valley (International)

Why He’s Here: 13 IP, 1 ER, 16 K

Pivetta is knocking—hard—on the door to the majors. The 24-year-old Canadian pitched seven scoreless innings in his first start of the week and followed with 11 strikeouts over six innings in his next start.


4. Brett Phillips, of, Brewers (22)
Triple-A Colorado Springs (Pacific Coast)

Why He’s Here: .474/.565/.842

A down season at Double-A didn’t prevent the Brewers from promoting Phillips, and the 22-year-old outfielder is rewarding that faith. Phillips put together four consecutive multi-hit nights this week, including a two-homer, six-RBI night on Wednesday.


5. Christian Arroyo, ss, Giants (21)
Triple-A Sacramento (Pacific Coast)

Why He’s Here: .480/.500/.760

Arroyo began the year with a 12-game hitting streak, but what’s more important is he is showing improved power. The 21-year-old has hit three homers in 10 games this season, matching his total for all of last year.


6. Luis Escobar, rhp, Pirates (20)
Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)

Why He’s Here: 20 K, 1 BB

The-20-year-old hasn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher in his career despite a fastball up to 97 mph, but that appears to be changing. Escobar’s 20 strikeouts this week came in 11.2 innings, and on the year he has 32 strikeouts against just two walks in 16.2 innings.


7. Shane Bieber, rhp, Indians (21)
Low Class A Lake County (Midwest)

Why He’s Here: 13 K, 0 BB

Bieber excels at doing all the little things—throwing strikes, fielding his position, holding runners—to dominate in spite of a fastball that hovers around 90 mph, and it’s working so far. The 2016 fourth-rounder from UC Santa Barbara has 20 strikeouts and zero walks in 16.2 innings this year, a testament to his outstanding control.


8. Daniel Palka, of, Twins (25)
Triple-A Rochester (International)

Why He’s Here: 3 HR, .826 SLG

Palka has always had power but is showing an improved feel to hit as he pushes to return to the bigs. The 25-year-old strung together three consecutive multi-hit games this week, including a four-hit night, and is hitting an even .300 on the year.


9. A.J. Puckett, rhp, Royals (21)
High Class A Wilmington (Carolina)

Why He’s Here: 12 IP, 2 ER, 12 K

Puckett delivered his best start in his young pro career on Thursday, tossing seven scoreless innings with three hits allowed, one walk and eight strikeouts. One of the fastest-risers in the 2016 draft class, the Pepperdine product is potentially on the fast track in the Royals organization.


10. Ian Anderson, rhp, Braves (18)
Low Class A Rome (South Atlantic)

Why He’s Here: 9 IP, 2 ER, 15 K

Last year’s No. 3 overall pick continues to dominate beyond his years. Still just 18, Anderson is mastering older hitters in the South Atlantic League with a 1.98 ERA through three starts and 23 strikeouts in 13.2 innings.


11. Ryan McMahon, 3b, Rockies (22)
Double-A Hartford (Eastern)

Why He’s Here: 1.131 OPS

McMahon was young for Double-A last season and struggled, but he is again looking like a top prospect as he repeats the level. McMahon tallied 20 total bases in five games last week, including a double, two triples and two homers, and drove in 10 runs to boot.


12. Chris Shaw, 1b, Giants (23)
Double-A Richmond (Eastern)

Why He’s Here: .400/.444/.760

One of the better power prospects in the minors, Shaw is conquering pitcher-friendly Richmond with five doubles and three home runs in 14 games this year. He homered in back-to-back nights to start the week and finished it with consecutive multi-hit nights.


13. Dinelson Lamet, rhp, Padres (24)
Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)

Why He’s Here: 7.2 IP, 1 ER, 13 K

Triple-A hitters are having as difficult a time hitting Lamet’s plus fastball-slider combo as anyone else. The 24-year-old righthander, who led the Padres organization in strikeouts last year, set an El Paso single-game record with 13 strikeouts last night and is holding opponents to a .178 average on the season.


14. Marcus Wilson, of, Diamondbacks (19)
Low Class A Kane County (Midwest)

Why He’s Here: .458, 3 HR, 11 RBI

Wilson is starting to translate his immense raw tools into production. The athletic 2014 supplemental second-rounder has found a swing that works for him and has already blasted a career-high five home runs this year.


15. Franklin Perez, rhp, Astros (19)
High Class A Buies Creek (Carolina)

Why He’s Here: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K

The electric 19-year-old righthander is pitching beyond his years at high Class A. Perez pitched four perfect innings for a save at Winston-Salem on April 14, then started six days later at Carolina and delivered five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.


16. Andrew Stevenson, of, Nationals (22)
Double-A Harrisburg (Eastern)

Why He’s Here: .526 AVG (10-for-19)

Stevenson is going to have to hit a ton for an everyday career in the majors, and that is exactly what the 22-year-old Louisiana State product is doing. After a star turn in the Arizona Fall League, he is off to a scorching start that included back-to-back five-hit games last week.


17. Junior Fernandez, rhp, Cardinals (20)
High Class A Palm Beach (Florida State)

Why He’s Here: 8 IP, 1 H

Fernandez pitched a dandy against Tampa on Wednesday, delivering eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball, walking one and striking out six. It was a big bounceback for the 20-year-old Dominican after he got shelled for eight hits and five runs in five innings his previous outing.


18. Kyle Tucker, of, Astros (20)
High Class A Buies Creek (Carolina)

Why He’s Here: 1.065 OPS, 12 RBIs

Power has been Tucker’s lone question mark since he was drafted, but the 19-year-old is beginning to show it. He had six-extra base hits in seven games this week, including two homers, and is increasingly showing he can be a middle-of-the-order run producer in addition to a top-of-the-lineup threat.


19. Matt Hall, lhp, Tigers (23)
High Class A Lakeland (Florida State)

Why He’s Here: 17 K in 10.2 IP

Hall led Division I in strikeouts in 2015 at Missouri State and has continued getting swings and misses in pro ball. He averaged almost a strikeout per inning last year and is doing even better this year, with 20 punchouts in 12.1 innings so far despite a subpar 5.11 ERA.


20. Stephen Alemais, ss, Pirates (22)
Low Class A West Virginia (South Atlantic)

Why He’s Here: 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR

The 2016 third-rounder from Tulane is known more for his defense and is generally regarded as a singles hitter, but he pumped out six extra-base hits this week and slugged .808. Alemais’ capstone was a two-home run night at Hickory on Wednesday, which was notable because he hit all of one home run in 50 games last season after signing.


HELIUM

Ian Miller, of, Mariners (25)

Miller was an unheralded 14th-round pick out of Wagner in 2013, but the man can absolutely fly. He stole 49 bases in 52 attempts at Double-A last year and is at it again this year, going 9-for-10 at Double-A Arkansas. He stole six bases in six games this week alone. Most important he is showing an improved ability to hit, which is why he is repeating the level. Miller has six multi-hit efforts in 13 games, including his last two. As a lefthanded-hitting, double-plus runner who plays plus defense in center field, Miller may find himself as a useful bench option in the majors as long as he continues to hit.

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